2012-08-19 16.56.28

Recap: Healthy Living Summit

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If you follow me on Twitter, you probably noticed I was doing things a little differently this past weekend. I actually often go off the grid on weekends, but this time I traveled to Boston for my first blogger conference, the Healthy Living Summit.

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While SaraBozich.com is by no means a “healthy living blog” (which I think was a little confusing for some other conference-goers), nor will it become that, a healthy lifestyle is certainly one of my interests, so it was inspiring to be around not only like-minded people, but like-minded bloggers.

The weekend’s events revolved around fitness, sharing ideas, a ridiculous amount of swag (including Reebok sneaks for everyone) and food. In fact, it was about food maybe more than anything.

My friend, neighbor and local wellness blogger, Lauren, and I flew in on Friday morning. The conference was held at the Hyatt Cambridge, which treated a group of high-maintenance eaters and fitness freaks very well. From here, our first order of business was a real meal, so we walked about a mile or so to Harvard Square (Hahvahd Square) and found some hearty eats at Zoe’s.

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I always order the same thing at diners: 2 eggs over easy, this time with chicken sausage and “dark” bread

We walked that off, settled into our room and waited for our final roomie to arrive. Once it was lunchtime, we joined a “mini-mingle” to Flour Bakery. I was initially hesitant to join because I don’t really get excited about baked goods or sweet things for lunch, but I’m so glad I went, because my impression was all wrong.

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Sure, Flour sells baked goods, gluten free pastries, etc., but they also have this beautiful lunch menu with salads and sandwiches (that can be served as salads), plus amazing sweets like cookies and macaroons and tarts.

FlourLunch

I chose the curried tuna salad sandwich-as-a-salad, a raspberry seltzer (that they’re known for) and a chocolate chip macaroon. I want to go back now and order it again. Everyone else seemed similarly pleased with their lunches and sweets, and we returned to the hotel for conference registration and the unveiling of the swag.

Image stolen from fellow conference-goer, caitplusate.com
Image stolen from fellow conference-goer, caitplusate.com

We paid $100 for the conference, and I’m pretty sure the free Reeboks returned that investment. On top of that, we got a host of food and health related stuff from summit sponsors, including granola bars, cereal, juices and loads of coupons to buy more of it – all of which came in a reusable grocery tote. We all were concerned with getting all of this back on the plane ride home.

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In the afternoon, a few different groups gathered for Greatist‘s blogging workshops or runs or a photography walk near Fenway. I don’t remember what I did, but it was possibly hangout in my room because I’m old and tired.

We regrouped for dinner at the hotel – Zephyr on the Charles – and got salads with added protein, but 10% off. We saved our cocktails for the summit kick-off cocktail party (one drink ticket, so that’s all we drank), which allowed attendees a chance to mingle and meet before Saturday’s seminars.

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I was by no means the oldest person at this event, but I was in the older age range. I had a 26 year-old tell me that she felt old (rooming with 21 and 22 year-olds) and overheard someone calling a 31 year-old “one of the older girls.” Ouch. However, youth means passion and appetite (for food and knowledge in this case), and it was exciting to watch the many first-timers and brand-new bloggers be so pumped to meet the more veteran bloggers who they read (for some, it truly was like celebrity sightings) and to learn tricks of the trade.

Saturday morning began with group runs. I politely abstained, knowing a crossfit session and boot camp were in my future. However, a bunch of girls are mid-marathon training, so there were a variety of different distance groups.

Breakfast

Breakfast, sponsored by summit partner Wild Harvest, offered a beautiful array of fruits, parfaits, muffins and a few more hearty dishes. Wild Harvest offered a chance for early registrants to participate in a recipe challenge using Wild Harvest ingredients. The winner was Kelly of Cupcake Kelly with a Greek-inspired scramble.

It was here I also ran into Juliette from Pure Matters, whose water bottle I was sporting all weekend, so naturally we posed for a photo opp.

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Next up: Reebok’s crossfit challenge. Note: single girls, jesus find a crossfit box and hang out with one of these hunks. I heard this all weekend: “Why are all crossfit guys so hot?”

