Aug 18, 2010

beach recap, and no HLS for me.

i'm back home!

it seems almost weird that i'm excited to be back from the beach, but there is something so restful about familiar surroundings/the daily grind.

aaaaaaaand i know i said i had pictures, but as i was loading them, my piece of crap lovely computer froze, crashed, and deleted them. all of them.

sweet, IBM. i appreciate it.

anyways, the beach was beautiful (i promise!), and i had a wonderful time relaxing and being lazy with my family. there was plenty of veggie pizza, walks on the beach, and crazy-long naps... what more could you ask for in a vacation?

moving on.

just wanted to challenge you guys with my opinion on the Healthy Living Summit.

as a little disclaimer: i have no ill feelings towards the bloggers who attended, sponsored, or spoke in chicago. live and let live, you know? i just haven't heard anyone voice this side of the issue, so i'm steppin' up!

if you're a bit lost, the HLS is basically a convention for food bloggers. you attend lectures on photography, weight lifting, and ethical eating, run with fellow foodies, and of course, eat good meals!

i think this is wonderful, really. i have no problems with the idea of it. so why didn't i want to go, then?

because food blogging does not equal healthy living.

i'm sure that all the bloggers who attended would consider themselves "healthy," and they very well may be - i won't judge them. but what bugs me is the attitude we all seem to have acquired of "hey, i blog daily pictures of my oatmeal! how can i not be the example of health?"

but let's get real... since when does taking a picture of your food mean you're healthy?

honestly, food blogging is a hobby. it's not an exclusive club, a clique, or a badge of honor. it's something we do for fun... like building model airplanes, yodeling, or playing checkers.

can it be entertaining (like yodeling)? YES! but does it mean you're healthy? NO!

i understand the point of the HLS is to promote healthy blogging, and that's awesome! but the focus still is still on blogging...  and blogging is a hobby. it's a blogging conference.

i guess my point is - if you didn't go, it doesn't mean you aren't healthy enough, good enough, or cool enough. food pictures don't make you a superhero. let's adjust our focus on food blogging, ok?

for the love of sweet potato fries, please don't take "health" at face value.

if anything claims to be "healthy," be it a conference, a loaf of bread, or a diet book, do yourself a favor and ask "WHAT IS IT MADE OF??? "

people's definition of health varies... and businesses will do anything to convince you their products are good for you. it's their ONLY mission to trick you so they make cash.

i urge you to always dig deeper. look past the marketing, labels, and trends, and investigate things to the core. is it healthy? please find out for yourself.

(i'm not naming names, but consider looking up the ingredients in the sponsor's products... HFCS, dough conditioners, tons of saturated fat, and sodium overload is not exactly health food.)

it's shameful how often people are lead astray when all they want is to be healthier! i'm not telling you the HLS is bad because i didn't go - i'm just asking you, next time something like this pops up, stop and think about what it REALLY is about... health, or trendy hobby/false marketing?

your thoughts?
did you go?


  1. I completely agree - great post! :) Especially about the brand sponsoring the event. I looked at the sponsor and went, "How is that healthy?"

  2. no, didn't go, even though i'm only about 2 hours away from it.
    i don't really consider myself a Healthy-Living blogger, but instead a HEATHER-Living blogger ;)
    i do advocate and live the healthy lifestyle, but would not fit in well there for several reasons.
    it looks like everyone who went had lots of fun though!!

  3. I agree in the aspect all of the sponsors were not exactly healthy but they sponsored a healthy living conference? Not gonna Lie i think it would be fun to go and meet people and get some swag. But if they really wanted it all about health have all healthy sponsors..frito-lay??

  4. I never considered thinking of it this way, so thank you for really giving this some thought - I love hearing other's opinions on things like this! I would've liked to go - but just to meet people! :)

  5. cool twist on the normal HLS posts! for me, a healthy life is all about balancing fun eats with a smart attitude.

    You can indulge in fatty foods here and there and still be healthy! life is too short to not indulge in "unhealthy" foods-- especially on vacation i think.

    i do somewhat agree on the frito lay thing.. but learning about their "going green" initiative plays a part in healthy living too! healthy living doesn't just come down to the calories/organic ingredients.

  6. I had a ticket, which I sold a few weeks before the event. I just don't think I would feel comfortable there.

  7. I totally appreciate your point of view! Thanks for sharing!

    I have my own opinion, but I guess your blog space is not the best for sharing it!

    I had an amazing time at HLS and it was because of all the food bloggers that were there :)

  8. Frito Lay was the worst of the sponsors but Thomas' Bagel Thins aren't much better. I'll stay home and eat baked potatoes and homemade bagels thank you very much.

