Healthy Living Summit: Saturday Sessions

Good evening, and happy my last night as a 23 year old!! Before you know it (less than 3 hours from now!!) EDIT: Post started last night, and published today! Ooops.

I’ll officially be 24 years old.  On August 24th.  That, right there, is a Golden Birthday, y’all.  I spent the eve of my 24th birthday where I’ve spent the past 4 birthdays (at least at the start): The living room of my fraternity.  I enjoyed my 20th Birthday there hosting a “That’s So Jordan” Birthday Party. Yup, a theme party themed after myself.  When you ask yourself “What Would Jordan Do” like I suggested in last night’s recap post of the HLS Cocktail Party, well, that’s a great answer.

Maybe the most Jordan I've ever been in my life. Four years later and the tiara still hangs to the side.

After the hijinx of the cocktail party (broken umbrellas, tummies full of tacos [in Ali‘s case], bellies full of beers [in my case], and exhaustion), we crashed hard at Chez Ali. I was snuggle buddies with Krissie, but we kept things pretty PG, so don’t think you’re gonna get any of that type of hijinx in this post.

I marveled at the wonders of cereal bars galore as we Healthy Living Summit attendees attacked the foods as if we’d never seen a box of Attune Foods cereal (the sponsors of breakfast!)

Oi vay, all the cereal you could handle.

Though I have cereal nearly every morning at work (mostly that Fiber One 80 calorie goodness that I talked about before), it’s really not my breakfast of choice.  I’d always prefer a warm morning meal with a bit of meat to start things off.  I totally recognize the decision to have the food options they had, but that hard boiled egg and cereal certainly left me wanting some eggs of a more scrambled nature.  The Lehigh Valley Dairy milk was, IMHO, the star of the show, and as a Pennsylvania native, it was glorious to enjoy a tiny carton of real, local milk.

First on the agenda was an Icebreaker, sponsored by Glam Media and Bliss.com.

Hey! I've been skydiving!!

I’ll shoot you straight: I. hate. icebreakers.  This one, while active, didn’t really break too much ice for me. Basically, we all walked around demanding to know who doesn’t eat dairy products, who was over 6′ tall (that one was an easy one to find…. and it was me), and who composted at home.  The funniest part of this event was when someone at my table REALLY broke the ice by telling us the tale of a neighbor who composted their poop. Can you even imagine?  Just considering the idea of visiting a neighbor, seeing them outside washing a giant bucket, and wondering…. did they just poop in there?  Yeah, that resulted in some belly laughs.

Anyway, I didn’t win a Lululemon gift card.  I wasn’t too upset.

No, happy hour is my happy hour.

Once the ice was thoroughly broken, it was time to get to the sessions.  The best part of this whole “conference made up of bloggers” thing was ABSOLUTELY keeping up with things through live tweeting.  As I mentioned to Allison, it was like the most public note passing of all. And it helped keep things light and funny, which can be tough to do sometimes with panels on negativity and how the “numbers game” can drive you crazy.

There have been countless recaps of the sessions.  I’m a little late on the game when it comes to HLS recaps, so I’ll just include a few pictures of my favorite moments from the rest of the day, followed by some major takeaways.

American Gothic: Frito Lay Style

No free food? HA! I laugh at the mere idea!

I will, Pauly. I hope to meet you in Raleigh tomorrow night...

220 women at a conference = ANNEXATION OF THE MEN'S ROOM!

Not to be confused with the Annexation of Puerto Rico.

Shake break. Like a shake weight, with our whole bodies!

And here’s a shot of my accommodations waiting for my ride home:

I'm a bag lady. And proud of it.

Having just filled out my HLS Questionnaire, I have a lot of thoughts about the Summit as a whole.