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A team of Reebok Crossfit dudes led us through a brief explanation on crossfit’s mission and talked us through a correct “air squat.” Following that, we were tasked with a 5 min workout — a repeat sequence of 7 squats followed by 15 jumps.

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I am a bit embarrassed to admit my quads are still sore, but hey, at least I worked it. Right?

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After we hit the showers, it was finally conference time. My first was “Blog Photog Basics” with Gretchen of Honey I Shrunk the Gretchen.

The room was split between those of us haphazardly using our iPhones and point-and-shoots and those ladies who splurged on the fancy SLRs yet continue to use its “auto” function.

Let me tell you a little story. I loved photography ever since high school and through college, and I always swore that I would incorporate this into my life. I even own a very nice Canon Rebel G camera that looks very much like some of my fellow bloggers … except mine takes film. (By the way, Mom, still one of the most terrific graduation gifts ever). I even took photography in college. But I have to admit, I think I liked composition and the physical film development (black and white) more than learning about properly using light and apertures. That said, I think it’s time to start saving for an SLR and spend some time revisiting my old photography books.

A big thanks to Gretchen for some great tips on using light, depth of field, plus tips on free and paid editing software. Lots for me to work on in this department.

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Up next was “Blogging with Brands,” set up as a panel hosted by Lauren and featuring bloggers and brand representatives. This presentation was so popular that people were finding room to sit on the floor. Lauren’s questions to the panelists generated great conversation and were followed up by thoughtful questions from audience members. This was, by far, the most talked-about seminar of the day.

P.S. If you’re a local Harrisburg-area blogger, contact Lauren about this Friday’s meet-up.

Afterwards, we broke for lunch, an impressive array of moist chicken and tomatoes, avocado and tomato salad, soup, greens and pita bread.

The conference keynote was “Get in the Kitchen with Genie and Kim: A look at product and recipe development” presented by summit sponsor, Wild Harvest(r).

I wasn’t familiar with Wild Harvest prior to the Healthy Living Summit, but their presentation impressed me. They talked a great deal about how important it is to educate people about their food choices (and shared anecdotes about how to do this without seeming pushy). Finally, they gave food bloggers some solid tips on recipe development, including taking a favorite restaurant recipe and making it your own.

Up next, I tuned in for “I am the Blogger in Your Neighborhood,” a panel hosted by Holly (The Healthy Everythingtarian), Meghann Anderson and Clare Brady (my other roomie).

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All three ladies are very involved not only in the healthy living blogging community, but in each of their hometowns as well. All boast impressive resumes and skill sets and have turned (or are turning) their passions into full-time careers.

From on-air local cooking shows to one-on-one health coaching to forming blogger meet-ups groups, they’ve turned their blogs offline and back into their own neighborhoods.

Naturally, this spoke most to me, as perhaps I’m moving from the opposite end. Holly presented her tips for a good pitch, and I think these can be utilized by anyone:

  • Be brief, concise & catchy
  • Tell who you are, what you want and why you should get it
  • Give 3 ideas (ways to accomplish goal, suggestions to the reporter/producer/blogger, as to what story or concept you can together utilize)
  • Finally, follow-up

In the final seminar, Heather Montgomery of Running with Sass talked to us about “Social Media: Keeping Up with Online Trends.” This is another item that is important not only to bloggers, but to anyone managing their company’s communications. Social media is it, and Heather walked us through some great tips for bloggers, including understanding Facebook’s Edgerank, plus the speedy growth of Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare.

I’m pleased to say I had several takeaways from the summit in all, and I also would like to give back.

I’ve been blogging and writing professionally for more than 10 years, and I would love to help the novice bloggers with a writing workshop (or something similar). Everyone wants to know how to make it big writing about what they love, how to make money and get free stuff from brands — and I believe the way to set yourself apart is through quality content. If able, I’ll be pitching this to the HLS13 planners for next year’s event — give me a shout if this interests you.

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The conference ended Saturday evening, but my time in Boston did not. Stay tuned for the rest!

Sara Bozich
Author: Sara Bozich

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