I’m currently on an airplane jetting my way back to the good ol’ Silicon Valley from an amazing 5 days in Austin, Texas where I attended the fitness and nutrition conference Paleo f(x). I decided to take a second to jot down my thoughts and takeaways for those of you who couldn’t make the trip out to Austin.
- Processed food is processed food no matter what “healthy” label you throw on it. I perused the vendor expo and saw so many processed snack foods made with so-called “healthy” ingredients (i.e. almond flour, coconut flour, unrefined sweeteners) that somehow miraculously makes those snack foods now nutritious for you to eat. From thin mint cookies, to tortillas and pizza, the selection was mind boggling. Now don’t get me wrong, it is nice to have these items in a pinch or for an occasional treat, but if you consume this stuff on a daily basis, you will not achieve optimal health.
- We need to eat more vegetables and we don’t need as much protein as we think. Although the majority of people who live a Paleo lifestyle eat more vegetables than most vegetarians, people view Paleo as a meat-centric diet, since that’s what we see on Facebook, Instagram and almost every news story about Paleo. We are only just beginning to understand the nutrient density of plant foods and how they affect health, from the gut microbiota to the many different phytonutrients they contain. Protein, on the other hand, is the darling of the media and processed food industry – everyone tries to get more protein in their diet. Whether in protein shakes or a meat laden plate, I often hear people say, “I gotta get my protein in today.” The reality is that most people need less protein than they think. My rule of thumb: a quarter of your plate should be animal protein and the rest vegetables!
- We need to breathe less and and exhale more all at the same time! By far, my favorite presentation was Lucy Hendrick’s (from Gym Laird) workshop entitled “How Are You Breathing the 24 Hours You’re Not in the Gym?” Breathing is the first functional movement we learn the moment we are born and most of us have really lost the ability to breathe correctly. Most people either breathe excessively through their mouths or with their chests, instead of from their diaphragm (belly), resulting in a permanent sense of hyperventilation, which causes our body to think it’s stressed all the time leading to chronic health conditions like sinus and respiratory infections. By practicing exercises like restorative breathing and ballon breathing, we can improve not only our health, but our posture and fitness level, as well.
- Willpower is THE hot topic right now! There were 3 different presentations on willpower all on the same day! Now, not having taken a drink in over 16 years, I figured I knew a thing or two about willpower so I went into the talks with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. All of the talks pleasantly surprised me by teaching me at least one new thing like how blood ketones, sleep and decision making all affect our willpower. My big takeaway – we only have a finite number of decisions we can make effectively each day and decision making at night usually results in bad ones. That’s why sometimes we fall into that quart of ice cream at the end of a hard day! The more planning we can do, the less decisions we need to make resulting in better decisions and stronger willpower.
- Real solid food trumps liquid food almost every time! A great presentation “Food Form and Satiety” by Diana Rogers from Sustainable Dish reinforced what I tell my clients time and time again – we need to eat our food not drink it! Diana filled in the blanks for me with a ton of great research that shows that eating, as opposed to drinking, real food leads to greater satiety which results in people consuming less calories. I can now wholeheartedly say, “Stop making that daily smoothie people and chew your food!”
- The best times happen randomly and it’s important to be present for them. Sometimes, it turns out to be that the random people you meet and strike up deep conversations with will change your life. By far one of the best times of my trip was a very random gathering of powerful, beautiful, strong women talking all things relating to body image, feminism, dating, non-diet related hobbies and apples. A very special thanks to Kaila Prins, Stephanie Meyer, Stephanie Ruper, Noelle Tarr, Sarah Ramsden and Cindy Nicholson for making the conference unforgettable!
- My real food friends have become forever friends! Yes, I’m talking about you Mickey Trescott! Like Julia Child said, “People who love to eat are always the best people.” Whether they live near or far, just hanging around people with common goals and interests reduces my stress and increases my happiness! My only regret – not being able to spend more time with each and every one of them!
I can boil down the best part of the whole trip into a few words; great friends, wonderful conversation and yummy food. Unconsciously, I took very few pictures, I guess I was having such a good time I didn’t feel the need to document every moment or meal, as I usually do. There’s nothing wrong with taking tons of pics, my friends and I do it all the time, but on this trip I was engrossed and captivated by what was going on around me. Do I regret not having pictures of a very memorable trip? Not really, staying in the moment and learning new things ended up being priceless and the memories will last a lifetime.
Were you at Paleo f(x)? If so, what did you learn? If you didn’t get the chance to go, what have you learned recently that has helped you on this real food journey?