Friday, January 3, 2014

FitBloggin' 13 ("What, not a New Year's Post?!?")

"We write to taste life twice. Once in the moment and once in retrospection."
- Anais Nin, A New Woman

So here I am, half a year later, trying to recap FitBloggin'.  It's harder than I thought it would be, for such a memorable event.  Not sure if it's because I'm afraid of getting some fact wrong, forgetting to mention any of the wonderful people I met, or simply rambling too much.  So rather than give a sequential account of things, I'm going to talk about what I LOVED about the conference and what I would tell another first-timer to the conference.

13 Things I Loved about FitBloggin' 13!

Not necessarily in this order...and each of these would not be possible without the amazing job Roni Noone did: planning the agenda, recruiting sponsors, arranging the conference hotel and menu to suit people with such varying definitions of what it means to eat healthfully.
Yeayyy, Roni!
13.  SWAG!

Roni did a fantastic job in recruiting generous sponsors for the event.  I was avalanched with wonderful goodies on arrival.  I had heard that the swag at FitBloggin' was legendary...and it's TRUE!  At registration, we were given a great Reebok gym bag stuffed with lots of amazing samples and gifts, and just past the registration table, the nice folks at Reebok outfitted us with shoes and yoga tank tops! 

I love mine: I got the purple Reebok Crossfit Nano shoes!  I was really worried about whether they would fit my feet.  However, their wide toe box meant that my feet were not pinched at the toes.  They are lightweight and have good airflow.  Not to mention I get a ton of compliments on my bright kicks! :-)
Purple?!? Be still my heart!

I'd say about half of the items in we received were fitness-goodies (a Humana pedometer, Sweat Pink shoelaces, a Nutrilite gym bag and supplements package, a tech shirt from the JumpSport Fitness trampoline folks), and the other half were food samples.  I especially liked the Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts, Blue Diamond almonds, Simply Snackin meat snacks (I got to try the Sirloin with Apples & Cherries - yum!!!), and the sample pack of Lenny & Larry's brand-new Fit Brownies (which I'll be reviewing in a near-future post!).

The swag wasn't just in the bag - sponsors hosted the snack times and the evening events, and they were present in the exhibition area with samples and drawings. I was especially delighted to see The Laughing Cow!  When I was little, my dad was a salesman for an imported deli food company, so I have fond memories of their tiny cheese cubes and Babybell cheeses.

"J'aime bien La Vache Qui Rit!"
Attune Foods and Driscoll's Berries sponsored a lovely yogurt and toppings bar with - hurrah, plain yogurt! - during the Ignite keynote session in the evening.

...and After (yum!)
My iPhone and I must also thank the Amana folks for the recharging room and the refreshing citrus-infused water stations.

11.  The conference hotel - The Nines! (

Groovy Unhipster Meets Hipster
Hip (did I imagine the hipness to be kind of tongue-in-cheekly so?) and swanky in its decor and usual clients (picture the stylishly dressed bar-goers and the athletically dressed conference-goers eyeing each other in the elevators), The Nines also had the nicest staff and best conference food ever!  Breakfasts were my favorite: beautiful fresh fruit, egg dishes, and delicious, high-quality bacon!

12.  The Cheese Guy

He was very knowledgeable about the cheese selections, and we enjoyed a wonderful plate of cheeses, among other delights, at The Urban Farmer restaurant in The Nines.

Words fail me.  I'm distracted by the cheese.
I'm not a big fan of blue cheese, but OMG, the blue cheese + lavender honey combo was amazing!  I also liked the cheese from Cowgirl Creamery...a type of brie, I think?
Another picture: because...CHEESE!
10.  Great Sessions

You mean, it wasn't just a big blogger reunion?  There was that, but also so many good sessions.  Most were live-blogged, and those are posted here:

I attended mostly the blogging business-related ones, probably because I was curious about how much social media does/could intersect with my career as a technical writer.  I did attend some of the small discussions as well, particularly Margo Porras' and Jen Sader's excellent "Getting Back from Gaining Back" discussion. Maintenance is hard, and bloggers especially feel a lot of pressure of "what do I talk about?" when stuck or experiencing a setback.  Some good advice shared:  Reframe it as continuing rather than starting over.  Pick a blog name/theme that fits your whole life. (Which I've seen many of my blogger friends over the years do successfully.  My favorite blogs tend to be ones in which the writer shares their weight loss/maintenance/diabetes management experiences, but also shares their interests and experiences beyond those topics.)

