The GOOD Fest, Philly, & Friends IRL

This post is a tad late, but better late than never, right? THE GOOD FEST. Let’s talk about it. I have so many things to say about the week, the event, the people…everything. To sum it up, it was definitely the best event I’ve ever attended. The Fest was really more of an “experience” than simply an event. I met so many incredible people and left the day feeling beyond inspired. It might sound corny, but I learned a lot about myself that week, and I came back with a deeper motivation than ever before to pursue my passions. Right. Now.

There are a ton of different aspects of the GOOD Fest that I want to talk about, so prepare yourself. Things to cover: the actual event, what I did the week of, Philly in general, how I handled the protocol while traveling, and overall reflections on the whole experience.

If you’re thinking, What is she even talking about right now?, let me back up. The GOOD Fest was a huge wellness festival in Philly that happened a few weeks ago, and it was epic. People flew in from all over the country (and even outside of the country) for a day of all-things wellness. There was meditation, pilates, yoga, a panel discussion, delicious food, a ton of inspirational speeches, a marketplace to buy goodies, crazy swag bags, VIP sessions with the speakers, and more.

One of the founders, Kate Van Horn, happens to be one of my very best friends. She’s like an older sister to me. She knows all of my deepest darkest secrets (kidding, but not), and still loves me.  Yes, we met through the Internet. Typical.

I was so inspired by the Fest and what Kate was putting together, so I wanted to be as involved as I could. I also wanted to spend more time with Kate if possible, since we never really get to see each other in person, so I ended up flying to Philly earlier the week of the Fest to get some quality time with her and help out if I could.

The week was crazy. Not a lot of sleep, and very busy, but all very very fun. The work never stops, as usual, but it was really nice to get a change of scenery, to explore a new place, and to be around Kate. Even when we were both just working on our laptops and not actually talking to each other, it was just comforting to be around someone you love, ya know?

I immediately fell in love with the city itself. It’s so cute. I felt like I was on a movie set. I adore the architecture, and I love how you can feel the historic importance of the city. It made me really want to watch National Treasure ASAP. I freakin’ love that movie.

All of the restaurants are really unique and quaint. They have that saloon-type feeling. The buildings look very sophisticated – much different than Los Angeles. It reminded me of Boston mixed with New York, and nice and clean.

The one thing, though, is that it’s definitely not a “health” city. I’m spoiled in Los Angeles with all of my favorite restaurants. This is the only big trip I’m taking while I’m on my protocol, so I had no intentions of eating out at restaurants to begin with. However, if I wasn’t on my protocol, I sadly don’t think there would be many places I would want to eat at/be able to eat at anyways. Not a lot of Paleo options. Real Food Eatery, Pure Fare, and P.S. & Co looked like the most promising places.

One thing I was really impressed with, though, was the GF/vegan dessert selection. There were a lot of tempting cookies, brownies, breads, and vegan ice creams. I found an ice cream sandwich from Pure Fare that literally made me drool, but I didn’t cheat on the protocol with that. Debated it, though. We’ll get there in a sec.

The week leading up to the Fest was very busy, like I said. I hung out with Kate, Jess, and Jen (the founders of GOOD). I worked. I explored. I freaked out because the hot food at Whole Foods was cooked in olive oil instead of canola oil (OMG). We got our nails done. Talked business. Set up for the Fest. All of the things.

In terms of cooking, I wasn’t too concerned because I was staying at Kate’s mom’s apartment and some Airbnb’s the whole week. It was honestly ridiculous how many times we moved Airbnb’s, but I really just needed a kitchen. I was pretty exhausted from trucking my suitcase around everywhere each day, trying to fit all of my work in the day, and meal prepping all of my meals, but somehow it all got done. I was on a high from the adventure and from being around one of my best friends.

^^^ Some of my not so fancy, but perfectly delicious Airbnb meals. Pro tip: pick up a rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods to have on hand!

