Did you miss Paleo f(x) this year? Do you even Paleo, Bro?
Don’t worry Brah, we have you covered with this conference review.
There’s certainly lots of bro’ing out down in Austin. But in a good way.
While there were certainly dudes running around shirtless (Ben Greenfield, I'm just sayin'. Ok, and me at one point), and lots of fit gym rat looking people, the reality was that everyone was there to learn, share and grow. Everyone I talked with from celebrities to doctors to bloggers were friendly, accessible and open. And really, most people there would rather workout anywhere but a gym. We need a whole long article about why we need to avoid the gym and how it's making us less healthy! So even though many people looked super fit, often we found out it was through non traditional means. Hello Dean from ManFlowYoga, Aimee Rose, Ben Greenfield and so many more have found that gym training is just downright boring and even toxic. You can get hellu fit without ever setting foot in a gym.
Paleo f(x) is a huge group of people focused on personal growth and using the medium of a paleolithic diet to come together. The paleolithic diet is really just a concept of eating food that’s as close to nature as possible. The more processing that’s done to the food, the more removed from nature and usually the less healthy the food. Paleo types also avoid grains (for the most part) and beans. It is thought that our ancestors did not eat much if any grains and legumes and our consumption of such things only came about with the advent of agriculture, which also brought with it numerous diseases that we belive did not occur in our hunter/gatherer ancestors.
Originally Paleo f(x) was put together to bring experts on paleo lifestyle and diet into an accessible format. So many people back in 2012 were becoming interested in a paleo diet and it’s ability to increase health but often found that they were the only person they knew who was doing this. Typically people moved from eating a processed low-fat diet to a higher fat, unprocessed diet through paleo eating and found increased health. Because it was seen as a fad and a fairly new one, people wanted to learn more about how others were living the lifestyle and increase their knowledge on what works and why it works. Paleo f(x) was created and has been a huge success every single year. People came to be with others who were like them. They came to learn how others were living the paleo lifestyle (which often goes way beyond eating and delves into overall health, wellness and mind) and came to have a good time. From late night parties to jumping into healing springs and even freezing in a local cryotherapy pod people found unique experiences and left better than they came.
The atmosphere had a hint of competiveness with the RealFit competition going on throughout the 3 days of the conference, but all the competitors were fun, accessible and helpful. Both men and women competed against each other in multiple contests. The winner of last year's competition even coached me through the rowing portion this year (He used to row competitively). This was significant as you’ll learn later.
While movement classes and fit bodies are ever present, it’s not the cult of crossfit and it’s not all about fitness and competing. Often paleo style eating gets lumped into crossfit cultism. And it's true that many crossfitters eat paleo. In fact most people are not there for the competition but to learn, connect with old friends and make new ones. Aaaand to eat! By far the most prevalent vendor booths were showcasing food of some sort. Sometimes paleo f(x) seems more about a way of life that revolves around food. And some people make the mistake of stopping there, but it’s the other aspects that actually make a bigger impact on your health. As we’ll see.
We’ll tell you who was there and what we learned.
PRIMAL AND ANCESTRAL CONFERENCES
There are two primal/ancestral conferences to attend if you want the latest on ancestral health, Paleo f(x) and The Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS for short). If you want to join us at the AHS use the discount code primalhackerAHS
AHS is put on by the Ancestral Health Society and is focused heavily on the science of health from the perspective of our ancestors. The conference is structured much more like a presentation of information and is more of an academic conference.
Paleo f(x) on the other hand is an exhibition. Yes, there are talks throughout the entire conference, but the talks are more general level information and the action tends to focus on the exhibition floor vs the speaking stages. Paleo f(x) focuses on living the paleo/primal lifestyle vs presenting academic papers about it. I’m all for the science side and I love digging into it, but seeing how people actually live it tells me whether it’s working. I can tell you that there’s lots of confusion out there.
If you want the latest science behind ancestral health and how it relates to food, fitness and living, go to AHS. If you want to get down and live a primal lifestyle and learn how others are doing it, head to Paeo f(x).
