New Zealand and Paleo friends

My week away from blogging was not spent in idleness. I spent 8 days in New Zealand, this trip was very productive from the point of view of Paleo, connections and more food for thought for my blog.

New Zealand is a gorgeous country. You get a sense that you are in for something special when you see the majestic mountain ranges sloping into the green water out of the airplane window. Together with Australia it’s one of the few Western countries where you can still drive past cows peacefully grazing on grass of the greenest colour imaginable.

iPhone photos do not do it justice

Visiting Christchurch for the first time was a powerful experience for me. It’s a quaint little city (by Sydney standards) still bearing visible scars of the earthquakes which changed the lives of its inhabitants. The walls of beautiful old churches, like the shadows of former life, standing in the midst of piles of bricks behind safety gates. Giant cracks in the middle of city streets partially filled up with concrete. Big signs urging caution on typical office buildings. Huge shipping containers stacked on top of one another at the bottom of the cliff on the side of a busy road protecting from boulders falling from above. All reminding us that we are all at the mercy of the force more powerful than we can imagine. And no, I’m not religious.

Like many other people around the world, I had wondered why do the people stay? 7000 aftershocks later, why would you not pack up your life and start over somewhere else? Where you wouldn’t have to worry about getting a restaurant table under a chandelier?

Maybe because it’s so utterly beautiful. A place where you can go out on a bike ride along the water edge, climb a steep hill to the coffee place up the top and descent to the luscious valley below. Nice. You can Paleo the hell out of this place.

And they seem to be getting on with their life just fine. Good on them, Kiwis. After flogging the Aussies (and the French, and everyone else) at the Rugby World Cup they have even more reasons for some well-deserved NZ pride. Respect.

I didn’t just travel across the ditch to admire the views. One of the goals of the trip was some Paleo networking, catching up with two of the heavyweights of the Antipodean Paleo community: Jamie Scott, a.k.a. That Paleo Guy, and Julianne Taylor from Paleo & Zone Nutrition Blog.

I cannot express what a relief it is to talk to people who understand you, who read the same studies, who get just as frustrated at the limitations of the conventional diet, health and exercise advice. Jamie played a gracious host in Christchurch and showed me around the city, his favourite cafés and cycling routes. We discussed high fat nutrition for athletes, agreed that #contextmatters when it comes to “safe starches”, shared our mutual plans for the Ancestral Health Symposium in 2012.

Jamie and I, about to tuck into a hearty breakfast

I met the lovely Julianne in Auckland and over our 3 hour lunch we discussed everything from thyroid health to the challenges facing medical professionals, body image pressure and undiagnosed gluten intolerance.

Julianne and I: turns out hair colour is not the only thing we have in common

Auckland, the city of sails (=winds), with its 7 seasons in one day, showed us glimpses of sunshine. The world cup fever has largely subsided however the Kiwis were still happy to remind us, the Aussies, who came out on top. The Auckland part of my trip was closely aligned with fitness industry, especially group fitness, and I will probably talk about my ideas on fitness in another post.

For those who are involved in Paleo/primal lifestyle and education in North America it is probably hard to understand how isolated we can feel on the other side of the globe, with the Internet being our only link to this community. Meeting like-minded people was like a breath of fresh air: no need to moderate your language or be tentative in offering different hypotheses. I came back home feeling recharged and fired up for more learning, sharing and blogging.


20 thoughts on “New Zealand and Paleo friends

  1. It feels pretty isolated here in the states too. Doctors and friends think you’re killing yourself and about to have a heart attack at any moment even though there has never been a family history of heart problems. I’m told my kidneys are going to fail because of my diet…

    I just ask them all to prove it and they can’t. Keep up the good work.

    • Ah yes, Tanny, the good old “you are killing yourself, man!”. I find spending less time with those people and more time (even online) with the ones who are on your side is good for my head.

  2. Hi Anastasia,

    Wow, that must have been like coming home. You and Jamie ‘merrie well together’ on a picture, but I guess you’re already very occupied and it’s none of my business anyway ;-).

    You don’t have to be in Australia to feel like a lonely paleo. Holland is probably worse. I just started an attempt to bring some change to that by starting a paleo blog. As soon as I have found out how to make a blogroll, I put you up. The nearest by paleo friendly physician for folks living in Amsterdam, ha, ha.

    Congrats with passing your finals!

    • That’s great news, Melchior! Looking forward to reading your blog. I admit an Australian physician is probably quite far away from Holland 🙂 But you never know, you and your blog might be the catalyst for new directions for the Dutchies.

      • It is in Dutch, of course…

        Forgot to say I absolutely love this line:

        “You can Paleo the hell out of this place.”

        First, it is such a clear expression. Andsecond: I guess you are the first one who has made ‘paleo’ a verb. To paleo. I’m already using it! Just wait until appears in the dictionary.

        • 😦 yes I’ve noticed. Although I did recognize my name. To Paleo makes a perfect verb, I saw you are already using it 🙂 Good luck with blogging.

