I got the call last week. Can you go to the FAPSC conference next week? Ana can't go, will you go for her? It's an educator's conference where we get together to come up with ways to help our students achieve their success. I do some work as an adjunct for a local school that offers allied health courses.
Since I like new ideas for the classroom, I thought, "Why not? Sure, I'll go."
This conference can go either way on the interesting/boring index. It depends upon who the presenters are and what they are presenting. Good to know - rocket scientists are a 50/50, GED specialists are 80/50 on the scale - depending upon the presenter's personality and subject matter. More good to know - Titles like "Putting the Fun in Fundamentals" is likely to be more fun than "Finding the Stratification of Your Findings"
well, maybe those titles are no brainers. I could choose 4 out of 12 possible breakout sessions and thought I could stay on the interesting side of things.
Another plus was the conference was at one of the best resorts in Aventura, Florida. The brochure said I should give my dietary requirements at registration, which was a plus. I could stay within my caloric means.
heh, that was a joke.
First off, valet parking is a requirement, so there's no extra exercise going to and from the parking lot. I decided to use my pedometer during the event just for curiosity's sake.
One of my current missions is to get corporate meals to fall within good nutritional values. It yanks my chain to read about the obesity epidemic and go to a conference that has a breakout session on obesity, then later be served fettuccine alfredo for the entree with a cherry tomato sliced in half for a garnish followed up with cheesecake for dessert. It's not the hypocrisy so much as it's simple unhealthy eating that is encouraged by professional food preparers.
The registration desk was puzzled when I said that I would like to stay within 800 calories for both breakfast and lunch at the conference. I was told that I would have "no trouble" doing that with the breakfast buffet and that the lunch, too was within that parameter. Great, I thought I'd have no problem.
I entered the ballroom with the exhibits and buffet and immediately saw that the buffet was a fat hazardous waist dump. I saw the fluffiest scrambled eggs imaginable that I knew was full of fat to get them that way. There were breakfast sandwiches made with croissants or biscuits, both filled with either sausage or ham and cheese with more fluffy scrambled eggs. To be honest, there were red and yellow delicious apples on a tray above the egg hazard, which since I'm short, I was likely to get egg all over me in pursuit of the healthy apple. Aha! I had an alternate route! On the other side of the table were mounds of deceptively normal sized muffins in apple, bran, or blueberry flavors and I could get to the apples that way. A friend stopped by and we decided to split a muffin to go with our apples.
The first breakout session was sponsored by a fairly well known edu supply company and some of their stuff applies to adult learners. I deliberately chose an active session that I knew would have me on my feet and moving around - pretty much how I like to run my classroom sessions. The next was on ways to present and solve critical thinking problems. Lots of sitting, figuring out medical related issues disguised as puzzles, but I learned how to insert moving around breaks into critical thinking classroom sessions. It was pretty good also.
Back to the ballroom for lunch, awards and photo session. Lunch was a wedge salad with bacon bits and a cherry tomato sliced in half with blue cheese dressing poured over the top. Compare that to a classic veggie salad before salad dressing. The salad dressing is the main culprit in salad calories and this wedge salad was a joke. Iceberg lettuce offers little nutrition, but decent fiber. The blue cheese salad dressing is 170 calories per serving. I was stuck. I ate the lettuce not smothered in dressing and the cherry tomato and passed on the rest.
The entree was (sure enough) fettuccine alfredo with mushrooms. According to the server, it seems that this entree was healthy because it was a meatless meal. Dessert was a cheesecake tart topped with (count 'em) 2 blueberries, 2 raspberries, 1 gigantor blackberry and 1/2 of a smallish strawberry.
Yeah, it was a good thing that I did an extra 50 minutes on the elliptical yesterday - not that it was going to be enough exercise to compensate for this. What I wanted to know was how on earth did the lady at registration think that I could stay within 400 calories at this meal alone?
The afternoon's breakout sessions were good and I went to see the one presented by one of my mentors and had an enjoyable time. The conference broke and I was faced with an hour wait to get my valet parked car, so my work group pushed us all into the hotel's bar for the wait. Drinking while dieting is always tricky. My best bet? Order the beer or a glass of wine. Or better yet, order a diet anything in a highball glass. So, what was I doing with an apple martini in front of me?
I kept my pedometer on while I was was at the conference and it was good to know that I walked about 3 miles going from one ballroom to another, but it wasn't brisk walking and it wasn't enough exercise and I figured that doing 40 minutes or so on my rowing machine later would help work some of this off.
The calorie totals for the day could have been anywhere from a high of 2,500 with over 100 grams of fat (50 of saturated fat) to a low of 1,250 (50 & 25 respectively) if I averaged to eat 1/2 of everything. No doubt, the day's food offerings were meant to be appealing and to that end they were successful. Had I eaten everything in front of me I would have consumed about 2,200 calories and burned about 1,500 for a surplus of 700 calories in a single day. Had I eaten this stuff I would have been way over in calories, fat, sodium and carbs/sugar. I would have been way too low in Vitamins A, B & C as well as too low in both iron and potassium. Ironically, calcium would've been high. Fiber would be about half of what we should eat.
The problem facing most people is how to deal with tempting foods and tempting situations and conferences at expensive hotels is just one of them. I hate how pundits decry obesity, but don't mention just how awful our food choices are when eating on the company's dime. They go after McDonald's and Burger King with a vengeance but give the Fairmont Turnberry Isle's and Ritz-Carlton's a pass. Food critics pounce on unhealthy bloomin' onion's, but fail to mention chipotle black bean burgers are a tasty step in the right direction. I hate it when the company orders pizza for lunch and hate it more when they think ordering a Caesar salad makes up for it. And I really hate it when corporate leaders blame their workers for being fat while they push them to put in 12 hour days that exclude healthy eating and exercise; then turn around and send them to a conference like this thinking it's a treat. It's a treat all right, combined with a trick.