Last weekend I had the absolute pleasure of attending Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution Seminar.  More importantly, I was able to bring my mom who has heard my continuous praise of the Paleo lifestyle for years and has slowly been transitioning to this lifestyle herself.  I was super fortunate to attend a dinner hosted by my friends at Academy of Lions with Robb and Nicki a couple days before the seminar at Enoteca Sociale.  My friend Cindy at PALEOdish did a recap of the dinner, so you can check out her post here

This was my third time attending one of Robb’s seminars and I’m so glad I decided to attend again because the content has really evolved (incl powerpoint! Loved that addition) and I learned so much more.  The first half of the seminar was UBER-science-y pulling from the books of Mat Lalonde.  EVERY mechanism related to digestion, gut permeability, autoimmunity, hormonal responses to food/sleep/stress and metabolic derangement were covered at length.  I think my mom wanted to kill me at the halfway point….thinking this was some kind of sick punishment for not having read the book yet.  But alas, I saw her taking some notes whenever Robb said something in laymen’s terms and that made me smile. 

My friend Joey Shillolo from JS3PT did a great job of summing up many of the key takeaways in practical terms, so I will direct you to his blog to read about them.  Aside from what he noted, I want to share a few key things that I took away from this seminar.  Of course, I highly recommend reading the book, the blog and listening to the podcasts if you want to learn more.  Here we go:

Science – It works bitches!  It is time to put this whole cavemen thing to bed and come into the 21st century.  The Paleo Solution is based on science, not what cavemen ate.  Sure, it draws the hypotheses by looking at evolutionary biology, but the physiological mechanisms must be proven in order to make the recommendation and this is what Robb has done.  If you have/had any doubts on the protocols, Robb put the ‘nail in the coffin’ and then buried the coffin 10 ft under by helping everyone understand the mechanisms behind EVERYTHING….from why we get fat to gluten to CVD to infertility to autoimmunity to cortisol….and backed them all up with scientific journal references.  I also learned so many new Scrabble words including, but not limited to: Sepsis and Zonulin!  I should note that there were doctors and RD’s in the audience who said they NEVER learned these things in school.  I can relate.

The Evil Trifecta: Gluten, Linoleic Acid and Fructose.  Where do I begin?  In short, avoid these  like the plague.  Each of these things contribute to metabolic derangement, inflammation, autoimmune conditions, obesity, mental health etc etc….and why you feel hungry 2 hours after you’ve had your Kashi crap.  This applies to EVERYONE.  Much of this was similar to what Mat had in his seminar which you can buy and view online from Academy of Lions (I highly recommend this if you want to geek out!).  Does this mean that you should avoid fruit? No…fructose really applies to things like corn syrup (or agave!).  But it does mean that you should limit your fruit consumption and stick to fruits that are lower in fructose.  And if you suffer from any metabolic derangement or excess weight, then you should severely limit fruit in favour of veggies (try Jicama!).   If you’re wondering what fruits are best, Loren Cordain has a nifty chart that sums it all up here

Eat Your Veggies!  Oh ya, grow them TOO! There is a stigma (yet another) that people who eat Paleo devour meat like Fred Flinstone after a tough day at the quarry.  Yes, part of the equation is to eat animal protein….this includes sourcing it from local and humanely raised/wild sources.   But the other part of the equation is to eat LOTS OF VEGGIES.  I was so happy to hear Robb talk about how many vegetables he eats.  Personally, I love vegetables….I seriously probably eat more than most vegetarians….Whole Foods applauds when i walk in and rolls out a red carpet through the produce section for me.  Alas, this brings up the point of Nutrient Density.  Robb talked about the nutrient density of the diet and showed a RDA comparison between a conventional diet and the Paleo diet.  This applies to babies, kids, elderly…the point is that you are not missing any nutrients by following the Paleo approach.  Want more proof? The fabulous Krista at Stumptuous did a blog post about this after attending the seminar which sums it up nicely.  The other great thing that Robb talked about was growing your own food or supporting local farms via farmer’s markets and CSAs.  He has started the Liberty Garden initiative on his blog to promote eating locally and growing your own food.

The proof is in the pudding.   Robb shared some of the transformations from his clients (and himself) and a plethora of these are available on his site.  It is truly amazing to see people reverse disease with food.  It’s a simple concept if you think about it….heal the gut via foods and heal yourself.  Despite it being so easy to understand, there is still a huge polarization in the nutrition world.  Rather than wasting time on a never-ending argument, the answer is really to try it for 30 days….  Assess how you “look, feel and perform” and whether your biomarkers of health have improved.  PERIOD.  We are (I am) better off spending my time with people willing to listen and change.  Life is short and there are way too many sick people in this world looking for help to waste time on those not willing to give up 30 days to try something that could change their lives.

