PFX14 – The Expo

Expo areas at conferences are the best way to accumulate a ton of useless swag that ends up in a landfill shortly after you get home.  The expo at Paleo f(x) actually exceeded my expectations.  The vendor area was full of mom & pop type vendors with some great Paleo friendly products.  Paleo is still on the fringe, so it is still untainted by large corporations.  Vendors were generous with their samples and it was all useable stuff.  The vendor area was flanked by a cooking demo stage and two open stages for sessions.  The middle of the room was the action area where you could learn to dead lift properly or even flip a tractor tire end over end. Our very favorite vendor was Kosmic Kombucha.  These guys are awesome!  I’ve tried to home brew my own booch quite unsuccessfully over the past few months.  Kosmic definitely has the process down.  Their kombucha has nice effervescence, organic ingredients and tasty flavor combos.  I found myself buying a bottle every time we were out and about in Austin.  Mint Julep, with organic white grape juice, fresh squeezed orange and lemon juices and fresh mint, is the stuff!  What’s not to love?  Well, the fact that I can’t buy it in Chicago.  They are local to Austin, but maybe we can work on a distribution partnership in the future??  Seriously great booch with passionate owners that love what they do.  It’s just another reason to visit Austin again.  Ok, I’m done gushing.

Booch Master Omar and Me
Booch Master Omar and Me

Our next favorite, because it’s such an innovative product, was the Exo cricket flour booth.  There are a whopping 40 nutrient dense crickets per bar. It’s only gross if you think about it.  When I was a kid, we always had crickets in the basement and they freaked me out.  I had no idea that they were snacks!  Anyway, the bar we tried had  a nice deep chocolate flavor but nary a crunch or a creak. The gross out factor is actually pretty fun.  I’d be interested in buying some of the raw flour to cook with, but they aren’t selling it separately… yet.


Ever hear of pili nuts?  Me either.  So, Pili’s are grown in the Philipines.  They are nutrient rich from the volcanic soil and super delicious.  It’s kind of a mix between a macadamia and a cashew with buttery smoothness. The Amazon of Paleo goods and Pili nuts is Barefoot Provisions.  They literally had half a ton of great food samples to try, but the Pili nuts were the standout.  They are an exclusive distributor for many of their products and focus on Paleo foods.  I’m going to order a few bags of Pilis as soon as I wrap up this blog.

Pili Nuts
Pili Nuts

Epic Bar has been one of my favorites since they came out last year.  I actually rode my bike 40 miles just to stock up on Epics. They had a great booth and there was always a crowd gathered to check out their innovative meat bars.  It’s kind of like jerky, but much easier on the jaw.  They have bison, beef, turkey and lamb bars.  I had an issue with a bar a couple months ago and spoke with Sarah about it.  She promptly replaced the bar and told me how they had remedied some quality control issues.  I’m a happy camper.  They stand behind their bars and are passionate about it… very respectable.

Epic Deliciousness
Epic Deliciousness

This vendor just puts a smile on my face… Primal Pit Paste.  They included a sample in our registration packs, but I went to the booth and bought some.  I eliminated the typical antiperspirant with aluminum last year, but had yet to find a good replacement.  Well, the triple P is it.  Organic ingredients and no aluminum.  I got the kind that you scoop out and rub in your pits all monkey like.  Rene got the more civilized stick applicator.  They use arrowroot powder and baking soda as drying agents, which my shirts appreciate.  So far, so good!

Primal Pit Paste
Primal Pit Paste

Where would we be without The Dirt?  More Paleo personal care products for us to enjoy.  They say “100% Natural and 200% Kick Ass”. We got a couple samples of the tooth powder in our registration pack and tried the samples right away.  It’s a very different brushing experience compared to your regular toothpaste.  You run your toothbrush head through the water and then dip the tip into the powder.  It leaves a clean taste in your mouth and smooth teeth, but looks like dirty water when you spit it into the sink.  I guess that’s the point.  Chemical free and gluten free.

Nick was generous with his sticks.  Nick is a salt of the earth cattle farmer from Iowa. Take as many as you want, he said.  And I did.  Nick’s Sticks are delicious.  Good job, Nick.  I think The spicy versions of the free range turkey and grass fed beef were my favorite.  I took a pack for the road and it got me through an afternoon hunger attack.  I’ll buy these when I see em!

The Granilla Bar was another fave.  The guy, Kevin, was asked to fill a booth space just a few weeks before the conference.  They had to borrow a kitchen and were able to crank out enough bars to satisfy the crowds.  The story is good.  His wife, Denise, developed the Paleo granola snack recipe as a healthy snack for the kids.  The bars are even better than the story. The Maple Fruit Bar was my favorite… moist, crunchy and mapley.  One of the buyers for Whole Foods stopped by the Granilla booth and was interested, so they may really have to step up that production!

