Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
14 Apr

Blogging from PrimalCon 2012 – Day 1

Today was crazy. Immediately after the welcome speech by Mark and Brad, and all the introductions, which went very smoothly, things started to change.

Although “choices” was the theme of Mark’s keynote talk this year, the weather gave us very few. It was cold, windy, rainy, and thundery (sure, that’s a word); we had planned for warm, still, dry, and silent. It started during the first (and last) presenter session of the day held outdoors. Just as Erwan was showing folks how to skillfully and smoothly swing themselves up on top of playground sets, big broad Star Wars blaster bolt-like sheets of water (but with better accuracy than the stormtroopers) starting coming in at a 45-degree angle, practically sideways. Everyone got soaked, had to come back to the Embassy Suites ballroom, and our initial plans to dine at Oxnard Beach Park, outdoors, got scrapped.

But another theme throughout the day that presenters kept coming back to was the importance of embracing the random fractal quality of life, of eating, and of movement. Rolling with the punches, pivoting, responding to things that most people would see as adversity. So when life rained lemon juice down upon us, we collected it, added some raw powdered stevia leaf, and created delicious PrimalCon lemonade.

Things were shuffled on account of the rain. The three presenters – Erwan, Kelly Starrett, and Billy Vives – had to share a ballroom and a hallway.

Erwan didn’t have jungle gyms to climb around on inside, but MovNat is way, way more than that. It’s jumping and landing, crawling and squatting, standing up and sitting down, standing still and moving quickly. All the daily movements we take for granted must be reexamined, because our instinctual predilection toward natural human movement is stifled from birth. Put that guy in an empty carpeted room full of willing interested listeners and magic happens. The only bad thing about his presentation was that I couldn’t get a single shot without some part of him blurring. Always, something was moving in the frame, maybe a hand, perhaps an attendee’s conception of human movement.

K-Star condensed a full-day of mobility seminar content into an hour, but this didn’t detract from the quality or delivery of the message. He introduced his midline stabilization concept, described how the state of your arch (collapsed or not) can identify and even predict “upstream” tissue problems, showed in explicit and hilarious detail how a movement dysfunction in one joint directly impacts it’s ability to generate force. He made pretty much everyone jealous of the ease with which he dropped into a full, stable squat (before telling people how to go about fixing theirs, plus their pushup). After his talk, I saw many a strong-looking dude and gal trying to squat the way he did.

And then Billy Vives, master of the kettlebell. Billy has the unique ability to not only convince someone who’s never picked up a kettlebell in their life to go ahead and pick one up (and with proper form) without fearing it, but also the ability to make that same person adept at swinging, snatching, and cleaning the thing. Every single step of his “picking up a kettlebell” process was highlighted, explained, and sequenced, so that although not everyone made it all the way to snatching a kettlebell, everyone made progress.

After a fantastic lunch of pulled turkey legs straight from Diestel Farms (literally pulled; Primal Nutrition staff pulled the tender bird femurs asunder to make gorging easier for attendees), Diestel cold cuts, grass-fed Kobe beef burgers (even the burnt, extra medium-well fluke of a patty I ended up with somehow stayed juicy and delicious), marinated artichokes, local strawberries, fresh cut watermelon, what seemed like twenty different kinds of nuts and seeds, and the gallon buckets full of raw almond butter and macadamia nut-cashew butter (it was a magnificent sight, let me tell you), Mark gave the keynote talk.

The cool thing about Mark’s talks is that they’re not canned. There are themes, obviously, and general trajectories, but other than that, they’re wide open. Same thing here. He kept coming back to the idea of choice – that everything is a choice, the deciding of which must be claimed by the person and owned. Choice means you can really mess up, and you have to own up to it, but it also means that you can do something really awesome for yourself and know that you did it – and how to do it again.

“There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to health. Only choices.”

Next, the question and answer period, which is always the bread and butter (note to self: we need a Primal replacement for that idiom… any suggestions?) of his talks. Topics ranged from ketosis to thyroid to carbs to fat adaption to training to post workout nutrition, plus more.

By then, the rain looked to be over, so we got a little cocky. Some of us trekked the 0.7 miles over to Chef Rachel‘s beach pad for a cooking demo (which I heard was fantastic), and some of us hung with Barefoot Ted. If you know anything about Barefoot Ted, it’s that he gets off on running (or “trotting”) barefooted on concrete just so he can throw it back in the naysayers’ faces. Well, there’s no concrete in a ballroom, and if we decided to just run barefoot on soft fuzzy ballroom carpet, we’d be proving them right. So of course we found ourselves following this barefooted madman, running outside, in the 44 degree F windchill weather, sand whipping us in the face and a big dark grey cloud sliding in from the sea. And sure enough, the sideways rain came down upon us. We ran back through the downpour, a procession of bare feet, probably looking crazy, trying to get out of the rain without sacrificing that light, delicate, silent gait that Ted instilled in us. It was tricky, but I think we learned a lot on that run back because we had to.