We are all Unique Snowflakes.  Robb did a good run-down on how the diet can be tweaked to satisfy various people’s goals/conditions.  He also spent time talking Supplements and protocols for using them.  Robb talks about this stuff every week in his podcasts, so if you’re looking for details on your unique situation I would encourage you to tune in.  But what I love about this is that it illustrates that there is still an element of customization involved in the process and you need to tweak and play around with it.  I am constantly ‘tinkering’ with myself (wow, that sounds inappropriate) to see what works/doesn’t. 

OK, that was a lengthy run-down and yet I feel like I only scratched the surface of everything that I learned.  I’ll end by saying that one thing that really stands out about Robb….aside from the fact that he is the “King of all Paleo Media” (i just made that up)….is his passion and drive for helping people recover from disease and get healthy.  He shared some amazing stories about helping people reverse their diseases and his quest to change conventional thinking.  Hearing these stories fired me up to continue my journey to help others get well.

LASTLY, I’m proud to announce that my mom has gone “Fully Primal” since attending the seminar is already reaping the benefits!  She even did a test (a la Robb) where she stopped including Stevia in her coconut milk smoothie and then added it back in after a week to see how she would react.  Sure enough, it caused a sugar craving a couple of hours later.  She has now removed it from her roster.  I am so proud of you Mom!

I closed my trip to San Diego with Robb Wolf’s Paleolithic Solution Seminar at Team Crossfit Academy in Monrovia, CA.  The stars aligned in my favour as I was able to schedule my trip around this seminar – Monrovia is a 2 hour drive northeast of SD.  I saw Robb about a year ago in Toronto when he was doing the CF Nutrition seminars which had a heavy focus on Zone proportions and left me with my head spinning as I tried to add up ‘block’ fractions with my almonds (that lasted about a month before I switched back to unweighed/unmeasured eating).  I wanted to see the new material and get a refresh on the stuff that I had already seen.  The seminar covers a detailed rundown of your endocrine system, the relevant hormones that effect your health, your digestive tract, cortisol and insulin management and practical applications for applying these practices to your (and your client’s) life. I’m not going to write a kiss-ass review of the seminar because I think you can figure out on your own that it is totally awesome and most definitely worth attending – even if you saw his previous seminar.  Whether you are completely foreign to Paleo or experienced, you will get a lot out of this day.  What I want to share is something that Robb asked of us at the end of the seminar…as readers of my blog, I want you do this:

1.  Order the book and buy copies for your family/friends.  If you are in Canada, you can pre-order it from amazon.ca or chapters.ca.
 Check out this promotional video if you are not convinced or you need help convincing others.
2.  Read the book.
3.  Here is where the work comes in….write a user review on amazon.ca AND chapters.ca (or the comparable US site). Reviews are what drive interest and sales  – I think this is especially important on the Canadian sites since there are rarely any user book reviews posted.  I’m sure it will be a glowing review, but be honest if you didn’t like it or think there were pieces that could be improved upon.  Robb is EXTREMELY generous with his followers or ‘groupies’ – he gives free weekly podcasts, he takes the time to answer every question (even the ridiculous ones) on his FB wall and blog despite the fact that people could easily google the answer themselves, and he just genuinely cares about helping people – now is our time to show him our appreciation and give back.  He even gave out 10 copies of his book at the seminar (which he doesn’t even have a copy of yet) – unfortunately I was not one of the lucky winners and Robb told me afterward (after I mentioned that I came from Toronto) that I should’ve received one for travelling the longest distance.  waaahhh:(

Showing our gratitude to Robb is one thing, but I’m also telling you this because I believe we might actually have an opportunity to make some noise with this book and hopefully get more ‘people of influence’ (ie: doctors, health practitioners, government etc) on board with evolutionary nutrition.  The pendulum continues to swing in favour of the high-carb/low-fat/less-meat pyramid and it is making people sick.  We have the chance to change this by bringing attention to this book and promoting it outside of the crossfit or paleo/primal cult.  Let us make people aware that this actually works and that it is not a fad, but a long-term solution to achieving and maintaining optimum health and wellness.  There is a big chance that this might become a New York Times bestseller – if Paris Hilton’s book can do it, I sure as hell hope this one can.

Now that I’ve said my piece, I’ll share some CPG style notable events of my trip to Monrovia:

  1. The QOD (quote of the day) from Robb was, “It’s so much easier to sell coke and hookers to someone than health.”  Amen brother.
  2. If you limit yourself the scan/seek buttons on the radio you will hear the latest Eminem song at least once every 10 minutes.
  3. As I drove through San Dimas I yelled to myself, “San Dimas highschool football rules!!”  “Wild Stallions….(insert air guitar)”.  Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure anyone?
  4. When you’re starting to zone out, blasting “Welcome to the Jungle” and screaming along with Axl, specifically the opening cry of “Do you know where you are??!?! You’re in the jungle baby!!” helps wake you back up.
  5. I was really excited to see that the speed limit on the I-15 north of San Diego is 70…that’s 115km/hr.  It’s practically the autobahn.

