Sunday, June 24, 2012

Review–Health and Fitness Bloggers Conference

As you know I attended the Fitness and Health Bloggers Conference in Denver this weekend. In all honesty, I kind of attended. I missed Saturday, which was the worst day to miss in terms of goings on. When I signed up for the conference I knew this would be the case because I already committed to do a race on Saturday and knew I couldn't do both. I decided to try to have my cake and eat it too, so I opted to do both things.

Sometimes it’s best to choose if you are going to have the cake or going to eat it. Trying to do both can get kind of crazy. And, make you fat or something.

What I learned is that if you are going to attend a conference, then you need to 100 % attend that conference. If you miss a day or cannot participate in any of the extra offerings like fitness classes and dinners, then you are not getting the proper conference experience. Anyone who goes to these things knows that aside from what you learn at the presentations, a conference is about community and getting to know the people around you. It is about sharing experiences and commonalities. I don’t think I got to do this in the way I wanted to.

That said, I did really enjoy my time at the conference at got a lot of of it. The Anschutz Health and Wellness Center (AHWC) is kick ass. Friday morning I took a tour of the facility and ooh-ed and aww-ed at the state of the art fitness equipment like this geeky treadmill (those are computers where you can do Facebook, watch TV, make your lunch, anything your heart desires). Almost makes treadmill running bearable.

IMAG0318 (2)

I also appreciated the pool that had a separate “well” specifically for water running. You all know I became an expert in water running when I was injured. I hated it, but it kept me in shape. I love the idea of a separate “well” where all of us nerdy water runners could congregate and complain.


I loved the 1/10 mile running track that meandered around the fitness center. Just think, you would only have to run this 262 times to get in the marathon distance. Piece of cake.


There is even a rooftop “green” terrace where you can dine, but also where they grow fresh stuff that they cook with in the downstairs' bistro.

The expo was outstanding with many different sponsors including (to name a few) Refuel with Chocolate Milk, Driscoll Berries, Smartfood Selects, Love Grown Foods, Rockin’ Refuel, and Goodness Knows.


Me with Liz and Traci from Refuel with Chocolate Milk.

My favorite new produce was the Smartfood Selects Cinnamon/Brown Sugar Multi Grain Popped Chips. They are like crack.



The presentations and speakers I saw were  informative, touching on such subjects as obesity in America, performance testing, weight loss and weight management and how to use the internet to grow your fitness business.

IMAG0323 (2)

I felt like I was in college again, only I wasn’t hungover.

There was a ton of great info, but some of the facts/ discussions that stuck with me:

  • The most effective way to lose weight is to focus on diet and cutting calories. Exercise is an important component, but not as important as diet in losing weight – this was brought up again and again by the “experts.”
  • Exercise becomes crucial once the weight is lost and a maintenance program is started.
  • A factor leading to obesity in this country is that we have too much good, cheap, and available food at our fingertips and it comes to us in large portions. We are still in the mentality that it is best to “eat when food is available and rest when we don’t have to work.”
  • When losing weight, it does not matter what the food composition is (carbs, protein, etc.), it matters how many calories you eat. For instance, if you eat 800 calories a day of carbs vs. 800 calories a day of protein, it is not relevant whether your calories come from carbs or protein – what is relevant is the number of calories consumed.
  • Changing one thing in our culture, such as making soda less available, will not do much to “move the needle” towards a decrease in obesity. Multiple factors need to be addressed like – how much television we watch, school lunches, sedentary lifestyles, etc.
  • People who successfully lost weight focused on the following (from the National Weight Loss Control Registry)
    • Reduced caloric intake
    • High level of activity
    • Limited television watching
    • Frequently weighing oneself
    • Eating breakfast
    • Consistency
    • Restraint when it came to temptations

As you can tell, much of the focus was on the obesity epidemic and how to address it. There was also an outstanding presentation by Dr. Inigo San Millan about exercise performance testing including information on the types of diets elite endurance athletes have. One of my favorite slides showed what the members of the Garmin cycling team eat per day:


Crappy picture, but that says 8,000 calories per day – 75%  of it from carbs. The point was that carbs get a bad rap, but some of the healthiest areas in the world eat tons of carbs (Asia, Mediterranean countries). The difference is that these populations are more natural active through walking, bicycling, etc. I’m going to start eating 8,000 calories a day and walking to the mailbox.