  9. Well, I disagree with your opinion. And I'm going to tell you why, because you asked for thoughts.

    I'm only speaking from seeing so many posts from HLS, but what went on at that conference had nothing to do with the sponsors. Frito-Lay being one of the sponsors took nothing away from the amazing panel discussions, the friendships made, the bonding over mutual love for health and fitness, the runs, the swapping of homemade healthy treats, and every other little thing that I probably have no idea about.

    The 'health' in the Healthy Living Summit came from a group of like minded individuals sharing their knowledge, ideas, and love for this subject. It wasn't about the sponsors. It wasn't about cliques, or being healthy enough, too unhealthy, or whatever else.

    You say to pay attention to what things like this are really about..what do you feel HLS was really about?

  10. I really like the questions and viewpoints you posed here. I think part of the charm of this community is that we all have different opinions, experiences and heck, different blogs! If we were all the same, we'd be bor-RING. I did not attend but I have been to a blogging conference in the past and enjoyed it very much.

  11. Interesting viewpoint! I went to HLS and enjoyed it. I agree with you about food blogging not equaling healthy living (I'm a food blogger that considers myself/my blog food healthy, but I'm by no means the epitome of a perfect diet), however after attending, I'll say this: 1) not everyone there was a blogger and there were plenty of sessions that had nothing to do with blogging, 2) I really did feel that there were healthy options for us to eat the entire time, 3) I think it was meant more to inspire us to live healthier rather than implying that we're all healthy ambassadors. Just my thoughts...

  12. Always love your different viewpoints, girl :) I didn't go to HLS because it was waaaaay too far away from me, and although I would have liked to go, it would have been just to meet and hang out with some other bloggers. I've become pretty wary of being told "this is what healthy means", so I try not to take health advice too seriously. Some of the information about healthy food and healthy eating is useful, but I still do my best to figure out what works for me, instead of listening to other people tell me what's good for me. After all, we're all different, right?

  13. I didn't attend the HLS, don't currently have a healthy living blog (have in the past) but I do own a small business in CA that is in the wellness/fitness industry. I would say that you are right that nothing about attending the HLS implies that one is healthy. But you don't mention how you define healthy. What is your definition? I think it might be useful for you to define that, simply because there is not a single definition of healthy. We are all simply striving to be healthy and, in my opinion, that is the appeal of reading HL blogs -- you see a lot of different takes on that.

    I agree that it's important to have sponsors for an event that reflect the values of an organization and while I think that the HLS could have done slightly better, the HLS is, in the scope of things very, very small. It would be difficult for them, I'm sure, to have "healthier" companies to agree to a sponsorship because they also likely have smaller budgets for such things. Frito Lay? Scads of money. While that may be unsettling, sometimes the bigger picture is the thing, IMHO. It's sort of like how maybe you agree that global warming exists and that driving a car is bad for that, but you do it anyway. Because you have to get where you are going.

    It seemed to me that the HLS was likely more about the community of bloggers and networking within that community than anything else.

  14. Interesting. I've been reading/learning a lot about the food industry lately and honestly, it all makes me sick. I think it's terrible that a company like Frito Lays would sponser a healthy event. Ok. I just deleated a whole paragraph. I could go on an on and on about how used and lied to I feel these days. :/ But I do think it is a good idea for bloggers to meet up and get to know one another.

  15. I really like reading different viewpoints and totally respect them. I would like to attend the HLS next year if possible. My concern with it, and with the "healthy living" blog community in general, is social comparison. We talk about not comparing ourselves to others and how everyone has a different definition of "healthy" and people´s body types are different and blah blah blah but how many people still feel self conscious? And worse, no one wants to admit to that self consciousness, in case you appear weak. I think sometimes there is a lot of open honesty in the blog community but we are all human and sometimes things meant to increase self esteem can actually lower it.

  16. I just want to say that your newer post on "What is Healthy?" is exactly what we talked about at the Summit - that health is different things for different people. There were several programs on not comparing yourself to others and not getting sucked into the potential "pressures" of the blog world.

    The vast majority of the products that sponsored the Summit were extremely healthy or fine in moderation. Snack foods should never be viewed as forbidden - that is unhealthy. It costs a LOT of money to put on a show like that, and yes, we need sponsors with the budget available to do something like this. Arnold Bread = A Large Budget. Sweet Potato Farmers of Amercia = No budget.

  17. I'm not 100% sure how to respond to this, but I'm sure I'm taking a more neutral side to it all. I wanted to attend (seeing as it was only a few hours from my house) but I wasn't sure what my job would have me doing this summer when the tickets were available.

    I agree that the sponsors (no matter how much influence they had on the conference or food) weren't, in my opinion, the image of "health." Again, that's a very relative term as many of you have said because "health" means different things to different people. I think it would've been great to go and meet a lot of the people that we talk to or read about in the blog world.

    On the other side, there probably would have been a ton of pressure, not living up to "standards" that you set trying to be "as awesome" as that "famous" blogger and with all of the group running sessions that went on it might have caused a bit of competitive edge that could be a little demotivating to those who couldn't join in or keep up.

