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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? 


My Journey to HLS

August 19, 2011

In just a few short hours I will be making the drive to Philly to attend the Healthy Living Summit. This is the third year of the conference, but my first time attending. I signed up back at the beginning of the summer, having no idea where I would be or if I would even be able to attend. I hadn’t even started this blog! As luck (or fate?) would have it, I ended up in New Jersey, an easy drive from Philly.


As the days got closer and closer to HLS, I felt the negative voice we all have in the back of our heads creeping into mine every day. It would say things like “you don’t deserve to go to something like because you’re overweight” or “everyone is going to wonder why you are there because you’re fat” and many other things I wouldn’t say to my worst enemy. It was to the point where I had basically talked myself out of going at all.

I wrote to two bloggers who I respect and asked their advice. They both unequivocally said I should go, and that people attending have been at all stages of weight loss/health journeys and that no one would think twice about my weight or why I was there.   As someone who grew up being teased and knew a lot of “mean girls”, having the courage to step blindly into an event like this would be a big step. So, I am choosing to believe them! I am turning off the fat talking, negative voice in my head and going for it. This is a huge deal for me. I wonder if anyone else  had any of these feelings?

This weekend, I am hoping to gain knowledge, inspiration, and most importantly, new encouraging friends. I’m not sure if I’ll be posting this weekend, but definitely expect a recap next week.

I am closing my eyes, believing in myself, and taking a leap of faith. I am choosing myself and my health. As Heather says, “make one healthy decision. now make another.” I’m hoping this decision will lead me to more and more healthy decisions.

Philly Bound!

Are you attending HLS?

When was a time you took a leap of faith?

Fooducate Yourself

August 11, 2011

Have you heard of Fooducate?


I recently discovered the Fooducate app for the iPhone, and it is such a great tool. (They also recently came out with an Android app).

The concept is simple. You use your phone at the grocery store to scan barcodes of food you are interested in buying (or just learning about). The app then locates the product, gives you the nutrition info, an overall “rating”, and comments about its ingredients and overall healthiness.


One of the things I like best about the app is if you find a low scoring food, the app will suggest healthier alternatives to you. The only downside is that some of them seem to be hard to find brands not easily found in mainstream grocery stores or nationwide.

Also, the database can be user-updated by taking photos of product information and emailing it directly to Fooducate from the app.

Lastly, Fooducate also has a blog that dispenses advice for making healthier choices and asks hard questions about the current state of our food culture.

Fooducate’s slogan is “Eat a bit better”, and so far it is helping me do just that.

Would you use an app like Fooducate to help you shop? Why or why not?

And Then… It Happened!

August 9, 2011

It finally happened! I got a JOB! A real, full-time, salary paying, benefits and all, JOB.

This is a BIG deal. 6 years of school, 4 internships, more mundane envelope licking and stamp sticking than you can even imagine, a 40 page comprehensive exam, 15 interviews, 6,500 miles traveled, and 75 cover letters later – I did it!

I’m thrilled to be starting my job next week, and I’m even more thrilled that I will have insurance. As a student, insurance is expensive and it doesn’t cover very much (I hope to dedicate a post to this in the future). This is another BIG deal.

So, that’s where I’ve been the last few weeks. Knee-deep in the job search and moving out of my apartment near school.

All of my stuff is in storage, and it will be staying there until my bf and I can find a place together. In the meantime, I’ll be staying at his current place. Hello, 60 mile a day commute! But, it’s only temporary, and I’m just so happy to have a job.

So where am I headed?


The lovely Garden State. Every time I say that it makes me think of “Dogma”.

Bartleby: Hello, we’d like two tickets to New Jersey, please.
Bus Station Attendant: Jersey’s sold out, sir.
Loki: What?
Bus Station Attendant: There’s one at the same time tomorrow. I suggest you not underestimate the staggering drawing power of the Garden State, and show up two hours in advance.



I’ve been here, there, and everywhere lately, and I am excited to just settle in somewhere. I also know that routine will help me be more successful on my weight loss journey. Meal planning. A daily schedule. I can’t wait.

I also saw an Endocrine specialist this week for some tests. Once I know more, I’ll be posting about it.

Here’s to my next chapter!

Question: What is your best piece of advice for starting a new job?

Blogger Recipe Love

June 15, 2011

I was finally able to make that trip to the grocery store and when I went I knew I wanted to pick up some ingredients for recipes. I looked through a bunch of blogger recipes and finally settled on one I’ve made before and one new to me. The first one I made was the new one. I chose Beth’s recipe for Black bean, corn, and cilantro salad.

This was so easy and so delicious! I love Mexican food and this tasted like a light Mexican salad with the cilantro and lime juice.

I think it turned out pretty close. Both my parents actually tried it and really liked it. Thanks Beth!

The next one I chose was a casserole I had made a few months ago and LOVED. When I made it the first time, I knew it would be a recipe I would be making again. It is Janetha’s recipe for Chicken Broccoli Casserole. It is also through this recipe that I first tried Cholula and have since become obsessed. Thank you Janetha for giving me a hot sauce to love! (not to mention your bangin’ casseroles).