The Granilla Bar Photo Bomb
The Granilla Bar Photo Bomb

We had to wash all the great food samples down with something.  I almost walked by this booth, but who can say no to free beer?? Gluten free beer hasn’t ever been my beverage of choice. I used to be a huge beer fan with a very discerning taste for microbrews.  The GF beers just have a funk that I don’t care for, so I’ve been opting for hard ciders or red wine instead. Omission Beer has really changed my mind and pleased my taste buds.  They have a legit IPA and a really good pale ale. Cheers guys!!

Omission Beer Cheers!
Omission Beer Cheers!

PFX14 – Day Three – It’s a Wrap

Think Tank: Catalyst for Change – (Robb Wolf, Abel James, Roger Dickerman, Dr. Shilpi Bhadra Mehta, Diana Rogers)

This was a great gathering of Paleo experts, especially Robb Wolf. Basically, this session was an open discussion with audience input on how we can get the word out about Paleo lifestyle.  

As individuals, we send out a message and it resonates with people – need lots of different voices and takes on Paleo to grow it.  There is a group of people that will want to hear your message and your story.  Your personal story is what will give you credibility and get people interested. You don’t have to write a NY Times best seller, anything effort no matter how small helps.  That gives me hope for this humble blog 🙂

The Silent Autoimmunity Explosion – (Nora Gedgaudas)

There were so many great stats and points in this session that I was having a hard time keeping up.  We had the opportunity to meet with Nora for a book signing of Primal Body, Primal Mind.  She is true authority on auto-immune.  Auto-immune is the single biggest epidemic in the world today and we aren’t hearing anything about it.  The body Immune system can’t distinguish from self and non-self, so it attacks itself.  Auto-immune issues used to be very rare and now it is common. 1 in 12 women and 1 in 24 men are estimated to have an autoimmune disease. Health care providers aren’t aware and it may be a bigger problem than cancer and heart disease combined.  Why don’t we hear more about this? There is a disconnect between the field of medicine and the field of immunology. Everyone is at risk of developing an autoimmunity in their lifetime. That is really scary!

Why is this happening now? There are a significant amount of grains in our diet, we have an industrialized food supply full of dietary anogens (gluten, casein), depleted soils, GMO, antibiotics, vaccines, contamination, increasing toxic additives to foods, exposure to heavy metals. Other causes – refined table salt, chronic EMF exposure, fluoride exposure, blood sugar surges, infections, haptens. 

The thing we can control is our diet… that is where Paleo comes in. Addressing leaky gut is critical. Once the gut healed, it is not ok to go back to the previous diet. Keep gluten intake at zero, avoid table salt, eat a healthy fat based ketogenic diet, use an air purifier. #1 Glutathione destroyers, 1) Alcohol and 2) Acetaminophen (Tylenol).

Nora has a new book coming out soon and a Primal Restoration Series e book as well.

Genes Aren’t Destiny (but they do matter) – (Dr Helen Messier and Dallas Hartwing)

How do you know that you are healthy? More than a collection of “good numbers” for HDL, LDL, body weight, BMI, BP, fasting blood sugar, body fat percentage. These numbers can give a false sense of security that we are truly healthy.

Optimal health is a state without limitations on out physical, emotional abilities

Up until disintegration and death, it is all reversible. Our tendency it to just paint the yellow leaves green, we forget about the trunk and the roots and the soil that feeds the roots.  Not all trees thrive in the same environment. To optimize our health, we need to live in harmony with our genetic heritage and recognize underlying clinical imbalances.

I’m very sad to say, that Paleo f(x) 2014 Austin is over.  I was very memorable and the chance to talk directly to Dr Wahls and Nora Gedgaudas was woth the price of admission. We stayed all the way through the last word of the closing remarks and still didn’t want to leave our new Paleo friends.  The good news is that we don’t have to wait another whole year for PFX.  There will be a Paleo f(x) conference in Denver from October 10-12, 2014. I hope to see you there! Woohoo!

Stay tuned for our Expo write up and see who our favorite Paleo vendors are!

