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PrimalCon

PrimalCon 2013

I’m just back from a fantastic Paleo trip to America (Jetlag is most definitely not Paleo). A couple of weeks after PaleoFX in Austin, Texas, I made my way to Oxnard, California, for my third year at Mark Sisson’s PrimalCon weekend. Unlike the Ancestral Health Symposium, or PaleoFX, PrimalCon is a hands on practical weekend. As well as hearing about all things Paleo – the focus is on doing.

PrimalCon Oxnard CA 2013

With relatively small numbers of attendees – and lots of different presenters, there’s a chance to meet and speak to everyone. There are lots of regulars, who attend each year, but it was also great to meet so many new faces – as well as some others from Australia and the UK!

With Kelly Starrett and the Gokhale family, there were several session on posture, mobility – and the correct way to stand and move to avoid injury. Whilst these sessions were completely different, it was interesting that their methods and ideas are completely complimentary – hardly surprising as they’re based on how we’re supposed to move.

Another highlight of PrimalCon for me was finally meeting Sarah Fragoso of Everyday Paleo – who really is every bit as lovely and knowledgeable in real life as she is on her podcast!

Chef Rachel Albert gave another fantastic cooking demonstration. It’s amazing how many simple tips I pick up each year, despite being a regular in the kitchen myself!

I also loved William Vives Kettlebell session and as usual, learnt lots of new techniques that I can’t wait to practice at my Crossfit box. There were a few other fitness sessions too, such as barefoot running and sprinting techniques – and I especially loved the Olympic Lifting session – I can’t wait to master that!

As always, the food was absolutely fantastic. A local Paleo food truck (so jealous we don’t have those in Sydney!) provided a lot of the catering, and there was such a huge variety of grass fed meats, burgers, salads, veggies, nut butter – and an amazing coconut bark! It’s so nice to be able to dive into all of the food on offer, without even having to ask what is in the meatball sauce. You just know it’s 100% Paleo!

What would you most enjoy about an event like PrimalCon? The people, food or particular activities?

PrimalCon

PrimalCon 2012

After a 14-hour flight, five movies, no sleep and more intermittent fasting than planned (more on that in a future post) – I made it back to Sydney from PrimalCon yesterday, exhausted – but very inspired!

This was my second year at PrimalCon, so I had a better idea of what to expect this year – and even some wonderful friends from last year I was excited to see again.

Last year was my first time in California, so I assumed it was always hot and sunny there. Packing with that assumption was a big mistake! The weather completely changed on Friday, the first full day of PrimalCon, so much so that the day’s activities were moved inside – thank goodness! I must make sure I bring some warmer clothes next year, just in case.

When I first arrived at the resort, I noticed a few people in minimalist footwear who I knew must be there for PrimalCon – and people drinking energy drinks who I knew I could safely guarantee weren’t there for the same reasons!

The PrimalCon Experts

I finally got to meet Primal Girl, Tara Grant in person at registration. We’d been in contact over email, but it’s definitely no substitute for meeting in real life. Tara was there for the whole weekend answering questions, telling her own story and giving ideas to the participants. She really is such an inspiration and looks the image of health!

Last year Barefoot Ted’s session was my introduction to barefoot running. Since then I’ve been wearing Vibrams regularly, so I learnt so much more from him this year. Ted is a great storyteller and teacher. During a break in the rain we went outside for his class. Predictably as soon as we got to the furthest point, the storm came back with a vengeance, giving us even more incentive to put what we’d learnt into practice to sprint back to the hotel as quickly as possible!

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The sprint clinic with Olympian Michael Stember dovetailed perfectly with the barefoot running class, I’m really looking forward to putting everything I’ve learnt into practice and trying to make my running style look and feel as effortless as both Michael and Barefoot Ted’s.

 

William Vives is a regular at PrimalCon and an expert on kettlebells and fitness and took his session in a corridor of the hotel (the rain was that heavy!) focusing on getting the techniques right. This was a great session as it’s all too easy to get distracted by speed and number of reps – and letting form suffer. I’ve been using kettlebells for a while, but learnt so much that was completely new to me in William’s class. William gave me so many fantastic tips and advice which I’m so grateful for – I feel like he’s helped to bring my fitness goals a lot closer. If only we had a William Vives in Australia!