And because food was waiting for us. Delicious braised short ribs and gravy, turkey legs, shredded slaw in a vinaigrette, bone broth soup, pecan roasted butternut squash, whipped cauliflower, a goulash of some sort, a fresh salad. Tray after tray appeared and then wasn’t. Seriously, it was so good I think I saw a guy sifting through the short rib bones for leftover scraps of meat. Oh, wait, that guy was me.

At that point, things got chocolatey. Cups of gourmet dark chocolate chips were passed out. A chocolate bar appeared on the table. Various truffles were offered up. I partook of all things cacao, and, judging from the blackened teeth of everyone I talked to, so did the others.

A few brave souls did the ocean plunge. Given the cold weather nobody really wanted to, but there’s always that one guy who gets a look on his face and goes “Hey, why not?” This invariably sets off a self-perpetuating vortex of bravado and one-upmanship, a vortex that I always get sucked into. So instead of going home to a warm bed, I found myself running full tilt through high winds toward a raging surf with Bryan Barksdale (a Texas med/PhD candidate; yes, both) and Angelo dela Cruz (VitaMove specialist, massage therapist, wellness coach, Ninja Warrior, and all-around awesome guy). We didn’t want to do what we were about to do, but we felt compelled and did it anyway. How does that even work?

Boy, it was cold. Until the jacuzzi took care of business.

But you know what? The craziness and the hectic atmosphere made it all better in a weird way, brought us closer, made the laughs come a little easier. And tomorrow, when the weather returns to its regularly scheduled programming, PrimalCon will be better than ever.

Tomorrow looks to be a beautiful day, so stay tuned for that!

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I want see a picture of that almond butter!

    How about meat and macadamias instead of bread and butter?

    ‘Everything is a choice.’ Amen to that.

    And who is this anonymous worker bee? Will s/he be revealed at the end so we can put a face or if not, at least a name, to this wonderful piece of narration? :-)

    Alison Golden - PaleoNonPaleo wrote on April 14th, 2012
    • Hey: I think the Worker bee is a guy

      “I think I saw a guy sifting through the short rib bones for leftover scraps of meat. Oh, wait, that guy was me.”

      Whoever you are worker bee you are doing a nice job, thanks for keeping us (green with envy) posted!

      WildGrok wrote on April 14th, 2012
      • I’m sure it’s a guy (the ocean thing) but didn’t want to appear presumptuous.

        Alison Golden - PaleoNonPaleo wrote on April 14th, 2012
        • I think it’s Aaron but I could be wrong.

          Primal Toad wrote on April 15th, 2012
    • I vote for “the real meat”. Consider it in context:

      “Next, the question and answer period, which is always the real meat of his talks.”

      Philmont Scott wrote on April 16th, 2012
  2. “nuts and berries” ?

    Meredith wrote on April 14th, 2012
  3. Fantastic read, thanks so much for bringing us there through your words :-) And I like the “Meat amd Macadamias” suggested by Alison- it has a nice ring to it! Hope the sun is shining for you today!

    yoolieboolie wrote on April 14th, 2012
    • Instead of “bread and butter” how about “meat and marrow”?

      Trish wrote on April 16th, 2012
  4. Can you arrange a midwest, preferably Minneapolis, convention???? I know a great supplier of grass fed meat….
    It looks so great!! Have a blast, and look forward to hearing more.

    Kari wrote on April 14th, 2012
  5. What about “Bacon and Bananas”

    WildGrok wrote on April 14th, 2012
  6. Meat & (sweet) potatoes, of course!

    Sondra Rose wrote on April 14th, 2012
  7. “Bacon and (pastured) eggs!”

    Diane wrote on April 14th, 2012
    • thats what i was thinking

      Jake wrote on April 14th, 2012
  8. “beef and butter” :)

    thanks for the great read!

    mars wrote on April 14th, 2012
  9. Worker bee writing is Excellent! Thanks, so enjoyable. Yeah, CA weather leaves a bit to be desired this weekend (just finished a bike ride at 41 degrees and came in to drink buttered coffee and wipe the icy tears from our face.) But, ummm, the snow covered mountains made it all worthwhile. Hop on up to the local mountains for some snow boarding before ya’ll leave for home.

