#BLOGHER: Should you go? Why I went and what I learned.

Bianca Jade attends BlogHER 2020 in downtown Los Angeles.

This post is sponsored by Invitae and SHE Media.

Yes, that’s me at #Blogher20 Health in Los Angeles looking like I have short hair! I did a double take when I saw the shot—is that really ME? The funny thing is I’ve actually been contemplating this exact chop for a while but haven’t been able to pull the trigger.  It’s always easier cutting your hair when you’re at the verge of a major life change.

Speaking of life changes, a lot HAS shifted for me in 2020. First, I turned 41. Crazy how that happened. Time just zips on by with lightning speed the older you get. I know everyone says that, but it’s true and there’s no fighting it. Second, I did a lot of cleaning house over the last year to get to a point in both my personal life and career that felt positive and meaningful. This is a pretty way of putting it since, as we all know, cleaning house comes with its fair share of drama. But the whole point is to leave that stuff behind in the previous year and move towards people and opportunities that help you grow and expand whatever it is you’re trying to build.

The other thing that’s shifted is that I’m making my health more of a priority in ways I did not the last few years. I know… I’m a health & wellness expert, how could I possibly neglect anything about my health? Well, it’s easy. When you’re busy you let things slide and forego necessary health appointments for meetings that pay the bills. No more of that in 2020! Unless of course I start Benjamin Button-ing (which would be nice). So, I hit up all my doctors the first 2 months of the year, scheduled a mammogram, began a search for a new primary caregiver (I’ll talk more about this) and took an Invitae Cardio Screen!

I’m proud of me. These things were overdue. I have a feeling some of you might be in the same boat. Are you? Is it time to take a second and update how you’re taking care of you? Especially in these very changed times in our life due to unexpected spread of COVID-19. Think about it as you continue reading what I have to say…

You’re probably wondering what all this (i.e. my self-discovery) has to do with #BlogHer20 Health in LA. Let me tell ya, it has a lot to do with it! It wasn’t until attending #BlogHer20 Health, which was their HEALTH focused conference, that I realized I needed to get my act together in terms of seeing my doctors and getting updated on my health exams. I came to this realization after sitting in on the Invitae panel featured at the conference.

The panel was comprised of an Invitae genetic counselor, a doctor and cancer survivor. Listening to the panel, I was reminded that heart disease is the leading cause of death for women in the US and sadly most heart conditions go undiagnosed. It’s not just about lifestyle and how you eat or your cholesterol…your genes play a role too. A fitness celebrity who can fully vouch for this is Bob Harper, who I’ve personally interviewed for Mizzfit.com. He’s an American role model of health yet he surprisingly suffered a heart attack. It can happen to anyone.
Some backstory on Invitae so you can follow along is that they are a medical genetics company that delivers comprehensive genetic information into mainstream medicine to help improve healthcare. Part of what they do is offer clinician-ordered tests to screen patients for things like heart disease and predispositions to other health concerns. Their mission is to make genetic testing accessible and affordable for everyone. Their panel at #BlogHer20 Health helped familiarize bloggers like myself about their services.

So yes, that’s when I realized I had fallen off track. I snapped into action very quickly though and registered to take their Cardio Screen, which tests 77 genes that can indicate your risk of developing certain heart-related conditions.  I will cut to the chase and tell you my test results came back NEGATIVE, thank God. I was 500% relieved and really so happy that a test like this exists that doesn’t leave us guessing and puts the control back into our hands. Finding out about pre-existing or pre-disposed conditions as early as possible can save your life, and give your immediate family members who share your DNA proper warning too.
Perhaps you’ve taken this DNA test before and already know how easy it is. If not, this is how it goes: Start your test order from Invitae’s website and you’ll be sent a kit in the mail that comes with really easy directions to follow - you essentially just spit inside a tube and mail it back. An independent doctor will review your health history while you’re going through the process to make sure the test is right for you. The most important part is registering your kit online once you receive it and before you provide your saliva sample. That’s it! Within 2 weeks time, you’re sent your results by email and given the opportunity to do a follow up call with a genetic counselor, which you can schedule immediately.

The fact that science allows so much to be derived from a sample of saliva baffles me. But what if you found out information that could help you overcome a disease that runs in your family? Wouldn’t those few seconds of spitting be entirely worth it? I know you’re nodding your head with me. And if for some reason you’re not, you will be once you hit 41. I guarantee it. But let’s please not wait that long.

