Healthy Living Summit 2009!
August 16, 2009

Hello, Lovelies!

I’m back with my official Healthy Living Summit report! Though Ms. Katherine and I moaned and groaned a bit upon our 7 a.m. wake up call, we were ready to go by the time we arrived at the Radisson for the Summit. There, I found Heather and Caitlin valiantly signing people in, my soul sista Melissa chatting with the adorable Chandra, and other bloggers mid-breakfast. Here’s a shot of the lovely spread, which consisted of coffee and tea, baked goods and bagels, juice, a variety of yogurt, and tons of fresh fruit. The lady in the picture is Ms. Katie, who I was glad to see this weekend — we’re both NYC bloggers, but hadn’t touched base in a while:

katie-at-breakfast

I enjoyed breakfast with Megan and Caroline, as well as Katherine, Heather, and her sister:

meghan-and-caroline

The room was abuzz with blogger meeting and greeting:

breakfast

We shuffled into the hotel’s conference room to hear the morning’s lineup of speakers.

summit

The highlight — at least in my book — was Cory, whom you all know is my friend and go-to source of blogger savy. Cory’s presentation, Blogging 101, was chocked full of useful information on how to begin, grow, and maintain a succesfull blog. He touched on numerous resources that I didn’t know about, and he gave a number of useful tech tips. Every now and then, Kath chimed in with her own blogging expertise:

zesty

The other morning speaker was Janel Ovrut, R.D., who gave an overview of healthy eating and her own suggestions for a balanced diet. There was also a Q&A session with the summit organizers: Kath, Tina, Meghann, Catilin, Heather, and Jenna. This was charming, and a great way to learn more about the bloggers. Caroline’s question was ultimately my favorite: if you could be the next food network star, what show would you host?

Next came the lunch: here’s a shot of Melissa and I before the break:

gena-and-melissa-at-summit

It was a nice spread of sandwiches (or rather, sandwich fillings and fresh bread), more fruit, and vegetables.

I wanted to stay for all of the post-lunch activities, but I had plans to meet up with my friend and surrogate little sister, Alexandra (for reference, she’s the kid sister of my BFF down in New Orleans, Chloe). Ali just moved to Boston for grad school and is gettling settled as I type!

Unfortunately, by the time we managed to coordinate it was getting late in the day, and I was hoping to catch a not-so-nocturnal bus back to New York, so Ali and I decided that we’d try to coordinate again soon. Meanwhile, I had the chance to stroll around Boston with Katherine and Melissa, and I’m so glad I did! Here’s a shot of the two goddesses in the park:

mel-and-katherine

And the waterfront. It was a spectacular day, and I can say that I have amassed a fine new appreciation of Boston:

charles

Here’s Katherine and I close to the apartment again, in Beacon Hill (thanks, Mel, for the photo!):

gena-and-katherine1

Finally, it was time to head home. Melissa and I boarded the bus for a few hours of reading and catching up on work girl talk. And it was great 🙂 Duh.

I made it home with one awesome gift bag, too! Take a peek, guys:

schwag-bag

And behold, the offerings:

schwag-contents

Barney Butter, which I haven’t tried:

barney-butter1

A variety of bars. I’m especially psyched about the Pure bar (I’m a big fan) and about trying one of Ange’s Glo bars!!!

bars

A copy of Body and Soul magazine and an Athleta catalog:

mags

Some dried fruit, including Peeled snacks — I love these!

dried-fruit

Annie’s Cheddar bunnies, which my Mom will dig, and some applesauce:

bunnies

And some nuts from Oh! Nuts:

nuts

Not bad, eh?

In all, it was a terrific weekend. I got to meet so many bloggers whose work I’ve admired for ages now. For example, Gena and Jenna were finally united at the cocktail party on Friday (photo courtesy of Jenna — thanks girl!):

gena-and-jenna

It was so nice to meet my Raw Wednesday Challenge co-host in person!

It was also terrific to meet Meghann, who bounded up to me with a hug and a huge and a friendly smile. Kath and I got to chat a bit about life since our New Orleans meetup, I got to give my girl Heather a big hug, and I had the huge joy of meeting Tina, too! I emailed Tina well over a year ago now to express my admiration of her blog, and I’ve remained her fan since. She’s a gem in person: funny, modest, and disarming. Finally, it was lovely to say hello to Caitlin, whose work with Operation Beautiful has astounded me.