The info from the conference was presented by some of the leading experts in the wellness field including James Hill, Executive Director of the AHWC and Director, Colorado Nutrition Obesity Research Center, and Dr. Holly Wyatt, physician and clinical researcher at The Center for Human Nutrition in Denver , Colorado.

Overall, lots of good info. I will say that I preferred the setting of last year’s conference better – it was held in Boulder where you could hike, go to great restaurants and just enjoy the beauty of the town. While the Anschutz Wellness Center was amazing, it is located in east Denver, in a very un-scenic and concrete-jungle area. I think since so many people travel from out of town, it would be nice to have it in a better location. I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to just move the wellness center to Boulder.

See? Have your cake and eat it too mentality.

Thanks again to Refuel with Chocolate Milk for giving me a scholarship for this weekend!



  1. Thanks for sharing the information from the conference. The obesity epidemic seems overwhelming, I wonder how our country will ever be able to turn the tides to a healthier lifestyle.
    Congratulations on the great race yesterday!

  2. Thanks for the information! Sounds like a lot of fun!

  3. What a great conference to attend. Lucky you. Love the concept of the treadmills.

  4. good idea on the 8k calories and walking to the mailbox. Think i'll go for 10k and run to it:)

  5. Were you directing all those stats to me after our chat Friday?? :) I'm definitely convinced it's a food thing to weight-loss. No one can run the amount of miles I do and gain weight without eating too many calories. Curious, did they talk about bad carbs vs. good carbs...or is a carb a carb? Been reading this book "Wheat Belly"...interesting stuff about how wheat has been so altered from it's original state that the current wheat makes us fat.

    Thanks, Beth. Was great to see you!!

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  7. So enough pool running will allow you to eat your cake and enjoy it too? The problem I see with just counting calories is that it doesn't lead to optimal nutrition - if I eat 800 calories of cake and expend 1200 calories, I will lose weight, but it still won't make me healthy. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie doesn't quite work in the grand picture.

    1. You are right, no doubt 800 calories of twinkies isn't the same health wise as 800 calories of the good, clean stuff. That was also addressed - but the main point was that # of calories is the main emphasis and that people get so caught up in whether the come mainly from carbs, etc. Doesn't matter. Of course the goal is to have over all good health and that is a focus as well.

  8. There was recently a great article out there about how world-wide people weigh more. I have a blog half-written on it...will finish it one day. Interesting stuff:

    1. I haven't read the article yet, but yes, Western practices (fast food, bigger portions) have leaked in and have not necessarily been a good influence.

    2. It's fascinating, it breaks down what percentages of the excess world weight falls on North America. Hint: 34% of the world's biomass from obesity and we make up 6% of the world population. Would you like fries with that?

  9. So true about diet being the key. Especially when people are just starting out, they tend to think 30 minutes of treadmill walking means they can pig out afterwards. Once people realize (and accept) just how many calories they are overeating and adjust, they are more able to conceive of the value of exercise.

    I love the pool running area! The track in the gym seems like a great idea but I belonged to one once, and there were always gym rats milling around on it.

  10. I almost went to that and wasn't sure if it'd be worth it especially since I'd have to travel for it. Thanks for the info. I think I'll try going next year!

  11. You are giving me real food for thought here b/c I am contemplating doing part of Fitbloggin and throwing in a Ragnar Relay in the middle of it. Maybe I need to make a choice?

    I think you make a good point on locale--doesn't sound nearly as nice as Boulder!

  12. I am really sorry I missed this conference this year. Sounds like it was great and of course missed hanging out with you (more that than anything else.) Maybe we have our own conference this year? You and the family, me and the family and we just eat and laugh for two days (sounds like last year doesn't it?)

