The Double Chin Diary ExpoWest Recap

Hi there! I had a fantastically busy weekend, which combined with the time change, has me doing a little bit of yawning. but I’d rather be tired and busy than tired and bored, ya know? On Saturday, I picked up the fabulous AJ from Confessions of a Fat Girl and we were on our way to Anaheim for ExpoWest, a natural food and product show with over 2,100 exhibitors and last year, over 63,000 attendees. I had a list of brands I wanted to connect with based on previous reviews here on the DCD, but I also had a few new ones I wanted to meet. Below are some of my favorites from the show, and stay tuned in the next few weeks for some reviews and giveaways for you. I promise, there’s some good stuff comin’! (Note: I’m writing this post of my own desire. This is not sponsored in any way, though I did eat my way through most of these booths on free samples!)

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Alyssa’s personal heaven with Jeff’s Naturals.

1) You guys know how I love olives. A relatively new joy of mine, I embraced the olive when I first went low-carb and was looking for something deliciously salty without any sugars. I started with Kalmata olives and then graduated into the green olives, and finally found my briny passion, the Castelvetrano. I splurge every now and then on a tub of them from Whole Foods, but the price point makes me try not to go wild on ’em. I always thought Whole Foods Castelvetrano were the cream of the crop, but I was wrong — it’s the Castlevetrano olives from Jeff’s Naturals. These things are buttery, nutty, rich and delicious! They were kind enough to send me home with a jar and I actually sent an awkward selfie of myself and the jar to my husband with the caption “day made.” Even cooler? It was a happy coincidence when I noticed the company is based in Petaluma, which is where I grew up! I’m hoping we can do a giveaway soon, because you guys have to try these. Deeeelish! (The jar is already half gone. For reals. I have an olive problem!)

2) Remember how I had a weird fear of ‘fish burps’? They were enough to keep me away from fish oil for a long time, and I finally got over it after trying some Nordic Naturals on Fitcation. For the past few months, I’ve been diligently taking Nordic Naturals Omegas. The reasons for wanting to take omegas are plenty; they reduce inflammation in the body, can help lessen stress and anxiety, improve arteries, lungs, joints and bones… all good stuff. While you pay a little more for a premium fish oil brand like Nordic Naturals, when researching fish oil and learning about how the oil is harvested, I’m happy to plunk down a few more coins for a fantastic fishy experience rather than something that just stinks like a dead fish. The folks at Nordic Naturals dressed up me up in this lovely Gone with the Wind get up, and then I got to try some of their new products, like gummy vitamin D-3s, which are mixed berry flavor.

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Did Scarlett O’Hara like Omegas?

3) You know I couldn’t go to ExpoWest without paying homage to the ruler of the snack world… POPCORN! I had to stop by and give some love to SkinnyPop, who have recently introduced a black pepper, cheddar, and sweet popcorn to their mix. The cheddar popcorn was my desired crunch snack of choice during the trafficky drive home. Thankfully I had yummy corn and AJ’s fantastic rendition of “Let It Go” to keep me from going bonkers at 10 miles per hour. I also popped my top for:

  • Β Pop Gourmet, who had a mind-blowing parmesan garlic popcorn and SRIRACHA POPCORN! Respect the rooster! They also had a “Rogue Blue” blue cheese popcorn which I didn’t try (was trying to conserve my belly space), but rumor had it it was pretty fantastic.

    PopGourmet's offerings include Sriracha, Garlic, Kale, and many more!

    PopGourmet’s offerings include Sriracha, Garlic, Kale, and many more!

  • Quinn Popcorn, which has a notable new snack in that its the first “do it yourself” organic microwave popcorn with cool flavors (hello, herb and olive oil). The paper microwave bag is fully compostable, and after you pop the corn, you toss it with the included oil packet and then add the seasoning packet. I got to meet the founder of the company, and I loved that he started the company with his wife, and named it in honor of his son Quinn.
  • Kettle Pop, which started as kettle corn in Farmer’s Markets and is now packaged. This corn is 100% organic and has a lovely lightly sweet, fluffy taste. I have a couple bags in my pantry now and I love that they come in 100 calorie packs — giving me my popcorn fix without the “Oops, I just ate 1,200 calories worth of popcorn in one sitting” problem. (True story.)

There were a bunch of other popcorn peeps I missed, but that’s ok — I’ll catch them next time, when I haven’t eaten 10,000 olives.