All mixed up and ready to bake:

After baking:

And my portion (1/6 of recipe), bathed in Cholula:

YUM. Served with a large glass of ice water to cut the heat. 🙂

So I guess what I’m saying is you should totally make these recipes. They did not disappoint. I look forward to trying more recipes in the future (Danica has SO many I want to try) as I continue on this quest of healthier eating. Delicious recipes make this all much easier and more fun!

Doctor drama

June 15, 2011

So, today I went in for my first physical in roughly four years (thanks to crappy school insurance/doctors). Generously, my parents offered to help pay for it since I was clearly overdue.

The visit started out great. I liked the doctor, she seemed very thorough, she listened to me, and I didn’t feel rushed.

Then, it happened. “So what’s going on with your weight?” No tact, no polite intro, nothing. I shouldn’t have been so stunned, but I was. I told her a little bit about my struggles but went on to emphasize that I have changed my diet dramatically in the last 6 months and have taken up walking several times per week. Before I could continue on about my ongoing plans, she interrupted me and said “well you’ll have to do more than walking if you want to lose the kind of weight you need to!”. “You need to be working out HARD! There is a difference between effort and feeling truly sick. If you have chest pain that is a problem, but some people throw up from a good work out, that’s ok.”

Is it just me or are there several things wrong with this conversation?

There was a bit more to the visit, but I was in a haze after what she said. I got dressed and walked out to my car with a lump in my throat. I started to drive home and kept telling myself that she doesn’t know me and doesn’t know what I’ve been through or what I’ve done to start to change. But, about half way home I felt my lip quiver and the tears started to fall.

I’m bummed I let her get to me like that, but it was really painful. I am sure there was concern somewhere deep down (wayyyy down) underneath what she said, but I think she handled it really poorly. She wasn’t supportive. She didn’t offer me practical advice. She criticized me and my choices.

I think it’s time to find a different doctor.

Homeward Bound

June 9, 2011

Happy Thursday!

I am already feeling much better than how I was feeling writing yesterday’s post. Probably because I got a much needed change of scenery. You see, I’ve spent the last ~6 weeks living at my boyfriend’s place (in a different state) trying to find a job.

I still need to pack up my apartment (oh, and move) so I am staying at my parent’s house on the way to eventually do that. It is always refreshing to come home. It’s comfortable and familiar. I also have an ever-increasing appreciation for my parents as I get older, so it’s nice to be able to spend time with them.

Today started bright and early at 7:00am, and it began where any good early morning road trip should:

Dunkin Donuts. I normally love their unsweetened iced tea and iced coffees, but this tea had a funky aftertaste so I only drank half. Win some, lose some.

After some mad traffic and plenty of singing along to a Mamas and Papas Pandora station (don’t judge), 2.5 hours later we arrived at the airport.

I made it through security easily and immediately tried to find some sort of breakfast item. Lots of unhealthy choices, but I scavenged till I found a place I could get an iced unsweet green tea (my fav) and a bagel. I was *thisclose* to getting oatmeal but they were out!

Then this happened:

(I apologize for the crappy iPhone pics. My camera is at my apartment, and as soon as I am reunited with it I’ll do my best to take less iPhone pics.) That’s my overflowing gate because my flight was delayed an hour. I didn’t really mind. It was actually pretty funny because, due to the delay, there were two flights going to the same place leaving within 5 minutes of each other, with flight numbers one number apart. I’m sure you can all guess how well that worked out for some people! Haha. Some people were quite confused, and the gate agents made several announcements of “please make sure you are boarding the correct flight!”.

So, now I’m at my parents, enjoying a change of pace. I was sort of surprised how little food my parents had here that fits with the way I’m trying to eat. Lots of processed foods mostly and drinks with fake sugars which I’m really trying to mostly avoid. I was able to find some wheat bread and made a tuna sandwich with pepperjack cheese, which was actually a really tasty addition. (Sorry no photo). I looked for some carrots or something to have on the side but settled on a handful of almonds instead. I see a trip to the store in my future. At least for some oats, carrots, hummus, yogurt, and apples. Those staples will help a lot.

Just to clarify, as of right now at least, I don’t plan on blogging all of my meals like some bloggers do. I read a lot of blogs that do that, and I love them, but I’m just not sure it’s right for me. I am going to see how it progresses, but as of right now it’s not my intention. I will mention foods and meals and may even include photos when I think it’s interesting or relevant though. K? K.

I decided to take yesterday and today (and probably tomorrow too) off from applying to jobs, and I have to admit it feels great. I think I really needed a break. I know I need to get back at it soon, but this break is just what I needed after months of being at it every day. It will all be waiting for me with open arms on Monday anyway — tedious online application forms and all!

Inspiring me today:

“In the realm of ideas everything depends on enthusiasm. In the real world all rests on perseverance.”- Goethe
What are some of your favorite inspirational quotes, thoughts, mantras?