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Nutrilite bloggers event: Oh, right, the real reason I was in LA

The snack bar

What wonders lie beyond the snack bar at the Nutrilite blogger event? Find out behind the jump (where there are no ads as mandated by my ad network agreement).


Disclosure: Nutrilite paid for my flight from Indianapolis to LA, two nights in a hotel and transportation to and from the airport and the bloggers event. They also provided some meals and free samples of their products.

So, before my bag took a tour of LA without me, and before my rental car got up close and personal with an armored truck, there was the Nutrilite bloggers event. I found a bag of Nutrilite goodies waiting in my hotel room, which was good because the highly priced and highly tempting snack bar was right next to my computer desk, taunting me with candy bars and wine. I chowed down on vanilla pretzel energy bars instead.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been invited to a few of these blogger junkets before, and there is still a part of me that is suspicious of every invitation, as if I am one email away from being duped and sold into a Russian sex slavery ring. Before I took off for LA, I joked to a few friends that they had permission to kidnap me for deprogramming if I came back trying to sell them vitamins. I was kidding…mostly. I’ve heard of travelers who go on free vacations sponsored by people selling time-shares, who have no intention of making a purchase, only to come back with a really bad real estate deal on their hands. Nutrilite is part of Amway, and while I haven’t had any personal experiences with that company, I am familiar with the stereotype of a pushy, overzealous, Amway salesperson.

What I’ve learned after attending several of these events is that the corporations we often think of as faceless actually have faces. Companies are made up of lots of people who all have their jobs that make the company run, but ultimately it all comes down to people. Blogger events like this let you meet some of the people in a company and learn what that corporation is all about. Of course, like any first date, everyone is on their best behavior with freshly pressed shirts and neatly combed hair, offering up handfuls of endurance gummy chews. (What? Is that weird?) But there is only so much you can fake, and after spending several hours with them, the people I met at Nutrilite seem genuinely focused on promoting a healthy lifestyle by creating the highest quality products possible. See? It’s even written on the wall of the Center for Optimal Health:

Nutrilite welcomes us

Which is right next to the kick ass, rotating, DNA spiral of health! (Would it be wrong to climb it?)

DNA sculpture

The day started out with a health assessment, the results of which I’ll be getting in a few weeks. After breakfast with the bloggers, we sat through several presentations, except for the presentation we ran, push-upped, and squatted through for 10 minutes of high-intensity exercise. It nearly killed me dead on the floor of the Center for Optimal Health. If I have to die, I would enjoy dying in a location that ironic.

I had never given any thought to where vitamin supplements come from, but a video shot on location at several farms showed what the process is like. Hint: It involves lots of acerola cherries (and not aerola cherries as I originally typed). The company earned my respect when I learned that Nutrilite never made a fen-phen product, even when their competitors were making piles of money off of it, because they believed it wasn’t safe. I asked how they maintain the standard of integrity that they aspire to, and they said a lot of the corporate culture bleeds down from the founder’s son, president and CEO, Dr. Carl “Sam” Rehnborg. After working for several corporations of various sizes during my career, I find it fascinating how corporate culture develops and varies from organization to organization.

Pole vaulter

Two athletes talked with us, Tom O’Rourke, masters track cyclist, and Jenn Stuczynski, American female record holder in the pole vault. When she is not sprinting towards a mat with a long pole, she looks like she does pictured above. Other times, she looks like this:

Pole vaulter vaulting

She has an actual silver Olympic medal and I spoke to her! Someone should tell Chris Rock that his routine about keeping girls off the pole doesn’t apply in this situation.

One secret I discovered was that you don’t have to talk to a Nutrilite salesperson to buy their products. You can just go online to their store, order what you want, and the salesperson closest to your zip code will automatically get credit for the sale.

Group picture

The best part of the event was getting to meet other bloggers. They assembled a nice cross-section of people and even had a balanced male/female ratio, which can be unusual in the health blogging world.

I’d already met Roni of Roni ‘s Weigh, and I’d talked before with John from John is Fit.

I had some great conversations with Evita from Evolving Wellness, and I’m looking forward to reading more of her blog which covers holistic health and wellness and balanced living.

It was nice to meet Isreal from Fat Man Unleashed who’s popped by this site before and Mark, a personal trainer from My Fitness Hut.