The point I want to make by talking about my cooking is that you can always make it work. We went to Whole Foods, I bought fresh veggies and fish and meat, and I cooked my own meals. Halfway through the trip, one of the Airbnb’s had nothing to cook in, so I ended up buying a pan and baking sheet from Target. That was totally fine, though… I just brought it back with me in my suitcase. I used the tupperware that I had packed my plane-meals in to store some of my food as we went along, and then we got creative with storage. I cleaned out Kate’s to-go salad containers, took some hot food bar boxes from Whole Foods, and used some other take out boxes as my “tupperware” for meal prep.

Luckily I love my own cooking, so I ate like a queen. I still went out to eat with Kate and everyone else, I just ate either before or after we went out. One thing I love and appreciate about Kate is that she doesn’t make you feel weird about food restrictions. Part of the reason why I hate traveling with certain people is because they make me feel like a burden or try to make me feel guilty for the way I have to eat, especially while on this protocol, which is absolutely not fair. As I’m sure anyone with food intolerances can understand, I don’t like to be pointed out, made to feel different, or made to feel like a burden. Just leave me alone! Ha. Kate makes me feel totally normal and doesn’t even acknowledge that anything is different. For that, I am forever grateful.

The day before the Fest was a lot of fun because…BUILDUP! We went to the venue and spent the day filling swag bags and prepping for the next day. I was immediately stunned by the venue (gorgeous), and I was truly in shock when it came to the swag bags. I have never seen anything like these. They were literally worth more than the tickets themselves. I would’ve paid for a ticket just for the swag…

There were so many full-sized products, I couldn’t believe it. Bars, mayo, deodorant, lip balm, vitamins, pasta, stasher bags, collagen peptides, a free Soul Cycle class, face masks, and about 800 million more things. They did not slack when it came to the swag bags, that’s for sure.

That night was the speaker dinner, so I did the girls’ makeup and sent them on their way. I felt like a proud mom sending my daughter to prom. Is that weird?

I was also really happy because my friend Emily came into town the day before, so we got to spend some quality time together before the Fest! I knew I was going to be pretty busy the day of, so it was nice to have one-on-one time with her beforehand.  It was our first time meeting each other in real life, which was insane. I feel like I’ve known her for years. Again, Instagram friends are the realest.

We went to a Solid Core class together, and it was my first time trying Solid Core. I have no words other than…that shit is hard. I was ready to give up about 30 seconds in. It’s basically a class on a reformer machine that focuses on slow, controlled movements. It’s high intensity but low impact, and it works your full body. Major resistance training.

After that killer workout (which I seriously underestimated), we walked a bit through the city, went to Whole Foods, and went back to the Airbnb to cook din. Salmon, zoodles, and eggplant. Such a typical Emily/Christina meal.

Emily and I have a creepy amount of similarities, so we had a ton to talk about. I didn’t want her to leave. We also cooked a lot of extra food, because we both needed to meal prep for the next day. She is the only person who would be thrilled to join me meal prepping. I love her so much.

The next day was the actual festival. I felt like a five year old on Christmas morning. The whole day was a whirlwind, and I couldn’t wait to hear the speakers, meet everyone in person, see the venue… just the whole shebang.

I got there early, so I had some time to peruse and get myself situated. The venue was gorgeous. Twinkly lights, succulents, balloons, swag bags, a huge open hall, an incredible marketplace, a banana nice cream truck outside (swoon)…they had it all. As people started arriving, I was basically bursting at the seams with excitement.

Amidst the crowds of attendees, it was really nice to see familiar faces, like Jordan’s. Emily also came, and I immediately met a few people who read my blog, which was amazing. I’m honestly so honored that anyone bothers to read my blog. When people come up to me and tell me they like my blog or podcast, I die a little inside. I appreciate it so much, and there’s nothing I love more than meeting you guys.