  • It’s amazing to meet new people, but can be really hard to do that when other folks are less interested in branching out than you are.  Being a newbie (and proud of it), I wanted to soak up EVERYONE! But many people were there to reunite with friends that they’ve known forever and maybe only get to see once a year.  I totally understand that, and this isn’t a pity party by any means because I had a good time. But it almost made me wish that I could only have a conference of folks who’d never met before, just to level the playing field.
  • There are a lot of stereotypical “healthy living blog” cliches that are totally real.  I’ve never seen people go so crazy over cereals and nut butters.  My feelings about both of these: decent. But not life-changing.  And honestly, before this weekend, I don’t think I’ve eaten a nut butter in over 6 months.
  • I was surprised by how many people believed they could be or should be professional bloggers. The presentation given by Katy Widrick on Monetizing Your Blog was so eye opening at what it would take to become a professional blogger. I talked to a few people, at the summit, IRL, and online, who seem to just expect that they’d start writing about their lives and they’d start having companies flock to them for product reviews and sponsorships. If you work long and hard (let’s say…. 2-3 years, and make blogging your fulltime career for some), maybe you’ll get enough readers to make blogging financially support you.  But it’s just  not the norm.
  • I really wish that there had been more guys there.  Now, let me explain this.  I was NOT coming to Philly for a manhunt.  Trust me, I get to date this stud:

    How he puts up with me, I'll never know....

    But I really get the feeling that if there were more males around other than the 4 that I’m aware of (oh, and Mark, one of the DrinkChia sponsor folks, who was just the BEST!) maybe it would’ve felt less like a lady sleepover party and more like a summit of likeminded folks coming together and discussing something they love.  Then again, this is another thing I can’t control because the HLB community ITSELF is dominated by women.  I just couldn’t help but think it.

  • The sessions were all good, but I especially liked the ones that felt like they were truly from the heart. The one regarding Rising Above Negativity illustrated issues that each of the panel members had experienced, and something that everyone experiences in their lifetimes. I was also touched hearing Lisa‘s story in the numbers game presentation because you could feel her emotions in her words.  Even Katy’s post on Monetizing Your Blog felt like she was so passionate about wanting everyone to make bank that it resonated.  I didn’t feel like that with all the presentations.   Action Mantras, while effective, can feel contrived and hokey. The Flexitarian Diet…  I just don’t think it’s for me, but that’s neither here nor there.  It’s just definitely not HERE (meaning on my blog).
  • For me, the point of attending HLS was as an adventure. I wanted to challenge myself to meet new people, to step out of my comfort zone, to do something I’ve never done before.  I came, I talked about myself, I talked to strangers, I walked around Philly (well, actually, I have done that). And I actually did get a rush, like a lighter version of my skydiving trip.

    THIS IS EXACTLY LIKE A CONFERENCE!

  • But I still felt out of place. And I couldn’t help but read all the tweets from the Beer Blogger’s Conference in Portland and miss those folks who enjoy the carbonated suds I love so much.  Too much of a good thing can be quickly become a bad thing.  And I felt like this nonexistent  “formula for a healthy living blogger” was followed to a T by some folks who were trying so hard to present themselves in this light that I missed out on getting to know the true them. The point of meeting bloggers IRL is to see what maybe you don’t get to see on their blog.  To go deeper than the internet’s surface.  And while there were definitely a few folks there who did this well, there were enough folks that looked like they were trying so hard not to mess up that I never really felt like we even approached that level.

I’m so glad I went. I had fun, I met folks, it felt like blogging became real to me, and not just this random online Xanga or something.  I don’t know if I’d go again… if it were as convenient as this year, definitely. There’s much to be learned, there’s much to be shared, and maybe I’d find some sort of friend group to bond with.  It wasn’t what I expected, though I’m not sure what I DID expect, and I have LOVED reading the recaps from others.  But I’m very glad that I was “me” the entire time (even though a few times, the moment I mentioned beers, peoples eyes glazed over as their interest immediately waned.)

I just can't quit you, beer.

I’m not ending with any type of action mantra or any wise closing words.  I guess I’m ending vaguely, which is sort of how I feel like I left HLS.  Like a vague, hazy daze where I wasn’t entirely sure what happened.  But regardless, it was a great early birthday present to myself, and I can’t wait to fly right back to PHL in 2 days for another crack at the Northeast.

