Appreciating the People of the Ancestral Health Symposium 2011 #AHS11

I’ve added the Twitter hashtag #AHS11 to the titles of my previous two posts and will continue to do so. If you have a Twitter account, you can search that hashtag to access the thousands and thousands of tweets that took place over the span of the event. This is a way for folks who don’t follow each other’s streams to converge on a topic of common interest. Oh, and I generally hate Facebook and pay almost no attention to it. Just had to get that in there.

On two other notes, please email any pics of the event you’d like to share and I’ll spice up future posts. In addition, I plan on doing a roundup post on Wednesday in order to share all the blog posts by others on AHS. So if you attended and bloged or will blog about your experience, then please email the URL to include it. If you don’t make the Wednesday deadline, I will continue to add links as they come in, even after the post it up.

First to the organizers of this event, Brent Pottenger and Aaron Blaisdell. They worked so tirelessly on this over many months and were just go go go during the event itself. I wonder if they got any sleep at all. And to the many volunteers as well: great job. Everything seemed to roll right along as planned and scheduled, and that sort of thing never happens by accident. Most impressively, throughout the event, presentations, Q&As and breaks, time never went over so the schedule was always reliable. Far too often at conferences I’ve attended, things get further and further behind. I believe I was on the email list of the very first email Brent sent out on this, likely around the time he posted about it in December, 2009. While I wholeheartedly supported the idea I was very skeptical such an ambitious undertaking would come to fruition. But sometimes it’s a pleasure to have been so wrong.

photo 9
Proof that smiling leads to trips to Whole Foods with friends from New York

Chris Masterjohn has to be about the greatest combination of funny and smart I’ve ever seen. As I’ve already mentioned, he and Melissa McEwan make the cutest couple ever and I wish them all of the best as they plan for a move out to the midwest next year.

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Dr. Stephan Guyenet, Mark Sisson and Dr. BG

Dr. BG of Animal Pharm (link removed) has been a local Bay Area buddy for a good long while and it was nice to see her again. She’d not met Beatrice yet and they hit it off marvelously. Over the years I’ve probably linked to more of Stephan’s posts than any other blogger and he has always been very generous with his time via email. I believe Stephan and I got the very first two of US Wellness Meats steaks that came off the grill. No side dishes needed. And Mark Sisson. During the whole of the AHS he made himself massively accessible by standing at the back of the main room so that people could easily approach and chat with him. After many exchanges of emails and phone calls with Mark over the last couple of years, it was really great to finally meet him in person.

I’m glad I waited to do another post on Low Carb vis-a-vis Gary Taubes. A couple of months ago I ended up in a short email exchange with Gary, initiated by Dr. BG, and was surprised that he even knew who I was. As it turned out, Gary was the first person Bea and I met at AHS. We’d checked into the hotel and promptly went out for a walk around the neighborhood there on Wilshire Boulevard. Upon our return, Gary was just checking in and he graciously chatted us up for 15 minutes right there in the lobby. Later, we talked about his hypothesis and about my post on 180 Degree Errors back in 2008, which he’d read. Then at the end of day one, I had the pleasure of chatting with both Gary and Dr. Mike Eades over a drink in the hotel bar. Can you imagine better drinking partners? Gary is quite the Obvious New Yorker when you talk with him. Quite the No BS Guy. At any rate, there are some interesting disagreements between Gary and Stephan in terms of how we get fat. But I’ll save that for a specific post later.

IMG 0382
Vegan Enemy Number One

No post about anything related to this community would be complete without mention of its newest luminary extraordinaire: Denise Minger, who can eat a whole raw vegan in a single sitting. And yes guys, she’s just as hot as she looks in her pictures. And she dresses exactly as she should, if you know what I mean. She’s bubbly and cheerful, a true joy to be around. All that said, her best quality is what I termed her “enigmatic geekiness.” Other than that, it has been confirmed that she’s made out of meat. And I did keep reminding her, so she’ll never forget it, that as she said in her first jimmy moore interview, she “owes it all to me.” Ha! But seriously, I count taking her email seriously and doing those two posts that took her blog from a few hundred visits per month to well over 100,000 in a single month amongst the very best contributions to the movement I’ve had the honor of accomplishing. It is a credit to the paleo / Ancestral community at large that they have extended to Denise every gram of credit and recognition that she deserves. Hat’s off to you all.