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One of the sessions I’d been looking forward to the most was Erwan Le Corre, founder of MovNat. I’d heard him speak at the AHS 2011, but his brand of teaching needs to be on the move, not behind a lectern. Unfortunately my group was the first; we were hoping for a break in the weather, but it just got worse and worse. In true Primal style, we persevered, crawling, jumping and lying on the ground. Despite the weather, it was enough to convince me to sign up for one of his 7-day courses – once I master pull-ups (Erwan says this isn’t essential, but I want to get the maximum benefit from his class). Other than the class it was fascinating watching Erwan over the weekend. He never seemed to sit – even at lunch he ate his lunch from a grok squat on his chair. He also seems to look at the world in an entirely different way – I could see him studying the ground and objects, working out how he could get across/ over/ under/ along different surfaces. He really does live and breathe MovNat!

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Mark Sisson took a couple of sessions talking and answering all sorts of different questions. It’s really interesting to hear which topics are hot issues at the moment. Predictably Cold Thermogenesis was of interest, as Jack Kruse has recently brought to the attention of the Paleo community. Ketosis was another issue that was asked about in various guises.

Kelly Starrett was new this year and was such a pleasure to listen to – he spoke about mobility, which is so important, yet really overlooked. I’d planned to catch up with him later to find out more, but got sidetracked with all of the other things that were going on.

I’d barely even noticed Vanessa and Adam Lambert on the schedule with Olympic Lifting. This was one of the choice sessions and I was delighted to have a one-on-one session with Adam. I’ve been interested in Olympic Lifting for a while, but had never actually tried it before. It was amazing, my favourite session of the weekend! I went from being really unsure of the strange movements, to some great lifting. I want more of this! Vanessa used to train with Robb Wolf and was giving some incredible gymnastics lessons and demonstrations. Perhaps at next year’s PrimalCon I’ll give that more of a try.

Chef Rachel Albert was also back from last year, only this year her Paleo cookery demonstration was from a beach house. I’d learnt so much last year, so had high expectations this time – and she didn’t disappoint. Her demonstration was full of so many tips, often really simple ideas, but things I’d just never thought of doing before! It’s great to have a chef championing Paleo cooking at PrimalCon

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As you’d expect from PrimalCon, the food was absolutely amazing. I find it so hard to get Turkey and Kale in Australia, so made the most of their abundance! On the first evening we were served a soup and my first thought was that I would obviously have to leave it – then I remembered where I was! It’s such a wonderfully refreshing change knowing that all of the food was 100% Primal, not a grain or legume in sight – and certainly nothing processed.

It’s funny meeting so many people with the same beliefs on nutrition; you’d think all of the conversation would be about being Paleo, but it’s not at all. You already know you have that common basis and so much else to discuss. There were quite a few of us from overseas this year, including a few from Europe and the UK and even another Sydneysider – who’d have thought!

I’ve come away from PrimalCon feeling inspired with new friends and so many new tips and ideas I’m itching to put into practice. I hope to see more of you there again next year, for PrimalCon 2013!

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My Current Fitness Mission

In addition to walking & running, I have two or three sessions a week of high intensity interval training style workouts, which I love.  I’ve been doing this for over a year now and have made significant progress.  The more progress I make however, the more my fitness ambitions grow.

Originally I wanted to be able to do “proper” man push ups.  I can finally do these now, though they aren’t pretty.  Yet.

Chin-Up-Weights

My biggest fitness ambition is to be able to do proper, unassisted chin-ups.  I’d be thrilled to be able to do one, but ten would be incredible.  I’ve been using an assisted chin up machine at the gym to help me achieve this.  It has a counter weight, which you can gradually reduce – until the day arrives where no counter weight is required.  The counter weights are gradually reducing – and my other strength routines are no doubt helping towards my aim.

Chin-Up-Training

My aim is to be able to do a few proper chin-ups by April – at PrimalCon 2012.  That gives me six months to get stronger.  I will conquer them!

