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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. Iโ€™m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything weโ€™ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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April 18, 2011

PrimalCon 2011: Learning to Be Kids Again

By Mark Sisson
40 Comments

Whew. PrimalCon is over. It was everything I’d hoped and everything I’d feared: incredibly uplifting, inspiring, and affirming, but also over way, way too quickly. I guess that’s how good things go. The coolest part was seeing actual full-sized three dimensional Homo sapien sapiens in the flesh, moving, interacting, eating, getting sunburnt, eating some more, diving for Frisbees, laughing, and learning, instead of tiny stamp-sized avatars exchanging digital text on a computer screen. Despite that digital divide, when people met and put screen name to face, there was none of the initial awkwardness you might expect. It was a seamless transition – a testament to our remarkable ability to adapt to any situation.

And boy were there a lot of situations. Imagine this:

An endless shirtless, screaming, barefooted cavalcade streaming toward a 55 degree Fahrenheit ocean just before sundown. Many a bewildered look was shared between gawking onlookers. I also saw a few envious ones.

Our complete destruction of the hot tub’s maximum capacity. Chatting about shifting nutritional paradigms with Chris, Bryan, Melodious, Primal Toad, and others. Fighting over the last couple chocolate truffles (PBers are suckers for 85% chocolate!).

Watching sledgehammer master Timothy extol the virtues of hammering under the sun to a rapt audience of PrimalCon attendees. The guy has lots of enthusiasm, and it’s super infectious. Cute kid, too (Hey Leo!).

Angelo dela Cruz doing backflips off of kids’ playground equipment, putting lemurs to shame with his Grok crawl, providing restorative body work to PrimalCon staff and attendees (he had quite a waiting list by Sunday), and just being a generally awesome dude.

Reid, his irrepressible kilt, and his incredible Ultimate Frisbee catches. I was thrilled to see my son Kyle taking a leadership role on the Frisbee pitch.

The demolition of hundreds of pounds of animal flesh by the fittest, healthiest crowd of gluttons I’ve ever seen. Well done, all.

The team leaders, stars from last year, without whom we seriously couldn’t have done it. Thanks, guys.

Barefoot Ted trotting around on his “perfect, natural vehicles.”

The ever-enigmatic Curley brothers. What really lurks beneath those beards?

Worker Bee Erik chasing his prey, Austin, and catching him during the survivor challenge.

Kettlebell master Billy Vives showing how anyone – regardless of age, fitness level, or weight – can get something out of a pullup bar.

Michael Stember basically gliding across the field, reaching top speed and making it look way too easy. Maybe if he was coaching me back in the day, I’d still be running. Nah…

Esther showing me how, and why, to squeeze my glutes when I walk so that maybe, one day, I’ll have an apple butt like an Amazonian tribesman.

I’m definitely gonna start parboiling more. Thanks, Chef Rachel.

Team leader Chris toughing it out with a broken foot, still making Ultimate Frisbee plays like a champ. A master at poultry dismembering, too.

One of my favorite things was to just go around and quietly observe the interactions between you guys without being noticed. This wasn’t always possible, but when it worked it was incredible. More than anything, I saw relief on people’s faces because for many of you, this weekend marked the first time you could actually let loose in front of other people and not be ridiculed or given that look (you know the look). To not be, as Timothy said, the outlier in the office. Half the people went barefoot, and the other half were mostly in Fivefingers. People were exchanging meal plans and exercise routines and sleep hacks and cooking tips and success stories, and although everyone had their unique take on it all they were each on the same general wavelength. It’s cool to see it in emails and on the forum, but to see it in person? It’s indescribable. Seriously, it brings tears to the eyes.

At some point on the second day, looking at more than eighty laughing, playing, wild grown men and women swinging from jungle gyms, rolling on the ground, organically cooperating, crawling, jumping, running, scrambling, lifting and tossing things, and exploring movement, I realized something. Instead of kids mimicking adults, playing doctor or trying to grow up too fast, the reverse was true – adults were playing like kids. The juxtaposition between PrimalCon attendees playing and actual kids at the park with shoe-clad, overly serious parents giving nervous looks in our direction was striking and the perfect encapsulation of what PrimalCon is all about. Whether it was Michael Stember showing us how to run again, or Billy teaching the proper way to manipulate a weighted object through space, or Esther helping people regain natural posture, PrimalCon 2011 was just a bunch of big, gainfully employed kids figuring out how to be kids again. And you know what?

That’s what it’s all about.

That was PrimalCon. All the nutrition we fine tune, the exercise we explore, the studies we read, the experiments of one that we conduct – it’s all about rekindling that essential connection with our own bodies that most of us lost somewhere between grade school and adulthood, and rejoicing in its renewal.

Well, thanks for reading, and thanks for coming, if you came. I’m dying to hear about your favorite little (or big) moments from the weekend, so let us all know in the comment board! What did you learn? Who did you meet?