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78 thoughts on “Healthy Living Summit: Saturday Sessions

  1. This is an awesome post! having just moved from PHL to DC the weekend of HLS, I couldn’t make it, but this was a really fair and interesting recap, so thanks 🙂

    Oh, and happy birthday, lady! enjoy.

  2. I love that you were you and that we are beer buddies. 🙂 I left feeling quite similar to you and it’s nice to know that even though I felt out of place at times, I was not alone. 😉 PS – sorry if I snored in your face Fri night.

  3. I LOOOOVE your honest portrayal and thoughts of the conference. I plan on blogging about some of my HONEST thoughts about the conference as well, so you’ll have to check it out if you feel so inclined.

    Often times during HLS, I realized I wasn’t much of a blogger. I had roomies who were blogging their tails off multiple times a day and while I knew they did this, I just couldn’t keep up…and that’s ok! They rock and so do I. We are just different.

    That being said, I loved everyone, including you miss spider sense. I love our picture.

    Lastly, thank you for the kind words. I try to always just be real and honest with myself and people around me–and if that involves showing some emotion, then so be it. Glad you felt that come from me.

    Hopefully I am just as I appear on my blog.

    • You absolutely are, and I realized that same thing. I didn’t wanna miss out on anything so I didn’t wanna spend time blogging when I could be hanging!!

      So glad to meet you, so glad to have you read my thoughts, and so happy you keep it real, always.

  4. Thank you so much for this recap! I didn’t go, and have only met a few local bloggers IRL. I don’t consider myself a 100% ‘Healthy Living Blogger’ and I was worried it might have been a little too hardcore for me 🙂 Maybe next year, I’ll be the newbie and you could show me the ropes…or we could just ditch it and find beer & vodka ha!

    Also, happy happy birthday!!

    • I contemplated ditching a session, just to explore the market a bit, but stuck it out because I didn’t want to disrespect the speakers. Wish there’d been more “free time” though, at least mid-session.

  5. Great recap. I was a newbie also and so I totally get what you were saying about the experience being a little different for those of us that were new. I wish I had met you at the conference. Your posts are hilarious! Hopefully we’ll connect at another bloggy meet-up?

  6. Great recap Jordan. It’s good to read an HLS recap from the point of view of a “newbie” blogger such as myself.

    I do want go to HLS in the future, but I have a lot of fears about it, a lot of what you expressed in this post. I don’t fawn over nut butters and cereal, I’m loud and obnoxious, and I drink too much. I fear I’d feel like an outsider.

    I think we’re soulmates 😉 teeheehee

  7. I heart this recap. It’s pretty much everything I thought about this weekend. Except I love cereal and nut butters – though they’re snack food for me and not breakfast. I completely agree that I needed some more savory breakfast food in order to feel full.

    Also – HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  8. Love your honest post… the only way I could go to something like that is if I dragged my security blanket (Nicole) with me… I think the idea of a big blogger conference sounds like fun, but the middle schooler in me gets nervous about being overlooked, strange, unable to hit a volleyball over the net… oh, wait.

    Glad that you were you! As opposed to some robot version…. hmm

  9. I love the idea of an ‘all newbie’ conference. I definitely made some great friends and saw a few old ones, but tried as best as possible to talk to EVERYONE and connect with new people all the time. There was definitely a clique-y vibe at times from some people.

  10. i totally relate to your post! it was my first healthy living summit conference too, and it feels weird approaching people! i love getting to know new people and LOVED that you introduced yourself to me b/c i always feel totally awkward going up to new people – like i’m afraid they’ll be like “why are you talking to me?” or something. you cracked me UP!

    • Julie, it was such a joy to meet you IRL! I felt like, if folks were going to go up to random people and introduce themselves, they were more comfortable going up to each other at the cocktail party than during the sessions, it’d be great if everyone felt that comfortable all the time.

      You can ALWAYS talk to me. Especially about Sadie.