I also enjoyed talking with Steve and Sarah, a married couple who have his and her blogs at Steve in a Speedo?! Gross! and Rx: Ironman. And yes, they compete in Ironman competitions and there is a 99% chance they are in better shape than you. They’re the type of people who actually win 5K races and don’t just run them in hopes of finishing like I do. And despite all these many reasons to hate them, they were delightful people :)

Fit couple

After the presentations wrapped up, we went back to Long Beach for a group fitness activity. I chose to walk along the pier with a few people, but another part of the group went for a run. An hour later, I hopped a bus four miles to the Queen Mary ship across the water.

Queen Mary

This is where I bumped into Steve and Sarah. They greeted me and asked me if I too had found the staircase that led to the freeway bridge that they’d taken over here. I paused. “Uh…no, I took the bus,” I said. I took the bus back too, because I am not an IronMan or an IronWoman. Steve and Sarah ran back and still had time after their 8-mile jaunt to take a shower before dinner. See? I should totally hate them, shouldn’t I? But I swear that they’re really nice people even if they make you feel physically inferior.

Meeting them made me think that it would be rather lovely to have a physically fit husband who’d go for runs with me and keep me accountable for staying in shape. He’d also do the laundry and cook dinner since I’m fantasizing here. After skimming through their blogs, I have a desire to read lots of training blogs. It’s interesting to observe the different attitudes between weight-loss bloggers and athlete bloggers, though that’s probably an entry in itself.

Anyway, that was that! I left with warm fuzzy feelings about Nutrilite, so I guess they succeeded in winning me over. However, I promise I’m not going to sell you any vitamins. No need to kidnap me for deprogramming :)

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20 Comments

K • November 19, 2009 at 10:27 am

I sort of hate to tell you this, but I have a husband who cycles 18 miles a day (and also cooks and does laundry) and he doesn’t really keep me accountable as far as fitness is concerned.

We have tried running together, but he can walk at the same speed as I can jog so it isn’t all that satisfactory.

Maybe it’s easier if the husband in question isn’t nine inches taller with really long legs… It has to be said that I do aspire to keep up with him, though, which is good. Unlikely ever to be achieved, but still.

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boots • November 19, 2009 at 10:38 am

It’s interesting to observe the different attitudes between weight-loss bloggers and athlete bloggers, though that’s probably an entry in itself.

Please write that entry! I’d love to hear your take on it.

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Jill • November 19, 2009 at 11:16 am

PastaQueen – great post, it was interesting to hear more about the people behind the Nutrilite products. Regarding your fantasy about a fit husband who will keep you accountable…well…I have a fit husband (think Ironman & Ultramarathon fit, and also a spinning and kickboxing instructor), and he is very sweet and kind, and he does cook for me regularly. BUT, he does not hold me accountable for my fitness (perhaps because he feels I might divorce him if he did?). Anytime I ask him to work out with me, he is always happy to do so. But it is of course up to me to ask – and it’s so much easier to kiss him goodbye as he heads to the gym for another 3 hour workout…

As K commented above, I do aspire to keep up with him someday!

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Amy • November 19, 2009 at 11:54 am

As nice as supplement companies might be, I always worry about a country where our eating habits are so bad that we can’t just learn to grocery shop/eat better in the first place. We are a nation of quick, pre-packaged solutions… and it scares me that supplements are not under scrutiny by the FDA or similar orgs. I always think of these kinds of companies (not just supplements, but network marketing) as preying on unemployed/underemployed ppl who must convince someone else to spend more on something they didn’t need in the first place.

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Lainey • November 19, 2009 at 12:58 pm

I agree with Amy. Besides, I do have personal experience with Amway through an ex-boyfriend. And some friends. None of these people could afford the products that they “have” to buy, but they do it anyway because they’re told that that’s how you can become a millionaire. The real millionaire money, though, comes from selling audiotapes, which the reps also “have” to buy “if they want to succeed.”

Wow, hope I don’t get sued or something. Anyway…

My husband is pretty fit and does laundry, and he’ll cook occasionally, but he doesn’t keep me accountable too much!

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wyn • November 19, 2009 at 1:00 pm

As other commenters have said above, I’d love to read an entry about your observed comparison of weight-loss bloggers and athlete bloggers!

And your remark on having a fit partner got to me a little, too. We know a couple who are the ultra-fit couple, wouldn’t be caught having hockey-watching-followed-by-video-games playing get-togethers every Saturday night like we do… but we wouldn’t know because we don’t spend much time with him. She seems to enjoy eating and he’s got great discipline/armed with the facts to scare you from another helping of food.

The boyfriend and I can’t top them but we go for really short runs together and there’s been a slow, slight positive effect–we’re motivated to keep it up!

