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I’m Back! HLS Thoughts and More

October 19, 2011

*Text-heavy post ahead!*

Wow, I can’t believe it has been two months since my last post! I didn’t plan on taking time off from blogging, but as soon as HLS was over, my life went into overdrive. The details are boring, but here’s what went down in a nutshell: between adjusting to working full-time 8-5 and moving into a new place a few weeks later with my boyfriend, I found myself busy and stressed out nearly every day. Some nights I practically fell face first into bed at the grandmotherly-hour of 9pm. I’m glad that period seems to be over, and I finally feel like I’m getting more into a rhythm with my work schedule, and our new place is coming together slowly but surely. Hey, at least ALL of the boxes are unpacked and out!

Several times over the past couple weeks I’ve thought about coming back and posting, but I felt like I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to say in response to HLS, and that uncertainty also kept me putting it off. The HLS weekend gave me so many things to think about. I do want to share some of  my thoughts from the weekend with you, even if I still don’t know what all the bigger takeaways are yet. One caveat: whatever I post here is how I experienced the weekend, and may or may not be how others experienced it. I can only write from my perspective, and I told you I would give you my honest impressions.

So here is my long overdue recap, list style:

1) I met some really awesome people! It would be impossible to name them all, but first of all, I was super lucky to happen into a room with Jessica and Katy. Since I took someone else’s spot in their room, they didn’t know me at all, and they were so nice and encouraging. I am glad I met them both and hope we will stay friends. I was also grateful for Caitlin from HTP because she made a point to check on me throughout the weekend because she knew my fears upfront. Same with Julie and Heather. I really appreciated these girls going out of their way to support me. I only wish there had been more time to talk with everyone! I also really enjoyed getting to know (at least a little bit) Beth, Gretchen, and Laura. I feel like these are girls I could be friends with in real life. There were many other lovely people I spoke with during meal times or breaks, and if you gave me a card, I most likely have added you to Twitter so we can stay in touch.

2) I felt socially awkward 98% of the time. Maybe I just need to embrace this. Or, maybe it’s all in my head? I’m not really sure. I do think the whole construct of the conference makes for awkward situations. I mean, reading about someone’s life daily on their blog allows you to know way more than you should about someone when you meet them for the first time. So, while you are meeting them for the first time, it doesn’t feel that way because you probably know their boyfriend/husband’s name, pet’s names, favorite foods, habits, etc. Awk. ward. Has anyone figured out how to make this less awkward??

3) I did feel like there were cliques of girls that weren’t really accessible to others. I don’t think this was intentional at all. At least, I didn’t get that feeling. It just felt like there were a lot of people who had known each other a long time, and it was hard to be new to the group. Maybe it get’s better over time.

4) Despite #2 and #3, I wasn’t “star struck”, like some people were. It was weird to me that people were reacting to seeing some of the “bigger bloggers” like they were celebrities. Maybe I’m the weird one, but I just felt like they were normal people too.

5) There were (a few) other people there with weight to lose, but I still felt like the biggest girl in the room most of the time. Totally my own issues rearing their head here… I doubt other people were thinking this, but I was, more times than I care to admit.

6) I wanted to experience the event, not document it. Maybe this next statement will forever label me as a bad blogger, but it’s how I felt so I’m going to share it. I didn’t find myself compelled to take pictures of the cocktail party, or the sessions, or the meals… because I was living it. I felt like pulling out my camera and taking the time to take pictures would have detracted from experiencing what was going on around me. I just wanted to be present in the moment. I am sure with practice/way more experience it gets easier to be able to do both. I’m sure eventually the picture-taking feels like second nature, but for me it felt cumbersome, so I didn’t do it.

7) A few of the panels were really inspiring and helpful. I got something out of nearly everything I listened to, but a few of the panels were more inspiring than I expected. I’d say my two favorites were Dawn Jackson Blatner’s session on Healthy Living Mantras and the sessions on Rising Above Negativity and The Numbers Game. I repeat some of her mantras to myself nearly every day. Especially “no free food” (about treats that just appear at work).

8 ) I did have a few immediate takeaways from the weekend that have stuck with me. One of the biggest things that struck me was when Caitlin was talking about people who criticize her or make fun of her, especially online. She talked about how she just chooses not to even acknowledge their existence, and that “you create your own reality“. She was so matter-of-fact about it that it seemed truly achievable. Wow! Her comment was especially powerful for me, and something I’ve thought about a lot since. I also took away the message of “you do you”. Everyone is different, has a different voice, and represents a different point of view. I am trying to be confident in “doing me” more and more. That’s a lot of what this post is about. The last big one was a quote that Beth shared during her panel: “a goal without a plan is just a wish”. This quote had a big impact on me in the last week which I’ll share below.

9) I wish I had been able to meet and socialize with more people.

A few people I wish I could have talked to more: JanethaErin, and Kath … or at all: Allie  and Julie, if only to tell her I love, love Sadie!