Some other people I finally got to meet IRL: Georgie from In It 4 The Long Run, Georgina (@thelittleflowerpetal), Sarah from The Cutting Veg, and many many more. All of these women are amazing.

Then, we had the speakers. Oh, the speakers. They. Are. Incredible. The day started off with Sara Divello, followed by a pilates class from Kristin McGee and a yoga class led by Jordan herself. Talia  Pollock from Party in My Plants was the “host,” and that girl always makes me smile. Later on in the day we had talks from Cassandra Bodzak, Jessica Murnane, and Katie Dalebout, an incredible panel discussion, and a killer closer by Katie Horwitch. I found myself tearing up most of the day. Each of these women tugged at my heartstrings in some way. I was trying to hold it together while I recorded video, because I was taking footage for both Kate and Jordan while I was there, but it was hard. I had so many feels. When Jessica Murnane talked about eating in a way that heals your body, not giving a shit what anyone says, and thinking about new ways to approach social situations, I kind of lost it. In that moment, I realized I was in a room of women who just got me.

First of all, I was just so damn proud of Kate for what she had accomplished. Second, the talks themselves were all around completely inspiring. A lot of these women have had an incredible impact on me over the past few years, so it meant everything to me to get to see them in person and hear them talk. Katie Dalebout, for example, is one of the first people I ever “found” in the wellness world. Her podcast was the first podcast I ever listened to, and I found her podcast at a time when I was extremely sick and felt completely alone. She doesn’t know it, but through her podcasts, I felt like she was my only friend during that time. Her voice comforted me and gave me hope.

Katie Horwitch is another woman who straight up sets me on fire. Her passion, activism, authenticity, and drive really inspire me. She is who I always wanted to be. Growing up, I dreamed of being a strong woman who could make a change, and a woman who could make people feel. A woman who could make people think harder and deeper, who could challenge others to be better people. Katie Horwitch is that woman. Every time she talks, she gives me the chills. She’s the kinda person who makes you want to stand up and throw your hands in the air and just scream “HELL YES.” I’ll join any Katie Horwitch movement. Mic. Drop.

The speakers also had breakout sessions where VIPs could get some one-on-one time with them and dive deeper into, well, any topic, really. Those VIP sessions were well worth it – I can tell you that. Things got deep. And real. Very GOOD.

There was delicious food, an amazing marketplace, lots of love and joy and laughter. Everything went fluidly and easily. I couldn’t have imagined a better day. The girls announced that the next Fest will be in L.A. in February, which I am insanely excited about. It was the best day I had in a long, long time. There is nothing more incredible than being completely surrounded by inspiration and love.

I only had one hiccup. See that menu? ^^ I decided to cheat on my protocol ONCE while on my trip. I have been very diligent the past few months, and I was high on good vibes from the Fest, so I just felt like YOLO-ing it and going for it. Banana ice cream is my favorite thing in the universe, and I was literally drooling over this menu. The Chilly Banana truck was serving thick and creamy banana nice cream with coconut whipped cream and the toppings of my dreams. It seemed too good to be true. I figured if I was going to “cheat” on the protocol, this was well worth it.

Long story short, NO REGRETS because it was one of the best things I have ever tasted in my entire life. However, I pretty much immediately realized my stomach hated me a lot for my bad decision. I spent the rest of the night in severe pain and digestive discomfort, got feverish and nauseous and dizzy, and my entire body broke out in a not-so-cute rash. I felt horrible because it should’ve been a night of celebration and I didn’t want Kate to worry about how bad I felt, so I tried to kind of just crawl in a corner and keep to myself. I definitely learned my lesson. Sometimes we have to learn our lessons the hard way, ya know?!

Either way, I would highly recommend that truck. I want them to come to L.A. I’ll never understand how frozen bananas can taste so good.

Back to what really matters – the Fest. After it was over, I didn’t know how to feel. Like I said, I was high on good vibes. I was so proud of my friends for what they had accomplished. I felt blessed and grateful to have met so many incredible women. I felt inspired and ignited.