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40 Comments on "PrimalCon 2011: Learning to Be Kids Again"

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melodious
melodious
5 years 5 months ago

1. Thank you, Mark! I had an absolute blast! ๐Ÿ™‚
2. It was play, in its highest form. At one point, we even took over the playground, climbing on equipment, sliding down slides, rocking on the seesaw and playing leapfrog.
3. My favorite parts included the running stuff: Stember’s sprinting, Barefoot Ted’s tips and the all-out on the Ultimate field.
4. Yummy!

Jeremy Priestner
5 years 5 months ago

It’s kind of depressing that things like this are an exception rather than the norm in our society. That is, healthy people gathering to celebrate life and their bodies. How often does that happen? I’m not usually one to be pessimistic or whine about the current state of things, but sometimes I can’t help feeling discontent with the current state of things.

Events like PrimalCon are nevertheless a promising ray of hope. And that is enough to make one smile. ๐Ÿ™‚

MC PRIMAL
MC PRIMAL
5 years 5 months ago
I wake up in the morning and jump out of bed Land in a Grok squat, then stand on my head Doesn’t matter that I mess up my hair Grok wouldn’t care He doesn’t wear underwear Do some calisthenics, finish with the plank Then jump in the shower when I start to smell rank Breakfast is easy, I chug a few eggs Trying to get my protein so I can get ripped and coerce lady Grok to open those legs To hell with the subway, I walk my commute Trodding along as I chew on some seasonal fruit I look… Read more »
peggy
peggy
5 years 5 months ago

Brilliant!!!

Sagar Bansal
Sagar Bansal
5 years 5 months ago

Just WOW

Krys
5 years 5 months ago

Awesome poem! I love it!!

Charley
Charley
5 years 5 months ago

The Grok Anthem! Great Job on that one

Charley
Charley
5 years 5 months ago

@mcprimal

Can you email me tips on decking out your office with a standing work station?

mitchell.charley@gmail.com

MC PRIMAL
MC PRIMAL
5 years 5 months ago

I don’t actually work in an office. I wanted to mention topics that have been brought up on MDA before so I made that part up. However Mark wrote a post about standing at work.

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/standing-at-work/

Rachel Johnson
Rachel Johnson
5 years 5 months ago

great poem! love it!

Primal Toad
5 years 5 months ago
I had an absolute blast. Simply meeting fellow caveman was well worth the cost. All the food, activities, weather, etc. was an added bonus. I will be signing up for next year on day 1 – no question about it. I will be organizing a thread in the MDA forum so there is one area with all pictures and videos taken from Primal Con. I got over 30 minutes of video so look for that towards the end of the week. 9 of us stayed a little longer and went out for sushi around 3 pm. The food was amazing… Read more »
Dave Fish
5 years 5 months ago

Really? Todd has more class in his little finger than you have in your body. He’s an impressive young man who has a bright future. You are simply a troll.

Primal Toad
5 years 5 months ago

HAHAHAHA. This is Jeff. Meet Geoff. The guy who for some odd reason hates on Primal Toad. I feel bad for Jeff, Geoff because when you hate on people you usually aren’t enjoying life yourself. He spells his name differently which is why I am using Geoff and Jeff.

Jeff, or Geoff is a troll. He makes me laugh inside so its all good ๐Ÿ˜‰

Janine
Janine
5 years 5 months ago

Hey Todd..we love you….never mind any trolls… ๐Ÿ™‚

shadia
shadia
5 years 5 months ago

I live in Michigan, in Battle Creek actually, so not too far from you. I would absolutely LOVE some sort of meetup this summer! I’m so bummed I couldn’t go to PrimalCon, but I think smaller more local groups are a fantastic way for us PBers to network and learn from eachother.

Primal Toad
5 years 5 months ago

You bet! That’s AWESOME that you live in Battle Creek! My goal is to have our first meetup in April. You would be the 6th “caveman!”

Join here: http://www.meetup.com/grprimaltribe/

Can’t wait to meet you!!!! I’ll share a few insights I learned from Primal Con this year ๐Ÿ˜‰

Primal Toad
5 years 5 months ago

Thanks again Mark.

Johnson Wycombe
Johnson Wycombe
5 years 5 months ago
Perhaps you should do a post addressing the sustainability of the primal lifestyle. Sure, it does wonders for us, the, in many ways, intellectual and economic elite, or near elite, either with our minds or with our pockets, if both are not hand in hand, but how can the masses, the ugly proles enjoy the primal style? Are the mundane masses even able to enjoy it, and would they exist if it were not for the SAD? These are interesting questions, perhaps beyond the scope of your blog, but interesting nonetheless. I would like to see some political, or socioeconomic… Read more »
Alex
Alex
5 years 5 months ago
Anyone with internet access, can enjoy the benefits. In its essence its the ultimate in sustainability [eat the plants and animals around you], but in practice if it makes people healthy (fertile) and live longer = even more population growth no it’s not sustainable. Without the checks and balances of predation and a limited mating season the human species will continue to grow exponentially which is not sustainable. Not that there is anything wrong with that, people are great. Go team people! There’s carrying capacity for 7 billion we have 7 billion plus 1 who’s it going to be? So… Read more »
Jake
Jake
5 years 5 months ago

Access to medical care in America is a zero sum game because of the severe shortage of primary care doctors. If you see a doctor that means someone else can’t.