PFX14 Closing Remarks

PFX14 – Day Two

Today, I was really noticing the vast array of attendees at Paleo f(x).  There are people with auto-immune diseases like Celiac, Hashimotos and MS, to peak performance athletes that are competing in triathalons and Spartan challenges, people with weight issues and others that just want to learn more about the Paleo lifestyle.  There were medical doctors and natural doctors sitting on the same panels for frank discussions on the heath of our nation and how to talk to your physician effectively. Everyone seems to be here for a common purpose… to improve their minds, improve their bodies and help others do the same. It is a strong community of like minded people gathered together to become better versions of themselves. I was expecting Paleo f(x) to be a conference about food preparation and exercise, but this is so much more. Topics encompass everything from nutrition to healthcare to addiction to sexuality to poop. We have only made it to one cooking demo (thanks Marla, it was great!).  The rest of the day was spent gathering a-ha moments and processing all of this new information.

Ask The Paleo Experts Master Mind – panel – (Dr. Terry Wahls, Kirk Parsley, M.D., Chris Kresser, Dallas Hartwig, Nora Gedgaudas)

This was just an open session where attendees could ask the experts any questions.

The first question was a lady asking why she has lost 40 lbs and her breasts stayed the same size.  I suppose this could be a problem, I’m not sure.  Anyway, she has been confused by it because diets from her past made her breasts smaller before anything else.  The consensus from the panel was a post menopause hormonal issue.  Makes sense to me.

AIP (Auto-immune Paleo) – question for Chris Kresser – His version of AIP doesn’t eliminate seeds and nuts.  Why not? He sees more issues with nightshades and eggs and not really any problems with digestion of seeds and nuts.

One audience member isn’t losing fat around the gut – most likely high cortisol. Premebeability in the gut leading to inflammation. Undiagnosed food sensitivity issues. Strength and interval training will help rebuild hormone levels, but only of sleeping well.

Other random tidbits and thoughts that you can Google:

-After exposure to gluten, you can produce antibodies for 3 months

-Asthma is autoimmune. Correlation between the gut and asthma. Google Kresser and histamine.

-One of the best mood stabilizers for teens is to get good sleep. 80% of teens lack sleep and their circadian rhythms are off. (This is why kids be craaazy)

-Issues digesting kombucha and fermented foods? Possible cause is disbiotic flora in the gut. A test for SIBO was recommended.

-No immune reactivity to camel milk because it is so close to human milk (anybody have a camel?)

US Healthcare: In Crisis or Chaos? – panel – (Robb Wolf, Dr. Grayson Wheatley, Julie and Charles Mayfield, Dr. Richard Maurer, Darryl Edwards)

We all know the answer to this… our system is pretty f’d up. Think of yourself as your own healthcare system be proactive with your own health and wellness.

One panelist had a nice analogy with health insurance and car insurance analogy – you don’t expect your car insurance to pay for oil changes, fixing dings and car washes.  If they did, the cost of insurance would be huge. Why do we expect our insurance companies to pay for everything?

Darryl Edwards… Doctor, author and Paleo athlete. On this trip from the UK for Paleo f(x), he got cut above his eye and needed stitches. He got first hand experience of our dis functional healthcare system.  It’s not good, people.  It would have been cheaper for him to fly back to the Uk first class and have an ambulance pick him up at the airport.  

Personal Paleo Meatloaf Cooking DemoMarla Sarris

Author of Pigskin Paleo, fellow member of the Chicago Paleo Meet-up and creator of Paleo Porn.  Marla rocks!

She made some personal meatloaves shaped like little footballs – brussels sprouts, leeks, pork.  Mmmmmm mmmm.  I can’t wait to try these out at home.  Marla made some good points about not needing fancy tools or kitchen gadgets to make good food.  Keep it simple and minimal.  Good stuff.

Paleo and Addiction – Panel – (Karly Randolph Pitman, Kaila Prins, Susan McCauley,Amy Kubal, Dr. Nicole Avena)

-Symptoms of addiction – Perfectionist, over exerciser, perfect food, prefect body, control

-One panelist is grateful for her addiction (drugs and alcohol) – without the addiction and hitting bottom, she wouldn’t be where she is today

-Root causes of addiction – born this way, root was there and there is a genetic component to it.

-Whatever the type of addiction, if there is a genetic disposition to it, it doesn’t mean that addiction is a destiny

-There is a vulnerability, tenderness and sensitivity with addicts that makes addictive substances much more powerful for them

How do you know if you are addicted vs a healthy habit?

-When your life is being disrupted by your behaviors, then it is time to seek some professional help.

-An addiction never brings what you are seeking no matter how much you do it.  Never satiates or brings satiation

-Once you start and you can’t stop it

How do you know when you start to recover?

-Stimulus taken away

-You are able to nourish your body and mind and do things in a healthy way

What do you tell someone that you see struggling?