  3. Thanks for visiting us in our quaint little city, Anastasia!

    Like you, living at the bottom of the world can feel quite isolating, especially when you hear of the face-to-face networking that occurs in North America. I rode the buzz of AHS for a few weeks, but that feeling of connectedness is fading. And I try to catch up with Julianne when I can in Auckland. But having you visit and being able to relax with a fellow ‘freak’ was just the boost needed to keep the energy and enthusiasm going.

    Fantastic to meet you and I hope it isn’t too long before our paths cross again. 🙂

    • I just loved being able to order a long black plus eggs and bacon minus bread without feeling like a freak. Although I think I did scare you with the amount of food I put away 🙂 Looking forward to our next face to face meeting.

      • There is nothing scary about a fit woman who can properly eat real food. I’d have been disappointed if you had shuffled a few bits of lettuce around your plate!

  4. Hi Anastasia,

    I’m glad you had a great time visiting NZ, ‘m further south than Christchurch (Dunedin) but love it here (originally Scottish). I’ve only started going Paleo in the last 2 months, slowly cutting grains out my diet and this month I’m doing the Whole30 (actually prompted by reading your post on it, after finding your blog via Jamies). I am however already feeling freakish 🙂 I’m not speaking with many friends in depth about it, but the minute you mention not eating grains/dairy/sugar, they ask ” but what are you eating then’. It’s like nothing else exists other than bread, pasta and rice. I am very glad for the internet and all the blogs, to feel conected and know that the ‘freaks’ are those the eat a multitude of chemicals, grains and sugar in their food.

    So far it’s going really well and I know I’ve made the right decision regarding my health and overall wellbeing.

    All the best,

    • Well done, Vicki. I’m glad that my little posts can contribute to such important decisions. I don’t know how the world turned so topsy-turvy and the people who are looking towards real natural nutrition are “the weird ones”. It’s more socially acceptable to order a sandwich rather than make a soup for lunch. There are so many people on the Internet, blogs, forums etc who will support and help you out. Take it one step at a time, recognize triggers, learn from mistakes and look at the big picture. It’s not about the 30 days, it’s about what you can learn for the rest of your life.

  5. Glad you had a fun visit and meetup with our two shining Paleo beacons.
    Is there no Paleo connection in Sydney? If not, come and live here and be our first Paleo doctor!

    • Hehe, Prue, you will have to turn that weather thermometer a few degrees up for me. Love your country but couldn’t take the winters 🙂 Happy to come for a visit and do fly-in consults.

  6. Hi, Anastasia, I find it hard to believe you and Jamie and Julianne feel that isolated considering how many tweets fly between the three of you! I almost need a separate “Antipodean Paleo Folks (heavy traffic)” twitter list!

    Anyway, I was going to say you’re probably less alone than you think. It’s interesting to find degrees of paleoesque behaviour all around us. For example; I met another Dad at a party pickup who’d noticeably lost weight. Turned out he’d cut bread out of his diet so we had a little chat about that.

    Personally, having been vegetarian for too many years and tried to avoid that label, “Ergh! No, I’m not a ‘vegetarian’, I just don’t eat…”, “Gah! No, I’m not bloody squeamish about meat, in fact I like offal, and could gut the animal you’re eating right now…”, etc, I’m now at an age where I don’t want any more labels on the way I eat so I’d never say “I’m Paleo/Primal/Caveman/etc” (I do however recognise the value of the label in presenting the way of eating). You could therefore meet me and be unlikely to know about my dietary preferences as I won’t be wearing a “Wheat is Murder” t-shirt or anything. You may however pass me running barefoot with my daughters, or, pass our family in the car coming back from a Super Butcher “hunt” with several kilos of MSA Grassfed Rump in the back of our car, or, catch the not-too-pleasant aroma of tallow rendering from our place.

    As they say… You are not alone.

    (Having said all that, we do live in the Northern Rivers where every other person is some kind of freak anyway.)

    • Ha! Well spotted, Nick. We are either starving for interaction or have a remarkable amount of free time on our hands. Thank goodness for Twitter. I’m with you on labels. Since when does a person who eats normal food needs a name for their diet? What do you call lions who hunt zebras? Errr… Lions. What do you call humans who eat out of a box? Let’s call them “industrivores” and be done with it. They are the weird ones. Northern Rivers? I’ll be a stone throw to Byron Bay in a few weeks. Talk about alternative 🙂

  7. “I just loved being able to order a long black plus eggs and bacon minus bread without feeling like a freak” <– Oh you should see the looks on my colleagues faces when I grill meat & veggies at work. It takes me less time than it takes for them to get in their car and go down the road to buy fast food or something prepackaged.

    It's fantastic that you got to meet like minded people over here in New Zealand, and thank you so much for referring me to Julianne, I'm already reading her blog and when I get my act together I'll make contact with her 😀

    • It was great to see you again and have such a good chat. We feel the same frustration with the fitness industry. Take your time, do your research, you are on the right track and best of all, you have the right attitude. Let your colleagues go back to their “Lean Cuisine” or take away rubbish.

  8. The Paleo World feels smaller as in closer and more connected every day. It was great to spend time with you Anastasia. I get such a lift spending time with fellow ‘freaks’! Hopefully one day eating genetically compatible human food will become normal rather than freaky!

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