I’m Attending Fitbloggin 2014

It’s a weird year that I don’t have a bunch of trips peppered on my calendar by this time.  I even had a co-worker stop by and tell me that they are “disappointed by” my calendar… it’s that empty!

Right now, there’s only one trip that’s really set in stone, and it’s that one trip that I take every year that I can’t possibly miss out on…

Fitbloggin 14 | No Thanks to Cake

This year, I wanted to make sure that I talked about the event early enough that you guys could consider attending.  It’s that good.

So, what is Fitbloggin?

The Fitbloggin conference is hosted by the amazing Roni Noone and is held annual to celebrate men and women committed to fitness, healthy living, and blogging. Roni is a phenomenal woman, who has not only lost weight and changed her life, but she runs an incredible brand and multiple websites including Roni’s Weigh and Green Lite Bites.  Roni and her mighty support team host this year annually and has created this open community of such incredible men and women.

Official Conference Photo (Source)

Official Conference Photo (Source)

I heard about Fitbloggin for the first time while reading Kenlie‘s blog.  Her comments really painted a picture of a family of people with common interests, a learning session, and a wonderfully life-changing experience.

With Kenlie’s recommendation and nudges from my dear blogger friend Hilary, I made plans to attend!  I also had the chance to meet the lovely Ashley, Dawn, and Lauren in person for the first time, marking the beginning of such wonderful friendships.  Having just lost the bulk of my weight, I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it was to be around like-minded people, folks that blogged their journeys just like me, and people that were succeeding and (at times) struggling, just like me.

Fitbloggin ladies | No Thanks to Cake
I’ve written many recaps of my experiences at Fitbloggin over the years.  You can read all about them below.

McCormick I Heart You  (2012)

WOW: Fitbloggin Workouts (2012)

What I Really Brought Home from Fitbloggin (2012)

Five Days of Fitbloggin Posts (2012)

Fitbloggin Secret Santa Reunion (2012)

Fitbloggin 2013:  Expectations, Travel and the Doughnuts (2013)

WOW: Fitbloggin Fitspiration (2013)

Fitbloggin: The Newness of It All (2013)

Fitbloggin: The Blogs and the People You Should Meet (2013)

Fitbloggin Holiday Brunch (2013)

So… why am I talking about Fitbloggin again?  Well, if you are a blogger, and have means to attend… I really think you should join us in Savannah on June 26-29.  Attending Fitbloggin has really helped me take my blogging to the next level and has helped me to navigate through the crazy process of losing weight.  I come home every year with a renewed focus, introduction to new brands I love, and with fresh bonds with the most amazing people.

Let’s Talk for a Second about These People… Here’s a small glimpse at some of the wonderful bloggers I met in 2013..

Fitbloggin: The People | No Thanks to Cake
And, there are so many more not pictured above… To me, there is nothing more wonderful than being able to send a quick email to my girl Monica to discuss our passion and what we’re doing to get there, to be able to count on the lovely Emily for fashion advice when I need it, to be able to applaud and support (another) Emily for her blogger bravery as she posts her vlogs about overeaters anonymous, and to cheer on Alan‘s amazing feats as he completes his first triathalon.  Let’s not forget being able to meet Hilary and Dawn’s beautiful baby girls last winter…

Fitbloggin Peonies | No Thanks to Cake
While I may have interacted with these amazing bloggers even if I hadn’t met them, the fact that I met them at one of the most impactful events I attend yearly makes the moments that much more spectacular.  These are my people, and I’m so excited to see them this summer in Savannah.

If you are looking to grow your healthy living blog… Consider attending Fitbloggin.

If you are looking to learn more about the business of blogging… Register for Fitbloggin.

If you are ready to meet the most fantastic people who have overcome the very same challenges you are working toward… For pete’s sake, come to Fitbloggin!

To register for the event, click here… and tell Roni that No Thanks to Cake sent ya!

Are YOU coming to Fitbloggin this year??

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Fitbloggin Holiday Brunch

Greetings from Virginia!  I’m home for the holidays and enjoying time with some of my favorite Guys.  I also have the week off from work which is an extremely lovely break…

During my travels East, I also had an awesome opportunity to meet up with some of my favorite blogger ladies in the greater DC area.  Last year, when I was in town, we met up for lunch, and we all had a blast!  I was thrilled to hear that the ladies were interested in doing it again this year!

2012 Fitbloggin Reunion | No Thanks to Cake

From 2012

Having landed in DC the day before, I had a little bit of time to prep for the party.  I had sent my gifts ahead of time, and my niece offered to wrap it up for the party – - Thanks, Hailey!

Fitbloggin Lunch | No Thanks to Cake

It’s always tough coming up with gifts when you don’t know exactly who the recipient might be… but something homemade always works.  So, I made this guy!

Cable Knit Headband | No Thanks to Cake

It’s a cable-knit headband/earwarmer… my latest knitting obsession.  (Click here for the pattern.)

