Online Meets Offline: Part II {#HLS}

by Jenn (eating bender) on August 16, 2010

The Healthy Living Summit is officially over – but pictures and reflections always live on through blogging. In addition to my thoughts on meeting amazing men and women, here is my perspective on a very well planned, fun, fabulous and food-filled conference. :)

The HLS was held at the historic Congress Plaza Hotel on my beloved Michigan Avenue.

There were several fantastic speaking panels on the conference agenda. It was tough to choose! The first session of the morning for me was Fueling for Fitness: Perform Well and Recover Quickly from Your Workouts, led by Rebecca and Heather.

These ladies were extremely credible and clearly knew what they were talking about.

Key takeaways for me:

  • Water is the drink of choice for workouts of 30 minutes or less
  • Over 30 minutes: choose a sports drink to restock energy stores, electrolytes and minerals
  • Over 2 hours: consider an endurance sports drink for maximum hydration
  • Avoid fruit juices, sodas and other highly acidic or sugary drinks at all times
  • For quick bursts of carbohydrates, consider honey, agave, tart cherry juice or coconut water

I am planning on training for a half-marathon in the very near future, so learning more about what is needed when runs go beyond 30-45 minutes was very helpful.

After the first session, we took a Quaker break!

I snagged some of their new Chewy chocolate granola bars to try for later. It made me really happy when I found out that they were no longer made with HFCS. Way to go, Quaker! I also took the time to check email, Twitter and take fun, blognerd photos. :mrgreen:

The first photo is of Jess and me. The second is of us being silly on our computers with Meghann.

Before we knew it, the second session was upon us. Cue the lovely Sabrina!

Her session was called Healthy Entertaining: The Nuts, Bolts and Pretty Napkins. I was very excited because having read her blog and chatted with her outside the blogosphere several times, I know this girl is the ultimate hostess.

Key takeaways for me:

  • Don’t try a new recipe for a dinner party. You’re asking for trouble!
  • Don’t be afraid to adapt. Go with the flow and make shortcuts if you run low on time.
  • When prepping for a home dinner party, consider creating a menu for your guests.
  • The dessert spoon can be placed in 2 positions – I personally like the top of the setting with the spoon facing the left, so that once you finish eating you can simply slide it down with your right hand and are ready to go. :)
  • Sabrina ought to come to my apartment sometime very soon. With her place settings.

I loved hearing all of her tips and was very inspired by the end. She was also very engaging with her audience – offering incentives for participation and even running contests where bloggers had to create place settings of their own and judge which was the best use of space and objects.

Once the second session had ended, it was time for lunch!

Sponsored by Arnold and Orowheat, the spread did not disappoint.

So much to choose from! I ended up sampling a bit of everything. I made a mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette, grabbed the fruit salad, quinoa and edamame salad and chickpea salad, while also making myself a grilled tofu sandwich on Arnold’s new Fill ‘Ems, which were very cute! I added fresh artichoke, eggplant, tomato and pickle to my plate from the veggie platter and dug right in.

Everything tasted clean, fresh and flavorful. That’s my idea of a conference lunch!

Of course, Melissa and I also had to snag some desserts. We split an apple crumb piece and chocolate pie. Both were phenomenal and photo worthy.

I also ran into Molly. To show you how small the blogging world is, Molly actually contacted me a couple of months ago and said she had been reading my blog and thought I had gone to Benilde-St. Margaret’s (a high school in Minnesota). Why yes, yes I did. :) I remember Molly well – she was a grade ahead and a triplet! I’m so glad we’ve been able to connect 5+ years later with our passion for food and health. We plan to send this photo in to our high school magazine – because that’s how we roll.

I also snagged some of Gina’s infamous macaroons before she was out of stock – I was lucky because they went like hot cakes – as well as a picture of her and Gena acting as sassy salad buddies.

Love it.

When lunch ended, we resumed our sessions! Next up on my list was The Ups and Downs of Pressing Publish: Getting Real about the Blogging Community. Anne P. led the discussion as moderator, with Heather, Julie, Sana and Andrea making up the panel.

I loved the questions asked during the panel. They covered “taboo” topics such as the pressure to write in a style that matches everyone else, feeling excluded from the so-called “popular” blog world and wondering if all the effort and time put into blogging is worth it if you don’t think anyone is reading.

Key takeaways for me:

  • Numbers are just numbers. At the end of the day, content is king queen.
  • Focus on developing your unique voice instead of adhering to a perceived standard.
  • Recognize what makes you happiest about blogging. Is it the friendships you’ve made? The creative outlet it provides? The life success stories it has created for you? Gena provided valuable insight on how it has helped her explain her lifestyle choices to everyone around her.
  • As bloggers, we are story tellers. Never forget that when you push publish, you are sharing a story that’s important to you with the world. That’s kind of amazing, isn’t it?

I truly enjoyed hearing the panelists’ and the audience’s perspective on these issues.

Next up on the agenda was the fabulous and well spoken Chandra, who showed us all The Five Ws of Strength Training.

I am planning on boosting my strength training in the next couple of months. I want to look toned in my wedding dress. 😉 Chandra provided some great tips.

Key takeaways for me:

  • Strength training boosts metabolism throughout the day for more calories burned
  • It’s best to strength train first and follow it up with cardio
  • You can use many different types of equipment – including your own body weight, resistance bands, free weights and machines at your gym
  • Try new ways to challenge yourself – don’t be afraid of that 100 push-up challenge!

I see big things in Chandra’s future. She did a fantastic job!

We took one more break courtesy of Athenos before it was time for the final session.

This session was led by Caitlin and Gena and was called Stop Staring Over Your Shoulder: How to Avoid the Comparison Trap.