Nora and Richard AHS11
Nora and Richard AHS11

And speaking of the fairer sex, Nora Gedgaudas was such a sweetheart, and with an equally sharp mind. Her presentation was stellar and my guess is that her’s was Beatrice’s favorite of the whole AHS.

And speaking of Jimmy Moore, I didn’t even know he’d be attending until shortly before the event. He showed up to the presenter’s party at Aaron’s midway through and just off the jet from back east. I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned around to find myself face to chest. Jimmy is one tall guy. I turned to Bea and said, “”there’s jimmy moore” and she ran over and gave him a big hug. Jimmy later tweeted: “superstar sighting: @rnikoley I’ll never forget your sweet wife giving me a big hug. What a sweetie for a great guy. Richard rocks!“ Such a sweetheart. And Jimmy was everywhere all at the same time, on his iPad 2, snapping photos and tweeting everything he could, tirelessly.

photo 5
The man who gave new meaning to being a Fat Head

The morning of the first day and my first entry into the main auditorium, I came face-to-face with Tom Naughton on his way out. I extended my hand and Tom says, “give me a bear hug.” I’ll tell you what, Tom has taken the ability to be funny and serious at the same time to a form of art. His presentation was probably the most cogent and complete treatment of the scientific method applied to health studies that has ever been put together. And he pulled it off while getting dozens of laughs from the audience throughout. Tom has also continued his own body transformation since his movie and from other pictures I’ve seen since. He looks great.

There are so many others to mention as well, and I loved meeting and talking with each and every one. Loren Cordain was so exuberant and wanted to talk with everyone he could. Pedro Bastos, Doug McGuff, Don Matesz, Paul Jaminet, Robb WolfJamie “That Paleo Guy” Scott, Emily Deans, Julianne Taylor, John Durant, Andrew “Evolvify” Badenoch, Erwan Le Corre, Frank Forcenich, Danny Roddy, Keith Norris, Skyler Tanner, and more and more.

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John & Maggie Durant and friend Denelle

Well I know I’ve probably forgotten a few. And there were others I wanted to meet and talk with but never seemed to have the chance. And of course, thanks also to the many dozens of readers who came up and introduced themselves as both long time readers and new readers alike. Of course, it’s for all of you and for myself that I do this. A special thanks for those few I recognized as commenters. Comments are what make this blog a special place, in my view.

And for a general recognition to all the attendees: you folks are beautiful. I can’t imagine an event with so many great looking body compositions all gathered in once place outside an Olympic Games, and I’ll bet we’re all a good bit healthier too. I propose that from now until AHS12, we make a list of every stupid reporter, every stupid dietician and every stupid researcher who makes a stupid comment about paleo, kidnap them all, kick their asses right into the main auditorium with an added admonishment: “now, go look around you, dumbfucks.”

Here’s a shout out to the amazing US Wellness Meats who, not only donated 100 grassfed NY steaks to the presenter’s party at Aaron’s, but on day two of the conference when the salad bar concession was closed downstairs, set out a bottomless and endless supply of grassfed beef jerky, grassfed beef sticks, raw milk cheese and grassfed pemmican. It lasted all day. They literally fed us all, and both Beatrice and I remarked how we felt satiated and energized all day — on meat & animal fat. I’m going to soon put in an order out of simple appreciation and I’d encourage anyone else so inclined so do so as well.

And finally, a special thanks to my loving and lovable wife Beatrice, who enthusiastically involved herself in everything, shook hands, gave hugs, and chatted her head off. She had a marvelous time from start to finish.