Knowing that a lot of the ladies run, I thought this might be a fun piece to help keep them warm in the cooler season in the DC area.   (Note:  I didn’t count on it being almost 75 degrees this weekend!  It will get cold again…)  I paired this headband with (of course) a copy of Wrapped in Red…

Wrapped in Red | No Thanks to Cake

And, this fun yoga ornament I found.  I mean, how fun is Santa doing Tree Pose??

Yoga Santa Ornament | No Thanks to Cake

I also put together a little something for the brunch… I mean, how could I show up empty handed?  Especially when I love to cook as much as I do.

I made Skinnytaste’s Baked Mini Spinach and Sausage Arancini Balls - – Think sausage balls with brown rice and dipped in marinara.  Amazing to say the least.  Click here for the full recipe.  YUM YUM!

Skinnytaste Baked Mini Spinach and Sausage Arancini | No Thanks to Cake

With present and arancini in hand, I headed over to Dawn’s and was SO HAPPY to see these ladies.

Fitbloggin Holiday Brunch DC | No Thanks to Cake

L to R: Hilary (The Big Weight), Dawn (Fit Dawn), Ashley (Coffee Cake and Cardio), Monica (Run Bang Run), me, and Kate (The Kate Mixes) – - Down front: Avonlea (AKA Baby Busbee!)

Please note the blog-links above.  These are some of the most inspirational, real bloggers I know.  They keep me motivated… which is saying a lot some days! :)  If you haven’t read their blogs yet, now’s your chance!

Dawn was amazing to host us all at her place (and she conveniently lives in the same town as my brother!)  And, planning a brunch is a big deal, especially when you have a 6 week old!  Missing from  my pics is the BEAUTIFUL baby Charlotte and her big sis Sydney who was napping when we took our group photo.  And, also of note… Monica drove all the way from Raleigh to see us!!  So awesome!

I can’t even tell you how nice it was to see everyone.  I’ve always felt SO connected to these ladies… and it was so nice to sit and visit and catch up.  A desire to be healthy is the tie that initially bound us together… and blogging, of course, but that’s just the beginning.  There is so much I gain from each of them every time we’re together.  Today was no exception.

We chatted, laughed, and talked about what we wanted to accomplish in the new year.  I even brought home a new beautiful bracelet to remind me of all I want to capture in 2014.  Thanks, Monica!!!

Limitless Bracelet | No Thanks to Cake

As Ashley mentioned today… it’s amazing how much can change in a year.  And, gosh… she was SO right.  Our group had two new babies this year, many half marathons on the books, and so much achieved just in our small group of six!  It really makes you think about what you want to tackle next.  Inspiring, I tell ya!

Avonlea | No Thanks to Cake

I’ll share my goals with you guys next week… but I have to say seeing these women sparked a much-needed re-energization in me.  More about that next week too…

We didn’t have enough time, and we certainly didn’t take enough pictures, but it was absolutely wonderful to see each of these ladies!

Kelly and Hilary | No Thanks to Cake

To my fabulous DC/NC Friends – - Merry Christmas, my dears!!!  I am so incredibly happy that Fitbloggin has brought us all together.  To think, a conference that each of us randomly picked to attend, in the hopes of learning more about blogging… allowed us to meet and to be connected in the way we are today.  To say I’m grateful to have you all (my “soul sisters”) in my life is an understatement.  Looking forward to my next trip to DC, and our next gathering!!!  (PS… I have some space in my carry-on if any of you want to fly back to Denver with me on Thursday.) xoxo

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And the Winner Is…

I have a huge box of Fitbloggin loot that I packed up last week when I posted the giveaway.

While it looks gorgeous sitting on my fireplace, I am excited to part with it!

And the winner of all this fabulous Fitbloggin Swag is…

Sarah M!

Our winner, Sarah M., is actually a fellow blogger who writes over at Adventures with My Boys.  Stop by and check out her site, and who knows… maybe she’ll review some of the products in this huge prize pack!  Congrats, Sarah!

It’s hard to believe we had 377 entries for this giveaway!  That’s pretty darn impressive… Nice work, folks!

Speaking of huge numbers… the NTTC Facebook page also hit 1000+ followers this week thanks to many of you!  And, a little nudge from Brooke: Not on a Diet, who sent a few readers over as well!  So cool!  If you’re not following on FB, click here to join our community!

Thank you to all of you who followed and commented and tweeted… such a great response!  And, I definitely heard loud and clear that you guys were interested in the snacks and interested in winning more!  I’m working on a few other giveaways that should be coming up soon… from new partners that I met at Fitbloggin.  Stay tuned!

Come to Fitbloggin 2014!

Also, if you are a blogger and have interest in attending Fitbloggin to experience the most wonderful weight loss/fitness bloggers’ conference I know and to pick up your own bag of loot, you should follow the Fitbloggin facebook page and Roni’s Fitbloggin site to stay up-to-date on the latest happenings!

