Can a Conference Change Your Life?

“Each tribe has its characteristics, it is true.”
(John Hanning Speke)

Can a conference change your life? Matt reflected on this topic and the inspirations he had following last year’s Paleo F(x), which is the world’s largest Paleo Conference.  A year later I, am headed back to Paleo F(x), which has caused me to reflect on the excellent weekend I had in Austin.

I’ve felt some resistance to the concept that one moment or singular event can change a person. Perhaps it’s because I’ve never palpably felt inspiration guiding me to my next step. Or perhaps I have a misguided jealousy…an envy of those who seem so open to inspiration in their life. All that said, I’m open enough to the idea to explore it.

When I began working for Happy Living in early 2016, I discovered I would be attending a gigantic paleo conference. I’d heard of being “paleo” before, but I wasn’t totally sure what it was all about. Like any good student, I did my homework diligently, and by the time the conference arrived, I felt prepared.

Stepping onto the convention center floor in Austin, Texas, I knew I was somewhere special, and I immediately knew I wanted to come back in the future. It is hard to explain to someone who hasn’t experienced it, but there is a powerful and palpable energy at a big conference; this must be what happens when you stick three to five thousand people under one roof, all of whom are looking to better themselves. It was fantastic!

There were two things that really stuck out. First, the average fitness level of attendees was staggering; it seemed that most people had found a nutrition and workout balance that really worked for them. Second, most everyone was, simply put, happy. I think this joy stems from  knowing you’re amongst your people. Feeling like you’re with people who understand you allows you to relax and be really real.  For most people “being paleo” is something that they must explain repeatedly, and it sometimes feels like a burden to try to eat right, striving for health in our tv-dinner, on-demand culture, especially when you’re continuously having to explain to others what it’s all about. Once surrounded by your community, this feeling of burden slips away and allows you to be more open to new inspirations and information.

After three days at the conference, I was totally amped up to live a healthier life. I had already started cleaning up my diet, but Paleo F(x) was a powerful catalyst to continue. Was it life-changing?

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve struggled with the concept of flashpoint inspiration that people so often talk about when discussing conferences, and honestly, there isn’t one moment from the conference that really sticks out to me. What did have an impactful effect on me was the culture and community at the conference… what many people call “the tribe”.

Until attending Paleo F(x), I had never been surrounded by so many positive, upbeat and healthy people. Clearly, this tribe is on a powerful path to health and wellness. Before the conference, I’d been skeptical of the “real food” movement. But after meeting countless people who have turned their life around by eating real food, I began to feel a deep shift. I didn’t consciously make the decision, but after Paleo F(x), I quit drinking soda, started cutting added sugar out of my diet, and began trying to eat only real food (which means checking nutritional labels religiously or better yet, buying something that isn’t labeled, like produce). Only upon reflection did I realize the true impact Paleo F(x) had on my life. A year later, I’ve gone from avoiding vegetables at all cost to having vegetables for every meal. I have been more open to trying new things that are counter to modern day norms, like using a standing desk, drinking butter coffee, and making bone broth a staple in my diet.

So, can a conference change your life? Short answer: I have no idea, but it might. I am not sure if was Paleo F(x) or if Paleo F(x) was simply the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of getting serious about my health, fitness and wellness. What I do know is that finding your “tribe” is an incredibly powerful experience, and the energy I received from the tribe at Paleo F(x) helped propel me to a healthier and happier life.

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