Update: As I knew I would, I forgot a few mentions and so here they are: Andreas “The Giant Swede” Eenfeldt, MD, was super nice to me. We presented opposite each other on day 2 and he approached me early in day one to shake hands and wish me the best, as I did for him. We ended up both having excellent crowds, which was great. I finally met the great J. Stanton of and author of The Knoll Credo, which I’m currently reading. J. was kind enough to mail me a copy a while back, and during the “meet the authors” event, Beatrice had to force him to sell her a copy, which he finally relented to, and autographed it for her. J. Also had the most notable haircut of AHS. And how could I have forgotten the kind, soft spoken Seth Roberts? He and I talked a lot about self experimentation, which subject he is far more formally versed than I. Seth’s presentation partner was NYT best selling author Tucker Max. I ran into both of them in the coffee room at the hotel one morning and Seth introduced us. Unfortunately, I missed their presentation because we were late to get parking and get to the event. Later, Tucker approached me and said “hey, you’re that Free the Animal guy.” Yep. Turns out he’s read some of the blog and thought I would really enjoy his presentation about MMA fighting and its relationship to human violence. I certainly won’t miss it.

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  1. Jeanie on August 8, 2011 at 11:49

    Thank you, Richard, for the endless tweets, along with Diana and Jimmy. I felt like I was there. Also, any man who loves his wife as much as you love Bea is ok in my book. Hope to be there next year.

  2. Aaron Blaisdell on August 8, 2011 at 11:56

    Thanks Richard. You are a gem. I agree with you that US Wellness meats went over the top with the meaty handouts. I still have a dozen of their steaks in my fridge leftover from the party. And it was my first time trying pemmican. LOVED IT! I’m definitely putting in an order for that and other goodies from them soon. It was great to finally meet the guy behind one of the first go-to blogs (along with Stephen’s Whole Health Source, and Mark’s Daily Apple) when I first “went paleo”. And your wife is even more beautiful and charming in person than she already appeared on her infrequent appearances on your blog.

    Finally, I love your idea for AHS12!


  3. julianne on August 8, 2011 at 12:03

    Hey Richard, great meeting you in person too, as well as many other people I’d only met ‘online’. Still buzzing from the whole expereince and certainly hope to make it back in a years time.

    • Sue on August 8, 2011 at 19:53

      Maybe it should be held in New Zealand or Australia – nice holiday destinations!!!

  4. Skyler Tanner on August 8, 2011 at 12:46

    I await the animal post and the food porn.

  5. Primal Toad on August 8, 2011 at 13:40

    “I propose that from now until AHS12, we make a list of every stupid reporter, every stupid dietician and every stupid researcher who makes a stupid comment about Paleo, kidnap them all, kick their asses right into the main auditorium with an added admonishment: “now, go look around you, dumbfucks.”

    Love it!

  6. James M on August 8, 2011 at 14:11

    All the coverage of AHS has made me extremely jealous of not being able to attend. It looks like a great conference, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the videos of the talks.

    Out of curiosity, are you interested in Google+ since you dislike Facebook or do you not have the time to bother with another social network?

    • Richard Nikoley on August 9, 2011 at 10:31

      I just posted this post to Google + for the first time. We’ll see how it goes. I definitely like the circles idea rather than the forced mutual stuff like FB. My personal FB is for my family and close personal real space friends, which is why I state in my About page that I do not accept friend requests from people I don’t know in person. I have the FTA Facebook page for readers who wish to “Like” that.

      Still, I get a few FB friend requests from refers almost everyday. Makes me sad to ignore them and I don’t have time for a personal reply to each one. I hope folks understand that it’s a private space for family and close personal friends.

      ….Which I still hate — FB, that is. :)

      • James M on August 9, 2011 at 13:26

        I’ve been trying to encourage people to move over to Google+ on Twitter and Facebook, unsuccessfully. I think a larger community can be built there than on Facebook for the reason you mentioned. I keep my Facebook private, as well, didn’t even bother with a Facebook page for my blog. I want to share more of the paleo/primal posts, but don’t have the right group of friends to really share with.

      • Richard Nikoley on August 9, 2011 at 14:01

        Probably an uphill battle. Haven’t gotten into G+ enough yet to know much, but I will. I really love Twitter, though, and can’t see that being superseded en mass. My hunch is that G+ may be a place embraced by smart, tech savvy folk with serious things to share, unlike FB where 90+% is mindless drivel.