Official Conference Photo (Source)

Next year’s event has not been finalized, but will be held in either Nashville or Austin… this Southern girl will be happy either way, and even happier if some of you join us next year!

Until the next giveaway… xoxo

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Dining Out: Stopping the Insanity

When I was in Portland last weekend, I had a chance to interact with so many men and women on the same path as me to lose weight and get healthy.  I can’t even begin to tell you how refreshing it is to be around like-minded people and how motivating it can be as well.

The one big message I took away from the conference is that we’re all trying to communicate the reality of weight loss and weight maintenance.  To simply blog about the happy moments and all those non-scale victories… well, it’s not helpful.  The reality is weight loss is tough.  For me, when I’m struggling, it’s never easy to admit it… I like to think that I have things under control, and the last thing I want to do is confess that I’m struggling to the people that grace my presence virtually each day.

That being said, I’m struggling.  There you go… and I’m writing about one way that I’m struggling today.

Let’s go back to Fitbloggin’ – - I won’t even begin to say that the Fitbloggin crew all ate perfectly when we were in Portland.  There were donuts and cocktails and desserts.  Life was happening, and it was a vacation.  If you haven’t thought it, trust me… I know the irony of healthy living/weight loss bloggers indulging like this.  But then again, it happens…

While the Voodoo Doughnuts were delicious, they don’t even come close to being as delicious as the GORGEOUS plate of Beet Green Ravioli that I devoured at Clyde Corner.  So amazing, fresh, and inspiring me to learn to make homemade pasta this year.  YUM!

However, when the vacation ended and once we all got home, it was time to get back to business.  Time to get some nutrients into my body, back to “eating the rainbow”, and time to get back under 1200 calories a day.

As I started to get settled in at home, I quickly found myself getting invited to lunch, to dinner, to happy hour… all sorts of food-related events where that 1200 calorie goal quickly becomes a challenge.

Now, I expect to have days where I go over my desired calorie intake, but to have multiple days in a row that are well over my target just won’t work.  What’s interesting is that for the first year and a half that I was on this weight loss journey, I didn’t really eat out unless it was carefully calculated or Subway.  I wanted so desperately to lose weight that it wasn’t a sacrifice, it was simply another action associated with “the project”.

Now, I want to have dinner with friends.  I want to say yes to the brunch invites.  And, there are times when I want to drink wine like a fish and eat 1200 calories in cheese.

So… How does a girl strike a balance between socializing

and maintaining a healthy lifestyle?  

I truly don’t know the answer to this one, but I continue to test different approaches over time.  Eventually, I’ll find the formula that works successfully for me.  Until then (and until the end of time really), I just need to be conscious.  Here’s why:

Most restaurants have healthy choices, but not always a healthy dish I want to eat.  My number one rule to eating out is to check the menu beforehand, but gosh, sometimes you check it… and there’s still nothing.  Perfect example:  I went to a wine bar on Wednesday and they REALLY didn’t even have one dish that I’d suggest to be healthy.  So, I had a half of a BLT.  Not the best choice, but I had to eat something.

People expect you to want to eat out.  I mean, it’s the American way after all… and, it’s DELICIOUS to eat all those calorie-rich dinners. Sometimes, I think people want you to let loose with them and consider that you’re having fun when you do.  What isn’t always clear to my dining companions is that one meal can really create a snowball effect and that I’ll either be spending excess time on the treadmill to make up for it, or guiltily squeezing into my pants in the days that follow.

There are no cheat days.  For someone who has the weight gain-loss-gain-loss track record that I do, cheat days just don’t fit into my repertoire.  My scale reminded me of this on Friday afternoon, cheat meals don’t serve me well, and they ALWAYS show up on the scale.  Right now, I’m up a few pounds, and if I had to point the finger, I would point it straight at eating out.

So… What do I do?  

It’s not like I can just sit at home and not eat out ever again!

No, I’m not going to become a recluse… but I have to come up with a better strategy that just saying yes every time.

I’m going to say no sometimes.  Not every time, and seriously, friends, please still invite me.  Know that if I say no, it’s all about me…and don’t take it personally.

I plan to offer healthy suggestions on where we’ll dine.  There are hundreds of restaurants out there that I can find something healthy and delicious at everything from fast food, to quick dining, to fine dining… I need to start speaking up more!

Avoid the freebies and extras!  Chips and salsa… we are no longer friends, and that free bread… no thank you!  BTW… I love both of these, but our relationship has ended, albeit abruptly.  Also, if there is talk of appetizers, I don’t need to play in that space… I’ll encourage friends to get the shrimp app, which I won’t go near.

What are your best practices in dining out?  How do you not let all that decadent food crash your diet?

PS… Have you entered my Fitbloggin Swag giveaway??  Great stuff!  Click here to enter!

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