WHERE AND WHEN
Paleo f(x) 2017 took place in Austin, Texas May 19-21, 2017 where it has taken place every year for the last 6 years (2012 was the inaugural Paleo f(x) and it’s fun to look at photos from that conference. Some of the biggest names in the business today were definitely more low key back then).
Tickets are so cheap for what you get. $299 for the full conference purchased 1 year in advance or $397 for the full conference purchased any time before the event. That’s a pretty sweet deal for 3 days of conferences, free food, talks by A-list authors and entrepreneurs, instant friends and more. Compare that to other conferences costing well over $1,000 for a similar experience. Throw in the fitness competition, the ability to get in a workout each day, getting outside every day and the overwhelming number of vendors and it’s a solid deal.
If you want to skip the talks, which is what we did this year, then it’s only $79 in advance or $87 for all three days. This allows you to take any of the movement classes, wander the exhibit hall every day and be part of pretty much everything except for going into the rooms where the speakers are presenting. This is such a good deal I find it hard to even tell you how great it is. Pair that with an Airbnb rental with a few others you’ve met on the Paleo f(x) Facebook page, ride shares from the airport and it’s an inexpensive way to learn, build, network and grow.
Don’t feel like you need to go to every talk or even any of the talks at a conference to get the most out of it. Especially at Paleo f(x). Much of what’s discussed on stage can be found in the presenters’ books and social media. Use your time to cruise the expo hall, make new friends, eat free food and do some movement.
If you want to find out what’s new, make new connections, network and eat some great food, then stay out of the talks and focus on the exhibit floor. Here is where you will meet people like Ben Greenfield, Mark Sisson, Doc Parsely and more. And you can actually talk with them. Instead waiting in a huge line to talk with them as soon as they leave the stage after a big presentation, you can just walk up to them and say hi.
Of course, going to the talks can be fun and you get to hear some the latest in the paleosphere.
HERE’S OUR SUMMARY OF THE 2017 PALEO F(X) CONFERENCE
Drink Butter Coffee (Bulletproof, Caveman Coffee and others were there serving free coffee all day long, yes with butter and yes it’s good!)
Wear blue light blocking glasses with other people who get it (check out Thaddeus's TEDx talk on why YOU should have a pair)
Eat Paleo approved food, yes including donuts and chocolate cake
Get in some movement sessions
Meet new friends
Meet online friends you’ve never seen in person
Learn the state of the Paleo Union and how others are living the lifestyle
Try out unique products like cryo, infrared saunas, align foot inserts and all the protein powder and beef snacks you can hold down.
DAY 0 HEADING TO AUSTIN
What do you pack for a conference like Paleo f(x)?
Packing – Last year we came home with so much stuff we needed an extra checked bag. We had stayed until the last day of the conference and at the end, the vendors didn’t want to go home with all their product, so they literally just gave it away. We ended up with about 6 giant tubs of protein powder, supplements, greens powder and more. This year, we packed an extra duffle bag just in case. So a checked bag is key because you never know what liquids or products you may come back home with.
Knowing that we wanted to go for a dip in Barton Springs, we packed some towels and swimsuits. Well, Chris forgot to pack a towel so he had to drip dry. Somehow I forgot to pack any sandals. Pack a pair of sandals that can get wet in case you want to dip in the river like we did. The conference combines movement, outdoor time and a very relaxed atmosphere, so t-shirts, shorts and athletic shoes are really all you need and what we packed. We also added our blue light blocking glasses and key supplements like magnesium, Qualia and methylated B vitamins.
Chris left from Indianapolis and Thaddeus from Minneapolis. We spent the time before the flight walking, doing some wall sits and supplementing with CoQ10, Astaxanthin, Vitamin C, Chlorella, Glutathione and a baby aspirin. Flights longer than an hour are an all out emergency to your body. This is no joke. Some people might feel just fine, but the radiation from being so high in the atmosphere, the intense sunlight coming in the window and the Wi-Fi signal bouncing around the inside of the metal box (plane) combined with LED lighting is destructive to your body. Check out this article by Dr Jack Kruse about what is occurring and how to hack it. And yes, I did take my shoes off and ground myself to the aluminum seat frame by keeping my foot in contact with it the whole time I was seated. And I got up and walked, watched a movie while standing in the isle and made friends with two people in the absolute last seat on the plane. Standing and moving is key when on long flights.
