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What a 1,000-year-old forest and Dr. Sarah Ballantyne (The Paleo Mom) taught me over a weekend 

Why you should attend the Foundations of Health Workshop

Two years ago I hit my lowest point. I could barely drag myself out of bed, make a fist, or hold a plate. I was losing hair and gaining weight, despite my self-imposed calorie-restricted vegetarian diet. I couldn’t breathe, my heart was in constant a-fib. I was depressed, exhausted and no one could help me figure out what was happening to me. I had reams of RX’s for psych drugs, steroids, and inhalers, but no answers.  

I had my own business with over 20 employees and was a working momma with a commute. My husband was across the country with his dying mom who had hidden from us that she was sick and dying of throat and brain cancer. The house we just bought was falling apart around us. My mom possibly had pancreatic cancer, but they weren’t sure. My business partner and I wanted to move the business in very different directions. To say I was stretched thin would be an over-simplification. 

I know that some part of this must sound familiar if you’re reading this blog post and found Dr. Sarah’s work. 


The night that everything came crashing down for me was a night that pushed me to the brink and I about lost my marbles. I scared the living daylights out of both me and my kid and I realized that where I was at that particular time was not OK. Something needed to change in the biggest of ways. Immediately. And even though I had been using the Google search bar to try and find out what was wrong with me for years, this particular night the universe conspired and led me to the hidden world of autoimmune diseases. Holy, motherload! Finally, answers to what might be ailing me! 

I ordered and read the entire Wahls Protocol book in a night. The next morning I put myself on an elimination diet. Within a week I could stand up straight — without pain — make a fist, breathe, and my pain levels went from hovering around an 8 to about a 1 or 2 on the pain scale. I was a convert. I needed to know everything about this diet and how to sustain it. I needed data. I needed resources. I needed recipes that weren’t just a one-pot wonder. And I found all that in Dr. Sarah’s work. 

I was immediately drawn to Dr. Sarah because she felt like me: an A-type go-getter. That she could be strong, resilient, a working mom AND healed gave me hope. I read every word she’d printed. Ordered extra books and gave them out as gifts. Then she said she was going to be hosting a masterclass in Santa Cruz. I bought my ticket and planned a road trip. I had no idea what this masterclass would really be like, or what the 1440 space would hold, but I know I wanted to thank the person who brought so many answers to me where I couldn’t find any before. 



It was dark and drizzling when we drove up, so we couldn’t really see much. But it smelled amazing. The next morning seeing the place when the sun rose was an enormous treat. Smack in the middle of a 1,000 year old redwood forest, just minutes from the coast, this place is the definition of serene. 

The accommodations included the most amazing meals, which they lovingly prepared especially AIP for us and labeled with care. We ate in this great dining hall that looked cross between a stately Craftsman-style bungalow and a ski lodge. Wandering the paths we saw mushrooms and ferns and moss clinging to anything upright. We sat in the infinity pool while staring into a forest listening to all the nature sounds. Listening to ourselves. Listening to each other. 

Then we came to her; the 1,000-year-old Mother Tree who is charred on the outside, reminding us that no matter how big our problems are, we can always overcome them and live on. There are meditation and yoga classes, steam rooms and massages. Book stores, a coffee shop and open spaces. It doesn’t matter where you go, or where you are, everything is a reminder that we are a part of something bigger. Part of the larger ecosystem. It’s a recharge for the soul. 



Grab your notebook and get ready! I’ve read all of Dr. Sarah’s books, taken the AIP lecture series, and read everything she publishes. And yet there was more to learn, more to uncover in this workshop. On the way up to the event, I was listening to a favorite audiobook. It was my 4th time listening to it and I was STILL hearing new stuff. That’s exactly what happens in this workshop. You hear it in a new way, or it’s explained in a way that helps you pull out and see a macro view of the smaller piece and, boom, suddenly you gain a new understanding. 

If you’re looking to restore yourself in mind, body, and spirit, this is your place. If you’re looking to connect with people who are on the same journey as you, this is your place. If you’re looking to learn something new or gain a new understanding of how it all works holistically, this is most definitely your space. 

Going to the Foundations of Health Workshop reminded me to look back and appreciate everything that had led up that point. I am so grateful that I found the AIP and The Paleo Mom. I can’t wait to go again on Valentine’s Day as a treat to myself and my health! 


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