What would you give to spend 3 days with some of the leaders in whole foods health, food preparation and performance? I love going to seminars and events where people come together to share positive energy towards a topic they feel passionate about.
When late last year I was invited to speak at one of these events I was honoured. Mark Sisson and his daily apple were where my journey to overcoming chronic fatigue and making a difference in the world as a performance coach really started. I read Primal Blueprint late in 2010 while living in the south of France. I’d just taken on the role as Head of Performance with the Catalans Dragons and was both scared and excited about what was to come in the role. I’d become unwell through 6 years of travelling the world with little concern for my health. I think at some stages I actually wanted to suffer, I slept on a concrete floor in the mountains of Chiapas in the south of Mexico for many weeks.
Switching to whole foods made so much sense. Initially it didn’t really help. Maybe it was detox, maybe I was training too hard but the idea made so much sense that I kept going with it and gradually I started to see improvement. Over the last 4 and a bit years I’ve seen a steady improvement each year.
What does Paleo/Primal mean to me? The biggest thing and common ground is that it means eating natures foods without chemicals and processing. It also means being smart about the foods that help you and those that hinder. There is no real black and white about which foods are in and out. The most problematic foods for many people that are singled out as ones to avoid are sugar and gluten.
Gluten the protective protein in wheat designed to stop animals (and humans) from wanting to eat it. Gluten is used as a food additive for its preserving and sticky qualities. Modern wheat has been bred and modified to contain 50% more gluten than it contained 50 years ago. The modern methods of ultra fine processing of flour also makes it more likely to cause damage in the gut than the course bred eaten by our ancestors. There will be some people who can live in optimal health throughout life while eating gluten. Many in the modern age cannot. Anthropologists can tell within minutes if our ancestors were hunter gatherers or living on grains. They can tell because on average paleolithic man was taller, had stronger, thicker, better formed skeletal structures and better teeth.
This article doesn’t oblige you to change anything you’re currently doing. As Mark Sisson spoke about, this is like our secret. Those who want to apply it are welcome to experiment. Those who aren’t can continue on modern foods, both groups will live with the consequences of their choices.
Thr1ve.me ancestral health symposium
The event actually started for Kathi and I with dinner with Mark and his fantastic wife Carrie Sisson who might have a book of her own out soon! It’s great to have a human experience with people you look up to. Mark is definitely one of those for me. Hearing about his ambitions and challenges was great.
Mark opened the event with a message of inclusion and working backwards from getting everything right once your health is where you want it. You could feel some of the audience whincing as Mark Sisson says he eats a few bites of bread every now and then!
Under-reaction -> gluten containing foods for breakfast lunch and dinner + snacks for those unaware of how to optimise health and performance..
Over-reaction -> attempting to avoid contact with a single molecule of gluten from now until the end of time.
Don’t ruin your life eating clean. At the same time battery acid in moderation is still going to kill you.
He fielded questions on play, ketosis, aerobic training and lots more over the 3 days. I was interested to hear his thoughts on ketosis since I’ve been playing around with it for the last few weeks.
So what does Mark Sisson think about ketosis? That its a stress that will make us stronger, like training, to a point. Like fasting it’s not a place to be all the time. When you go there sometimes you should get the benefits of increased mitochondrial function or possibly density. But you don’t need to be there 24/7 for years. If you do then you can survive but it’s probably not the most enjoyable way to live since you’re going to avoid a lot more foods than even with primal eating.
Mark’s take makes sense. I think we should use ketosis but it doesn’t need to become god. Over-reaction Vs Under-reaction.
Listening to Mark speak and seeing the way he worked with the audience was powerful. There were even tears at one stage as he spoke about a long-time staff member who had finally let go of some emotional baggage and some weight at the same time. Mark acknowledged the role of the mind and perception in this whole process of optimising life.
The first event I went to was Samantha Martin the bush-tucker woman. She cooked some kangaroo and crocodile for us while telling the story of her life and her life’s message to inform people both indigenous and non-indigenous about the value of traditional foods. Her message and food were well received and Samantha contributed authentic ancestral knowledge to the event. We’re going to take this one step further taking a small group of people to the Kimberly region, Samantha’s ancestral lands, later in the year to experience what it’s like to live off the land and learn more about the ancient ways of her people.
The next event I went to was Damien Kristoff from The Wellness Guys. He is a chiropractor who sees the whole picture when helping people to resolve their physical ailments. His talk on stress explained how we are physiologically different under stressed conditions and that the signalling hormones released during stress change our brain function and digestive function. Specifically chronically high cortisol levels from chronic stress; whether from allergies, relationships or the challenges of city living, cause us to loose neurones often specifically those associated with short-term memory. Kristoff also touched on one the key messages of Bruce Liption, that genes are just blueprints which will be activated or deactivated based on environmental stimuli. On a side note it now appears that coding for proteins may only be 3% of the function of DNA and that the main function of DNA is to send and receive electrical signals.
Next I gave my RealMOVEMENT presentation. Movement to freedom with 3 specific outcomes. I wanted to explore a path to juggling, mobility, and handstands as a path towards chasing bigger dreams and living with a higher degree of personal freedom. I told the guys from the start that it would be hard and that being uncomfortable isn’t just ok, it’s necessary for us to become strong and durable and to achieve almost anything worthwhile in life. Seeking ease and comfort makes us feel incapable. This is at the heart of the problems of the 21st century. Our ability to tolerate and recover from stress is really one of our key functions to develop.
We started with re-wiring the brain. I gave the guys 2 minutes to juggle on their own and then asked them to report back their emotions: frustration, confusion, excitement, nervous, embarrassed, fun. I then demonstrated a simple path for them to progress to the next level with their juggling regardless of their current level. It’s important to experience some degree of success but not too much. You can never master juggling so if it’s starting to feel comfortable you need to move on to the next challenge. I explained to the group some of the benefits of juggling, you can see them outlined in my previous juggling blog.
From there we did some circulation and basic motor pattern work into some mobility challenges where everyone got feedback on their current level of mobility. Next was some ab work and we finished with handstands and a push-up challenge. When the guys needed some rest I spoke about the value of taking on new skills whether physically demanding or not, solving problems helps us to understand our unlimited nature. What you do in the gym or in your play time transfers to all aspects of life. THINK BIGGER about who you are and what you can accomplish because you have been blessed with more talents and abilities than you will ever fully realise!
It was great to have lots of people from the group come and speak to me after the event saying that my message resonated with them and that they had decided either to pursue one of the 3 challenges or their bigger challenge in life that they have been avoiding.
Next up was Sarah Wilson. Her powerful example of minimalism and simplicity was possibly the highlight of my week. The idea of avoiding sugar was one I was already familiar with so I’d never really looked into Sarah’s work but hearing her speak was great. For someone in the mainstream making big money to still ride her bike everywhere and not own a car is amazing! Her talk was about make the message accessible. She wants her message to be able to be shared with her dad and his friends. “Tell people who it will help them and show them how it’s working for you, was a key message and one that resonates with me.” Tell people to eat like their great grandmas or the greeks / french, look at the blue zones where people live the longest, perform a gentle experiment on yourself, great messages from a powerful woman.
Dr John Hart spoke about longevity medicine through a blend of ancient wisdom and modern technology later in life.
Meet Josh Sparks the Founder of Thr1ve –
Why Listen ?? Because Josh had a dream and he made it an exploding reality and he’s telling you how you can do the same!