I’m going to FitBloggin’!

I have a super exciting announcement to make…I’m going to FitBloggin‘ this year!

FitBloggin’ is a conference for those who blog about fitness, wellness, good food and a healthy lifestyle. It’s an amazing event for fit-minded people regardless of where they are in their journey. We all come together & share a passion to live a happy, healthy balanced life!

I attended FitBloggin’ a few years ago when it was here in Baltimore and it was amazing! I met so many incredible and inspiring people. I learned a TON about blogging and my fitness community. I ate some delicious food & gathered some new recipes. And, of course, I worked up a sweat doing some fun new workouts!

fitbloggin 2012

This year, when the FitBloggin crew had a call for social assistants, I jumped at the chance to join the fun again! While I’m at the conference, I’ll be assigned to different sessions to cover. I’ll be working to capture the essence and lessons from each session to help those who can’t join

This weeks marks the 100 days mark and I’m getting so jazzed! Can’t wait!

Are any of you going to FitBloggin this year? I’d love to meet up with you in Denver!! 

[Giveaway] #G2KHoliday

ONE WEEK UNTIL CHRISTMAS EVE! Want some presents now? (DUH.) I can help with that!

Anyway, I met some fun people from Unilever’s Good to Know team at Fitbloggin‘ (seriously, who did I NOT meet at Fitbloggin’ this year?!) and was very intrigued. I had been trying to get away from butter, but still hadn’t really found a spread I loved (aka one that Tom would eat regularly). Then, they introduced me to Brummel & Brown at their Fitbloggin’ event and I was hooked!

brummel and brown

Brummel & Brown is made with YOGURT and it’s less than half the calories of butter! And it tastes good. I Tom was SOLD. Also, it (and all the Unilever spreads)…

  • Have 0g trans fat per serving
  • Contain no partially hydrogenated oils
  • Have no cholesterol
  • Are 70% less fat than butter per serving!
  • Have 30% fewer calories than butter per serving!

All good things, right? Right. :)

For the holiday season, Unilever challenged people to make a holiday cookie recipe with one of their spreads to test how they stand up to traditional butter. Now their website says B&B may not be the best for baking but I wanted to challenge that! (I only have one speed…challenging hahaha)

The Unilever team provided me with some great baking essentials to complete the challenge:

  • Silpat baking sheet liner
  • Steel cooling rack
  • 17×11 Large nonstick cookie sheet
  • Stainless steel cookie scoop
  • $10 gift card to purchase baking ingredients

 

baking giveaway

And now I have the amazing opportunity to give them away to YOU!

To enter to win Unilever Baking Prize Pack:

Leave a comment below telling me, “What would be your “Good to Know” holiday cookie creation?” 

Extra Entries: 
Follow katekatebear on Twitter and tweet “Enter to win a #G2KHoliday Prize Pack from @katekatebear http://bit.ly/UDKjta

Post this giveaway link to YOUR personal or fan Facebook page and leave a separate comment here telling me you did so.

Subscribe to this blog by either email or RSS feed. Leave a separate comment telling me which way you did.

Deadline to enter is Friday, December 21, 2012, Midnight EST. Contest is open to United States residents ONLY. Winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email. Unilever will directly handle your “Good to Know” winnings. :) 

sugar cookies

Ok so here’s the good part – COOKIES!

I tested Brummel & Brown with my go-to sugar cookie recipe from the Southern Living Incredible Cookies cookbook.

Classic Sugar Cookies

  • 1 C Brummel & Brown spread
  • 1 C sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 3 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 t salt

sugar cookie ingredients

  •  In a medium to large bowl, beat the spread with an electric mixer for approx. 2 minutes of until creamy.
  • Add sugar, beating well.
kate eating cookies

I mean if you want to try the cookie dough, I guess that’s ok…

  • Add egg and vanilla, beating well.
  • Gradually add flour (it may poof up if you add too quick!) and salt, beating until well blended.

cookie dough

  • Divide dough in half and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill two halves for approx. 1 hour.

**COMMENCE 1 HOUR DANCE PARTY!!!**

  • At this point, I would traditionally roll out the dough and use cookie cutters BUT because I just got this shiny new cookie scoop, I decided to make drop cookies with some extra toppings I had!
  • Scoop small sections of the dough onto baking sheet liner.

drop cookies

  • Smush each ball just a little to flatten out cookie.
  • Cover with your favorite toppings! I used chocolate chips, almonds and sprinkles!
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. With the baking mat, it threw my timing off a little because it seems to change the way the cookies are heated – so it was closer to 10 minutes.
  • Cool cookies on baking sheet for approx. 1 minute on baking sheet then transfer to wire rack.
  • ENJOY!

chocolate chip sugar cookies

Good luck to everyone entering the giveaway contest!

