Tag Archives: healthy living summit

channeling the yogi.

The final panel at the summit last weekend, prior to a free giveaway-palooza, was a casual talk by the planning committee entitled “Fitness for Everyone.”

Each blogger shared personal fitness-related stories, whether it be Kath biking to the supermarket or mowing the lawn, Caitlin and Tina navigating injuries, Meghann training for marathons, or Heather displaying a yoga-running balance.  The overall message was that exercise should be a priority, but that it should also be enjoyable.  There is no mold that perfectly fits us all, and we all have different activities that suit us best.

Then Jenna stood up and cemented that point.  She faced us without Powerpoint slides, without notecards, without any pre-planning.  She told us how running continues to disagree with her body and expressed that it’s likely she will stop entirely after her half marathon this fall.  What will she do then?  Yoga.  Just yoga.

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When I arrived in Boston, I knew I would be spending two days mingling with many, many runners.  I had prepared myself to be upset, to be frustrated, to be angry with myself and my knees.

But I wasn’t.

In my first couple months of physical therapy last winter, I tried yoga out, but I couldn’t focus.  I was counting the days until I’d run again, and I felt neither commitment nor connection to yoga.  But when my knees flared up again, I chose to give yoga another chance.  Somehow, in just a few short months, it has become just as rewarding to me as running once was. 

Yoga has made me more connected and aware of my body than ever before.  I used to say that about running, and it was true to a point.  I could tell when I was underfueled, overworked, or just right, depending on how I felt on that day’s run.  But having that awareness didn’t necessarily mean I listened to what my body was saying.  

When I ran, I was always planning.  5 miles today, 3 tomorrow.  Long and slow today, tempo tomorrow.  Yoga is different.  I can do it for twenty minutes or an hour and a half.  I can shake and stumble out of poses; I can also shock myself and balance with strength I never knew I had.  I can feel sweat coat my body, and I can also relax, letting my mat simply be a place for a gentle stretch.  Most of all, I never choose what to do in advance.  I allow the moment to guide me, and my body tells me if it needs work or rest, if it’s ready for a new and challenging pose, or if it needs to resettle in the familiar.

I still love to run.  I was only able to enjoy it for a year, but it was a wonderful year, and I am glad I was able to participate in the running community for that time.  I’ll always know I have the heart and the drive to run long distances.  But putting my sneakers in my closet and shutting the door is a decision I am not only proud, but content to have made.

I believe our bodies were meant for activity.  But I am also a firm believer that we each have our own unique niche.  Some people run.  Some walk.  Some enjoy the gym.  Some dance. [Have I ever mentioned I took twelve years of ballet lessons?]  Some people swim, some bike, some climb.  And some practice yoga.  

Exploring the many different forms of movement can be half the fun of staying active.  The other half, at least for me, is finding the one that’s right for you, falling in love with it, and treasuring its sweet release.


What is your exercise release?

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the organic question.

When I revamped my eating habits a few years ago, I did it for one reason, and one only: vanity.  In that world, people ate fruits and vegetables not for health, but because they had less calories.  People didn’t exercise for enjoyment or mental clarity; they suffered through it to burn off what they ate.

I never could have predicted the journey that an awareness of health would take me on.  With both the good and bad, it has ultimately transformed me for life.  Perhaps what I’ve come to enjoy most is that my approach to health is in  a constant flux: I am always learning more, about nutrition, about myself, about exercise and my relationship to it, about my decisions regarding food.

One piece has remained in the background up until the past few months.  I’ve developed a strong sense of responsibility to support local farmers, and I try to shop at the farmer’s market when I can.  But, when I stand in the aisles of the supermarket, staring, for instance, at the brands of Greek yogurt I eat daily, I am hit with a dilemma: organic or not?  To be perfectly honest, I very often go for conventional.  I see the price difference, I know I am on a strict budget, and money wins out.

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At the summit this past weekend, the speaker that truly moved me was Regina Beidler, an organic dairy farmer.  She spoke with passion and conviction, presenting the life she leads as a farmer devoted to a responsibly produced product.  She really got me thinking.

