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AHS 2014 Recap

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This last week has been quite the whirlwind for me! It was non-stop between prepping for my upcoming StrongMan contest, taking the boys on a mini-vacation, and then jetting off to the opposite coast for the Ancestral Health Symposium. I’m still exhausted from it all, so here’s a recap – in PICTURES!

First, as a family, knowing I’d be away for a few days, we took the boys to Great Wolf Lodge to celebrate Finian’s phenomenal first year in Kindergarten (late, I know, the boys reminded us many times).

PreGame AHS at GWL on PaleoParents

We had amazing quality time together, and even posted about the foods we took to stay (mostly) clean eaters while we were there on Instagram but you can also see our post from a previous trip with lots of ideas in it here! But then, when we returned Wednesday night I packed up my bags to plan my trip to AHS14!

Although I have attended AHS before and have never missed a Paleo FX, this was my first year as a presenter for AHS. It was a bit nerve-wracking, as I don’t think myself a scholar… but, I gave two joint talks with ladies who I trust and admire and it all ended up going just fine! You can see the whole program, speaker bios, etc. here.

So, I got on my direct flight early Thursday morning expecting to arrive in San Fran around 10am PST.

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Alas, my plane had mechanical issues. And then my replacement plane had issues. And then there were no more planes to get me into San Fran. So I then took a late afternoon flight to LAX. And then the connecting flight to San Francisco was delayed. And by the time I got in, recovered my lost bags and made my way to the signing scheduled that evening it was 9pm PST I was 2 hours late. But, I did have some big wins… like using the restroom on a plane for the first time ever (new flash: I fit!), and successfully staying clean paleo with my bag full of Epic Bars, Steve’s Original, and SR Bars (egg white protein). I also tried to keep positive and stretched, often sitting in squats for the MANY hours I waited in the airport.

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I wanted to quit so badly. But, the people who came out to the signing were such troopers – hanging in there waiting for me, letting Sarah take a picture of them all holding up their copies of Eat Like a Dinosaur and Beyond Bacon. It kept me going! And, after being awake and unshowered for 22 hours… I got delirious as we waited for the car to take us back to campus (hence, my trying to pick up a giant concrete stone in the shopping center parking lot).

The next day I was fiesty, to say the least. After all the talk of sleep being important we do, boy did I sure feel it the following day!

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I woke up in a dorm room, not my best life decision. Although they were very nice and the organizers were smart in having that option for people, I wanted a refrigerator for my food and a much more comfortable bed – not to mention it was very bright and I’m used to sleeping in a light tight, dark cave-like environment. So, nevertheless, I was loopy and exhausted Friday morning – the day of my two presentations! I got some breakfast (fair trade coffee, chicken sausage, and a green salad with fruit and nuts), then headed off to find Sarah to prep for our morning presentation.

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We spent more time behing hams and having fun together (as we always do) than we did prepping for the talk. Oh well, I decided my only goal with the talk was to be the humorous Vanna for Sarah, and I feel like I accomplished that. If you want to watch the video of our presentation, Women’s Health: the HPA/HPG/HPT axes, or why we think women need carbs you can watch it for FREE!

Then, it was off to grab lunch and prep for the afternoon presentation with Stephanie. Not shockingly, we walked a bit off campus for a place that served some quality protein. Steph got a chicken salad with a grass-fed burger on top, it blew the cashier’s mind “two proteins?!” while I opted for a salmon salad with feta (gasp!).

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Steph and I’s presentation was shorter (20 min vs. 40 min) and I felt much more comfortable with the material, Specific Requirements and Health Benefits of Strength Training for Women. By this time I’d had 2 meals, 2 coffees and a lot of hugs, so I was less loopy and thought the talk went well. It’s not yet posted online though, and there were some technical issues with that room – so I’m not sure it was recorded. If so, I’ll come back and edit this post because I’d love to be able to share it with you!

So whew, after that, I had another book signing and then was able to relax a bit!

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I had the privilege of attending the Mission: Heirloom open kitchen dinner, with the best date in town, Danielle. We enjoyed a gourmet menu and tons of information about the how they’re changing the way the restaurant industry operates, with health and safety of consumer in mind. Things like bees wax cutting boards, baking soda and vinegar as cleaning solutions, a coconut-based water filter, and 100% humidity oven blew my mind. But, my favorite part was the food. I particularly liked the beet brined raw salmon and the camel milk for dessert. There were so many nutrient dense foods (like offal and cricket cookies), it was awesome!

I crashed in the dorm room Friday night, managing to cover my head with a bath towel and get a bit extra sleep Saturday morning. I woke wonderfully refreshed and ready to take on the day. And what a wonderful day it was! This was MY day, I did all the things I wanted to do.

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First, I had an RxBar from OneStopPaleoShop (they saved me with on-the-go food over the weekend, btw!), then headed to the talk by Diana on the importance of fair trade bananas, cacao and coffee. I was so glad I’d gotten up in time to see this very important talk. Our family committed to buying humanely, sustainably raised meat a few years ago. What I learned is that there are quite a few imports into this country that aren’t treating the humans who produce them humanely or the crops sustainably. Our family is now committed to following Diana’s Good/Better/Best recommendations. I highly encourage you to check out her post on this for all the information she shared in the talk!

After that talk, although I wanted to stay for more, I left campus to get coffee at my favorite coffee shop with Matt’s brother (who I happen to have a very close relationship with because he lived with us for nearly a decade) who recently moved to Oakland.  After coffee (by the way, iced was a terrible decision on my part – it was COLD in the Bay area!), we walked around his neighborhood. He took me to his local comic shop, where I found the perfect gift to bring home to the boys.