  11. Wow, great post! I really appreciated reading your honest opinions about the weekend. I agree with you about it being really hard as a newbie. I definitely met great people, but it was hard to break into the group that seemed to know each other really well. I also wish I had been able spend time talking to you! I would have loved to talk about beer. I actually thought I hated beer until last year, and I am always looking for more to try that I might like.
    I would say that I did get a lot out of the action mantra session. I know it’s not for everyone, but for someone looking to lose weight, I have already used some of her mantras to help me.
    I haven’t written my post with my thoughts about the weekend bc I wanted to let it all digest, but it’s coming soon. I’m relieved to know someone shared some of my thoughts.

  12. LOVE your honest feedback here! Thanks for keeping it real Jordan! I’m sad we only had a few moments to chat at the cocktail party. I LOVE beer too, which is why I pushed for good beer at the cocktail party. One of the post-surveys mentioned something about next time having ‘well-known beers at the cocktail party’ well, pshhhh… that wouldn’t be much fun, now would it?

    Also, I loved how you kept it real and if I wasn’t busy running around, I would have met you for more beers and food. You are one of my favorite commenter because you are freaking hilarious and I love your story. Keep doing what you do and I hope we have the chance to run into each other again!

    • Absolutely, Meghann, and so happy that the thoughts are appreciated. I’ll admit, I was a little nervous to click “publish” but was just hoping that people wouldn’t think of me as that “bitchy” blogger. Truly, it was an excellent experience and I think it has potential to be even better. I know this was only the third year, and in the future, maybe there can be more great beers, more great foods, more meet and greets, and we’ll nix any music glitches before they become an issue.

      The world is our oyster. And HLS can be the pearl!

  13. I love this post (and it was great meeting you, by the way!!), and I feel the same about HLS. It was my first time too, and it’s honestly comforting to know that someone else felt similarly. I definitely think it’s easier if you have friends that you already know (and are going back to see) or have a large following of people that constantly approach you. It’s tough otherwise! I felt like we all did our best though, and it was a good time overall. Thanks again for sharing, girl! 🙂

    • If you guys have ANY ideas on how we can make the newbies feel welcomed please let me know. It’s something we’ve tried to work with over the years, but it’s hard to overcome everyone’s desire to hang out with friends they already know. I’m open to new ideas on how to change that!! Thoughts?!

      • Meghann, I was thinking it would have been great to have a session about being new to blogging, Not sure what the exact focus should be, but maybe a panel of bloggers 6 months, 1 year, 2 years out and their experience and what they learned? And everyone sitting in on the session would be new, so you’d know you were around people in the same boat…

      • During orientation at Cal Poly, we were grouped into WOW groups and for a week we did special WOW activities together – hike, kayak, pizza parties, explore downtown San Luis Obispo, etc.

        When signing up for HLS you could have people say how long they’ve been blogging (2+ years, 1.5 year, 1 year, 9 months, 6 months, 3 months or less) and how often they attend blogger meetups. Then you can have diverse groups of 15 or so that represent the whole spectrum. Your HLS group could do the 5k together, for example, and meet up after sessions to share thoughts, etc…

  14. Great recap!

    This was my second year going to the conference and I can definitely relate to MANY of the things you mentioned – especially the one about feeling like it was just a bunch of friends that meet up once a year and you are the odd one out – that is exactly what it felt like for me my first year. This year was so much different for me, so much more relaxed and fun!

  15. I really enjoyed reading this post. I haven’t been blogging for long (like measure it in weeks, not months or years!) and while I read alot of healthy living blogs, I wouldn’t necessarily consider mine “healthy living”. And for that matter, I don’t know if anyone really reads it other than my mom 🙂 BUT I have read a TON of recaps about the HLS and I wondered if I would feel like you did in that environment or if everyone is really as nice and welcoming as some recaps say they were. And I wondered if people would be real enough to make me want to attend something like that someday? Or if it would be superficial? So I think you were fair in your assessment so that someone who wasn’t there gets a different perspective! So long story short…THANKS!

    • I’ll be honest, I didn’t feel like a single person was NOT nice. I just felt like they were all less interested in meeting newbies… understand it, just didn’t enjoy it as much as I could’ve. Perhaps feeling more involved in the community might help.