  13. Interesting the difference in all the experts and their recommendations/opinions. From my understanding not all calories are created equal and weight loss (fat loss) isn't just calories in/calories out (although that is a part of it, mathematically speaking). Part of the issue is losing muscle if you only create a calorie deficit which also induces stress hormones causing fat storage. Muscle burns fat, so keeping as much muscle as possible would seem better, right? All that to say that losing weight and losing fat are two different things. It's amazing to me how each person and how their body reacts to food/macronutrients is different. It does seem the only thing all of the experts can agree on is to eat whole foods and lots of vegetables. Thanks for the recap! Sounds like it was a great conference and a pretty cool facility. We have NOTHING like that....I'm a bit jealous!

  14. Carbs DO get a bad rap! I've lost over 30 lbs and never gave up my carbs.

  15. FOCUS is indeed very much crucial when it comes to deciding to go on diet or weight loss. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Fun to hear how this year's conference went! Couldn't make it out there this time. As awesome as the facility sounds, I agree with you that Boulder was an ideal spot for the conference. Loved the opportunity to hike and run, and to walk to some fabulous places to eat (though I did bail on you on the mountain biking ;) ) Great re-cap, interesting info you shared. Congrats on your race!!

  17. I do find it sad that people keep touting the "calories in/calories out" dichotomy of weight loss and management, a theory invented decades ago and has since been debunked and disproven many times over. When you ingest 800 kcals of carbs, the body handles it and processes it in a particular way, with the excess energy being stored differently and in different places than what would happen with ingesting 800 kcals of fats or proteins.

    Not only that but caloric intake does differ between the different macronutrients (carbs, fats, protein) so merely taking in the same amount of calories from each does not mean the energy taken from those calories is the same or will affect the body the same. This in/out theory is no longer taught to nutritionists and dietitians, so it's really sad that it was so touted at this conference.

    While caloric intake can be important for weight management, unless you're seriously obese (or OCD or insane), calorie counting is largely irrelevant once you clean up your diet itself. Even eating clean 6 days a week and bingeing 1 day will have a demonstrably better and faster result than calorie limiting, and it has a much higher success rate (food reward vs food punishment, clearly one has a better philosophy). Counting is also entirely irrelevant (and invalidates whatever "experts" theory this was) when food composition is taken into account. Just to amass, for example, 500 calories (regardless of macronutrient content), it takes only a few ounces of fatty meat or a small fast food burger to hit that number, but can take 77 oz of raw spinach. So that 4 oz (pre-cooked weight) burger with bun, lettuce, and condiments comes in at an approximate weight of 6 oz total and provides a lot of calories but almost no nutritional value (USDA reference: McDonald's quarter pounder). But 77oz of spinach? 2000g of water, 2158g of calcium, 60g of iron, 4230mcg of folate (which is important), and so many other vitamins (USDA database here: The calories taken in are the same but the energy output of the food in your body is night and day. Proper nutrition is far more important than calories.

    People just need to be taught to make smart food decisions, not just look at numbers.

  18. Indeed indeed, you can never lose weight by just exercising. You can never out-exercise a bad diet. That we should remember.

  19. Awesome. Love reading your re-cap. Thanks for that! Sounds like a wonderful experience. The "removing soda from society" part stuck with me the most. It is so true that won't be the only factor to make America healthier. In addition to that I think it would be great to begin educating in high school...perhaps making it a required course...discussing the types of foods you eat, grocery store shopping, and healthy meal recipes. Thanks again! Cheers.

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  29. Glad I came across your review. I'm on the fence about which conference to attend if any. I have only been to Blissdom in Nashville and that was awesome as far as fun but I didn't get much out of it in terms of how to grow my blog. Jessica

  30. It is so true that won't be the only factor to make America healthier. In addition to that I think it would be great to begin educating in high school...perhaps making it a required course...discussing the types of foods you eat, grocery store shopping, and healthy meal recipes.Carlmont

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