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jennywenny • November 19, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Cool! Nutrilite scare the bejeesus out of me since my brother was selling their products in australia and went all wacky and strange. I’m not sure if they are affiliated to the program where they tell you that they are your new family and to ignore your real family but it was a bit of a difficult time for us. That and my brother is pretty overweight and one of the things contributing is him snacking on their protein bars!!

Anyways, good luck with the fit husband. Mine doesnt do much to keep me in shape either, but I wouldnt swap him for the world!

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Jill • November 19, 2009 at 1:40 pm

@Amy – I totally agree with your point about products that are not scrutinized by FDA. I work in an FDA-regulated industry and we have so many controls in place in order to assure that patients are receiving a safe, effective and properly dosed product each time. It is indeed scary to think of what you might be consuming if you choose a product that is produced by a company that doesn’t have to answer to a higher authority (not that Nutrilite is one of those companies, of course).

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jenny • November 19, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Sounds like a fantastic event that you attended! I would also love to read about the difference between weight loss and athletic blogs, I think it would be really interesting to get your opinion!

Thanks for sharing your experience!

Jenny

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Quix • November 19, 2009 at 3:12 pm

@boots – Yes yes! Would love to hear your take on that too! I kinda float back and forth between that and a bunch of other stuff.

And sounds like a fun time. I’m not sure I’d partake of their product, but at least it wasn’t pushy and timeshare sales-y. :)

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Ellen • November 19, 2009 at 3:26 pm

Long time reader, seldom commenter here…

(loved “Half Assed, btw!)

That’s so neat that you got an all expenses paid trip for that! I’ve used Nutrilite products (espec the multi Double X and energy bars) for years and have really enjoyed them. I love the vanilla pretzel bar, too, though peanut butter pretzel is my current addiction :)

Disclaimer: I am a distributor of Nutrilite products (as are several of my family members) — I don’t think I’m pushy or weird, but just offer them to folks that have told me they are looking for supplements or bars. I never offer them to people who haven’t specifically mentioned a need. If they ask, but then end up not being interested I say, “no problem, thanks anyway!” It’s pretty frustrating how many weirdos are out there who are pushy, aggressive, alienate their family/friends, misrepresent the industry and make it harder for the rest of us (as some other commenters have noted). If I had to be like that I would have run away screaming and never started my own business with them :)

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Steve in a Speedo • November 19, 2009 at 4:46 pm

If you do a post about the difference between weight-loss bloggers and athlete bloggers, I’d LOVE to know about it!! I have some friends that are sort of both (think losing 150 lbs while training for an Ironman Triathlon.)

Nice to meet you!!

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Merry • November 19, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Hafta say, I do know people who sell this stuff. But I think that’s okay, because a)they’re not pushy and b)I really do seriously think the Nutrilite vitamins are high quality.

(No, I don’t get any money for saying that. I wish!)

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ChrissyS • November 20, 2009 at 11:09 am

Thanks for sharing, that was an interesting read. I enjoy reading your trip blogs.

Your pictures look like you are really maintaining your weight. How is that going?

Blessings to you.

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bethy • November 20, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Dude. Free Dean and Deluca food. And all you had to do was lose half your weight, spin right round, blog for years, run without bagels and get a book published? (Plus you get collarbones and seriously luminous skin. I hate you. Admit you eat lunch at the cheerleaders’ table and have a boyfriend. Admit!)

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Julie • November 20, 2009 at 9:49 pm

psst….it’s Steve and Sarah…as in Steve in a Speedo… :)

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PastaQueen • November 20, 2009 at 10:25 pm

@Julie – OMG, I can’t believe that 1) I did that and 2) No one mentioned it sooner. I’ve fixed it, and I apologize!

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Evita • November 24, 2009 at 5:59 pm

Hello Jennette!

Great overview of the day and all the events. Thanks for the mention, I really enjoyed talking to you as well, and getting to know you :)

Hope you enjoyed the rest of your days there, I didn’t want to give up the weather – it was so nice compared to what we have back home.

Anyway I have finally done my write up today also of the event, now I await the results of our tests.

Take care!

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Mark Dilworth • November 27, 2009 at 3:33 am

Great post Jennette! I also had a very positive experience at Nutrilite….I joined your fan club on Facebook….I look forward to learning from you!

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Jason • December 26, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience! I am a rep for the Nutrilite brand, and it is nice to hear un-biassed views of Nutrilite. Keep bloggin! Love your sense of humor! Good stuff.

Jason

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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JenFul now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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