I’m in my UCLA hotel room winding down after what has been an epic few days, flying to LA to attend the inaugural Ancestral Health Symposium. When I get home, I will do a more solid review of the nuts and bolts of the various presentations (likely necessitating re-watching some online, and certainly watching some of those I missed). There has been an enormous amount to take in and process, and this will require more mental horsepower than I can currently muster (my brain is running on one docile donkey right now).
What I do want to do, however, is show some respect and gratitude to all of the people who made this event happen. That includes those who organised it, those who presented, and all the simply stunning attendees who gave this event its daily buzz. I have been to several fitness industry conferences, none of which came remotely close to the AHS in terms of the standard (fitness industry conferences are typically full of marketers and posers).
Firstly, Aaron Blaisdell and Brent Pottenger, and the rest of the organisation team, did a fabulous job pulling a professional conference together on the smell of an oily rag. Their dedication to this event has really helped the ancestral health/evolutionary biology paradigm move out of the relative shadows of the blogosphere and given it more visible traction. Certainly some more exciting developments to come. Thank you Aaron and Brent for making this Kiwi feel very welcome at your gig.
This has been one of those trips where I have been both very excited and nervous. The excitement of travelling this far, to a place I have never been to before, to attend such an event, speaks for itself. But with that also went a degree of nervousness about meeting so many of the people who have been my inspiration and guiding lights for the last couple of years… the type of nervousness one might get when they meet an idol for the first time – what do I say to these people?? [I’m not the best person in a social situation, and less so when around people I have never met].
But I can honestly say that you just couldn’t have meet a nicer, more friendly, and welcoming bunch of people. I know we all tend to have online persona’s, but for the most part, these are very warm and humble people in real life. From meeting the likes of Richard Nikoley, Stephan Guyenet, Melissa McEwen, Dr B.G, Denise Minger, Jimmy Moore, and many others, you felt naturally at ease with them all. And being around all of these people, with their passion for what they do – well it is just infectious. If any of you end up reading this, not only do you help people improve their health, but you inspire people to strive forward in their education and career.
I have to make a couple of observations regarding the appearance of the people there… I make no secret of the fact that I am somewhat misanthropic toward most people in my everyday world, and I will also readily admit to being quite shallow and judgemental of how people look. I get sick and tired of being around people who are sick and tired… people who have lost all respect for themselves and the way they look, think, act, move… who are uninspired and uninspiring. With very few exceptions, the opposite was true at AHS. I have never been around so many beautiful people in one room as I have been this past weekend. And I am talking true beauty… the kind that manifests itself by way of great skin (requiring little or no make-up), sparkling eyes, lean, strong-looking bodies, with everyone walking tall (even if they weren’t). And I say this of both the men and the women there (in fact, I have likely developed a few man crushes in the last few days – Dallas, Mat, Erwan, Clifton…).
I have seen a radiant strength and spirit amongst the people at AHS that I have only seen in such numbers in recent times, in one place – Vanuatu. I noted in my write up of my trip there, just how stunning the hunter-gatherer people of that island paradise are (analogous to the Kitavan’s). Yes, a few of the older, academic-types leaved a lot to be desired in terms of a healthy appearance (my suspicion is that these are the ones who are low carb, but still not eating a massive amount of fat, and certainly aren’t engaging in any/much exercise). I did note too, that many of the men that attended are tiny… I don’t consider myself big by any stretch of the imagination, but I felt like Frank the Tank standing next to some of these men. I also have to say that there are a few women there who need to stop loading the bar “for time”, and start loading it to get some muscle mass on their butts. Such a shame to see otherwise stunning women not have that all-important butt curve, being let down by poor exercise selection, execution, and loading… (I’ll get off that soapbox now).
I want to make some special mentions of people, for whom I have enormous respect, who made this event all that more special for me…
Julianne Taylor – My fellow Kiwi paleo nutritionist who also travelled such a long way to be here. It was so great having another Kiwi here (with her lovely husband), and especially one as stunning as she (it was mentioned today that there are plenty of women back home, who could learn a lot from Julianne). It was really special having you here too Julianne!
Andrew, David, Jeff, and Lyndsay. Andrew and David were my USA welcoming committee, and through these two, I was able to meet Jeff and Lyndsay. We have been twittering with each other for many months now, and I only wish I had people like you guys back home to hang out with some more. Fun times were had, and I won’t be able to hear about Tabata training ever again without having a smile to myself. Cheers guys, I hope we get to catch up again soon.
Dallas and Melissa Hartwig – The Whole9 Crew. I have been a fan of their Whole30 programme for quite some time, and knew that these two were a highly motivated and (from the photos they sometimes post), an incredibly good-looking couple. Well, you should see these guys in real life. Wow! These two are the nicest, sharpest, and most dedicated people you could meet. I couldn’t believe it the day I received an email from them asking if I would like to join them for dinner whilst here in LA (we ate at the appropriately named restaurant, Animal, where I brains, marrow, sweetbread’s, and pigs ear were the order of the day – and every bite was divine). But if dinner with these two wasn’t enough, they were so very kind in picking me up on my first morning in town, taking me to Venice Beach, and then out for brunch. Having been lucky enough to share some thoughts with these guys via email in the weeks prior to AHS, I had come to the conclusion that they are very, very, underrated by many in the paleo community. This was highlighted by their poster presentation at the conference – it just blew the doors off all the others there. Thanks for your company and hospitality team!
Lastly, and by far most importantly, there is Dr Emily Deans. Emily should have always been on the original speaker invite list, on the main stage in the grand hall, and with her own slot. But in the same way that Emily has helped grow the readership on this blog like no one else, she gave me the honour of being able to present alongside her at AHS. I was taken aback by the number of people who approached me over the conference, saying they enjoyed reading my blog, and enjoyed my presentation. The fact that anyone beyond 10 people in Christchurch know who I am, let alone that my biggest readership is from the US, AND let alone that I was able to present at this conference (and move in circles that I wouldn’t have otherwise), is entirely due to Emily. But more important than any of this is the fact that she has become a great friend. Emily – I’ve had heaps of fun, and have enjoyed our walks and talks. Thank you for all that you have done.
If anyone in this fantastic community ever finds themselves planning a trip to Christchurch, New Zealand, please do get in touch as I would love to repay the hospitality that I have been shown since being in Los Angeles… and I will do so by giving you large amounts of coffee and bacon – the likes of which you just can’t get here!
Time to head home.