  7. vendo on August 8, 2011 at 16:23

    Love the enthusiasm!

    • Richard Nikoley on August 9, 2011 at 14:03

      Thanks vendo. As concerns AHS, my enthusiasm knows no bounds. It’s so extreme that I’m becoming offensive to my own self by being so damn nice to most everyone.


      • vendo on August 9, 2011 at 18:36

        Go ahead and offend yourself. Nice post.

  8. Trollin Matthews on August 8, 2011 at 16:41

    You’re all fucking idiots. Leave animals alone, you’re not in the paleo era. Fucking sheep. I hope all your intestines rot.

    • Trollin Matthews on August 8, 2011 at 16:42

      oh and I can only imagine how horrible your breath would be too. but i guess you circle jerkers wouldn’t know the difference.

      • Richard Nikoley on August 8, 2011 at 20:48

        Hey Trollin, or is it Trolling?

        No need to answer that as, in a different comment on another post and under a different handle, guess what?

        How about get off your skinny, protein deficient ass and come to the next AHS event and find out first hand?

        Simple fact is, you’re clearly too unskilled as a troll to bother banning,


    • rob on August 9, 2011 at 04:28

      Blame the Meat Fairy. Every day I go to the grocery store and the shelves are full of hunks of animals wrapped in plastic. Next day when I go back there are all new hunks of animals on the shelves. Only rational explanation is that the Meat Fairy puts them there late at night when we are all asleep.

      • Dana on August 9, 2011 at 21:51

        There needs to be a “like” function for comments here, even if Richard hates Facebook. *like*

  9. Jill Escher on August 8, 2011 at 17:13

    Appreciate the news from AHS, I weep that I wasn’t there, but instead stuck in San Jose. Thanks for the vicarious visit.

  10. Bay Area Sparky on August 8, 2011 at 17:37

    Sounds like… actually there’s no word for it, is there?

    Glad you had a great time amongst your peers of all ranks.

    The zeitgeist must have been amazing. Imagine you’ll be energized for months.

  11. Deb on August 8, 2011 at 21:36

    Great meeting you and yes AHS12 will be even more amazing!!!

  12. Kelly the Kitchen Kop on August 8, 2011 at 22:14

    Wow, that IS quite the bunch of superstars. Even to a not-very-paleo-but-getting-closer real foodie like myself. Loved all the pictures. :)

    I wonder if you or anyone else mentioned here will be coming to the Weston Price conference in Dallas this November? We had some great Paleo sightings last year. I know for sure that Chris Masterjohn & Denise Minger are speaking, and I can’t wait.


    • Richard Nikoley on August 9, 2011 at 10:33

      Hey Kelly. While this one isn’t in the sights for me, I definitely want to attend a WAPF conference at some point.

  13. David on August 9, 2011 at 00:02

    Hi Richard, – Very interesting website, with a huge source resources to keep any Paleo buff busy for a long time :)


  14. Tracy on August 9, 2011 at 17:26

    ooops, here’s the link. Also, google sounds more appealing to me as well. Thx for everyone’s insights. I think Trollin needs a little attitude adjustment. Maybe one of Wolf’s ‘paleo margaritas’ would help:)

  15. Peter Ballerstedt on August 9, 2011 at 07:29

    It was nice meeting you, Richard, if only briefly. Thanks for your summary and your presentation. Well done. I just got home yesterday, and I’m still buzzed – wondering where to go from here. Thanks to you, wherever that is it won’t be a boring journey!

    Pete B
    Grass Based Health

  16. Pedro Bastos on August 9, 2011 at 09:11

    It was a pleasure to meet you Richard. This was a fantastic meeting and I hope it continues to take place every year for a long time.

    Unfortunately, I didn’t mingle and spent as much time as I would like to talking to all the great people that I met, because I was very jet lagged and stressed about my own lecture.

    I hope next time things are different.