4) I was on a mission to discover new teas, and discover, I DID! Did you guys know Numi makes savory teas, in wild flavors like Carrot Curry, Fennel Spice and Beet Cabbage? I tried both the Carrot and Fennel, and it wasn’t bad at all. They reminded me of broth based soups. Not necessarily what I’d go for for my cuppa, but as a pairing to a meal, I could definitely see it working. While I’m a little more traditional with my tea, I loved the creativity of it. I tried a super yummy Cacao Earl Grey, and I need to get my hands on some “Emperor’s Pu-Erh”, which was a really earthy, full-bodied tea that some use as a coffee alternative. Mighty Leaf also opened up my eyes to some delicious Arnold Palmer recipes, in addition to their organic African Nectar.

4.5) Some other notable people I met with that I can’t wait to learn more about? BioRay, who has a detox product I’ve been using for quite awhile that I love and will share about soon, New Chapter, which are vitamins you can take on an empty stomach, and Oregon’s Wild Harvest, high quality organic vitamins and tonics.

5) The best thing about ExpoWest wasn’t the things: it was the people! I was so happy to get to meet my friend Jody from Truth to Being Fit, and then catch up with my pal Annabel from Feed Me, I’m Cranky, Monica from My Life is a Journey, and Angela from Nine More Months. It’s always so wonderful to see the faces of people you interact with all the time online. Hugs just aren’t the same virtually πŸ™‚

 

 

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Top left: Me and AJ from Confessions of a Fat Girl. Top Right: Angela, Monica and Me. Lower Left: Me and Jody. Lower right: Me and Annabel.

So as you can see — ExpoWest was a fantastic whirlwind experience. I have no idea how some people do it for four days — after one day and 11,000 steps, my dogs were barkin’ and I was ready to sit on my duff and eat popcorn and olives. However, I didn’t have much rest before my next adventure… waking up at 4:00 A.M. to bring my husband to the Los Angeles Marathon! Stay tuned for the next post about his courageous 26.2, and I’ll be talking to you soon. Have a wonderful day!

 

“You’re Real! – In which I meet other bloggers I admire. FitBloggin’ Part 2

Me and Kenz!

One of my favorite things about being a drone of the internet webs (in day job and blog life!) is that you make some amazing connections online. I still remember the first time I met “blog friends” in real life – I was meeting up with Kenlie from All The Weigh and Alexa from The Curvy Nerd. I got lost on the way there and my frazzled nerves were all worried about “Will we have awkward silences? Will they judge me if I eat bread? What if I want seconds at the salad bar? Do you think I can reveal my sarcastic sense of humor?” Of course, once I met them and we eased into conversation, it was so much fun – and they were both exactly like the people they were online. No big sweat. I got to see Kenlie again at FitBloggin’ and she was her usual sparky and enigmatic self. Isn’t that a fabulous dress on her?!

Skinny Emmie and Double Chin Diary rock!

I also got the pleasure of meeting Skinny Emmie – a weight loss blogger who’s lost over 100 pounds and works in social media. She’s very charming in real life and has a sweet little Southern twang. Aren’t we cute? Emmie petted my shirt, claiming that she loves textiles. It is a nice shirt, if I do say so myself – soft, stretchy and flattering to those with large… erm.. parts.

 

 

Me and Tara from Media Remedial

I also met Tara, from Media Remedial on my first day at the conference. I was jet lagged and disoriented, and after I got my lunch, I felt like a grade-school student looking for a place to sit in the cafeteria. All around me people were busy having conversations and eating their quinoa with gusto, so I felt a little lost. Tara cleared off a seat for me, looked up at me with a big smile and invited me to sit down. She’s a genuinely warm person and I was so happy to get to meet her and hang out with her through out the weekend. (Bonus points: Like me, she’s also a crazy cat lady and harsh media critic. It was love at first sight.)

Alyssa and Fat Girl Vs World Duke It Out

I was also lucky enough to meet Robby, from Fat Girl Vs. World. Robby and I have been Twitter pals for quite some time, and I actually started following her because she did boxing. At the time when I started boxing for fitness, I felt like not many females did it, so it was fun to find somebody who shared my enthusiasm. She always provided me tips on posture and hand position, so that’s why we’re “duking it out” in this pic. As usual, my wrists decided to go back to flute-player style, so I’m workin’ on that. Robby was super nice and funny in person – just like her blog.