These Vivo Barefoot shoes are perfect for airports, conferences, and walking around town. I've used them for everything from hikes to corporate presentations.
WholeFoods – It’s pretty much mandatory that you stop at whole foods on your way in from the airport and grab some water, coffee or a kombucha and some food. We ended up meeting some other biohackers and Bulletproof coaches there randomly and that’s what happens every single time we do this. We also met Andy Hnilo from Alitura and sat down with him and his friends for a while. We picked up lunch, spring water and some snacks for the upcoming conference. The Whole Foods store in Austin is so big you could get lost. We saw so many business lunches there, which was unusual for us. People dressed in suits and business attire meeting and eating inside the Whole Foods. It was interesting. They had a Texas Barbeque stand, seafood and so much more. Definitely the largest Whole Foods I've been in.
Barton Springs – Having met up with some old biohacking friends at Whole Foods, we drove over to Barton Springs. It’s an amazingly large, blue and cold pool filled with mineral water and it is said to be healing.
It was closed. Closed every Thursday for cleaning. This was sad and would be the 2nd time in Austin without getting into the pool. Last year it was closed due to flooding. We decided we really needed to get into the water, so bypassed the pool and walked around a kids train ride and down a slope to the actual Barton Springs River. We stripped down and headed right into the river. The water felt great!
Healing spring water and cold immersion complete!
Our Home Away from Home – This year, instead of an Airbnb, which we love, we stayed with a friend. We met Krisstina at the Bulletproof Coach training and again last year at Paleo f(x). She lives in Austin and opened her home to us. She had a beautiful home, and a pool out back with views. We quickly found that it was impossible to turn on the hot tub. After searching for a switch or button for a half hour we texted Krisstina and were told everything is App based. There is no button, except on her phone! So a hot tub session is just a text away.
The house was comfortable, relaxing, and it was so great to stay with friends and get to know them better. As if the pool, our own bedrooms with bathrooms and a hot tub wasn’t enough, they had one of those fancy espresso/coffee makers. Did we mention we’re Bulletproof Coaches? Being able to make really good coffee at the touch of a button and mix in some grass-fed butter and Brain Octane Oil (both of which they had in bulk) was simply awesome. That’s not a feature you get even at the fanciest of hotels.
After some Qigong on the back deck I headed to bed. Chris had brought along the Delta Sleeper SR1, and used that each night and sent it home with me to try out for a month. As for the beds, they were great, but the AC was set to 82 and we all slept too hot. A cold sleeping environment is best for sleep and the next night we found the Nest thermostat and turned it down quite a bit.
DAY 1 AUSTIN, 1ST DAY OF CONFERENCE
Up early for a swim and qigong. Man was it nice being in Texas and having a pool outside. Minnesota was 40 degrees when we left. Texas was comfortable at 70 degrees and swimming in the cool pool to start off the day was divine. I didn’t want to do any exercise in the morning as I knew I was going to compete in the RealFit challenge and would get a FULL workout in at the conference.
After Bulletproof Coffee for everyone, we headed out. Krisstina was giving a presentation, speaking on a panel, working a booth with Doc Parsley and podcasting the entire conference. She spent the morning recording audio for her millionaire money course (Wellthy Wealthy) and came to the conference ready to WORK.
Arrive and head into the wonderland
It is a little like walking into wonderland for us. The Palmer Events Center is large and as we entered we immediately saw some old friends. We gathered a group and headed straight to the Bulletproof Coffee Station. We had lots of friends working the booth, filled up on Bulletproof Coffee (hey, there’s never too much Bulletproof Coffee) and grabbed some Collagen Bars while chatting with Kristen Strate and others.