    Best wishes


  17. Dr.BG on August 9, 2011 at 09:39


    You and Queen Bea have always been my favorite amongst our paleo/primal crowd, even before I got my hands finally on Bea ;) It was so fun meeting E V E R Y O N E and getting our s*xxxy on at the pre-party!!

    That was LOVENAT. Hey I *relief* survived the movnat workshop which was more of a worry than the AHS speaking… *haa!* Now I understand why you wax infinitely forever on about Erwan. It was just weird — the mobility combos actually felt GOOD. Totally shocked I can climb a pole w/bare hands and feet. So… I’ll be choosing the ‘green’ pill/chill pill from here on out. That’s the best lesson I learned about adaptability and survival from AHS.

    Brent and Aaron and all the amazing volunteers were AMAZING. It couldn’t have been a more smooth and organized event!!


    • Richard Nikoley on August 9, 2011 at 10:05

      Glad you finally got to meet Beatrice, G.

      Great seeing you again. Too long since that last dinner at LB Steak with you and Danny Roddy.

      There sure was a lot of sexy on at AHS. It was everywhere. And that’s so important and under appreciated. Raw sexual attraction.

  18. logar on August 9, 2011 at 09:51

    I don’t know, Richard… I’m trying to convince myself that Denise Minger is real, but come on… I’ve seen better shots of bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster ;)

    • Richard Nikoley on August 9, 2011 at 10:06

      Yea logar, I could kick myself for not getting a shot with her. #thatwasstupid

    • Richard Nikoley on August 9, 2011 at 10:07

      On the other hand, maybe it’s best that The Denise Minger Mystery live on and The Vegan Menace continue to make fools of themselves.

  19. Basil Gravanis on August 9, 2011 at 12:51

    It was great to meet you in person, Richard! If only to let you know how much your blogging and rabble-rousing have benefitted us all greatly… Cheers!

  20. Emily Deans on August 9, 2011 at 16:43

    Hi Richard – thrilled to meet you and Bea (and everyone else) I’m still a bit overwhelmed by the experience and not quite recovered from the red-eye this morning.

  21. […] Nikoley took a lot of pictures at Aaron’s Thursday night party and has more photos in his appreciation of the symposium. PaleoHacks has a thread for pictures from the meeting and a thread for recommendations about […]

  22. Tracy on August 9, 2011 at 17:23

    Hi Richard, It was a lot of fun to meet you and Bea. I wish we could have hung out longer. Missed many of the presenters, but had an awesome time being there none the less. Don’s talk went well, and hopefully we’ll get our book out soon. I’m a blogger newbie, and have a personal off the cuff style more similar to yours. I put up a post about my experiences at the AHS, and mentioned you both in that as well. Please don’t think the worst for certain food items mentioned, but I must stand up and declare my middle road. I simply love all foods, and always have. Anyway, there is humor to be had at my own expense, should you care to check it out. Hope to see you both at the next one!

  23. Michael P (@PizSez) on August 9, 2011 at 19:05

    Totally jealous of everyone who went to AHS. I attended vicariously by following the tweetgasm all weekend. In my bare feet.

  24. Tressa on August 9, 2011 at 19:10

    Richard and Bea we cannot thank you enough for all the smiles you shared throughout the weekend! Although you were a quick blur stopping by our table to refuel, you always had kind words to share. Speaking of sharing, the pictures from the Thursday cookout are amazing! Brent, Aaron, the whole Ancestral Health Team, all our customers, chefs and bloggers- we were embraced in one big paleo hug. We really didn’t want to let go and can’t wait for next year. I’d only wished we all would have gathered on the steps outside Ackerman for a huge AHS Class of 2011 picture! Maybe next year right? All the best, and now I have another blog to follow :) Tressa with US Wellness Meats

    • Richard Nikoley on August 10, 2011 at 14:07

      Thanks again Tressa for your amazing generosity and hospitality.

      I’m getting in an order soon.

  25. Meals 4 the Week Paleo Style – The Travelers’ Edition « Paleo Comfort Foods on August 10, 2011 at 03:09

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  27. Meals 4 the Week Paleo Style – The Travelers’ Edition | on September 5, 2011 at 09:30

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