Of the business sessions, I liked the video and photography ones the best, even though I don't use video in my blog and do not have a fancy camera.  Both sessions were highly technical, but included tips for improving your skills.  Best video tip: get a decent microphone, video is 80% audio.  (I've created product screen-casts, and yes, poor audio and narration is jarring to the viewer.)  Most useful photo tip for me was the concept of "catchlights," the little pinpoints of light that help the subject's eyes look a bit more lively.  Simply turn your subject's face toward the light until they appear in the subject's eyes, and then snap your picture!

9.  Pin-giving

Earlier on registration day, I was enjoying some of my favorite spots in Portland with my friend Abbie and her sons.  We were at Butterscotch - a favorite shop that sadly, has closed since then - and I perused their bin of cute buttons.  I suddenly had a brainstorm:  what if I bought a batch of pins and gave them out at FitBloggin', sort of like the pin traders at Disneyland?  I was kind of shy when it came to offering the buttons, but most people seemed delighted to accept one and were able to find a pin that "spoke" to them - and each pin found a new home by the end of the conference.

8.  Spontaneity - Dance parties, karaoke, impromptu conversations

I loved how, often as not, each evening's session would end up in a dance party.  This year they also had karaoke on evening #2; I didn't sing, but it was fun to see individuals and groups get up there and perform.  You couldn't ask for a more supportive audience for branching out of your comfort zone, that's for sure.

7.  Ice breakers

First, there was badge decorating, then the official Social Scavenger Hunt (e.g., find someone whose blog you have never read, and leave a comment, then get their signature).  The OMG-I-don't-know-anyone-what-do-I-do-now!?!? panic almost took hold, when Susan Ito ( spotted me:  "I need you to help me brainstorm for the ice breaker!"  Whew - something to do! 

Speed ice breaking!
Our job was to come up with questions for an ice breaker that was based on speed-dating:  we had two circles of chairs, and one group rotated chairs, so each person got to know a little bit about someone new every few minutes.  Another great one was when Susan had everyone group themselves in zip-code order, so people could see who else from their part of the country was attending.  So fun!

6.  Free time

Most conferences pack in the sessions.  I liked that FitBloggin' allowed time for participants to have a block of free time to enjoy the city together.  You could go on your own, or there were several "offsite walking tours" organized by various FitBloggers.  I went on the knitting one, led by Deb Eber Roby (  We went to a shop called KnitPurl, and with help from local FitBlogger & knitware designer Kristine Beeson (, I found a locally made skein of yarn.

Note the colorway: kale!  At FitBloggin', even the yarn is healthy!
After the knitting shop, it was food truck time!  Portland is known for its vibrant food truck scene, and I got a delicious Korean BBQ salad. 

5.  Karen Anderson's EXCELLENT "EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, aka "Tapping")" session

Karen Anderson, "The Acceptance Whisperer" (, presented an overview of EFT and asked for issues to address from the participants.  Thank goodness there were several boxes of tissues in the room!  The thing that struck me most:  here we were in a room full of beautiful, talented, funny women, and so many deal with tough feelings.  It made me a little teary myself, and I'm not exactly a leaky dame.  Karen led us with grace and gentle humor through EFT exercises.  I left the session feeling calmer, and it seems to me a nice technique for acknowledging when I'm stressed and thinking through how I might make a shift to my reaction to a situation.

4.  FitMob 2013!

FitBlogger Margo Porras ("Nacho Mama" of "It's Nacho Mama's Blog - Life with Extra Cheese" organized a FitMob to the song "Fame."  She posted YouTube videos of the choreography so that we could practice in advance, and we had a little rehearsal before the FitMob happened.  Here's a video to "remembah":

(It gets more watcher-friendly by 40 seconds in.  Thanks to Alan Ali of "Sweating Until Happy" for posting this!)