Alyssa, Shelly and Beth

Two more lovely ladies I met were Shelly, or “Egg Face“, and Beth, from Melting Mama. I also met Nikki from Bariatric Foodie, but I didn’t get a pic with her! I first met the awesomeness that are Shelly and Beth because I was live blogging a session and Beth referred to now-skinny people as “former fatties”. As someone who uses humor to blog daily, I found her sassiness refreshing, and like a moth to a flame, I was drawn to her! I’ve already conversed with all these gals several times since the conference, and they’re the perfect example of why I need to attend conferences like this. It’s all about finding people with common interests who can help you remember what’s important – and for me, that’s losing the weight in any way I can, even if it’s slooooow like molasses. I’ll get there! πŸ™‚

How about you? Have you ever met blog or internet friends in real life? Would you? I still have a few on my “must meet” list,Β  one of them being KJ Pugs!

 

Ornament Swap

Our petite Christmas tree with laser-eyed Leo

Hi everybody! This year I was excited to participate in my first ever “blogger ornament swap”! Laura over at Luckiest in Love was kind enough to host this, and all the bloggers who signed up were matched with other bloggers around the country. I was matched with the lovely Mandy in Milwaukee at Making the Pieces Fit – and here’s what I got from her!

She did a great job researching because one of the ornaments she sent was this adorable jingle bell kitty! It looks just like Mr. Leo too, with the orange tabby stripes. Isn’t it darling?

Darling Jingle Bell Kitty Ornament

She also got me this super cute ginger bread lady resting on a little baking sheet! I don’t know if you can see it, but there’s a candy cane, starlight peppermint and a little baking spoon dangling off the edge. Perfect for me and my obsession with food! πŸ™‚

Gingerbread lady baker!

I sent Mandy some ornaments in return – and while I desperately searched for an ornament of her favorite things, dolphins or flip flops, I couldn’t find one so settled for a pretty silver initial ornament and a few other little sparklies. However – I had an internal debate about which initial to get her, because her Twitter name is Mandy but her full name is Amanda – so, when people call me Lyssa, I figured it’s a nick name but my true initial is still an A – so Mandy got an A. Hope that’s cool, Mandy! These are the weird things I agonize over. πŸ˜‰

Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas! And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, a merry day to you. Do you have a favorite ornament? You can see one of my favorites in the first picture – a little horse and carriage with our wedding photo in it that says “And they lived happily ever after – 2010”. Awwww!

 

Viva La Mexico

I just returned from five days in sunny Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where I toasted my 26th year with many delicious pina coladas!

Mmmm, creamy coconutty goodness!

As usual, I prefer the most fattening option – in this case, a sugary drink loaded with creamy, fatty coconut milk. I ate very well all week – homemade corn tortillas with burnt blisters on their surface, marinated arrachera steak, fresh guacamole mashed with key lime juice and chunks of ripe tomato… Even my birthday dessert was over the top – homemade churros, deep fried and dusted with vanilla scented sugar and cinnamon, dipped in caramel sauce. My birthday “Cake” was two wedges of tres leches cake, soft and spongy, coated with cream and speckled with a mixed berry coulis – the perfect tart and tang to the dense, rich cream.

I wish all birthday wishes were edible.

One of my favorite meals in Cabo is at Gordo Lele’s, which loosely translates to “Fat love” (an agenda I identify with here!). Javier, the owner, is a sweet man who makes amazing tacos (the beef is marinated in soy sauce and cayenne. Ay, papi!) and sings Beatles, Elvis and Frank Sinatra songs as people dine on their food. Even better is he pulls out tiny fake guitars and pianos and as he croons, pretends to rock out on the tiny instruments.

No, sir, I don't know how all those empty Pacificos got in the foreframe...

Here are some of his yummy tacos – and 15 pesos a piece, the slabs of avocado and homemade tortilla make it a total steal. (See the plastic bag? In poorer parts of the country, dishes are wrapped in plastic for hygiene and to avoid having to wash the plates too frequently. Sounds scary but makes sense).

So – as you can see above, I ate my way through Cabo San Lucas and enjoyed every minute of it; except, until, I got Montezuma’s revenge on the last day of my trip. Hey, the positive side to that? Five days of fatty boom boom eating = gone!

Lyssa, Javier and Matt - Thanks for the tacos!