*This post is sponsored by Balance Bar.
It was difficult explaining what exactly The Blend Retreat was to some people. Why are you going? What are you doing? Blend is a combo of “blogger + friend” — which can sound weird to non-bloggers, who don’t get the whole “friend you’ve never met thing.” But it IS a thing.
When I started blogging in 2011, I didn’t know I’d make friends through doing it. But as a blogger, you also read other people’s blogs. You become invested in their lives. You know intimate things about them, empathize with their struggles, cheer with their victories and find yourself wondering how they are doing if they don’t post for awhile.
They’re like, well, friends (Me, Candice & Janae above!). But they live all over the country and you don’t even have their phone numbers! You do have their twitter handles, but does it have to end there? When Lindsay, Janetha and Katie (I think the third was Katie?!) created Blend three years go, they did it with this in mind. They wanted to meet the women they’d come to care about online — but not in some structured, conferency way with requirements and rules.
This was my first year at Blend, very different and more relaxing compared to other conferences I’ve attended. Healthy Living Summit and Fitbloggin’ are both great conferences to attend — and I personally love attending panels and learning from others — but Blend was just what I was looking for this year.
I was privileged to attend Blend on behalf of Balance Bar, which I eat nearly every day for my afternoon snack! They are all about the blogger outreach and were super smart to touch base with all the blends! Since much of the healthy living blogging community IS all about finding a healthy balance in our lives, the message was absolutely perfect.
I was stocked up with a ton of bars — including my new favorite — Mocha Chip! I must say that the S’more’s flavor was definitely in high demand. I still haven’t tried that one but everyone says it’s awesome! I keep eating the mocha chip ones — soo freakin’ good!
I arrived to the Salt Lake City airport not realizing I had been there before but Foursquare told me otherwise. Apparently, I had a layover there last year. I was meeting up with Marissa of Barefoot Colorado, the cutest CrossFitter ever (I stalked her FB pix before meeting and she looks pretty beast in competition mode!) We took a shuttle bus out to Park City. I just gazed out the window the whole time, in awe of the mountains that I’m SO not used to seeing. I was kind of in love immediately. It was beautiful!
After greeting some folks, registering and settling in, we set up for the “fun run” sponsored by Oiselle, who I’m recently starting to fall in love with. I’m loving their clothes and luckily, they gifted us with a free “RUN” shirt!
Janae lead the run and ooooh, that high elevation hit me quickly. I wasn’t feeling so hot and only ran about half because I wasn’t up for pushing it. Plenty of others walked some too. The weather was perfect. Then, we were back at the hotel to get ready for cocktail hour and dinner!
I finally met my roommate Brooke, who turned out to be an awesome blend! One thing I love about things like this, I feel like I have a lot in common with the attendees and can often just start chatting it up like we’ve been friends forever. Definitely got that feeling with Brooke!
We had a wonderful cocktail hour with specialty drinks from Flurowater and appetizers from Sizzle Fish (remember when I reviewed them?). Dinner was sponsored by Silk — the main sponsor of the entire event. I got to sit by Laura and chat it up most of the night, which was great! I was also really excited to meet Lindsay of Cotter Crunch for the first time this weekend — she is just as sweet as she seems on her blog!
Since there was a 2-hour time difference, I was dead tired by the time I went to bed a little after 10pm. We woke up at 6am and took a short walk around the area while waiting for 7am boot camp. I love pretty much anywhere in the morning sun but especially gorgeous mountains.
I sipped my coffee from Green Mountain — the weekend coffee sponsor — and enjoyed the brisque morning air while chatting it up with Brooke.
Then, it was time for boot camp with our friends from Onnit. It was a little CrossFitty — lots of squats, burpees, pushups and the like. My body always feels off and not into working out when I travel. Such was the case here but I got through it. Breakfast was delicious and provided by Quest.
Then it was time to head off to our hike for the day. It really was perfect weather so we met in the lobby and walked a quarter mile or so over to the Gondolas. Park City was the location of the 2002 Winter Olympics and it’s a total ski town.
We hiked up the mountain though it wasn’t too far or difficult. One girl said something about “this isn’t what Colorado girls call a hike.” Although the rest of us were huffing and puffing. We made it up to a gorgeous lake on top of the mountain and I was in heaven, SO happy to be there in the sunshine. After a bit, it was back down the mountain with the girlies in the gondola to head back to the hotel for free time. I spent my free time digging through the world’s most ultimate swag bag (woo hoo!) and then headed out to the pool.
*Balance Bar Love Above!
That evening, a group of us went down to Park City’s main area for dinner. I loved that the ski lifts went right over head through the main part of town! I can’t imagine what this place looks like during prime ski season — it must be quite the scene. We strolled down main street and stopped for a beer at the No-Name saloon, where I had a local beer.
We ended up eating dinner at 501 Main Street, which was decent, before going back to the hotel for some homemade “Utah scones.” Apparently, these are not normal scones, but light, fluffy fried doughballs. They were delicious and we drenched them in honey butter. Janetha’s Mom was so awesome to make them. Her mom and sisters were there helping out all weekend — they were awesome!
*Brooke, Megan, Laura, Me.
I fell asleep so soundly Saturday night, I didn’t know what hit me when the alarm went off Sunday. Brooke and I were up for another fitness class. This time — GPP — a fitness trend I hadn’t heard of but is also similar to CrossFit in some ways. Again, I wasn’t feeling it but I did it anyway. It was a team workout, lots of burpees, pushups, dips, situps, squats and sprinting. I was glad I did it and glad when it was over!
I finally got a chance to chat with Lindsay a little bit as well. She’s one of the bloggers I’ve read for the past few years that I really connect with. If we lived closer, I feel like we could be really great friends. But, she’s so sweet, she probably makes everyone feel that way! She had her 7-week-old precious baby Porter at Blend and he has the most adorable little face 🙂
*Lindsay, me and Danica from It’s Progression.
Breakfast was another good one, sponsored by Yoplait Greek, and then we had closing ceremonies and group photo time. I was happy to won some Justin’s Maple Almond Butter in the raffle because I’m semi-obsessed with it 🙂
I hitched a ride to the airport from Katie and Alex and and had a few hours to kill. Fun fact, though, Salt Lake City airport doesn’t make you take your laptop out of your bag or your shoes off through security. Talk about speeding up the process! A breeze!
In conclusion, I had a great weekend with some wonderful women. I’m so grateful to Balance Bar for recognizing the importance of marketing their product to this awesome, influential group but also to Blend’s organizers — including Lauren of Me and the Mountains — who worked SO hard to make the weekend great.