While I believe I have an open mind when it comes to eating styles, as I feel strongly that the elements of a person’s diet are personal and unique, I nonetheless wish the fresh foods I adore could become more of the norm.  It would be nice to join friends who might not care about health at a restaurant and not feel I need to dissect the menu and pay $15 for a salad that wouldn’t fill up a five year old.  

One of the ways I support this way of life is through the groceries I choose to buy, particularly farmer’s market or local produce.  Leaving processed foods with unpronounceable ingredients on the shelves and opting for whole foods allows me to do my small part in supporting a more natural lifestyle.  Regina Beidler’s speech alerted me, however, that I am choosing to see only a piece of the big picture.

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I support naturally produced foods.  How is it ok then, to purchase, for instance, a conventional dairy product?  Knowing full well, as Beidler emphasized, that the cows who produce that dairy are anything but responsibly raised?  Beidler showed us pictures I had seen before, of cows lined up in miniscule, individual stalls overflowing with corn and grain.  Leaving the inhumanity of an animal who never sees the light of day aside, the entire process of overfeeding a cow with chemically-infused feed she was never meant to eat, simply to produce an excess of hormonally-altered milk, is anything but natural.  How can I support that when I have the option to buy organic?

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I was struck most by a question asked of Beidler towards the end of her speech.  Over lunch, I spoke with a couple bloggers who grew up on farms, and I questioned how it felt to eat meat from animals they had known and raised.  Beidler was spot on in her response, as she presented the two options we have.

In one, we choose meat from a package in a grocery aisle, with no concept of the animal it came from, the farm it was raised on, or the way it was processed.  The other: we know the animal, know it was fed grass, as it is naturally meant to, know it was allowed to pasture and didn’t live its life in a pitch dark barn, and even know that it died in a humane way.  She emphasized that she eats and enjoys all forms of meat and has never intended to become vegetarian.  She simply wishes to support responsible and sustainable farming.

I’m not going to stop eating dairy.  And while I very rarely eat meat or poultry, I’m not going to stop having bites of my dad’s or limit myself should I want to eat it myself.  But, I am going to make more of an effort to know where my food comes from.  I never want my dollars to go to conglomerates who are modifying the product I buy.  So, if that means spending a few extra dollars on organic, I am going to find a way to make that work.


Is organic important to you?  

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a quick summit recap.

This weekend has been quite the whirlwind, and I am thrilled that I decided to go for it and attend the Healthy Living Summit.  It was wonderful to feel a part of a community of health-minded women not just over the internet, but face to face.  Thanks for inspiring me to blog, girls.

Saturday was filled with many informative speakers who covered a wide array of topics, from a stirring speech on organic farming to details about eco-friendly beauty.  The summit committee shared a great deal of behind the scenes blog info, as well as much of their own experiences with health, fitness, and fitting it all in.  I have much to share about what I learned and was moved by, and I’ll post my thoughts in more depth over the coming week.  Stay tuned!

In the meantime, a photo recap of the fun…

I was lucky to room with two beautiful bloggers, Chandra and Rose:

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And we ended up with wonderful Wisconsin “suitemates,” Melissa and Renee.  I think we coined ourselves the fab five?  It was a good time.

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We began and ended the weekend by displaying a healthy balance:

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The summit began with a cocktail party, where I caught the tweeting bug with Meghan:

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And laughed with many bloggers like Whit:

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We were provided with a breakfast of perfection, courtesy of Stonyfield and MixMyGranola:

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And I created an equally delicious lunch from the healthy buffet:

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We even got an afternoon snack (not to mention an amazing amount of swag, part of which got my grumbling stomach through the morning):

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I saw food bloggers in action:

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And visited a Boston essential:

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I enjoyed the summit speakers very much, but I truly loved getting to know the other bloggers in person.

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Thanks to Caitlin, Heather, Jenna, Kath, Meghann, and Tina for organizing such a successful event, and thanks to all the other bloggers (and readers!) for welcoming a newbie like me.  I had a fantastic weekend!

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