    I agree that it seemed definitely like a blogging conference but there's no doubt that there was discussion of health. From what I read about the sessions it seemed like they combined the two as best as they could.

    I'm not sure, I still have mixed feelings, I'm not trying to bash or support them, but I do see where your viewpoints come from and I agree with many of them. :)

  18. I totally agree with you. I saw that they took a tour of Frito Lay as well. How is that healthy? I know that a lot of people talk about everything in moderation, but wouldn't touring whole foods or a gym be more in line? I don't know if they had nutrition experts or fitness experts, but it seemed as if it was just bloggers talking about health and fitness. Thanks for sharing and putting it out there.

  19. I by no means am against the HLS. I would have loved to have gone and met everyone! I think I would have learned a TON about myself, others, seen the different perspectives of healthy living, etc. etc. etc. I was a little surprised initially by the sponsors, too - but then realized exactly what Caitlin said. Those sponsors have a MUCH larger budget than brands like the hidden finds you'd see in your local co-op, or even the larger brands that you may find in the organic section of your grocers like Nature's Path, Kashi, etc. They need to stay in business, not go out of it from donating all this time, money, and resources to a summit.
    That and, you bringing up that the definition of health varies for everyone is a great one. Me? I wouldn't necessarily go for a sandwich thin mainly because I'm a bread snob. BUT - the Arnold bread line is SO much better than a lot of the breads out there that are readily available to the public. So, for the people who are just trying to support themselves and their family without breaking the bank and still eat healthy ENOUGH - would see them as a sponsor and think they make a good loaf of bread. And, that's a lot better than grabbing a generic loaf that IS full of chemicals, preservatives, and HFCS!
    So, I think it's in the eye of the beholder. Brands like these ARE trying to change, and I think for the people that aren't sold on being 100% clean-eating, they're doing a great job.

  20. I didn't go simply because I'm a little older than most of the attendees and don't have the budget that would allow me to fly, stay in a hotel, and attended the summit. I think it's a great idea, but I hope in the future they have people speaking that are qualified, educated and certified in the subjects they're speaking of, not just bloggers who are good at those things.

  21. Hi, As one of the Summit Planning Committee members I wanted to take the time to respond to your post.

    You said, "hey, i blog daily pictures of my oatmeal! how can i not be the example of health?" I do not blog daily pictures of what I eat, and yet I felt just as welcome as anyone there. Yes, that is one popular style of blogging, but not not everyone blogs like that.

    I also am not an RD, I do not eat oatmeal everyday, and I do not train for or run marathons. I think some people attending do some or all of those things, but not everyone did and it was fun. I did not do the fun run on Sunday, I walked and so did other people. I did not feel like less of a person or like I was not as healthy as other people.

    Your idea that blogging about food does not equal being healthy is something I agree with, but I truly do not believe that was the purpose or message of the Summit. There were people there without blogs and people there with all different "healthy" eating styles. It was really a Summit about not comparing yourself to others, embracing your idea of health and being yourself.

    I hope when the video of the day comes out you take the time to watch it because I think you will be surprised at the messages that came out of the day. I know it's not a place for everyone, but I also feel like anyone could feel welcome if they wanted to participate.

  22. I see the decision to use sponsors who are just so very corporate/big farm/putting out processed food and then defending it "it takes a lot of money to put on a show like that" as the very definition of "selling out."

  23. I also did not attend HLS and as a marketing professional and former event planner, couldn't get behind the way the conference was marketed.

    Before I present my critique, I must add the caveat that my two cents certainly does not reflect on the actual event since I did not attend but rather the marketing and logistics of it.

    It's one thing to say "let's get a group of people who have connected over the Internet together for good food, cocktails, exercise and fun."

    While Caitlin does make a good point in that the sponsors with $ to spare aren't necessarily family run farms with fresh produce, I think more discretion should have been chosen with the sponsors.

    Plus, if the sponsors had just been delegated to coverage of the event that would be one thing. But truthfully, I saw a TON of blog postings raving about the sponsors' products for weeks prior to HLS.

    Plus, in addition to largely being led by attendees, the topics of many of these seminars seemed almost common sensical and personally, I am much more interested in panels that spark a good debate and/or shed light on something pressing in the health realm that is not well known.

  24. a) healthy living is MORE THAN nutrition and fitness.

    b) ethical eating is not a health priority to every person, and believe it or not, not every blogger.

    c) thank you for a post that challenges thinking! (my favorite kind of post)

    d) i agree with hangry pants heather - i hope you watch the video when it comes out - there was a lot of great discussion that may surprise you!


  25. also, i wish you had a "reply to comment" option - i feel like i want to say something to everyone who has commented:)

    i love blog posts that encourage conversation. THANK YOU.


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