Thus it is immoral not to eat paleo as you have a duty to society to remain as healthy as possible.

shadia
shadia
5 years 5 months ago

I don’t necessarily follow your logic about it being “immoral” to not eat paleo, if your reasoning is that it takes away a doctor’s visit from another person. You could be ill and stay at home, that would solve that problem. The lack of sufficient numbers of primary care physicians has more to do with decreased pay, reimbursement and incentives that steer most of us into other specialties where we actually have a hope of paying back our ridiculous student loans.

Peter
Peter
5 years 5 months ago

The SAD of today is an invention of the latter half of the 20th century.

Goodness knows my grandparents, born in the 1890’s (and ugly proles like their grandson), were far closer to primal instinctively. In many ways we are simply learning what they knew and we rejected.

Timothy
5 years 5 months ago
Favorite moments? How could I pick and choose! If I tried to share them all, my wall of text would bury the page. So here’s a random few. – Trotting barefoot to the park in the early morning light, hammers slung over my shoulders, singing a marching song, lost in a moment that seemed to last forever. – Standing on a slack line for the nth time and actually planting a second foot down before being flung to the ground. Euphoria! – Watching the human tide at Stember’s training, a sheer wave of humans of all shapes and sizes united… Read more »
Jake
Jake
5 years 5 months ago

We had the opportunity to talk one on one with all the experts. Mark stood for hours answering any and all questions. Everyone was friendly and willing to teach.

I picked up much useful information during these private and semi private sessions.

Alykhan
5 years 5 months ago

Mark,

PrimalCon sounds like it was a blast! Glad you had fun and rekindled the care-free active childhood spirit among adults. I agree with Jeremy that society has become somewhat of a drag when it comes to relaxing, letting go, and simply enjoying life.

Alykhan

Graham
5 years 5 months ago

So jealous! Very different from my weekend! It snowed a bit here! Haha. Canada…

Anyway, sounds like a blast. I hope to make it out one year. Or at least to California!

Keep it coming Mark.

superdeluxe
superdeluxe
5 years 5 months ago
The whole weekend was a blast. Not having to explain my lifestyle for the entire weekend was such a relief (that makes it sound like I’m into something far more exciting, doesn’t it?!!). It was great to meet other people who are aspiring to “live long, drop dead.” I loved –both the running sessions and know they’ll help me make a big improvement in my sprinting. –getting to meet my primal heroes, Mark and Timothy (who led me to this site originally) and ask all the questions I want –seeing primal baby Leo crushing the assisted pullups. I wish all… Read more »
Peter
5 years 5 months ago

Congratulations on a great event guys, the rest of the world envies you!

Nicole
Nicole
5 years 5 months ago

I’m curious, were there any events for kids? Or is that possibly being planned for next year?

Felicia
Felicia
5 years 5 months ago

Nicole,
there were no kids involved and as a mother of 4 believe me I am so glad to have had this time away to grow and “play” like a kid myself! Not sure if I would want it any other way.

Reid
Reid
5 years 5 months ago
My favorite things: 1.) being barefoot for three days straight 2.) being outside for three ENTIRE DAYS – much of that time half naked 3.) playing ultimate Frisbee; haven’t played a pick up game like that in probably ten years. It’s something I am going to try and do more of. Play rocks! (but you never know what you are missing without it) 4.) I’m very excited to make the dips that chef Rachel demoed – I have a Paleo pot luck at the end of the month that will be perfect for them. 5.) Soaking up the sun half… Read more »
Hal
5 years 5 months ago

Ah I love me some Ultimate Frisbee. Now, if only we could find a tlachtli court… We’d play Inca rules, where you don’t have to kill the captain of the losing team…:)

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Chef Rachel Albert
5 years 5 months ago
I had such a blast meeting everyone this year’s at PrimalCon! I just posted one in a series of posts about the event that I’m planning for this week. This one is called Paleo Then & Now, showing how much the movement has grown since the late 1990s. I can’t wait for next year’s event. I plan to bring people from our growing Phoenix Paleo/Primal MeetUp Group so they can experience the feeling of being part of a bigger tribe. If any of you who attended PrimalCon 2011 plan to visit the Phoenix Metro area, please email or call me… Read more »
coley
5 years 5 months ago

i added my pics to the primalcon 2011 flickr group…….

http://www.flickr.com/groups/1623986@N25/

Ed
Ed
5 years 5 months ago

Reminds me of Peter Gray. Mark, maybe you should get a guest post from him, or get him to speak at the next PrimalCon.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn

Primal Toad
5 years 5 months ago

Guys I found this site about a very good diet and exercise program. You should visit it. http://www.atkins.com

Primal Toad
4 years 6 months ago

This is interesting… I did not post this yet it says me name linked to a different website.

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[…] tough and stringy, but I like to know I’m actually eating something’s muscle tissue. At PrimalCon 2011, the wagyu steaks were grass-fed, grilled perfectly, and not overly tender or excessively marbled. […]

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[…] Don’t think I didn’t see how quickly that chocolate disappeared at last year’s PrimalCon. And why wouldn’t it? Dark chocolate’s great, the perfect storm of flavor, flavonoids, […]

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