There is so much to see and so many booths that it’s a bit overwhelming.
I immediately headed over to the realFIT booth to sign up for the fitness challenge. Expecting it to be the same as last year I was surprised to find out they have replaced the pullups and deadlifts with an obstacle race and an ammo box shoulder press.
I wanted to get in an early workout for the day and also get one portion of the fitness challenge done before it got busy. I headed over to the ARX booth and warmed up with a bench press and row. After that, I went right over and did the jump portion of the test. This involved jumping as high as possible without tucking in your legs on the way up or down. There is a mat I jumped up and down on that records my height. I did well, beating my score from last year, so felt satisfied.
Next it was back to the ARX booth to perform the bench press and leg press for the competition. I have been using ARX for three months, so had a pretty good idea of how I’d do on this one. My scores on this put me in the top 5, up there with men who can deadlift 600lbs like it’s nothing. I felt really good about this score.
After that I wanted to do one more test. This was a new one and involved lifting a 30lb ammo box over my head as many times as possible in 2 minutes. The military standard that Marines have to pass is 67 and the most that they expected anyone to do ever was 120. The box was heavy and awkward and the whole time I was lifting it, all I thought about was not letting it drop onto my nose. 117 reps later and I was done. Until Ben Greenfield picked it up and did 131 reps, I was the leader.
Chris had a kettlebell class with Peter Hirsh from KettleBell Movement where they worked on goblet squats, swings, cleans and snatches. Peter is a great instructor and we highly recommend him as an online source for kettlebell training.
Once that class was over he headed over to get some ribeye and filet samples and washed it down with free samples of protein shakes and some Bulletproof Coffee.
Neurohacker Collective was at the conference with a booth showcasing their Qualia product. Here is a link to the review we did last year. We’ve talked with these guys on the phone many times, but had never met them in person. It felt like a reunion meeting up with Taylor and James and team. We got a special nootropic from them, handed one to Ben Greenfield and were ready to rock and roll.
Chris checked out Instagram and Ben Greenfield had posted that he was going to lead a workout in the park the next morning at 8 am. We made plans to be there and continued on.
Check out these videos for a summary of some of the vendors.
Most of the vendors were sampling foods of some sort. Beef jerky, meat snacks, protein powder, grain free flours made into cakes, donuts, cookies, breads and more.
After running through all the isles to get a good look at the vendors, I headed outside for the obstacle race portion of the fitness challenge. Alex Fergus (LINK) was out there, the winner of last year’s challenge, and so was Dean XX (LINK) who has placed second for 2 years in a row. Alex is a fitness coach, ex-bodybuilder, ex-rower, ex-rugby player who lives over in New Zealand. He’s a beast! Dean runs ManFlowYoga and is totally ripped. I chatted with both of them as the staff told us how we had to run the obstacle race. They are both really great guys.
I was the first of us out there to run through the course. You can check out our video (HERE). I should have practiced the race first and it would have gone much faster. The dummy I had to drag was so much heavier (150lbs) than I thought it was going to be.
All in all, my time was decent and I was so exhausted after the race that I had no desire to try it again.
Here's a video recap of the realFIT challenge
I found Heather and we headed down the outside aisle of vendors to get some grass-fed beef for lunch. XXX was giving out samples of ribeye, filet mignon and burgers. Their portions were HUGE. I easily got 2 ounces of ribeye and fillet and half a burger. I paired that with an avocado from my bag and had a nice little lunch, outdoors in the sun, sitting next to a camel.
Chris stopped by the 10th Planet Jiu-jitsu table to chat and @curtishembroff invited him to their class on Saturday and even offered to show him a few moves right then and there! After a few mat burns and quite a bit of learning, Chris walked away SUPER excited about learning more.
The rest of the day until 6pm was spent talking with vendors and checking out their products.
We drove to Whole Foods on the way home and headed back to Krisstina’s to swim in the pool.