-It is ok to stop and life is better on the other side

-You are recovering what you lost

Using Paleo as a path to recovery

-In typically recovery programs, nutrition is not addressed (pills are)

-Food addiction is the last addiction

Last thoughts… Paleo is healing and hugs are Paleo

Navigating Your Non-Paleo Physician (What’s Up Doc?) – panel (Dr. Lauren Vigna, Dr. Michael Ruscio, Dr. Richard Maurer,Dr. Daniel Kalish, Dr. Rick Henriksen)

-Most MD’s have only had 2 weeks of nutritional training in 4 year of school

-Why is a Dr qualified to give dietary advice?

-Lack of education and its easier to write out a prescription and say to work on diet and exercise.  They want to give good advice, but haven’t had the success.  If the patients are on the insurance model and prefer the easy fix of a pill.

-You are your own best health advocate

How do we get over white coat and use dr as a consultant?

-Choose the provider with the skills for what you need.  You may need several providers for whole health care.

-You can get all the information and do your research and then find a Dr that you trust to guide you through the steps.

-If you are talking to a Western trained MD, you need to communicate in the same language.  Saying “leaky gut” may shut that Dr out.  Drs went into the field to help people and genuinely want to help out.  There is a give and take between the Dr and patient.

-Find someone that is fully trained and has 3-5 years in practice, it might be worth it to travel.

Where can you find a natural doctor? What questions can you ask a non Paleo physician to see if they would be good to work with?

-What do they do for fitness and what do they eat?

-Check out the cross fit gyms and ask the gym owners if there are any family doctors that workout there.

-Most likely Dr’s you find won’t be following Paleo, but they should know about it.

What do you do if your Dr wants to put you on an unnecessary medication?

-Have object measures so you and your physician can measure results and analyze them. Open to using the drug if the diet/ exercise program isn’t effective.

-Ask if there is anything that will be harmed if you don’t take the medication right away

-Tell your doctor that you don’t what to take a medication… and ask their thoughts

-Work together with the Dr and try to collaborate on the solution. They will be more open to alternatives.

-The right test and the wrong Dr = failure

-Natural Doctor is outside the insurance network and will spend significant time with you as a consultant

 Are you Paleo Sexual? – Christopher Ryan

 I had no idea what to expect from this session, but I knew I had to go.  This ended up being one of my favorite sessions of the day.  Christopher Ryan had an insightful and hilarious presentation about how we developed sexually.  The opening quote is one of my favorites, “A fig leaf can hide many things, but an erection isn’t one of them” 🙂

We went into the social life and sexuality of the Bonobo.  If I’m ever reborn as an animal, a Bonobo would be a great choice.  I got to meet Christopher at the end of the conference.  He is a really great guy and my kindred Bonobo brother.  I’m looking forward to reading his book, “Sex at Dawn“, on the flight back to Chicago.

Other interesting facts:

-Human beings have sex around 1000 times per birth – sex isn’t about reproduction

-We are one of few species that have sex when the female is not able to conceive

-Female copulatory vocalization – more likely in species that are promiscuous.

So much new information and another huge day tomorrow!

Marla – Cooking It Up

PFX14 Day One – A Paleo Neophyte in Austin

I lead a fairly strict Paleo lifestyle and consider myself to be knowledgeable about the food and cooking and why I made this change. But, after one day at Paleo f(x), I am learning how much I really don’t know about Paleo.  I realize that after a year and a half, I am just a beginner.  The wealth of knowledge and quality of presenters at the conference is amazing.  Speakers are throwing around topics that are household words to them and it’s literally the first time I’m hearing this stuff.  Earthing? HRV? Adrenal Fatigue? It’s overwhelming and great at the same time.  It’s thrilling to feel the positive energy and eagerness to share from everyone we meet.  It is such a stark contrast to the lingering malaise from our long Chicago winter. There is no polar vortex in Austin! This is a great learning environment and I’m so glad we made the trip.

I’m going to list out some of the new and interesting topics that we learned about today.  Most of these will require some googling and further study, but I’m planning on expanding and blogging on these topics later.  Here we go…

Gluten and the Gut – Panel Discussion (Dr. Lane Sebring, Jordan Reasoner, Dr. Amy Myers, Dr. Daniel Kalish, Jennifer Fugo) – This one basically boiled down to how bad gluten is for us and it is better to just cut it out completely

Hacking Stress – Panel Discussion (A Jolly, Ben Greenfield, Nora Gedgaudas, Sara Eye, Evan Brand) – Lots or new and hot topics here, lots of googling needed later – Sensory Deprivation Tanks, Binaural beats, Earthing, REM Rehab, HRV – Heart Rate Variability, Herbal Adaptagen, Kava, getting magnesium through epsom salt baths, essential oils

How to Win an Argument With a Paleo CriticChris Kresser – Take the best of the hunter gather diets and combine it with our modern medicine and lifestyle to live even longer. Hunter gatherers didn’t have obesity, diabetes, auto immune, allergies or heart disease. Today, 1 in 6 or people have auto immune issues and 1 in 10 are gluten intolerant Agricultural foods are far more likely to cause issues. Only been eating for neolithic foods for 10k years instead of paleo for 2 million years. You never hear of blueberry intolerance 🙂  Always ask yourself, “How is this food nourishing me or my gut?”