It began with a very moving story from Katie of You can read her entire speech here: How Blogging Changed My Life.

Once she was finished inspiring us all – truly wonderful job, Katie – Caitlin and Gena began discussing the self-comparison trap that often comes with blogging. Gena started us off by focusing on the food side – fad diets, dietary restrictions and overall lifestyle choices portrayed through blogs that can sometimes become “trendy” and can lead to bloggers making hasty choices about what they eat.

I loved when she asked the audience to stand up if they’ve ever tried chia seeds, hemp seeds, green monsters, banana soft serve…this list could go on and the number of bloggers who stood up was incredible. It really made me stop and think about all of the times in my own blogging history where I admired another blogger’s food choices and immediately added them to my grocery list as the “next best thing.” It also made me realize that I haven’t actually done that in a long time – truthfully, since I stopped the food journal posts and started posting more broad themed topics that don’t necessarily center around a particular product. It was an interesting observation for me.

Caitlin focused on the fitness side of the self-comparison struggle – feeling guilty about taking a rest day when other bloggers are training for a marathon, wanting to push yourself as hard as possible without thinking about the potential injuries and consequences.

Key takeaways for me:

  • It’s important to constantly remind ourselves that every blogger is different. While we may relate to others who share similar interests, we should never try to compare ourselves to them.
  • Set realistic expectations and goals for yourself. Know what your limitations are and embrace them. In my opinion, sharing our frustrations and failures makes us human and REAL.
  • Avoid the “superwoman” syndrome. Nobody is perfect – and that is a good thing!

I thought this panel was a great way to wrap up the conference. Nice job, ladies!

And then…it was over!

All of the hard work and planning that Kath, Tina, Meghann, Caitlin and Heather put into this conference did not go unnoticed. The panels were thought provoking, the quality of the content and food was superb and I truly appreciated my HLS experience. Thank you all for creating this opportunity.

But you know what they say…

After the party it’s the after party. :)

More to come on the post-HLS events and shenanigans in my next post!

Happy Monday, everyone! What are you up to this week?


{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jassy August 16, 2010 at 2:57 am

thanks for sharing this…i really feel like i’ve also attended HLS…very good food bloggers! :)


2 Lauren August 16, 2010 at 4:49 am

What an amazing experience!!!


3 Gena August 16, 2010 at 5:09 am

Amazing recap! I wish I’d captured all of the presentations so thoroughly. And I’m glad that you enjoyed Caitlin’s and my little talk.

It was such a joy to hang out all weekend. Rather than getting sad about being home, I’ll only say that we have an excuse to plan the Disney trip THIS YEAR. OK?

Love you Jenn!


4 Beth August 16, 2010 at 7:59 am

It was so good to meet you! Can’t wait to hang out in Chicago!


5 Megan (Braise The Roof) August 16, 2010 at 8:40 am

Great recap, Jenn! Thanks for posting highlights from all of the sessions- I was at the other track sessions for the first 2 of the day and I’ll post recaps of those in the next day or two. Wish we could have attended all of them! :)


6 LiveForTheRun August 16, 2010 at 9:25 am

This is one of the best recaps I’ve seen. Fantastic summary, and you showed me a little bit of info from the sessions I unfortunately didn’t attend. You rock! I don’t know how I missed meeting you in person, we must have passed each other a dozen times!


7 Kim August 16, 2010 at 10:15 am

Excellent recap! One of the most thorough I’ve read, thank you!


8 BroccoliHut August 16, 2010 at 10:17 am

Wow, such amazing food at the HLS…not that I would expect anything less:)
This week, I am starting graduate school. Eek!


9 Pearl Lee August 16, 2010 at 10:26 am

what an excellent recap!


10 Erica August 16, 2010 at 1:02 pm

What an event. Looks like so much fun. Again- so wish I could have gone. All of the presentations sound fabulous. And of course the food…amazing (especially those desserts and fresh fruits & veggies). Glad you had fun. Enjoy your week


11 Monique@She's Going The Distance August 16, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Wow, all the presentations looked amazing! I should definitely check it out next year…. that is, if it’s on/near the West Coast :)

Glad you got a lot out of it!


12 The Healthy Hostess August 16, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Wish I could have been there! I want to meet you girly! Next time I visit my brother in Chicago, I will let you know!!


13 keephangingon August 17, 2010 at 6:41 am

Wow the Healthy Living Summit looks like it was a blast! And the content covered was really good. Totally agree about avoiding the “superwoman syndrome” and the comparing of oneself to other bloggers, or following the blog world’s “food trends”. The food looks fantastic too!


14 Laura August 17, 2010 at 10:38 am

I agree what an amazing experience. I would love to be able to attend next year & feel. One thing I don’t think I would have thought of was at the beginning of your post regarding the water/sports drinks. I am pretty much a strictly water girl, but I may consider buying a sports drinks for my runs that are more than 30 minutes.


15 Jen August 17, 2010 at 2:58 pm

The comparison part really hit home for me. Thanks for posting this :)



16 Marianne August 21, 2010 at 11:07 pm

Just on the topic of that last seminar…

I don’t necessarily see it as a bad thing when people try out new foods like hemp seeds, green monsters, whatever because they saw it on a blog. You should always be open to new ideas, and you can’t say you like something until you try it. Obviously, you shouldn’t go dropping money you don’t have on designer foods just because you see it on a blog, but if you want to try something you see alot of bloggers blog about, go for it. If you like it, keep doing it. If you don’t, then stop. I think it’s only a problem when you feel like you HAVE to eat this food or do this exercise to be a “good blogger” and to “fit in” with whatever blogging community you want to.


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