Naturally, it was also great to say hi to many of my fellow New York bloggers (hey Leslie!) and simply to be a part of a community of women (and men) who care about healthy living. That I also got a chance to experience Boston, and — most crucially — a chance to escape my busy routine for a weekend, was a big added bonus!

I want to take a quick minute to address some feedback I got on my post about Friday’s party. When I mentioned my choice to eat beforehand, I didn’t in any way mean to imply that I felt excluded by the meal options. I didn’t! My intention was to show you all how to plan around social events if you pursue a raw or vegan diet. In fact, I think Heather was highly gracious in not finding my inquiry high-maintenance! When one hosts a large party, one has to cater to the largest common denominator. The summit meals were vegetarian friendly, with some options for omnivores and vegans: this was without a doubt the sensible route.

I didn’t expect a variety of raw or vegan options: this was not a raw vegan event. It was a healthy living event, and as I like to constantly emphasize, there are many varieties of healthy lifestyles. Mine is one. It’s not the only one. My goal in attending this weekend was to have a chance to connect with bloggers like me, not to seek out a sense of kinship with other raw foodists. The Summit was planned thoughtfully and with an eye on balance. Janel had a different dietetic philosophy than I do, but she was enthusiastic and helpful; the keynote speaker (who I missed, sadly) was a dairy farmer, and I’m not generally supportive of dairy, but her emphasis was the importance of sustainable and organic farming, which I support with all my heart; the goodies in the giveaway bag weren’t all raw, but they all had minimal, high quality, and organic ingredients.

In other words, the fundamental values on display at the Summit were admirable ones. I may have a slightly different set of values, but I respect the fact that my own way is but one of many. And that kind of variety and multiplicity is exactly what I was happy to experience in meeting so many other bloggers. Thank you, Summit Ladies, for your hard work. It paid off, and then some.

I’ll be back soon — happy Sunday!

xo

P.S. Check out other recaps here!

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    46 Comments
  1. LOVED your recap, and as always, i love the position you take that says raw isn’t the only way. it works for some people, not for others. but the underlying message is the same! I LOVE THAT YOU MENTIONED THIS!

    larabars rule. a great summit snack, if i do say so myself 🙂

  2. Thanks for the awesome recap, Gena! I have a question about your experience at the summit. Aside from the dinner at that grill, how else did you get buy eating raw foods at the summit itself? Did you use the buffets or instead pack a lunch and breakfast? I saw that there was only fruit that seemed to be truly “raw”. What do you recommend to those who are served food in a public event and have a dietary “niche”?

    • Hi Susan,

      I packed crudites and Pure/Larabars for the summit day as snacks. I know I’d only be there for half of the day, so I would have the chance to grab lunch later. If I had been planning on staying, I would have packed a salad big or picked one up nearby on the lunch break and brought it back to eat. If I didn’t have time, I would have made do with a variety of raw veggies and a Larabar, plus a snack of some sort later. In this case, it was easy to plan: I was in a big city with tons of lunch spots and time to duck away and pick something up if needed. But on the whole, if I end up with a meal that’s veggies+a raw snack bar, that’s fine. It’s just one meal — dinner comes later!

      Gena

  3. Thank you so much for blogging about this – I have truly loved reading your experiences and a few of the other bloggers who were able to attend this event. I love how all of you have a different approach to food yet you respect one another and still manage to find a healthy balance that works for each and every one of you. I seriously love you guys even though I’ve never met any of you! 🙂 Thanks Gena!

  4. Gena, I sat in the row directly behind you at the summit, but I didn’t have a chance to introduce myself. I wanted to thank you for making me fall in love with banana soft serve!

  5. What a great recap ~ full of interesting bits of information and written with style, grace and eloquence as always. It was so enlightening to read about the summit from your perspective and hear about your experience, as it’s obviously so different from all of those featured on other blogs.

    I didn’t think your last post came across as anything other than pragmatic and practical ~ you have an exceptional philosophy towards food and towards life. More people should learn from you and embrace the healthy lifetyles of others instead of challenging them.

    Hope you’re winding down from all of the summit shenanigans : )

  6. i think your honesty and open-mindedness when it comes to different eating styles is one of my favorite things about you. 🙂 i love that you share with us the lifestyle that you love and that works for you, but always encourage us to find our own personal balance.

    it was so wonderful seeing and chatting with you for a few minutes again!

  7. Great recap! I’m with you on the food thing. I never expect people to cater to my dietary preferences, and almost always either eat beforehand or travel with food. My expectation is to have a good time and not focus on food.