  16. I’m glad you were honest about this. I wanted to go really badly, but I really thought I’d feel pretty left out. Maybe I should have gotten over it and gone?! I will definitely plan on going next year…and maybe we can grab some beers? 😉

  17. Jordannnnn, your thoughts on the summit are some of the things I thought and felt but didn’t want to say/blog out loud because I wasn’t sure it was worth it to put some of those more blah type thoughts out there when everyone else was having a total blast. I too felt a little out of place, and weird going up to random groups, not at all excited about eating oatmeal (the only place it has in my life is in cookies, really) like everyone else, and I felt kind of eh about peanut butter froyo.

    I did enjoy it for what it was and didn’t know what to expect either. Getting to see Philly was awesome, and I took some time Sunday morning to walk around by myself which recharged my batteries a little getting some alone time.

    I wish we’d met up there, and actually come to think of it, I didn’t get to meet any NC bloggers there! There were just so many people, and it’s hard to remember someone’s real name, blog name, Twitter name AND what they look like!

    • Ha, I totally agree I kept wondering “Have I tweeted at them?! WHO IS THAT?!” I know the feeling, and I just wish that NC was smaller or easier to access because I’d love to meet some fellow bloggers!

  18. Wow, I love your recap! It actually makes me feel more okay about not being there! I can totally just see how the HLB formula was played out by many. I’d like to think I would not have been that way haha. I would have rocked it with you! Oh and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I hope it’s absolutely awesome 🙂

  19. Jordan…you wrote the post I didn’t know how to write.

    I’m glad I stepped outside myself and went to HLS but I felt like the odd girl out in a group of friends even though I’ve been blogging for over 2 years. My anxiety makes it hard for me to go up to groups of people who already know each other so I hung back.

    I wish there was more diversity too. I went to Fitbloggin’ and it was a different crowd. I don’t want the healthy living community to seem like a formula or fake because we are all different but it sometimes felt like you had to “fit the mold” to fit in at HLS.

    I love that you make no bones about enjoying great beer and not the stereotypical food. That’s you…and it’s AWESOME! I don’t drink and have food allergies out the whazoo and that’s me. We’re all different and we should be.

    Before this becomes more of a book I’m going to shut my mouth and go read more of your archive…in a non-stalker way, of course.

  20. Good feedback…This was my third big blogger conference, but I’ve gone to about a dozen smaller events and meetups, and it’s taken me THAT LONG to get used to what they’re all about. 🙂 They can certainly be overwhelming, and trying to put together a program that is appealing to everyone is a huge challenge.

    I hate to read the comments from people that say they felt left out because I know that it can leave permanent damage…and while there are some groups and conferences that are clique-y-er (like that?) than others, I really do think that people that come to HLS are there to meet new friends and be open.

    Do you think you’d go back next year? Just curious. Maybe if we got a local brewery to sponsor the cocktail party 😉

    • Well, as I mentioned in the post “Would I go back next year…. maybe.” If it were an easy enough trip, almost definitely. If I had any say or help in the planning or could meet other folks before going, that might make me feel more like I was a “part” of things too.

      If there was a brewery involved…. bottoms up!

      But really, I can’t say I would have expected a conference with so many people to please EVERYONE! And I don’t want folks to think I’m some sort of pessimistic polly who didn’t enjoy herself. There are just ways it could be better, and I figured the only way they could would be constructive criticism. And pictures of urinals.

  21. I like your lady sleepover observation. Sharing a room with 3 girls, I definitely felt that.
    Also I’ll always be haunted by leaving the men’s room and seeing a group of women rush in to use the stalls. Not cool.

  22. I love this post, and I’m sorry we didn’t get to talk at HLS. I would have loved to meet you…I feel like there are SO many people I met, but even more that I missed!

    And if it helps, I like cereal and nut butters, but I’m not crazy over them. 😉

  23. Um. I basically love you. Is that weird?!

    I feel like I would have seemed like a total Loser with a capital L if I would have gone. I’m so awkward and I’m sure that would have shown ALL weekend. So I should pretty much make sure to go next year hahah 🙂

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