By far, I left feeling like I wanted to be a part of the community in some way. I met some great people and wished I had been able to spend more time with them. I also left wishing I had talked to a few people. Maybe I should have been less worried about just randomly approaching people, but I also didn’t want to be a major creeper. LOL. I might not fit the exact mold of what a “healthy living blogger” is, but I’m ok with that. I just want to be myself. I want to share my story, and my thoughts, and I hope through that I will gain relationships with others. Because even after only 2 days at HLS, I knew the whole point of this blogging thing, at least for me, is to make a connection. To build friendships. My goal and my hope is to continually surround myself with fun, smart, unique, supportive people. In all aspects of my life.

10) I’m glad I went. Overall, I’m really grateful for the experience. I had fun and it gave me a lot think about. I also stepped out of my comfort zone and went for it, which still makes me proud. I want to say thank you again to everyone who was supportive of me and my journey to even taking that first step to HLS.

Whew, who knew I had that much to say about HLS.  If you’re still reading, kudos to you. You deserve a gold star.. or a cookie. 🙂

One really exciting thing I do have to share before I go is that largely because of the quote I mentioned above, I joined Weight Watchers last week. It is part of my plan to achieve my goal of weight loss. I’m attending meetings near my house and using the online tools.

I will share my thoughts on the program so far in another post but… in my first week… I have lost 7.4 pounds! Holy crap was I surprised. I’m sticking to the plan like glue and excited to see what week 2 brings.

Thanks for reading this far! Hiatus officially over.

Did you attend HLS? Can you relate to anything I shared? 

Have you ever done Weight Watchers? Did it work for you? Why or why not? 

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 20, 2011 11:16 am

    I’m so glad you had an overall positive experience at HLS!

    My responses to a few of your points:
    2. Don’t worry, I felt socially awkward at times, too…and this was my 5th or 6th conference! I always err on the side of “I’m going to assume they have no idea who I am and pretend that I don’t know all about their lives already” for the initial introductions. I may tell them that I love their blog, but I’m not going to act as if I already know them personally, even if I do know a lot about them from their blogs.
    2a. Now I feel like I’m rambling and making no sense. I’ll stop now.

    3. There’s a weird balance at a lot of these conferences. On the one hand, people want to hang out with their blog friends who live in different states that they only get to see once or twice a year at the conferences. On the other, we also want to meet new people and make new friends…it is a very tricky balance, and some people achieve it better than others.

    6. I’m with you on this. This is why I don’t do traditional recaps of conferences and events. I think the only photos I took were photos with my friends and the HLB Facebook photos. This is also why I don’t review restaurants until my second or third or even fourth visit…I want to enjoy the experience and the company!

    9. I always leave feeling like I only met about 1/3 of the people there… I wish the conferences were longer!

    10. Hooray!

    And now I’m done writing a book on your wall. 😉

    • October 20, 2011 9:14 pm

      Thanks Julie!

      It means a lot that you commented and could relate to some of my thoughts 🙂

  2. October 20, 2011 7:54 pm

    I’m so glad that you came to HLS and it was great having you as a roomie!!!

    I can definitely relate to you a lot with this post. I felt so socially awkward for almost the entire weekend. This is how I am usually 😉 but at HLS, I definitely felt like it was at a higher level. I’m not one to put myself out there, so it was definitely a stretch for me.

    I come across as a lot more outgoing on my blog than I am in “real life” and had a few people actually point this out to me! However, it wasn’t something that I was ashamed of and I just did the best I could!

    As for point #3, I definitely felt that way immediately following HLS, but then I thought about it over the following few weeks. I basically have to agree with what Julie said above.

    And #6- I felt that I blogged too much throughout the weekend. Sure I only blogged during my downtime, but I feel that when I go next year, I’m going to focus more on the event verses recapping the event. Besides, most of the people who read my blog were at HLS and experiencing it for themselves!

    Again, I am so glad that you came and hope you come next year! 🙂

    And congrats on the weight loss! You go girl! 😀

    • October 20, 2011 9:18 pm

      Thanks roomie! I’m glad we could experience the event together, and it’s so nice to hear that you felt similar to me in some ways 🙂

  3. October 26, 2011 5:19 pm

    It was great to meet you at HLS! I’m glad your blog is back 🙂

  4. November 14, 2011 9:26 pm

    Hey Lady!!! I hope you are doing well! I am so glad we got to be roommates at HLS, and I was bummed you had to leave early.

    I feel awkward all the time, and I definitely did at HLS too. I think it’s a personality thing, and I think I know how you feel. Even when I go to conferences for work, I feel super awkward. I just tell myself everyone else does too!

    Don’t ever feel like a bad blogger. This is your blog and you set the content! There are many aspects of my life (including my job) that I do not blog about. Choosing to not blog about HLS it totally fine! 🙂

    Oh and I agree about the cliques. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional at all. Katy and I had talked about how HLS was almost like a sorority…maybe it just has something to do about that many women getting together. Perhaps it is our nature to “clique up” into groups? It was definitely tough to navigate socially at times with all the different groups of people.

    Happy Monday!! Miss you!!

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