As Vince from Slap-Chop famously said, “We’re going to make America skinny again.”  Now what are you waiting for? Go order the book!

 

i should've worn heels....i look like a gymnast next to Dallas & Melissa

 

I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Whole9 workshop AND their first Trainer workshop at Crossfit Colosseum in Toronto this weekend.  I had been a fan of Melissa’s blog Urban Gets Diesel before she and Dallas started Whole9 – she is one of my ‘blog-idols’ as her writing is intelligent, sassy and incredibly witty – so I was pretty excited to meet the real deal in person.  

One thing I want to clear up right off the bat…In the words of Derek Zoolander, Dallas and Melissa are ‘really really REALLY good looking’.  The dictionary definition of ‘fit and healthy’. I don’t mean to be superficial, but I felt the need to state that point.  They are also really down-to-earth, incredibly friendly and generously offered me their time to provide me with valuable advice on my own career path and goals.

I’m not going to talk about the content of their seminar because you can see a rundown on their website.  I’m also not going to talk about the trainer workshop, which was a whole other experience of awesomeness.  I want to use this post to tell you why you should go to one of their Whole9 workshops.  In 3 words, here is what they do best: Keep it simple!  

If you’ve not had the opportunity to attend any of the nutrition seminars going around the crossfit universe, then you should make a point of going to this one first.  It’s a fantastic overview and introduction to the concepts behind why certain foods make you healthy, while others are damaging to your health.  They also spend a great deal of time showing you how to PRACTICALLY implement it into your life without depriving yourself or requiring you to own an electronic scale and accounting calculator.  Dallas and Melissa do an amazing job of taking what are complicated concepts and making them simple and easy to grasp. Your brain won’t swell up by overloading it with words you can’t spell and you WILL NOT have horrifying reminders of why you dropped science after grade 9 (freshman year for all you Americans).    I highly recommend this to anyone who wants to improve their health or help others in their life get healthier.  You don’t need to be in crossfit or even know what crossfit it.  This is for ANYONE and EVERYONE.  

This is why I’d recommend it to people who already know their stuff: I’ve been to Mat Lalonde’s seminar and Robb Wolf’s seminar (which are both amazing) and have read a plethora of nutrition books/articles, so I’m confident with the concepts that Dallas and Melissa discussed.  But I learned so much about how I take that information and explain it to friends, family and clients in a simple, concise way with no BS.  One of the things I sometimes struggle with is trying to explain why I don’t consume dairy/grains without using words like ‘casien’ and ‘lectins’.  You can quickly start sounding like you belong to a cult much like scientology when you talk to normal people this way.  Dallas and Melissa gave us so many simple explanations and analogies that I can now use to explain these concepts to people like my mom or even new clients at the gym.  If you want to be able to promote why Paleo/Primal principles are the best for your health, then you need to go to this seminar.    

I’m seriously fired up about taking what I have learned and sharing it with the people in my life and future clients.  It’s inspired me to work on some of my own analogies and a “paleo elevator pitch” (stay tuned for that).  I’m also incredibly grateful for the experience that I had with Dallas and Melissa and the advice that they offered me.  Lastly, I’m also very happy to have been able to hang out with people who are also really really really good looking.

 

excuse the bluriness...i'm trying to not look like a stalker

 

This weekend I had the absolute pleasure of attending the Mat Lalonde Nutrition Seminar at Crossfit Academy of Lions.  I will sum up Mat in 3 words: thorough, passionate and cool.  He is a nutrition genius who knows his stuff inside and out.  He is able to take what is super technical and make it relevant and translatable to non-science peep’s (like me!) – with a bit of humour and 1 cute dimple (i couldn’t resist…as Robb Wolf says, “the ladies will be throwing their panties at him”).   Mat said that he would be happy if everyone walked out with 10% of the information that he gave – I hopefully took away much more than that.  Here is a brief run-down of what I learned from this seminar:

Big Words: like polysaccharides, postprandial, carnitine and epidemiological.  Mat said he was amazing at Scrabble and you can see why.  When you have a repertoire of words like these, you would always win.  Prior to the seminar my nutrition lingo was limited to things like macronutrient, insulin, glucagon and gluconeogenesis (thanks to Mr Wolf for that one)….now I’ve got way more fun words to drop!  In all seriousness, I got a thorough learning of the words beyond carbs, hormones, fats which will helped me to further understand the inner mechanics of the body and what really happens when you eat that piece of cake.  