[Recipe] Muesli Berry Breakfast

So you may recall me mentioning that at Fitbloggin we had this amazing breakfast, including a delicious berry muesli dish by Weight Watchers cheeses. I’ve been meaning to make it again but unfortunately I couldn’t find the main ingredient anywhere! Luckily, Laughing Cow‘s new cream cheese spreads are a bit easier to find and they started making a strawberry one. So I had to change the recipe up a bit. Also, the original recipe was made for serving 10 so I had to cut it down. That being said, it tasted just as good as I remember!

laughing cow cream cheese spread Muesli Berry Breakfast

  • Strawberry cream cheese spread (I used 1.5 wedges)
  • 1C almond or skim milk
  • 1t agave nectar
  • 1C oat & honey granola
  • 1C bran cereal
  • 1/2t cinamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • 1C fresh seasonal berries (I used strawberries/blackberries)

*NOTE: This recipe calls for you to make it and let it sit overnight, but I ate it same day and it was still delicious! 

  • In a bowl, blend together milk, cream cheese and agave nectar together.
  • In a large bowl, combine cereals and spices.
  • Pour the milk mixture over the cereal until it’s well coated.
  • If you choose, this is where you would chill overnight. If not, let sit in refrigerator for approx. 30min.
  • Add fresh berries and enjoy!
weight watchers muesli

Thanks again to Weight Watchers for the great recipe!

As I mentioned, this was originally meant for Weight Watchers cream cheese spread, but I haven’t found it yet. When I do, I’ll let you know how it goes!

Fitbloggin ROCKS!

So it took me a few days to recover from the weekend formerly known as Fitbloggin…but totally worth it. Show do you sum up an unbelievably crazy amazing weekend like this? I have no idea, but I’m going to attempt to give a little recap without going minute by minute :)

So Fitbloggin this year was at the Hyatt in Baltimore’s beautiful Inner Harbor. Not only does it have an amazing view of the harbor and the city, but it’s very close to my work and house…so that was greatly beneficial. (Thanks for working that out specifically for me, Roni ;))

I couldn’t join the Thursday visit to McCormick (@Spices4Health) but I heard it was fantastic (aka I’m extremely jealous of everyone who went). I got off work and met up with Annie & Brittany, two of my BMOREtoned gals, and ran over to the badge decorating party! We also got our amazing swag bags this night!

conference swag

Thursday was an early night and I went straight home to bed. Come on…we had a workout at 6am the next morning! Which was AWESOME by the way! Our first Fitbloggin workout was yoga with Sara of Run Inspired. I’m not a huge practicer of yoga, but it definitely felt great. Good way to center before a long day!

yoga

This was happily followed by a delicious breakfast hosted by Weight Watchers Cheese (@WeightWatchers), featuring one of my absolute favorite things of the entire weekend – Muesli Berry Breakfast. We went up for seconds…and thirds (don’t worry – I’ll share the recipe)! We also got to meet the chef and team behind the recipes, which is always cool!

weight watchers breakfast

But don’t think we got a break or anything…we went immediately into the next workout – CROSSFIT! Boom. Reebok (@Reebok) sponsored a great workout featuring help from a group of national trainers as well as some from our local crossfit shops. They split us into teams and had each of us crush it for 6minutes non-stop…it was awesome.

fitbloggin girls

Side note, if you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve been using the hashtag #GetAfterIt for a month or two now…I was almost positive I was the genius that made it up. Apparently Reebok had the same idea…haha No hard feelings, I guess. Great minds think alike(?)

getafterit

Thought that was enough? Nope. After a short break, we went to our next workout (no, I’m not kidding) with Cathe, sponsored by Eggland’s Best (@EgglandsBest). I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one; not having the link I just provided and the program just listed “Workout”…not really referencing what type. So, it was silly of me to think this would be just some run-of-the-mill workout. Cathe, a 30 year pro of the fitness industry we soon found out, kicked our bums…and our arms and core and legs. The workout included a lot of amazing moves and equipment, including the continuous resistance bands I’ve been trying to find since my visit to California with Tone It Up! Looking for them? FOUND ‘EM now that I know what they’re called! Buy them here!

resistance band

Ok so then we finally stopped working out. :)
Cathe’s session was followed by yummy hard-boiled eggs from Eggland’s. I’m a huge fan of egg whites so I took two. Plus…who can resist an egg on a stick AND a tiny, baby hot sauce bottle? 