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He had to head to work, so I was left to my own devices… shopping in Oakland. Don’t worry, I only bought these epic earrings from Lireille (I love to buy local, artist hand-crafted jewelry each time I travel to remember the trip) and then found something only available on the west coast – Third Eye Chai GT’s Synergy kombucha! Oh, it was as wonderful as I’d hoped it would be. And the day was going much the same!

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After shopping around a bit, I ventured to The Local Butcher Shop, where I’d heard through the grapevine they not only carried Beyond Bacon but offal and legit bone broth, too. And, the rumor mill was right! After arriving, I begged Sarah and Gina to come join me for lunch. I popped into the grocery store next door, found cucumbers, green apples and rice crackers and then ordered all the offal in the shop for us to share on their cute porch.

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It was my first time meeting Gina, and now my girl crush has turned into friendship! We helped her through her first time trying organ meat, and much to her surprise, it wasn’t bad (just like we promised)! I can’t encourage you all to try to find a local butcher shop like this, too, so that you can get super nutrient dense foods in delicious, palatable, easy ways. This made a lovely, fun lunch and was one of the highlights of my trip beside these two fun, gorgeous ladies.

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After lunch, I went back to campus for the talk I was most excited about: Bone Broth. You see, when doing our research for Beyond Bacon we learned something that shocked us. Turns out, broth made from bones isn’t as micro-nutrient rich as we’d thought. Often touted as being high in calcium and other vitamins and minerals. Turns out there’s not any actual research to support that. When science looks at the structure of the broth, what’s there is something different than you may have heard.

Turns out what’s in broth that makes it such a wonderfully powerful healing food is simply the collagen. What I wondered is where this talk was going to go; did it have new research, was it going to “come out” about broth not being as healthy as we thought, was the truth about what is in it and why it works going to be said?? Well, as the “soup lady” of our community I knew I couldn’t miss it. And I’m SO glad I didn’t. Dr. Kaayla did an amazing job, you HAVE to watch the talk! I can’t wait to follow her for more awesome stuff, that lady cracked me up!


I would say, I don’t agree in regards to autoimmunity – we don’t need to speculate about what the cause is, since research has already determined what IS the cause. See The Paleo Approach for more info, as Sarah too recommends broth and other super-nutrient healing foods and explains the science behind why it works.

Although I wanted to stay for the breastmilk talk, those days are behind me and I am already a big proponent of and knowledge source for women wanting to breastfeed, so I skipped the It’s Alive: Breastmilk talk and instead traveled a bit to my favorite Bay area beauty’s new home.

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I had several hours to enjoy the company of one of my good friends since our evening before didn’t offer very much quiet time to talk and catch up. Danielle and I had more Blue Bottle coffee (and I had a gluten-free blueberry scone from Sideboard) and she gave me a tour of the house her family recently purchased in her adorable little town. I loved getting to drive a bit out of the city and enjoy the scenery of the hilly, beautiful Bay area in such wonderful company.

And as if that day wasn’t joy-filled with epic awesomeness enough, I then came back into town in time to see Sarah off to the airport after we had an epic Asian-fusion seafood feast! We were joined by Summer, Simone, Daphne, and Adrienne, too. I love good meals with groups of friends, so it was the perfect cherry to my happy Saturday sundae.

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Sunday was my departure day, but I had a few hours to putz around the city before I had to head out. So I traveled with my brother-in-law to downtown San Francisco, where we met up with my other brother-in-law who also lives there. It was a perfectly foggy typical morning, with a chill filling the air as we drove over the Oakland bridge with the Golden Gate and Alcatraz in the background.

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My two wishes while we were downtown were food related (shocker). Danielle had told me about a grass-fed, organic artisan frozen yogurt place (as I mentioned wanting to get some before I left town) and her recommendation did not disappoint! Fraiche not only had amazing tart unsweetened frozen yogurt but they also had gourmet topics, like fruit compote sweetened with honey and strawberry rhubarb puree. My brother and I each got a yogurt and coffee to start the day and despite his grumblings and doubt all morning, he agreed it was worth the drive into town and long wait for breakfast. We then ventured over to the Ferry Building, which I visited and loved last time I was in town. I found a gluten-free everything bagel from Mariposa which I then got meat cones from Boccalone to go with, for the 2 brothers and I. We sat and chatted for a little while, enjoying the delicacies.

Alas, it was time to go. I had been ready to see and snuggle my boys for quite some time, and was feeling extremely nervous about my impending travel given the awful first day. Much to my extremely pleasant surprise, my direct flight home went off without a hitch and I was home and in bed before I knew it. Those first few moments as I snuggled up into my comfortable, fluffy bed with cats all around me looked like this…

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I’ve been trying to play catch-up on sleep and recover from jet-lag with good, clean paleo foods. It’s amazing how those lifestyle factors play such a huge affect on the body – everything from my training to ability to deal with stressful situations has certainly suffered all week! I’ve prioritized quality time with my boys, too, since human touch is often very calming (and I missed them terribly)!

Once I catch up on my sleep, I plan to watch the two talks I sadly missed that Thursday I was suck in the airport, The Underappreciated Role of Muscle in Health and Disease by Jamie(think less about fat and more about muscle), and Lessons from the Vegans by Denise (Sarah says this was mind-blowing).

Did you attend? Watch it all unfold through social media? What’s your favorite thing you’ve seen?!

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  • Julie Bullington

    Thanks for posting the video links! I’m excited to spend some quality time learning up this weekend 🙂