3.  Zumba!

I had the privilege of meeting Sue O'Lear ( at the Las Vegas Rock & Roll Half Marathon, and I had followed the story of her becoming a Zumba instructor and of her and business partner Samantha Collins ( forming Trio Fitness, so I was very happy that they were leading the Zumba party again at FitBloggin' this year. (Having read about their leading Zumba at former FitBloggin' conferences, being able to attend their class was a dream come true!)

Sam & Sue rockin' the house!

I enjoyed shaking my groove thing with Sue & Sam, and their fellow Zumba masters Gina, Nellie, and Bonnie (

2.  Location in Portland, Oregon

I am in love with Portland, Oregon, so I may be a bit biased.  Books, chocolate, coffee, amazing food, and you can walk EVERYWHERE!  It's like the fairy godcity of food AND fitness! 

Bacon all day? My kind of town!

Some of my favorites:

Devil's Dill Sandwich Shop ( My flight on Wednesday was delayed, so by the time I got to my friend Abbie's house, even the grocery store was closed.  Happily, Abbie had a flyer from a sandwich shop that delivered until 2:30 a.m. Devil's Dill to the rescue!  They had sauteed kale on their side order menu, so I had a good feeling about this.  I ordered the No. 1, 5-spice Pulled Pork with Sesame Slaw and Chili Garlic BBQ Sauce.  I think this was the best pulled pork sandwich I have ever eaten.  We also split a cucumber "Dry Soda" as a cocktail mixer - 11 grams of
sugar in the entire bottle, so pretty reasonable.

Alma Chocolate (  Alma was more of a dash-in, dash-out than I had hoped.  We usually linger over a chocolate drink and cake.  But I tried their Chocopop!—A chocolate truffle pop.  Wow, wow, and wow!!!  They do ship their hand-crafted chocolates, and boy, are they tasty!

Ruby Jewel Scoops ( Most folks were toting pink boxes from Voodoo Donuts, but Margo Porras, Jen "Toledo Lefty" (, and I wanted to try the Blue Star gourmet donuts mentioned in the in-flight magazine.  So we walked see this:

Sad face, indeed!
Points for humor, though:

On the way back to the hotel, though, we spotted this:

And soon we were nomming this:

South Park ( I went here twice, too.  Once with Deb Roby, and we enjoyed their fresh pig cracklings and meatballs, and tasty beer.  The second was with Abbie - I enjoyed their sustainably caught fish.  Sadly, they no longer serve their amazing chocolate crostada, so we went to Ruby Jewel for ice cream.  It was a fun turn of events, because I got to show the local a new location!

Ruby Jewel encore!!!

Saint Cupcake (  A stop at the Saint Cupcake Deluxe location on Belmont is my go-to bribe for my friend's family.  I love their mini carrot cake cupcake the best: spices, cream cheese, perfect cake-to-frosting ratio!

Why, yes!  They *are* as good as they look!
Stumptown Roasters (  The Belmont location is a mere two blocks from my friend Abbie's place.  Unlike most of the above, you can order their amazing coffee.  They have THE best decaf coffee, and the only better regular I've had is from a small grower on Kona.

THIS Coffee = happy!

1.  Seeing old friends and making new ones!

I didn't know very many people going into the conference, but as you can see from the above, I left Portland with some new friends!  It sure was fun to see again some of the blogger friends I had met before, some I finally met in person for the first time (Carla Birnberg!!! *Squee*!!!), and others that I didn't know well (or at all!) before the conference but enjoyed meeting and getting to know at FitBloggin' and after the conference through their blogs.

Stay tuned for my next post: "Tips from a FitBloggin' First-timer"


Lori said...

I think your recap is one of the best ones of what went on! Looks fun.

I remember seeing a TV show years ago about Ruby Jewel. She was in some competition to get funds to build her business and she won. Glad to see she did something with it.

I went to Portland eons ago for an orchestral audition. It rained (of course) and I got some coffee (of course), but didn't win the audition.

Pubsgal said...

Thanks, Lori! Oh, yes, Ruby Jewel spent that money wisely! Three words: Caramel Salted Chocolate. Thank goodness for all the walking and fitness stuff going on!



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