Ancestral Health Symposium – The Respect Post

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.

18 thoughts on “Ancestral Health Symposium – The Respect Post

  1. Hey Jamie, It was a pleasure to meet you and share dinner at the Napa Valley Grill at our corner of the table. I enjoyed your talk and sharing your different perspective of working with corporate clients. I also empathize with everything you wrote – being an introvert in large crowds (and I usually don't suffer from any star struck-ness, but some of the "superstars" there I had no idea how to approach), and vein there by the graciousness of someone else (Dr BG in my case). Mostly I felt like a goldfish trying to swim with majestic tuna or swordfish. I look forward to reading back through your blog and should your travels ever take you to Seattle, the bacon is on me. Best, Tim Gerstmar, ND

  2. I'm very glad to have finally met you (and enjoy the NZ pinot you so graciously brought to my house–it was delish!). I'm sorry I couldn't do more than exchange a few words with you. The one downside to organizing this fantastic event was that I was so busy I could barely have a reasonable discussion with anyone.I'm looking forward to seeing your and Emily's talk which I had to miss on account of moderating the session in the other room.Next time I'm in Christchurch, I'll look you up for sure! Next time you're in LA, please do the same.

  3. Jamie, sounds like you were a pig in shit. Great to read how much obvious passion you have for this stuff and the people associated with it. Downside is that I wasnt there. Upside is that hopefully we, as a community, benefit from your learnings.

  4. Oh Jamie, it sounds like you had a wonderful time at AHS. I so wish I could have been there. The already paid for tickets were a small loss in comparison to the family tragedy that kept me away, but still…I really wanted to be there with all of you. Next year perhaps. Props on your successful session. Your presence at AHS was appreciated by many. We look forward to welcoming you back to the US again.

  5. Jamie, I had never had an inkling to go to Christchurch until after reading your blog. Now it's on my short lists of places to visit. I'm very disappointed I didn't have the opportunity to attend AHS11, but I hope to next year!

  6. Jamie, You said that this type of organised event brought about a shift in optics from the "relative shadows of the blogosphere" to a more "visible" one. Was there any local media coverage of the event?

  7. It was nice to meet you in person, Jamie. I'm hoping your trip home when smoothly and your recovery is rapid! Here's to the next time!!

  8. Yeah, I won't be able to think of Tabata the same ever again. Great to meet you Jamie, and hopefully I'll make it down your way some time in the future.

  9. "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…" <– proof of what many of us suspect: that paleo is mainly about male ego, mid-life crises, and having too much testosterone on one's hands.

  10. As a menopausal 50+ female – I'm sorry but I agree with Jamie. Sad to see so many women in this world without decent muscle, flat butts, stick skinny or skinny fat arms and legs etc.Nothing is more attractive than good muscle on a woman and a butt that has done a fair few squats and deadlifts (performed correctly of course) Still working of that myself having a genetically small butt.An nothing better than looking at a bunch of men who look like they'd be at home in the jungle, especially the healthy, muscled blokes of my age, who look (and act) like their testosterone levels are high.

  11. There have been lots of comments on lots of blogs about the attractiveness of the attendees at AHS, most of which, including mine, are more an appreciation of the human form. This stems from, no doubt, the fact that many of us are surrounded by 'zoo humans' (to steal a phrase from Erwan le Corre) who look anything but filled with health and vitality. And yeah – too bloody right does being around such people pump my testosterone and ego. There isn't much that is more paleo than finding people attractive, I would have thought.My comment about women's butts was primarily a stab at those Crossfit boxes that push the WOD 'for time' over good technique and loading. I come from a background of prescribing corrective exercise, so have looked at a fair few butts over my time, and I know, whether they are big, small, or otherwise, how they should look. Some forms of CF and other exercise keep women quad dominant rather than hip dominant. And just as I look at skin, eyes, hair, etc, to gauge the health of an individual, I look at how strong they are in their hips – because to me, if you are stong in the hips, you are generally strong in your body.Still, you will always get no-namers showing up with ill-informed comments I guess…Thanks to all those who have signed in with their name (or stolen someone else's)…@Tim – Great meeting you mate. Really loved your talk with Dr B.G.@Aaron – What you pulled off with that conference is astounding. I'm so glad I could be a part of it, and I hope I can again in the future. Thank you too for opening your home to us and making us feel welcome. Me casa es su casa if you are ever in town.@Phil – when I manage to re-wire the circuits that the conference blew, I'll be doing my best to keep the ball rolling. Some exciting things coming through.@David – I thought I was hopping off after 20 secs?!@Katherine – Just you make sure you and Victoria get there next year!@Mike – Christchurch is a beautiful city… great food and coffee!@Dominic – I'm not sure if there was media coverage. My comments pertained to the fact that many of us have been trapped behind our blogs, but it was great to engage with real people.@Pete – Thanks Pete! Great to meet you too!@Jimmy – mate! You did an outstanding job with your coverage and enthusiasm. It was good times!@Ruth – get there next year if at all possible. Good for the soul being around those people.@Jeff – great meeting you too. I haven't laughed til I cried for a long time!@Julianne – you turned plenty of heads there yourself. ;)

  12. Sorry to bring up the butt thing again days later… not going to comment on the politics but do have a question on the practicalities. Since losing weight on paleo I have seen my butt almost disappear. I'm doing 50 squats twice a week (part of Sisson's primal workout). Do you have any other advice for me in reinstating my butt :-)? I am not into gyms and didn't really understand about WODs "for time" etc.

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