Here’s what else I learned during this special panel conducted by Invitae: how to have the best relationship with your medical provider. I found this info riveting because in a place like NYC, finding a doctor is tough and I’m not always so happy with the doctor I get. The panel assured us that your doctor should be your choice. Make sure to interview your doctor before committing to them. They have to be the right fit for you, and someone you feel comfortable talking to about uncomfortable issues you may be experiencing.

Doctors are NOT God. You must advocate for yourself and if you have an intuition about a health problem that they’re not seeing, fight for your opinion and explain it because sometimes they DO miss things. When you go to a doctor’s appointment, don’t just show up. Come with organized thinking and a list of questions that you want answered with solutions and/or treatments. It’s important to know that no symptom is too small to mention. Make sure you’re current on your family history and bring a friend or relative with you to the appointment (the panel all agreed on this last one…something I had never thought of before). When someone else is around, there’s a lot more accountability involved in what you’re supposed to do post-appointment and as we all know, having a support system in terms of your physical health is key.

Yup, that’s me at SoulCycle! Invitae kicked off the #BlogHer20 Health weekend with a special SoulCycle ride at the Santa Monica SC studio. It was INCREDIBLE. It gave all the health bloggers and influencers who were invited a chance to network and get acquainted before the conference started the following day. I think breaking a sweat with people is one of the best ways to get to know each other and bond. So thankful for this experience and that Invitae was able to bring us together in such a meaningful heart pumping way.

OK, this is probably what you’ve been waiting for!

My Top 5 reasons for attending #BlogHer20 Health:

  1. GO TO NETWORK YOUR BUTT OFF!  You’ll meet tons of people in your category. Make sure the conference you’re attending is focused on a theme that is central to what you do in order to ensure you get the most out of it.
  2. GO FOR THE SHOW!  BlogHer literally puts on amazing events. Be sure to sign up all of the activations that surround the BlogHer conference you attend. For this specific BlogHer event, I attended the SoulCycle class with Invitae, a cocktail hour, and a few other social events that took place before and after the actual conference. I not only met other bloggers, but I was able to acquaint myself with SHE Media staff. The more they know about you and your brand, the more likely they are to reach out about engaging you with sponsored opportunities. Plus, they’re just awesome people to know!
  3. GO FOR ACCESS TO YOUR FAVORITE CELEBS. This means you will get to see and hear the perspectives of celebrities and entrepreneurs you know and love, whose brands or businesses you’d like to emulate in your own unique way. Look, I met Maye Musk who gave me her new book. Hello, this was so MAJOR for me! I was also so excited to hear actress/host Busy Phillips , Hilary Duff and beauty/fashion influencer Camila Coelho speak on their panels. It was enlightening to hear about the causes they support and how passionate they are about female issues (such as Busy with abortion) and philanthropy (Camila set up a foundation in Brazil to support a hospital in an impoverished area near where she grew up). If this isn’t amazing access (literally within rows away from the stage they’re on) to learn about what the people you most admire are doing then I don’t know what is. The whole experience is very real, casual and special.
  4. GO CONNECT WITH ETHICAL BRANDS THAT ARE CHANGING THE MARKETPLACE AND CONSUMER BEHAVIOR. If you feel you don’t know how to get started collaborating and working with brands, well this is how to do it! BlogHer offers a space ripe with brands who are dying to talk to you and create content with you. These are brands who are inventing new products that are changing the lives of women and their families. One example from #BlogHer20 Health is Invitae, which I’ve introduced to you here. There were beauty, nutrition, supplement, cooking and a myriad of other wellness brands present excited to connect with people like you and me. Who knows, you just might end up being their next spokesperson!
  5. GO TO UNPLUG AND REMEMBER WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE IN YOUR MOST PASSIONATE STAGE OF BUSINESS. I have to admit this was my top reason, but I’ve put it last because this is what I want you to remember most. Sometimes when we get deep into our businesses or jobs, we forget what it was like at the beginning when we were full of big dreams and passion. It’s a good place to return to often. Unplug from the hustle and grind of what you do and go back to that place where everything is a possibility because I promise this is where new ideas and epiphanies are had. It will allow you to take a refreshing new look at your brand, your concept and where you’re headed in your career. Going to a BlogHer conference will also update you on everything that’s new. Even if you’ve been doing what you’re doing for the longest time, just remember new things are happening all the time and it will help your expertise to be in the know and familiar with these trends that can be found at BlogHer.

So, what do you think? Is there a doctor’s appointment that needs to be made? An examination you’ve been putting off? What can you be doing to be more in control of your health? I challenge you to start now by taking an Invitae test. Learn more here!

I’m taking all your questions and comments below!  xo, Bianca Jade




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