Workout with Ben
Up early and outside to do some qigong. After 10 minutes in the sun and qigong on the back deck, I came in and got out the ingredients for Bulletproof Coffee for everyone. We headed out to the conference to park and then into Butler park next to the conference venue. We met up with a few others looking to workout with Ben. Eventually he wandered in with Heather, who had been parking the car, and got us ready. Shoes off, barefoot in the park and shirts off to get some sun we began. Ben led about 20 of us through an exercise routine that had our muscles shaking and us breathing hard by the end. It was a great way to start the day. After talking with Ben for a bit and getting some mandatory selfies, we headed into Day 2 of the conference warmed up, grounded, sunlighted and worked out.
10th planet Jiu Jitsu
We met @nogipris and at 10 am got onto the mats in the middle of the event center and took an hour long jiu-jitsu class. We went through three moves and learned a little more about 10th Planet BJJ.
I stopped by the RealFit booth to finish my fitness scoring for the competition. I had a shuttle run, 1,000 meter row, 40 yard sprint followed by a 40 yard backward sprint and a medicine ball throw. After completing all of it, I was definitely done with movement for the day. My legs were jelly. I could barely stand up after the row. But my scores put me at #1 on the leadership board. That was 5 places ahead of Ben Greenfield, 1 place above Dean and others. I felt really great to have done so well against people who are fitness professionals. I’ll be sure to detail my workout routines in a future posts. I rarely workout for more than 30 minutes, usually no more than 15 minutes and certainly don’t train every day.
I stopped by Biohacked, Dave Asprey’s company and picked up a pair of blue blocking light glasses from Peter. Peter curates the Biohacked boxes. The glasses they had were something I’ve been wanting to try since I heard about them. They are called TrueDark and come in two flavors, Daywalker and Nightwalker. The Daywalker’s are typical blue light blocking glasses that you can wear when in windowless rooms during the day or doing computer work. The NightWalkers are meant to wear 1-2 hours before bed. They block more than just blue light. They block blue and green, the two spectrums that can affect our biology after sunset. I wanted to see how much different these would be than typical blue blockers like Swannies (link).
Wow, are they different? First of all, when I put these on the first night, they made every single light bulb look red. Second of all, the light filtering into my house at night allows me to see without turning on any lights. I can easily get around. Once I put the TrueDark NightWalkers on, I couldn’t see ANYTHING. Unless I turned on some overhead lighting, it looked pitch black with these things on. I literally couldn’t see where I was. I’m adding these to my nighttime routine and will now put them on 1 hour before bed each night. They block so much light, I simply can’t use them any earlier.
Heather supplied me with a paleo donut, which I used as my carbohydrate to refuel after the Realfit challenge. It was a little heavy, but otherwise, tasted really good. Nothing compares though to a real, moist, airy donut. I haven’t had one of those in so many years I can’t even remember when I last had a real donut.
We caught Krisstina’s talk on the Paleo On Ramp Stage about the connection between health and wealth. She did a fantastic job and brought so much energy to the stage it was great.
So many vendors and conversations later, and it was 5pm. We talked with Dry Farm Wines and got a few bottles of wine for our get together that night. We also picked up some collagen bars and Primal Mayo from Mark Sisson’s Primal Kitchen.
Saturday night is a night of parties and get-togethers. There was a charity dinner put on by Paleo f(x) as well as tons of parties at private homes and Airbnbs in the area. Just make sure to ask around at the conference and you’ll quickly find out what’s going on. These are great times to get to know your fellow attendees and vendors a little better. Krisstina had some of the Bulletproof Coaches over to her home after the conference.
Day 3 is the last day of the conference. It’s a great time to check out the rest of the vendors you missed and try out products and technologies that were too busy on Saturday. The conference is still going on and there is always a great party that night, but we headed home..
Paleo f(x) is a great conference for anyone interested in ancestral health. Whether you are new to the paleo lifestyle or are wanting to learn more or even wanting to market a new product, this should be on your list of conferences.
No matter what your job, niche or interests are, there are definitely conferences that cater to them.
Here is the whole video of our time in Austin