eggs

The next stop we made, and the first real conference-like thing we went to was a session called “Harness the Power of YouTube” with Sarah Dussault (@DietSarah). Sarah has been on YouTube since 2006 and really knows her stuff. Here’s some fun things I learned:

  • 4 in 10 shoppers visited a website/store as a direct result of watching an online video
  • Noise and lighting are imminently important to a good video
  • Use the first line of your YouTube video description area as a link to your blog
  • Watch what music you use – visit sites like JewelBeat and buy the rights to songs
  • When all else fails, do a product review or film a grocery haul.
  • How do you figure out what to do a video about? Think about it. What would you want to show your friends?
  • Need YouTube help? Visit this site  
FitSarah

Up next was “Social Media to Drive Traffic” with Emily Sanford (@SkinnyEmmie). Amazing. The learning continued. Here are some of the gems…
  • Social media is around to connect, NOT to (word) vomit.
  • Don’t split yourself over multiple Twitter feeds…it’s all YOU.
  • PicMonkey – check it out
  • There were totally more but my computer died during this session so…I’ll get back to you on that 

Then, lucky us she got added last minute, we got to heard from one of my favorites Carla Birnberg (@MizFitOnline) at “Attracting Local Media & Finding Success as a Freelance Writer.” Now I’ve known Carla for a little over a year now from working at my last job, but I’d never heard her speak. It was a fantastic presentation, complete with amazing “old-school” paper handouts :) Things learned:

  • To get your foot in the door, produce something ONLY YOU can release.
  • Emails/pitches need to be SHORT – editors don’t have time to read.
  • Know your worth…but be willing to work for a lot less.
  • Everyone loves old school handouts ;)
mizfitonline
Then we got to hear from Amy Nowacoski (@fatgirlscanrun) at “Build Your Brand” and heard some great stuff!
  • Your brand is not your logo. Your logo is like the dress (or pants) your brand is wearing.
  • If you create a clearer profile of who you’re talking to, you’ll be better at addressing them
Finally (at least for me), we heard from the amazingly inspiring Kara Richardson Whitely (@FatWmnOnTheMtn) at “Reach Out from your keyboard and connect!”. She has such an interesting story and it seriously would inspire anyone (except for all you cold-hearted people out there). She’s taken on mountains (literally) and is out there striving for a better world for all of us. Two major points stuck with me:
  • Take on the smaller challenges before the monumental ones. (simple but something we often forget…) 
  • Small things have a ripple effect. You inspire people without even knowing it.
And that was the end of day 1 (for me)………

 

Then came Saturday! Starting with…oh hell, let’s be honest, I missed the first morning workouts. I did get there in time to see Jami & Brittany shaking it sassily at the JumpSport trampoline session! WORK IT!

 

trampoline class

 

I was very excited to join/introduce my local girls to Zumba! Woo woo!

 

 

zumba

 

After we were thoroughly sweaty and gross, we got real close and sat in a room to hear from the nutritionist from Canadian Maple Syrup (@PureCanadaMaple) Did you know you could make a Gatorade like drink with maple syrup? Apparently yes…interesting. We also got to try these amazing snack bars from them too!

 

maple syrup treats

 

We had a quick session with the lovely Amy Lupold Bair (@ResourcefulMom) on “Growing Online Community Through Twitter” where we talked hashtags, groups, Twitter parties and much more. Again, wifi wasn’t working at this point, sooo it wasn’t exactly easy to share while we were talking about sharing. Womp womp.

 

Then to lunch! With SPECIAL TREATS! Ooooh! Puravit (@PuraVit) provided these awesome bags to everyone! There were even a few extra…(hint hint…look for a giveaway from me soon!)

 

 

Then lunch…you’re jealous. That is all.

 

 

After crushing some beautiful radishes, we headed one of the most informational sessions yet with Brandi Koskie of DietsInReview (@DietsinReview) called “Drive More Traffic Through SEO.”
  • Add keywords to your blog post titles – get specific when you can.
  • Keep titles under 70 characters.
  • Use your page titles and your headline. Sometimes they’re the same…but sometimes not. Always make them interesting to people AND Google.
  • Go back and change your titles. It doesn’t hurt. Google is always searching for new content.
  • Put the most interesting information at the front of your headline – it often gets cut off.
  • NAME YOUR PHOTOS. For example, people aren’t searching for “DCM-217”, they’re searching for “spicy hummus.”
  • Add keywords to your metadata but less is more (unlike this post because I felt like I had to tag everyone!). Use 5-10 to describe your post.
  • Misspellings are huge. Add in likely misspells as keywords. For example, Jillian Michaels AND Gillian Michaels.
  • Guest blogging is a great way to boost your SEO.
Next, we turned to the wise advice of raccoon connoisseur Jim Doran (@JimDoran) for “Better Blog Design on a Budget.” Although I knew some of these things, I have to admit, there were a few awesome points Jim made.
  • Visitors scan. They don’t read.
  • Navigation is important – make sure your readers know where they are, where they can go and what they can search
  • Color Scheme Designer, ColourLovers – sites like these help you pick your colors and color schemes
  • Google Web Fonts
  • Remember to review how your content looks on mobile.
  • Check out his slides here
The following discussion was with Dawn Jackson Blatner (@djblatner) , a nutritionist who’s been working with Florida Grapefruit @JuicyScoop! She talked about “RAW” – Realistic Achievable Wellness. I was immediately interested as you can imagine.