    Lynn wrote on April 14th, 2012
  10. Hello, worker bee,
    thanks for your fine reporting from PrimalCon! Like WildGrok I’m soooo envious. 😉 Have a phantastic second day there in CA!

    Thorsten wrote on April 14th, 2012
  11. I’m about to go do a fasted workout. I’m going to be thinking about all the food at the event, and using it as my motivation.

    I feel your longing for more ribs.

    Matthew Caton wrote on April 14th, 2012
  12. In regards to the lemon rain:

    When life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade! Make life take the lemons back! Get Mad! I don’t want your damn lemons! What am I supposed to do with these? Demand to see life’s manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give (insert your name here) lemons! Do you know who I am? I’m the man whose gonna burn your house down – with the lemons! I’m gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that’ll burn your house down!

    Kenneth wrote on April 14th, 2012
    • All right Cave Johnson…

      Jen wrote on April 14th, 2012
  13. I’d like to see photo’s of the members along with their MDA forum names!

    dragonmamma wrote on April 14th, 2012
  14. English already has metaphors for what Worker Bee was trying to express: The meat of a presentation, the heart of the matter. No need to contort the language any further to be of service, although “beef and butter” has a nice rhythm to it.

    jake3_14 wrote on April 14th, 2012
  15. Sounds like a great time!

    How about meat and seeds, instead of bread and butter?

    Grok On!

    Rob wrote on April 14th, 2012
  16. Dear Mark and worker Bee,
    just reading your blog in Sydney Australia. The Primal Con sounds and looks great! I would love to be there – maybe next year I will jump on the plane and get there??? unless you could organise one down under? I reckon you could – you do have a good following here. look forward to seeing day 2.


    Mark Simmonds wrote on April 14th, 2012
    • I second this Ozzie convention biz- I’m in Melbourne, t’would be sweeeet, : )

      ces wrote on April 14th, 2012
      • I 3rd it!!! I’m also in Sydney

        Caroline wrote on April 14th, 2012
        • I’m not in Australia, but I sure would love a great excuse – like Primal Con – to go there!

          lovin' the good life wrote on April 15th, 2012
  17. Here’s your Primal-approved replacement for the phrase “bread and butter.”


    “Steak and eggs.”

    Russell (Primal U) wrote on April 14th, 2012
  18. Super cool that barefoot Ted was there!

    Alby wrote on April 14th, 2012
  19. bread and butter < meat and bones

    panderbear wrote on April 14th, 2012
  20. I am soooo jealous…wish I was there!! I hope to be able to make it next year.

    Jessica C wrote on April 14th, 2012
  21. I vote for “Steak and eggs.”

    I was sitting here trying to think of something that flowed with steak and couldn’t get it right until Russell (Primal U).

    Steak and eggs.

    Kristina wrote on April 14th, 2012
  22. Here in the UK, we use the phrase “meat and two veg” to describe something that is basic, straightforward and elemental.

    Gene wrote on April 15th, 2012
  23. Very good read, thank you Mark!

    “Everything is a choice” – will keep that in mind :)

    Ryan Travers wrote on April 15th, 2012
  24. I’m guessing Worker Bee is a guy, if he mentioned dealing with a puppy (which was adorable). And if it’s the same Worker Bee, he helped me change barbell weights on Sunday morning so that I could beat my PR in the deadlift.

    Russell C. wrote on April 16th, 2012
  25. meat and sweet potatoes.

    Mary Kay wrote on April 16th, 2012
  26. Thank you for writing this! I feel like I was there! I’m really appreciating living vicariously through your posts!

    Kristen wrote on April 17th, 2012
  27. I went to this event as a “tag along” to my partner who is all into this. I was registered, but not really very informed. Sure I liked the new food that had been introduced to the household, and I had lost about 20 lbs. in the 8 months since (mostly) following the diet (who doesnt love bacon! ) In past few months I allowed myself to eat anything I wanted once a week, so I didn’t feel deprived. Plus I ate a whole lot of fruit every day. At the event I learned that because of all the fruit, I was a “sugar burner” That is why I would get head-achey and crabby when I didnt eat every few hours.
    I made a commitment at the Primal Con to give myself 21 days (like the book) and just stay on the diet. Today is one week since I gorged myself on mandarins the night before PrimalCon. In just one week, I feel less hungry, my cravings for food have diminished, and I do not have to eat as often… though I do eat a lot!

    Loretta wrote on April 19th, 2012

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