Can you do chin-ups?  Do you have any fitness goals that you’re working towards?  Share in the comments, below

My Current Fitness Mission paleo diet primal crossfit gym exercise pull ups chin ups-min

PrimalCon

7,497 Miles to PrimalCon

One of the highlights of 2011 so far was the weekend I went to PrimalCon 2011 in California in April.  I enjoyed it so much, that I booked my ticket for the 2012 event as soon as the tickets went on sale this morning.

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Sunset at PrimalCon

I hadn’t realised quite how far America was from Australia when I booked this year.  I went at quite short notice and used my air miles, so didn’t pay too much attention to minor details like flight times.  I was trying to minimise time off work, so I left Australia on the Friday and flew back on the Sunday night.  This was a big mistake!  I now know very well that Los Angeles is a very long 14 hour 7,497 mile flight from Sydney.  To make matters worse, as I used my air miles, I was assigned a very impressive route of Sydney to Brisbane, a night in Brisbane, a flight from Brisbane to Melbourne, then finally I got on my international flight at Melbourne!

It was all for the best however, as I met a wonderful new friend on the flight to LA, who was also attending PrimalCon (with just two people going from Australia, what were the chances of us being on the same flight?)

I’m planning to make PrimalCon 2012 into a much more sensible length America trip, especially as it falls the weekend after Easter.

I made some lifelong Primal friends in April, in fact, I spent a wonderful week in Texas with two of my PrimalCon friends, and met up with some others at the AHS in August.  I’m really looking forward to catching up with them and making some more Primal friends.

Over the whole weekend, the food was incredible.  So much was local Californian produce and it was great to have things like Kale and Turkey, which I find so difficult to find here in Australia (if you know of any good sources here, please let me know in the comments!)

One of my highlights from the weekend was the running workshop with Barefoot Ted.   I learnt so much from him and my running style has changed forever.  In fact, it was his workshop that inspired me to buy my Vibrams!  I’m thrilled to see Barefoot Ted is back again for next year’s event – hopefully I can refine my technique further still.
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Erwan Le Corre is a new presenter for the 2012 event.  I really enjoyed his talk and demonstration on MovNat at the AHS this year, and to have the opportunity to have a small group workshop with the guy who does this is incredibly exciting!

I just received my latest Amazon book order of Exuberant Animal by Frank Forencich yesterday – so couldn’t believe it when I read Frank Forencich is also a presenter at PrimalCon!  I’d better get started on his book…

Hopefully we’ll be able to get Mark Sisson over to Australia/ New Zealand in the near future, but in the meantime…  anyone else coming to PrimalCon with me?

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The Problem With Shoes

I used to wear heels every day, and bigger heels at weekends.  When I wasn’t in heels I’d be wearing my supportive, shock absorbing, high-tech trainers.  After a lot of running I ended up with shin splints, apparently cause by incorrect over pronation.  My physio had some impressive equipment & software which took measurements of my running and feet, to create a pair of orthotics to put in my shoes.  These forced my feet into the correct pronation.

Since I’ve been leading a Primal lifestyle, I became very interested in barefoot running.

The problem with shoes barefoot running vff vibrams paleo feet walking running-min

At PrimalCon earlier this year I was fortunate enough to have a lesson with Barefoot Ted, which was an amazing experience.  I’d never given much thought to running style before, so it was very eye opening.  When you try to heel strike with barefeet it is not easy to do – yet when you wear trainers with lots of cushioning, it’s easy – and lots of runners do heel strike.  Running in shoes constricts the natural movement that your feet would otherwise take.  Our ancestors had to hunt for their food and walk and run considerably more than then average office worker today.  So it makes no sense that we now need to wear expensive high-tech shoes, in order to be able to run safely.

I now wear very soft soled ballet style shoes every day, and of course vibrams as often as I can the rest of the time.  Since doing this I’ve noticed that my footprint has changed – indicating that I have managed to improve my pronation.  I’ve had no leg or feet related injuries – despite now walking (with the occasional sprint) my daily 5km commute to and from work.

Vibrams are  great practical way to go barefoot around the city.  Tomorrow I’ll share my tips about buying a reasonably priced pair in Australia.