Hello friends!! Phew. What a whirlwind these past few days have been. Callie and I left early Friday morning to drive to Chicago for the Healthy Living Summit, then spent nine hours driving back all day yesterday. Between the miles on the road, I had some amazing moments in Chicago. You can read about our first day here, and all about our Saturday night in the city here.
Today, I want to talk about the event that actually brought me to Chicago – The Healthy Living Summit.
The Summit began last year. It was the brainchild of a few healthy living bloggers such as myself who wanted plan a big get together despite living far apart. From there it grew into a full-blown conference attended by 100 other healthy living bloggers from all over. This year, the attendance doubled to 200!
For someone on the outside of the blogworld, it may seem a little odd to go to a conference with people you only know over the internet. But what I do on my blog is a huge part of my life. The idea of being able to meet and mingle with women just like me is something I could not pass up.
The conference itself was only one day long with two tracks of sessions. There are SO many topics that would fall under the “healthy living” category so there was a wide variety. It’s hard providing useful content to healthy living bloggers seeing as we already take it upon ourselves to be as informed as possible!
I thought the sessions were at least all interesting and I did learn a few new things. They all seemed a little rushed, but at the same time, sitting in the conference rooms for over an hour at a time may have become a little boring!
All of the presenters were really friendly and open to discussion. I really liked talking to Nicole after her photography session and picking her brain. After speaking to her, the “aperture-ISO-shutter speed” relationship on my SLR started to make a lot more sense. Expect a photography post in the future :)
I really appreciated one of the time blocks was dedicated to activity. I chose to go to the yoga session in the afternoon that was held in probably one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever done yoga in.
The yoga itself was not really “my kind of yoga.” (too fast!) But it was the only time during the course of the day where I had a moment to take in all that was going on. It was much appreciated.
In fact, I thought all the rooms in the hotel were really cool. Some say it was old, run down and haunted. I say it had tons of character ;)
Sessions aside, a lot of the conference is all about socializing with your fellow healthy living enthusiasts. I’d heard rumours that last year’s summit was really clique-y and there were a lot of “lunch room” scenarios.
It’s no secret that I myself sometimes suffer from large bouts of social anxiety. But I’m happy to report I never once panicked during the conference. Sure there were groups of women who tended to stay together, but that’s just human nature. Whenever I found myself alone, I knew I could introduce myself to the nearest attendee and we’d be able to chat it up no problem. Everyone else there was just as eager to meet other bloggers and make new connections. I never once found myself wandering around with a lunch tray with no where to sit ;) Everyone welcomed me with open arms!
A major shout-out to my Toronto bloggers. I tried to branch out as much as possible to meet other people, but it was always nice to turn around and see their familiar faces. Pictured here are Miranda, Callie, Sarah, Angela and myself. But there was also Morgan, Nienke, and now honourary Canadians (and roommies!) Theresa and Julie. I met some other great ladies who I clicked with instantly, like Candice, Shannon and SO many others that it could take me forever to list out. I could also tell that the organizing committee bloggers really tried to get around and speak to everyone. They had 200 women there who were excited to meet them, and it was nice to see they took the time to make the rounds to speak to everyone!
One thing I’ll also take away from the experience is my new friendship with Callie. We spent around 18 hours in a car together this weekend. You don’t come out of that without some serious bonding!! She was sort of my rock throughout this whole experience and I really feel like this was something we experienced together. Not once did I pull out a book in the car or fall asleep because we were too busy chatting away!!
During our drive home yesterday, Callie and I were talking about our favourite moments over the weekend. We both agreed that we had the most fun during the more unstructured, relaxed moments. Topping the list is the fun run Sunday morning. A group of us met in the lobby to run along the lake, but Callie, Shannon and I fell behind in the heat. We ended up getting lost and had to take a major detour to get back to the hotel! Instead of freaking out, we took in the sights of Chicago and laughed together over the situation.
If I were to do it all over again, I think I would have taken more time to stay in Chicago, as it all felt very rushed. But otherwise I’d say it was 100% worth it. The whole experience cost me just under $350. I made memories, friends, and ate tons of great food. I really wanted to go to the Healthy Living Summit in Boston last year, but I was too scared and nervous. This year, I didn’t let myself chicken out and I really feel like it’s been just another big step in this giant journey I’m on since moving to Toronto.
Now, y’all are probably all wondering where the food is and what I got at Trader Joe’s. Tomorrow!! xo
I have a confession to make.
Before arriving in Chicago, I did no research on the city.
I didn’t look at the Healthy Living Summit schedule.
I didn’t even get a good grip on where Illinois is on the U.S. map.
But I did spend hours researching deep dish pizza.
Lori used to live in Chitown and gave me a bunch of restaurant recommendations for deep dish pizza. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little girl. No. Really.
Lou Malnati’s, while not the best according to the experts, is sufficient enough and was close to the hotel. Sold.
Seeing as we didn’t have reservations and it was a Saturday night in Chicago, the hour-long wait for a table was expected. Lessened by the free thin crust samples at the counter ;)
Callie and I had agreed that splitting an individual serving of pizza would be in our best interests.
When in Chicago!
Omg. The cheese. It was as thick as the crust. The sausage was pretty good too. I hear you can get deep dish with one slice of sausage patty that covers the whole surface of the pizza. Whoa.
Callie and I also split a Malnati Salad for, ahem, “balance.” Although, I’m not sure how balancing bacon bits are ;)
After dinner, we decided to walk the pizza off and see some of the sights Chicago is known for!
A lot of us went to the photography session at the conference today, so we had fun playing around with the settings on our cameras!
We then went up to a vegan restaurant called Karyn’s On The Green to meet up with some of the other bloggers.
They had a pretty neat looking cocktail menu.
I went for the Green Mojito.
At 9 bucks a pop, it was my only cocktail, but a delicious one at that! By this point however, I started to crash and my ability to socialize plummeted. I promise to give you a more in depth scoop from the day when I return to the comforts of my Toronto home.
By the bye, toooootally weird to tell people here that I’m from Toronto when I’ve only been living there for six weeks. I feel like such a faker! :P
Okay, the bed calls, and I’m getting up to do the 5k fun run in the a.m. AND my first ever visit to Trader Joes! Youbetterbelieveit. Then the 9 hour drive back to Canada :\
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!!
Question of the Day: Trader Joes experts – what should I get??
Yo! I’m here!!
Callie and I drove for 8 hours from Kitchener to get to Chicago for the second annual Healthy Living Summit. 200+ healthy living bloggers such as myself, all together to well, talk about blogging and healthy living ;)
This post will be short on words, heavy on pictures. This weekend I’m soaking it all in, on Monday, I’ll let you know how it all really went :)
First of all, I realized too late that I might require some business cards. Arts & crafts anyone?
Yes, Callie and I were up until midnight hand-making business cards. They are novelty items. Catch them on eBay soon ;)
We were up and at ‘em much too early to tackle the long haul to the Windy City.
Callie’s cinnamon hummus. To die for.
The Congress Plaza Hotel is huge, old, and really cool.
Needed fuel immediately upon arriving:
Thanks to Cathy from The Simply Bar for sending some bars for the Summit!
Yup. It’s been a long day. But a good day. Saw some familiar faces, met some new faces, looking forward to what the day of the conference has to bring :)
Have a great weekend everyone!! xo