Shamus Ian Fatzinger/Fairfax County Times
Pam Snyder of Clifton is organizing the first annual Everyday Health and Wellness Conference, scheduled for March 1. Snyder was inspired by her own experience: She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999, and she uses day-to-day exercise and nutrition to help manage her condition.
Amid health fads and miracle products, Pam Snyder tries to stay grounded.
Yet while she strives to lead a healthy lifestyle, she often finds the industry surrounding health and wellness movements filled with a bit too much of what she calls hocus pocus.
Promises of sure-fire nutrition solutions or seemingly magical fitness regimens left her cold, Snyder said. So she decided to carve out her own niche and created the Everyday Health and Wellness Conference, which will take place at the Fairfax Marriott Hotel at Fair Oaks from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
The event, planned out of her Clifton home, features a full day of panels, 30 health exhibitors and nationally recognized speakers such as Vani Hari, founder of FoodBabe.com.
With the conference, Snyder wants to eliminate the intimidation that can scare people away from wellness movements. Instead, she wants to help people see the small steps they can take toward a healthy lifestyle.
You dont live in big overhauls, Snyder said. Thats not reality. You have to keep everything in perspective. I want this conference to be for everyday people
Snyders inspiration came in her own journey to healthy living.
One day in 1999, she started experiencing extreme tunnel vision. Doctors struggled to find the cause.
I went to the eye doctor, and he said: The good news is your eyes are fine. The bad news is its something else, Snyder said.
While her eyesight returned to normal in three weeks, the scary episode eventually led to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, a condition that attacks the nervous system.
Snyder already tried to eat healthy and stay fit, but after the diagnosis, she started committing herself even more to healthy living.
You dont realize your health is so important until you dont have it, Snyder said. I have an autoimmune disease, and my body works really hard to stay healthy every day, so Ive committed to working hard for it.
She started making changes to her diet, experimenting with adding and subtracting different foods. Soon, she decided to eliminate anything artificial dyes, preservatives, sweeteners and start making most of her meals at home.
Snyders commitment to nutrition and fitness has helped her manage her multiple sclerosis without medication for the past seven years. While she has tried medication in the past, it would wipe her out for days. So with her doctor, she decided to stop cold turkey. While she still goes in for neurological screenings and yearly scans, for now she counts on her healthy lifestyle to manage her condition.
Snyder does not subscribe to any particular movement, but she samples from many: vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free. Her motto: Everything in moderation.
That same sensibility went into her conference planning. The schedule offers many options and varieties for people to try.
You can subscribe to some of these things on a smaller scale, Snyder said. You dont have to make it your lifes passion. If you do, thats awesome, but that doesnt mean its for everyone.
With the Everyday Health and Wellness Conference, Snyder combines her passion for health with past experience in conference planning. But 20 years removed from her corporate events career, she said diving back in proved a tricky task.
While the idea had been brewing for a while, Snyder finally committed to planning the conference last August. The brunt of the work has fallen solely on her shoulders, though friends, her husband and her two sons all have helped ease the burden.
This week before the conference has been filled with tying up final details and continuing the push for registrations. People can still sign up online or register on-site on Saturday.
If participants take just one or two ideas away from the conference, Snyder will count the event as a success.
Its baby steps, Snyder said. Thats how I started. Switching to organic milk is a huge step. And if thats all they do for six months? Its all progress.
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