 

  • Moderate your inspiration – enough to inspire change and motivate NOT frustrate.
  • Think about how realistic and achievable your goals are – make mini goals. For example, set up buoys (smaller achievements) on the way to your island (ultimate goal).
  • 3 steps to helping you get a healthier meal:
    1) reportion your plate
    2) reinvent old favorites
    3) refresh your recipe repertoire
  • Bean math! 1oz of meat = 1/4C of beans (it reduces your sodium intake by about 40%!)
  • Salt is good because it brightens up the flavors of your food BUT you can use other things like vinegar, citrus and yogurt

 

dawn jackson blatner

 

Oh and we also tried some tasty tasty grapefruit mojitos with grapefruit juice. YUM.

 

grapefruit mojito

 

Then we finally got to hear from the awesomely unapologetic Kelly Olexa (@KellyOlexa). She had some simple but great tips:

 

  • Do your research.
  • Approach by solving a problem.

 

Finally we had a little time to hang out with the new friends we met in a non-learning session and our local spot Blue Agave (one of my personal faves)!

 

Blue Agave Baltimore

 

We got back just in time to try a few recipes from Unilever Spreads “Good To Know” line (aka some healthier options instead of butter). Yum. This turkey meatball actually tasted like Thanksgiving – like that gum in Willy Wonka tastes like a whole meal but without the turning into a blueberry part. 
turkey meatball
I’ve actually purchased the Unilever Brummel & Brown spread since this conference and it’s been great. It’s yogurt based and is less in fat, saturated fat, trans fats, cholesterol and calories. Just saying…

 

brummel and brown

 

Annnnd break……… Next (and last) was the Fitbloggin 5K run on Sunday morning. It was a BEAUTIFUL morning for the run…

 

Baltimore sunrise run

 

The funny part about this run was that it’s pretty much exactly the run I do on a regular basis…so it was really fun to be like “Oh hey Fitbloggin friends..this is where we live!” haha

 

tone it up girls

 

It was a great run and I actually finished in record time! WOO HOO! PLUS we got some awesome bonus shirts from Reebok! #GetAfterIt SON! :)
girl flexing

 

So, are you asleep yet? I’m sorry. I TOLD YOU there was too much to say! I would have live-blogged from the conference but, as you’ve read, there was something going on every minute. What was I going to skip in order to blog, huh? Yea. That’s what I thought. :)

 

reebok girls

 

Anyway, in summary, Fitbloggin was amazing. I can’t wait for next year!

I CAN’T WAIT for FitBloggin!

Seriously, I CAN’T WAIT! I was lucky enough to join for FitBloggin last year and I’m so excited to join again this year.

Last year, I was still on the cusp of deciding whether or not starting a blog was right for me. The sessions were really informative and fun at the same time! Plus there were tons of workouts! Last year, the FitBloggin 5K was one of the first races I ran in my new running kick…now, one year later, I’ve run 8 already this year (including a half marathon) AND I’m obviously blogging! haha

Last year I also had the opportunity to meet some amazing people. I had followed but was so excited to meet some in person like Eating Bird Food, MizFitOnline, RunEatRepeat, CarrotsNCake, FitBottomedGirl and many more! Seriously, you ladies (& men) were all so amazing to meet and hang out with! 

This year, there’s SO many people I’m dying to catch up with and meet! JustKeepSweating, BurningBabiFat, PFG_dawn & more! Definitely let me know if you’re going – I want to meet up! 

There are also some amazing sponsors coming this year! I learned about & received some really cool products last year like Dr. Praegers (which I have since then been obsessed with) and Attune Foods…And I always have fun when Popchips is involved. :)

Anyway, get ready. I’ll be posting a lot live from the event! Woo hoo!
FitBloggin here I come!