    I have a quick editor type question for you. You use ‘I’ when I would normally use ‘me’, such as: “Here’s Katherine and I close to the apartment again…” I would have written that as Katherine and me. Do you have any recommended resources I could check out to muscle up on proper grammar?

    • Metta, think of it this way: “me” is only really correct when it’s a direct object (in other words, when someone is doing something to you). If the sentence were “here is Katherine giving me bunny ears close to the apartment again…” “me” would be correct. But if you are not being acted upon, then it’s “I”. It’s a bit odd sounding, I know, but correct.

      I recommend the Chicago Manuel of Style for all grammatical queries!

      • And if we’re talking grammar, something I do if I get confused is to say the sentence without the other person. For example, “Gena took a picture of me.” I would never say “Gena took a picture of I” so I know to say “Gena took a picture of Katharine and me” not “Katharine and I.” It doesn’t explain the rule, but it helps.

  8. It’s so much fun reading everyone’s recaps! I love how you told about planning around the dinner. I think with any healthy lifestyle, but most especially raw, vegan and vegetarian it is important to plan your dinner beforehand, or contact the host. Most people don’t mind, and in fact appreciate it.

  9. It was so lovely to meet you in person and thank you for your kind words about our summit. Let me tell you picking out a menu for the world’s pickiest audience is not the funnest thing in the world. lol

    I hope we get to meet again one day when I’m not running around like a chicken with my head cut off and can just sit down and talk. I promise to make it to NYC one day!!

  10. I love you goddess gena! I really like how you neatly organized your swag for the photos, unlike me, who through it all over the floor 🙂 We are two cities down, LA will definitely have to happen someday. Although, it is always up to wake up with the pulse of NYC racing through your veins.

  11. Gena, you really are a beautiful example of how to stay true to yourself and dare to be different, yet remain classy, open-minded, and compassionate. Defending one’s vegan or raw (or whatever) diet can be so frustrating sometimes, yet you always seem to speak with such a lack of judgment and defensiveness. (You and VG both.) I try to conduct myself that same way, but I admit that when I’m interrogated about protein or how cows need to be milked or else they’ll be in pain in front of audiences of people, it’s not easy to keep my cool. You’re an inspiration.

  12. Haha, until this post I had NO idea what Zesty’s real name was. Weird.
    Anyway, it was great to meet you in person–see you at the next Summit?

  13. Gena, I’ve been reading your blog for a few weeks now (just subscribed!) and felt compelled to comment after this post. I think you are a great example of how someone can be so passionate about their way of life, eating, being, etc., and also remain graceful and open towards others’ opinions and perspectives. I have such admiration for you and your blog!

  14. Sounds like you had a great time with awesome bloggers 🙂

    I love how you are always truly open to other people’s opinions on health (and everything else for that matter), Gena!

  15. Hi Gena, I would have loved to hear Cory/ZestyCook’s spiel, too. I think that anyone who blogs can always use some tips and pointers. And of course, getting to meet IRL all the great blogging friends all under one roof and in the flesh…priceless. Glad you had a great time!

  16. Gena, this is why I really love you! I know you don’t agree with my food choices, but you never judge me as I would never judge you. That said, we tried our best to cater to as many diets as possible, but of course, it’s never possible to please everyone.

  17. Wow! Thanks fo rthe lovely review of the Summit! So glad to have you there so we can live through you! 🙂 Sounds like you had a fab time!

  18. You are such an eloquent lady, Gena! I totally agree with what you said previously and here about the food situation. I think the only thing you can do in terms of going to an event (whether you were invited or not — a conference, a party, a restaurant with a friend, etc) is to do your research, communicate, and ask if it would be okay to eat beforehand, bring your own food, etc. I can’t expect everyone to have vegan offerings for me at their party/conference/gathering/shindig/etc, so I like to be prepared. Thank goodness for health food stores and WF salad bars, huh?

    On that note, I just got that issue of Body+Soul in the mail yesterday so I must retreat to bed with it now. Have a great Sunday!

  19. Thanks for the recap! It looks like such a happy time!
    I can’t place it, but there’s something unique and beautiful about your face that I just love 🙂

  20. “I may have a slightly different set of values, but I respect the fact that my own way is but one of many.”

    This line stuck out for me. No dogma, just different people with different views finding common ground in living the best lives they can; lives that make sense to each in her own way.

    (And thanks for uncovering the top-secret loot bag contents! 😉 )

  21. Thank you for recapping your summit experiences – especially since you enjoyed it with great company 🙂

    You shouldn’t have to defend yourself Re: Friday’s dinner – but amen to what you said!!

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