I’ve been to a lot of wellness events, but never anything like the GOOD Fest. They created an environment that I didn’t think was possible. I didn’t completely realize what it was until the next day when Kate and I were chatting. The truth is, a lot of “wellness” events attract people who have…attitudes. Or people who have built a business off of the way they look. People who, intentionally or unintentionally, make people feel self-conscious or “less than.” These kinds of events are supposed to be about wellness, but oftentimes that’s just a pseudonym for what’s really going on. Under the surface, people are still comparing themselves to each other, feeling self conscious, comparing their bodies and hair and food, competing over followers and numbers. I hate to say that, but it’s true.

At the GOOD Fest, there was none of that. It was all about acceptance and love and empowerment. It had nothing to do with the way anyone looked, or comparing anyone to anyone else. It was about meeting new people, connecting with others, digging deep into our souls to figure out what wellness really means, getting in touch with our minds and spirits. We meditated, did yoga, danced, and laughed together, as a big community. We didn’t even know each other, but that day created a bond between everybody in the room. It was comforting and gave me hope. It was a day where I didn’t worry about anything. I was just happy to be there, and so genuinely grateful to be in the presence of such incredible human beings. I was lucky to be a part of the day.

After the Fest, I went back to the hotel with the women behind GOOD to chill, eat a crap ton of food, and relive the day. The next morning, a group of influencers went to Athleta for a yoga class taught by Georgina (@thelittleflowerpetal), which was exactly what we all needed after a long weekend. Post-yoga, we went to a ridiculously fabulous brunch hosted by Chris, the founder of Franklin & Whitman. Lots of chatting, meeting Insta friends IRL, laughing, smiling, all of it. Oh, and we ran into Steve-O from Jackass. I couldn’t eat the food, but the spread was INSANE. The cauliflower tacos and apple pancakes had my mouth watering, big time.

What I kept thinking about the entire time I was in Philly was how easy it was. Every person I met, it was easy. A simple connection. Everyone was truly kind and genuine. I met people for five seconds and instantly felt like they got me. I honestly just felt really happy. East coast people have a really good vibe, to be honest.

The last day, I walked around the city with Kate, and we recorded a really powerful podcast for Actually Adultish all about mental health. Kate shared her story and her own personal struggles, and we talked about how mental illness doesn’t define you or have to stop you from doing amazing things. I’m so grateful I have Kate in my life. I’m honored she was willing to open up like that to me, and to the world. If you want to listen to that episode, you can do so here.

As we walked around Philly on the last day there, I had a million things running through my head. First of all, I was consumed with a feeling of gratitude that I got to be with one of my best friends in the world. I am lucky to know her. I’m so proud of Kate for putting together such an amazing event, but more than that, a community. I believe in her and her vision so much. GOOD is important to this world, because it stands for true wellness. In the world of Instagram and blogs and photos and workouts and clothes and shopping and numbers, that gets lost sometimes. It’s about a community, and meeting with likeminded people. Second, it reinspired me to go after my dreams. Watching her create this beautiful thing got me motivated to go out there and just chase my passions. I realized I have nothing stopping me but myself, and I have the power to take my life into my own hands. Whoa. A lot of thoughts.

I reflected a lot on that trip, and I feel like it did change me. The Festival, the people, the entire experience. Having time for introspection. All of it.

Anyways, there you have it. My too-long recap of one of the best weeks of my life. A transformational week. Sorry that I use this as a diary, but also… I hope maybe it helps you reflect a little bit too. We need more of that.

If you want to go to the next festival, I obviously highly recommend you do so. Tickets are already on sale for the L.A. Fest in February, and you can get them at Kate was also kind enough to offer a discount code for my lovely readers! You can use the code “ADDICTEDTOLOVELY15” at checkout for 15% off your ticket. I hope I see you there… I have no doubt it will be amazing.

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