IMG_2781Hi friends….and welcome to my second re-cap of the Healthy Living Summit! If you missed the first one, click on over here: to hear about all the amazing food we were served over the weekend. And again, if you’re just visiting for the first time and discovered me at HLS (or anywhere else for that matter) – welcome!

If you were an HLS attendee, or someone who’s been following the Summit on facebook or via everyone else’s recaps, then maybe you get the pun in my post title: I’m talking today about what our keynote speaker, Dawn Jackson Blatner, had to say.

I read on the HLS page about Dawn being the speaker, and, to be honest, I thought it would be good, but I wasn’t all THAT excited. I guess maybe I was kinda hoping to hear from a blogging “celeb,” like Tina, Kath, or Meghann. Well, let me just tell you, Dawn was AWESOME! She is SUPER-cute (I know it’s hard to tell from the photo), sweet, funny and fun to listen to. And on top of that, she has great info to share! Dawn is the author of a book called The Flexitarian Diet and she gave two sessions on Saturday: The first one was called “Small Phrases for Healthy Changes: The Power of Action Mantras” and the keynote address, entitled “R.A.W. Blogging: Real and Achievable Wellness, in which she mostly talked about her book and the premise behind it.

Me and my new blog friend Cynthia, from it all changes at Breakfast

IMG_2773In Dawn’s first session, she told us what action mantras were and how to go about creating them. Everything I’m about to share is all Dawn, so all the credit goes to her. She told us that mantras are a word or group of words that when repeated have the power to transform the mind. They are inspired by the idea that every action is preceded by a thought.

Here are the tips Dawn gave for creating action mantras:

  • They need to be easy to memorize (3 to 4 words)
  • Use colourful language
  • Rhyme
  • Alliteration (words that start with the same letter, like the name of this blog)
  • The need to be positive and fun (Dawn stressed that positivity motivates much better than negativity does)

Dawn reminded us that repetition equals results (ie, memorize your action mantra, say it over and over again, and the results will come).

Dawn shared a few of her action mantras that have worked particularly well for her clients.

  • Issue: Hectic Schedules
  • Action Mantra: Nourish what counts
  • Issue: Grazing/Mindless Eating
  • Action Mantra: Table-Plate-Chair
  • Issue: Not motivated to exercise
  • Action Mantra: Habit first, effort later
  • Issue: Sweet tooth
  • Action Mantra: Social sweets only
  • IMG_2766Issue: No time to plan
  • Action Mantra: Dinner Deck (cards with recipe ideas/ingredients on them)
  • Issue: Supersized portions
  • Action Mantra: 25-25-50 (25% of your plate meat, 25% carbs, 50% veggies)
  • Issue: Hard to satisfy appetite
  • Action Mantra: Simple flavours satisfy
  • Issue: Not eating enough veggies
  • Action Mantra: Every day veggie tray
  • Issue: Unhealthy snacking
  • Action Mantra: Plant + protein
  • Issue: Too much dining out
  • Action Mantra: Social not convenience
  • Issue: Dining out choices
  • Action Mantra: Find the middle (don’t go for the ultra-rich or the ultra-healthy option, go with somewhere in between)

Wooden spoon, napkin and coaster from Attune Foods at breakfast – cute, eh? (So mad I forgot to grab the coaster!)Angry smile

  • Issue: Office sabotage
  • Action Mantra: No free food (don’t just take it ‘cause it’s there. If you’re going to have something, go out and buy it)
  • Issue: Party/gathering sabotage
  • Action Mantra: Avoid what you like, eat what you love
  • Issue: Dining out
  • Action Mantra: One add-on only

Needless to say, this was a SUPER-informative and helpful session. I can see myself using some of these action mantras, and also maybe creating my own (although I haven’t thought of any yet). Fellow HLS attendees: anyone got a good one to share? Readers – can you think of an action mantra you or I could use?IMG_2794

Dawn’s keynote address about RAW (Realistic and Achievable Wellness) Blogging was mostly related to her book, The Flexitarian Diet. The premise behind her book is that while lots of research backed up the benefits of a mainly plant-based diet, there were times in her life (BBQs, parties, family dinners, special occasions) when she (and the rest of us) just couldn’t give up meat. So she champions the idea of being “flexitarian” – eating plant based meals whenever possible, but still eating meat from time to time. Depending on how many meatless meals you eat a week, you are either beginner (6), advanced (9-12) or expert (15+).

The idea of being “RAW” is that if a behaviour change is either too big or too small, it can be frustrating. If the change being tackled is too big, you’re set up to fail. If it’s too small, you barely notice a difference. As bloggers, we need to inspire our readers to change, but not overwhelm you in the process, or suggest things so small they won’t make a difference.

Related to the flexitarian concept, here are a few takeaway points I learned:IMG_2795

  • The foods in the above photo (tomato, carrots, potatoes, soybeans, green tea, seaweed, mushrooms and Parmesan cheese) are high in the “umami” (google it if you don’t know what that means) taste sensation that so many vegetarians miss when eliminating meat.
  • Bean math: in cooking, 1/4 cup beans = 1 ounce of meat
  • If you’re trying to get someone to eat something they don’t like, pair it with something they do. This is called flavour-flavour pairing. The pairing will increase the likelihood of liking the unliked flavour (did that make sense with all those likes in there?).
  • To make vegetables tastier, use what Dawn called the “coffee principle” – which is to cook them, add sweet, or add fat (ie, that’s what you do to coffee – heat it up, and add sweet (sugar) and fat (cream) to make it more palatable
  • Brightening techniques – adding an acid like vinegar, citrus or yogurt brightens the taste of food (as an alternative to salt, also a flavour brightener)


As you can see, the Healthy Living Summit team sure knows how to find a great speaker. Dawn was informative and inspiring, and really fun to listen to! I went to 4 other sessions, a great restaurant, and had some other adventures along the way, so I’ll be back with more tomorrow. I’ll leave you with a few more pictures before I go.IMG_2756

This is me and my new blog-friend Shanna. She is sweet and adorable and fun to talk to. She has a blog that you should check out. She also makes really amazing sun butter crunch balls. I met her at the cocktail party on Friday and we hung out all weekend. I miss her already.


This is Tina, of Carrots ‘n Cake fame. She sat at my table at breakfast. I got kind of “blogger star-struck,” but still managed to hold a conversation and not look like a total freak (I think). She’s really nice and down-to-earth in real life (not that I thought she would be otherwise). She signed my copy of her book.


This is the icebreaker bingo game we did. I’m sure you’ve done something similar at a party/get-together/first day of class before. We had to find people who met a certain criteria to fill in the boxes and get a row. The first 2 people to finish got lululemon gift certificates (in a room full of over 200 healthy living bloggers, most of whom were 20 or 30-something women, how do you think that went over?!). It was pretty intense. I didn’t win Sad smile, but it sure was fun!

Action mantras: do YOU have any you’d like to share?


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