Okay, finally a recap of the Health Living Summit I attended this last weekend in Chicago.
The summit was put together by a group of bloggers whose blogs focus on healthy living – both food and fitness. I loved the idea of this as I geek out over any type of seminar on healthy cooking, fitness, etc. I was hoping to learn current trends, kitchen tips, and of course, blogging tips. My goal was to come back with some inspiration for this blog and my life in general. You can read about my reflections on my life in general here.
So, back to the Summit. I think I’ll break this into a couple different categories: Food (of course!), Content, People and Take-aways.
Food (this had to be first of course)
It was by far, the best conference food I’ve ever had.
The Saturday morning breakfast was sponsored by Quaker. You may know that I have a mad crush on oatmeal so when I saw the oatmeal bar, I was giddy with glee. Huge trays of berries, plain greek yogurt and loads of other oatmeal toppings made me soooo happy.
Lunch was just as fantastic. It was sponsored by Arnold’s and it was a complete sandwich bar. However, I opted against the sandwich bar and went towards this gorgeous platter of roasted vegetables.
Along with the veggies, they had marinated tofu, a scrumptious quinoa salad, chickpea salad, and fruit. There may have also been a brownie involved for dessert.
The afternoon break was sponsored by Athenos. There were all different types of snacks that included hummus and feta and of course pita chips (which I have not learned portion control for). I wasn’t too hungry after lunch, so I only had a few pita chips, and these cute little cucumber cups filled with curried hummus. Yum. I see some variations coming to my classic hummus recipe. I loved the curry flavor. They were topped with a raisin and sliced almonds. Sorry, I failed on a photo.
Dinner that night was on your own. I went out with these lovely ladies.
We ended up at Elephant & Castle – a pub in downtown Chicago. It was quiet and not crazy busy which is exactly what we were looking for. The food was tasty and the service was very nice. The company was stellar.
Sunday morning’s breakfast was sponsored by Thomas Bagel Thins. The best part of this was the make your own cream cheese blend. They had a huge array of mix-ins – both sweet and savory. Of course, I had to do one of each. Hey, I had just run 6 miles…I needed fuel! I did one with sun-dried tomatoes, cucumber, capers and tomatoes and another with blueberries, almonds, honey and cinnamon. Both were delish. This would be super easy to do at home. In fact, what a fun entertaining idea! I see a brunch get together in my future. The bagel thins were good. It’s not something I would eat every day, but if you’re looking for a bagel that’s not quite so ‘heavy’, this is a decent alternative.
My favorite sessions I attended were Fueling for Fitness: Perform Well and Recover Quickly from Your Workouts and Stepping up Your Blog Photography.
The Fueling for Fitness was led by two rock star dietitians, Heather Calcote and Rebecca Scritchfield, who are also very strong athletes. Not to mention, they were great dining partners Saturday night. They did a real in depth look (though I wish it could have gone on another hour) at what you need to do nutritionally for various types of workouts. I love this topic and it provided some great information. I’m hoping to do a post just on this topic with suggestions on what types of food you should be eating. It deserves a post of it’s own.
Stepping up Your Blog Photography was led by a fellow blogger and professional photographer, Nicole Carpenter. She did a great job of giving tips for both fancy SLR Cameras and Point and Shoots. We have a SLR (well, Brette does) that I’ve gotten more comfortable using, but so many times I just don’t want to lug it out. I got a new point and shoot last month and have enjoyed how easy it is. I learned a few things of how I can change the settings on it to get awesome photos that look just as good as a SLR photo. I’ve already been experimenting. I don’t think I’ll be taking wedding photos anytime soon, but I would like to have more fun with photos on the blog.
I went into this Summit not knowing a single soul. Good thing bloggers are nice people. I met all sorts of interesting and great people and many I can see myself keeping in touch with. The interesting thing for me was that I was one of the oldest people there. I’ve never really experienced that. Not that 33 is old, but by far most of the attendees were in their 20’s and many still in college or freshly graduated. If I attend the summit again, it’d be nice to have a track for us “old” bloggers.
Marta, Jen and Jessie
These two were awesome – and from Chicago.
The biggest things I took away from the summit were:
- Great connections with fellow bloggers and healthy livers.
- Tip: Keep the flash off when taking pictures of food.
- It’s my blog – I can write about what I want to. Funny, but there is a big difference between writing about what gets me excited versus writing about what I ‘think’ people want to read.
- Carbs are king when it comes to working out. They are not the enemy. Music to my ears!
- Seek healthy, not skinny. I loved this phrase. I feel so many people are striving to be skinny (I know I have), when we should be striving to be healthy. Striving to be skinny can cause disordered eating and some bad habits. Healthy looks different on everyone. I can’t wait to write about this.
- Swag. That’s right, I came home with the best swag bag ever. Look at this stuff!
I’m not a huge processed food fan, but some of these things are awesome.
Here’s what I’m most excited about:
- Attune probiotic bars. Essentially a great piece of chocolate with the probiotics of yogurt mixed in. LOVE them. Apparently you can find them at the Whole Foods in St. Paul – they’re in the yogurt section. I haven’t looked for them yet, but I will be. Annelies from Attune even got me on video talking about them.
- Vega Protein Shake – I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m super excited to give it a whirl. This is a product created by vegan triathlete, Brendan Brazier. I have his book, Thrive and love it. I’ve always wanted to try his stuff, but it’s super expensive. This was a major score!
- I do love having stuff like this (snacks, etc.) on hand for pre-workout snacks or to have in my purse for those “must eat” moments. I’m not a big chip person, however, so those will likely be eaten by Brette. I doubt he will complain.
Okay, I think that’s it for my recap. Overall, I’m glad I went and it definitely gave me some things to think about for the blog and where I want it to go. Anne and I have a blog date this weekend to discuss – exciting! You’re on the edge of your seat, right?