Good Science vs Bad Science: When Mat said that he had to go deep into the bowels of the Havard Library to get some of his references, he is not kidding.  (I picture it being like the opening scene in Ghostbusters).  Mat presented a plethora of studies and scientific articles – he actually shows each study and highlights the important points – and you get an understanding of how to read these types of articles and what to look for to determine their validity and approach.  One of the cool new big words I learned was Epidemological: it’s the study of factors effecting people and illnesses.  It’s also a flawed way of deriving causes of obesity.  Epidemological studies identify a correlation between 2 variables – we see these studies in the media all the time.  For example (and I’m not joking), there was a study that came out recently that said “Children who eat 3 or more burgers a week are more likely to be obese.” What they found was a correlation, not a cause.  What your average-joe might take away from this is that burgers cause obesity, which is not necessarily true.  A HUGE proportion of studies released to the not-too-smart masses these days are based on correlations, bad funding (always read the fine print to see who is funding the study!) and poor scientific experimental design.  Hence, we end up with recommendations like ‘eat more fiber!’ and ‘don’t eat red meat!’ I now have a better idea of how to read studies and determine whether it’s good science looking for the truth or bad science looking to support a hidden agenda.

The ins & outs of Fructose, Linoleic Acid and Saponin: We covered a great amount of detail on Fructose, Linoleic Acid and Saponin which was eye-opening because I learned a lot of new material on how the body processes these and their detrimental effects.  I’m not going to go into detail on these, so i highly encourage you to research these further on your own.  I will point out a couple things: Unlike Glucose, Fructose doesn’t spike your insulin.  BUT when too much fructose enters the liver, the liver can’t process it all fast enough for the body to use as sugar. Instead, it starts making fats from the fructose and sending them off into the bloodstream as triglycerides. Fructose can cause damage to the body and brain via a process known as glycation which can literally age you (google AGE). In some situations (like when you’re doing athletics) fructose is good because it can fill up your liver glycogen stores.  However, on an everyday basis you want to limit Fructose consumption.  Mat compared chronic fructose consumption to chronic boozing showing that a similar level of damage can be done to the body and mind with prolonged usage.  Linoleic acid is found in PUFA’s (polyunsaturated fats) and has elevated levels in fats such as sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil and canola oil – this stuff is bad! Mat compared it to free radicals entering your body and it can wreak havoc on your liver.  Finally, Saponin increases gut permeability which can contribute to leaky-gut – it’s found in things like the skin of potatoes (peel those babies!), soybeans, certain nightshades and other foods.

What to eat:  Mat doesn’t preach a Paleo or Primal or Caveman diet.  He eats foods that your body needs based on scientific truth and evidence.  It happens to align fairly close to the Paleo/Primal approach, yet is slightly different.  In a nutshell, eat Meat, Fish, Fowl, Eggs, Veggies, Tubers/Roots/Bulbs (they’re mostly glucose not fructose….YEA!), Animal Fat (mmmmmm), Lard, Tallow, Ghee, Avocados and Coconut.  Limit nuts, seeds and fruit – this is due to the fructose in fruit and linoleic acid in certain nuts/seeds.  Berries are your best source of fruit.  Cashews, macadamia nuts and a little bit of almonds are your best choices.  Olive oil is OK.  Cooking with coconut oil or animal fat/lard is best.  Quality meat is key – choose grass-fed beef, pastured pork or chicken and wild fish (News flash: You can order grass-fed beef and other harder to find Paleo foods from Crossfit Academy of Lions in Toronto).  Quality becomes even more important when you’re eating the animal fat.  Slow-cook or grill your meat with a marinade rich in antioxidant spices (like rosemary).  High-heat cooking promotes risk factors for cardiovascular disease.   Make sure your training, sleep and stress are in-check.  Vitamin D3 (4-5,000 IU in a liquid cap or liquid), Fish Oil (2-3g/day and maybe none if you’re sticking to the recommended foods including quality meat and fish), Magnesium (300mg-2g/day).  I also learned that Kelp is a good source of Iodine (yay for kelp noodles!).  Lastly, Mat considers Dairy a grey area with not enough scientific evidence to support it one way or the other.

There was SO MUCH MORE covered in Mat’s seminar and I’m not even scratching the surface with this post.  I would highly encourage you to attend one of his seminars – he did a webinar presentation for people who wanted to attend remotely.  He is truly a genius and I feel so lucky that I was able to attend and meet him this past weekend.  It has enriched my knowledge of nutrition immensely and I excited to begin applying to it my life and others.

I would say that if you can’t attend one of Mat’s seminars and want some of the learnings that come out of his seminar, read Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes which gives a detailed history of nutrition science and the studies that shaped the various diet movements over the past century and their flaws.  Also, Primal Body Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas which I think gives similar food/diet recommendations as Mat (he suggested this one too) – I’ve said before that this is my favourite paleo/primal book!  Mat also recommended Robb Wolf’s book that is coming out in the Fall, The Paleolithic Solution.  Lastly, Mat also suggested The Primal Blueprint by Mark Sisson (which I also love!).