The Road Ahead: Obstacles to Popularizing the Ancestral Health Movement – Hamilton Stapell – Can Paleo ever go mainstream or will it always be on the fringe?  Hamilton is a historian and had great insight on past health movements. 85% of people doing Paleo, have only been on it for three or less years. There are obstacles preventing Paleo from going mainstream 1) Cultural obstacles – Neolithic foods are woven into our culture. Hard to remove from daily lives. 2) Physiological obstacles – Neolithic foods are addictive and taste good. Cause us to eat for reasons other than hunger. The food game is fixed and manufacturers work it to keep us coming back for more. Neolithic foods are 70% of the typical American diet. 3) Social obstacles – I Deserve it, Instant gratification, I want to be happy. We should promote holistic mental and physical flourishing instead of just happy (eudemonia). Paleo out of step w main stream. 4) Other obstacles – Large vested interests like Monsanto and professional organizations like AMA have deep pockets and their own agendas

Maximizing Nutrient Density for Optimal HealthDr Terry Wahls – This was a simply amazing talk… Dr Wahls is a personal hero to Rene and has so much information to share. She showed some incredible videos of patients with primary progressive and secondary progressive MS that are walking again after following her protocol.  And she spoke a lot about nutrient dense foods and how our foods modern have been depleted of nutrients over the years. Buy her book and read it. Rene actually got to speak with Dr Wahls one-on-one. She was absolutely starstruck (Rene, not Dr Wahls).

Adrenals: Key to Restoring Optimum HealthDan Kalish – This is all new to me, but I find the adrenal gland topic fascinating. Symptoms are overweight, fatigued, depressed, gi problems, female hormone imbalances. Three body symptoms: Hormone imbalance, GI tract, detoxification – correct in the order that the problems occur. Original source was probably stress that could have come years before, so that needs to be corrected first. High cortisol leads to fat storage, inflammation, connective tissue turnover. Adrenal fatigue – causes emotional stress, dietary stress, pain and hidden inflammation. Ideal adrenal rhythm follows the circadian rhythm.  I really need to dig deeper into this topic.  The Kalish Method should be a good read on the topic.  Dan Kalish is also pretty hilarious, so it made the topic very fun to learn about.

As you can tell, this was a long day and I’m feeling overwhelmed, yet enlightened, with all of this new information. It also gives me a lot of great blog topics to delve into this year!

Coming up soon, I will be doing a full rundown and recap of our favorite vendors from the Expo.

Dr Wahls
Rene meeting Dr Wahls


Austin Bound and Geeked for the Journey

We are sitting at the airport waiting for our flight to Austin, so I thought I’d take a minute and bring the blog back to present day. We are taking a type of vacation that I never would have predicted a couple years ago. After 14 months of a total lifestyle change, we are headed to the Paleo f(x) conference. It is the self-proclaimed “Superbowl of Paleo”.  I seriously couldn’t be more excited!
Rene is “totes geeked out” with anticipation of meeting her “paleo mentor”, Dr Terry Wahls. Not to mention the other Paleo big wigs, Robb Wolf, Jonathan Bailor, Chris Kresser, Sarah Ballantyne.
It will also be awesome to see Paleo authors Michelle Tam, Danielle Walker, Diana Rodgers. We had the pleasure of meeting them on home turf in Chicago for their respective book signings. They are all great people and so rewarding to spend time with them. All we have to do is get there.
So, how do you pack for a Paleo vacation? Airport food is on par with hospital food, so our carry ons always have an ample supply of snacks. Various Larabars, Epic Bars, a couple bananas and apples, Steve’s Paleo Goods grass fed jerky and maple bacon granola (mmmmmm mmmm) are all along for the journey.
I filled a small prescription drug bottle with coconut oil to make it travel size. This is the best use for a drug bottle, in my opinion. And, of course, we now travel with our own castille soap.
To keep up the theme and get a little exercise during the day, we are going to be riding the Austin B Cycles to and from the convention center. Uh, yeah, we’re green? Like I said, a vacation I could have never predicted, but I’m so pumped that it is here!

MePaleo Paleo f(x)


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