SheKnows: Survival in 5 Steps: Stay Slim and Keep Sane


Lisa Niver on 5 Steps to stay sane at a conference with SheknowsThank you to SheKnows for publishing my article about surviving at a conference!

Going to a conference can test your ability to remain calm. There are options for excess and overwhelm everywhere you look. Just opening the schedule can send some immediately to a panic attack or a xanax. But step away from the pills and drama, I have five suggestions to calm your mind and help your heart.

The most important choice to me is knowing I cannot do everything. I know I will skip things that other people feel are essential because I have to pick myself first. I might miss “the best” lecture or night out but at the end I will feel good about my choices that matched my goals. My most important goals are to eat well and exercise every day to keep the weight off I lost years ago.


I plan my day in advance at a conference. I can either change the time I want to set my alarm or choose to arrive at the event later than others. If I am willing to miss sleep, I can be at the earliest sessions. At the last conference, with the time change, I was unwilling to miss sleep so I missed the opening plenary. That was the choice that worked for me.

At another conference at the Mall of America, I chose to miss the closing session. During that time, I returned to my hotel, Hyatt Regency Bloomington, so I could put away my laptop, change my clothes and walk back to meet the bus for the closing party. I did miss a great speaker but I also had on comfortable shoes for the party, knew my belongings were secure, had a great walk through the park nearby and saw a stunning sunset.


Eating well can be challenging at a conference or really anywhere. When I eat at a hotel, I often step away from the buffet. After paying for the entire breakfast buffet, it can seem a requirement to eat one thing from every section or everything that is there. I look at the menu and think about what I would eat if I were at home. What is a good simple choice for me? What will keep me going throughout the day. I know if I skip breakfast and rush to the conference, I will feel hungry and not pay attention. I will make choices that I will regret like eating a candy bar or anything that I can find. I often take a banana or apple from breakfast with me so I have a morning snack choice that is healthy. Often there are muffins and cookies as snack and if I do not have a good choice in my bag, I will eat what is there. I recommend keeping small bags of nuts or a box of raisins in your bag. I almost always have a protein luna bar with me so I can pick a snack that is good for me.

3. Working out is a commitment to yourself. Write it in your schedule!

Many people have a list of their appointments. We write down when we are going to the eye doctor, the dentist, our meeting with our supervisor and parent-teacher conferences. Sessions with a personal trainer that cost money often get in the weekly calendar. I have found that during a conference the focus is on the speakers, meetings and events.

I make certain to schedule the time I am going to work out. I often wake up and hula-hoop for twenty minutes while listening to a mediation experience about gratitude from Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. If I can wear sneakers, I might choose to walk twenty minutes to a conference so I spend time outdoors and get my blood pumping. I often choose to stay at a hotel near a conference instead of at the main hotel so that I am more likely to have a reason to go outdoors and walk. Most hotels have large and often empty fitness centers where you can find top quality exercise equipment. Make the decision to work out. When I work out and choose which sessions to go to carefully at a conference, I feel better and I get more out of my day.

4. Make Connections in Advance

For a recent travel conference, I made many appointments in advance. The conference offered many activities and tours before the conference. I thought about which ones matched my website and would make the best videos. I was able to contact Beth Blair, the author of the upcoming book, “The Unofficial Guide to the Mall of America,” and interview her before and after the tour. It made my video better and I made a new friend.

As part of the conference, there was speed networking. I contacted all of the companies and people in advance. When I could, I made personal connections so that when we met for our allotted eight minutes, it was as fruitful as possible.


There have been times where I went to a conference and left feeling exhausted, overwhelmed and frustrated. I knew I ate the wrong things, made the wrong choices and did not get much out of it. Now, I carefully choose which events to go to and think about what are my goals. I have the intention to take care of myself before, during and after the experience.

I do go to the evening events but not all of them. I often drink sparkling water at the parties instead of the free alcohol. By the end of the day, I am thirsty and cheap glasses of wine do not solve that. I feel better if I re-hydrate and I can always buy myself a good drink later that I will enjoy more and will not hurt my head in the morning.

