This week I attended the PaleoFX conference in Austin, TX, and overall I’d say it was a productive, inspiring, thought-provoking event. It was put on by Keith Norris, Michelle Norris, Kevin Cottrell, and Mark Alexander. Read more about them here. The gathering was created to bridge the gap between the science behind the Paleo diet and putting it into practice. There were 3 stages that housed individual speakers, as well as many “Mastermind Panels” that consisted of up to 8 experts on certain topics like the “Psychology of Change”, “Ancestral Wellness for Babies, Tots, & Children”, and many, many more.
I was lucky enough to be on the “Community Outreach: Grassroots to Mainstream” Masterminds panel with Robb Wolf, Angelo Coppola, Benjamin Palmer, Roger Dickerman, and a last minute addition of Dr. Kim Mulvihill. Dr. Mulvihill is a doctor and a reporter for CBS News in San Francisco who went Paleo herself as a way to report on the diet. She had massive success with the diet and so many viewers that the station made it a 5-part story and aired it several times. Pretty awesome.
Robb Wolf did a novel talk on how to run a successful gym, which was totally relevant since about 3/4 of the audience represented a gym. He made some awesome points about business in general, like that your decisions should be made by figuring out what is best for not only your clients, but your employees and yourself, as well. He talked about how dumb he thinks scaling is, which means he’d rather see an out-of-shape newcomer doing a completely different set of exercises than just doing the Workout Of The Day (WOD) scaled down to their ability.
Dr. Lane Sebring was one of my favorite speakers. He’s an MD practicing in the Austin area and has been promoting Paleo since before The Paleo Diet was published. He’s a highly intelligent, level-headed, fair man. He told us about some amazing transformations he’s had with patients in his practice.
One of the main themes throughout the conference was about athleticism vs. longevity. It’s become very apparent to me that there are a lot of people overtraining in the U.S. It’s no secret that doing CrossFit 6 times a week might not be the best thing for your health (or even your weight loss goals). James Fitzgerald from Optimum Performance Training really hammered it home for me when he said he asks all of his clients when they walk in the door, “What’s your priority? Is it health and longevity or is it performance right now?” And depending on their answer, they’d get a completely different training regimen because overtraining inhibits health and longevity.
I will say that although the conference was super well laid out and organized, and it flowed seamlessly with impressive speakers, I did have a couple problems with the content of the conference. I think that the panelists were sometimes hesitant to go ahead and give real, concrete, practical advice for people in the wake of the safe starches debate, which showed its face only the tiniest bit during a panel that included Dr. Kruse and Paul Jaminet.
- For instance, on the “Paleo/Primal Nutrition Optimization vs. Performance Mastermind” the panel was asked what they thought about calories. Paul Jaminet was the only person to say that counting calories might be helpful for people in any way. On the contrary, Krista Scott Dixon of Stumptuous.com wrote an ebook called “F*#k Calories” and she said there was no use for counting calories and that she never brought it up with clients. I wholeheartedly disagree and think it’s very useful for SOME people who are eating way too much out of habit, or not enough for neurotic weight loss reasons. It can be the difference between getting someone to their weight goal or not.
- Also, when asked what kinds of foods an athlete might want to increase or decrease on the Paleo diet, panelist Dallas Hartwig of whole9life.com, along with most everyone else, said something along the lines of, “Stay away from non-Paleo foods” and “Figure out what works for you”. I guess I wanted them to give the people in the audience some sage advice about carbs, fat, and protein, and what your plate might look like if you were trying to become really good at being an endurance athlete who burns mostly fat. That’s what people really want to know. We’ve all heard “counting calories is useless” and “don’t eat non-Paleo foods”. We came to the conference for something deeper and more practical than that.
- On that same note, I talked with Dr. Ron Rosedale after his presentation to clear a few things up. Basically Dr. Rosedale thinks any amount of insulin-inducing carbohydrate in the diet will decrease your lifespan and hurt your health. So I asked him afterward, “What are your recommendations for grams or percentage of carbs per day?” Because that wasn’t part of his talk, surprisingly. He said, “Oh, I don’t know. Just don’t eat too many starchy carbs.” Okaaay…
Other than that, I loved… Chris Kresser’s talk on cholesterol, and was happy to finally meet him in person. Dr. Jack Kruse actually got me to think about using the cold to improve my athletic performance and increase my lifespan. The protocol is here. Paul Jaminet inspired me to drink bone broth instead of water at my meals. And Dave Asprey convinced me (by placing his leg behind his head while sitting in a chair) that I should be taking grass-fed collagen just like he does…