There are times when an early night or a massage at the hotel spa are the best ways to end the day. When I stayed at the Hotel Maya in Long Beach, I spent one night at one of the seven fire-pits with my s’mores kit and enjoyed being outdoors, by the water and at my own campfire!

My conference was literally a short walk over the bridge to the convention center and each time I returned to my hotel I felt like I was a world away. Choosing carefully can make all the difference!

Lisa Niver is going for the first time to five conferences in 2016 including Blogher 2016, Travel Media Showcase, The SCUBA Show and TBEX Minneapolis. The Hyatt Regency Bloomington hosted her near the TBEX conference at Mall of America and Hotel Maya Long Beach hosted her for the SCUBA show.

A version of this article first appeared on Sheknows with the title: 5 ways to go hard at a conference and not blow your fitness goals

Lisa Ellen Niver

Lisa Ellen Niver is an award-winning travel expert who has explored 102 countries and six continents. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she worked on cruise ships for seven years and backpacked for three years in Asia. She is the founder of the website WeSaidGoTravel which is read in 235 countries and was named #3 on Rise Global’s top 1,000 Travel Blogs. Niver is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, Inc. With more than 150,000 followers across social media, she has hosted Facebook Live for USA Today 10best, is verified on Twitter and listed on IMDb, and is the Social Media Manager for the Los Angeles Press Club. You can find Lisa Niver talking travel on broadcast television at KTLA TV Los Angeles, Satellite Media Tours, The Jet Set TV and Orbitz travel webisodes as well as her YouTube channel, where her WeSaidGoTravel videos have over 1.6 million views. After three months on TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels and YouTube Shorts, she had over 500,000 (1/2 million) views. As a journalist, Niver has interviewed Deepak Chopra, Olympic medalists, and numerous bestselling authors and been invited to both the Oscars and the United Nations. She has been a judge for the Gracie Awards for the Alliance of Women in Media, and has run 15 travel competitions on her website, publishing over 2,500 writers and photographers from 75 countries. For her print and digital stories as well as her television segments, she has been awarded three Southern California Journalism Awards and two National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards and been a finalist twenty times.   Niver has published more than 2000 articles, in more than three dozen magazines and journals including National Geographic, Wired, Teen Vogue, HuffPost Personal, POPSUGAR, Ms. Magazine, Luxury Magazine, Smithsonian, Sierra Club, Saturday Evening Post, AARP, AAA Explorer Magazine, American Airways, Delta Sky, enRoute (Air Canada), Hemispheres, Jewish Journal, Myanmar Times, BuzzFeed, Robb Report, Scuba Diver Life, Ski Utah, Trivago, Undomesticated, USA Today, TODAY, Wharton Magazine, and Yahoo. Awards National Arts and Entertainment Journalism Awards 2021 Winner: Book Critic: Ms. Magazine “Untamed: Brave Means Living From the Inside Out” 2019 Winner: Soft News Feature for Film/TV: KTLA TV “Oscars Countdown to Gold with Lisa Niver” 2019 Finalist for: Soft News, Business/Music/Tech/Art Southern California Journalism Awards 2022 Finalist: Book Criticism 2021 Winner: Technology Reporting 2021 Finalist: Book Criticism 2020 Winner: Print Magazine Feature: Hemispheres Magazine, “Painter by the Numbers, Rembrandt” 2020 Finalist: Online Journalist of the Year, Activism Journalism, Educational Reporting, Broadcast Lifestyle Feature 2019 Finalist: Broadcast Television Lifestyle Segment for “Ogden Ski Getaway” 2018 Finalist: Science/Technology Reporting, Travel Reporting, Personality Profile 2017 Winner: Print Column “A Journey to Freedom over Three Passovers” Social Media Presence YouTube Channel: We Said Go Travel (1.6 million views) Short form video:TikTok, Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, YouTube Shorts Twitter: lisaniver (90,000 followers) Instagram: lisaniver (24,000 followers) Pinterest: We Said Go Travel (20,000 followers and over 70,000 monthly views) Facebook: lisa.niver (5,000 followers); We Said Go Travel (3,000 followers) LinkedIn: lisaellenniver (9000 contacts)

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