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Obesity Action Coalition Second Annual Convention #YWM2013

So I am back in Oregon after attending the Obesity Action Coalition’s second annual Your Weight Matters Convention in Phoenix, Arizona. Things have settled down a little. I had a few days with friends to unwind and now it is time to tell you about the amazing adventure that I had in Phoenix.

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We arrived on Wednesday flying in with my friend Kesha from Waning Woman and enough bags to likely provide clothes for all of our friends at the event, for a day or so at least! What can I say; we’re women who like clothes and shoes! Once we negotiated all our bags into a van we headed for the Arizona Grand Resort and got checked in.

Thursday morning I was up early and having a hard time sleeping due to the stitches that were still in my chest and left arm pit after having a little nip tuck a week or so prior. Despite my sleep deprivation; I was alive and alert and enthusiastic about being there by the time Advocacy Training rolled around. Next up, it was a crunch to rush back to the room to get dressed and steal an hour to participate in a live tweet session with Chris and Heidi Powell while eating dinner. Once I had fuel it was time to head to the OAC Member Mingle and the evening discussion “Teaming up to Tackle Obesity” with NSF players Corey Louchiey and James Throton. I sat next to Nikii from Bariatric Foodie and Joy from Kosher Bariatric and we had a great evening laughing at their humor as the two men shared their story about their with battle obesity.

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Friday morning I got up early to go help out my friend Michelle from The World According to Eggface with the morning walk she was leading and get everyone warmed up. Notice my Bobby Whisnand “It’s All Heart T-Shirt” – in the photo to the right, ( I gotta show my mentor some love) – After getting everyone warmed up I decided to join the walk. Of course, as the walk ended I was busted by none other than my dear friend, bariatric surgery coordinator and nurse Tammy Beaumont, who quickly sent me to my room to shower and clean the glistening sheen of sweat off my stitches. I listened to a whole lot of lectures about Pandora overdoing it over breakfast that morning; and likely deserved each one. Then it was time for the Convention to begin…

I could list the sessions of the day and go through each one in detail, but I won’t, instead I will share pieces of information later as we go a little at a time with you. What I will say is that my favorite speaker of the Friday educational sessions was definitely Merrill Littleberry. Her talk on “Who’s Staring back at You in the Mirror? Improving Self-Perceptions,” hit home big time for me when she displayed a list of negative quotes some people had said about some of the worlds most famous people who turned out to do some truly amazing things. It drove home my recent revelation that I needed to change my direction a little and be more about my vision than anyone else’s vision for me.

I must say, Dr. Gary D. Foster and his Saturday talk on “Weighing Success Beyond the Scale: Identifying and Maintaining and Healthy Weight” was quite possible my favorite topic of the entire convention. I felt privileged to sit in a room as so many of my peers heard the message that Dr. Robert Kushner was able to pass to me last year and finally start to see that that last 10 lb. they might be chasing could be the difference between a “dream weight” and a “healthy weight” and that our success is categorized by more than a number on a scale or chart.

Friday evening’s party was fun and amazing and boy did Kesha and I rock those Ursula costumes … what a night.  It was so fun seeing so many people all dressed up. I think Tammy and Joy had my favorite costumes on with the Tom Hanks, Castaway character and his trusted volleyball. The Sponge Bob Squarepants costume rocked as well, and the Pirates were amazing! I spent some time on the dance floor wiggling my booty and avoiding flying volleyballs for a while, but it had been a long day for me, I was exhausted and tired and it was time for this octopus to get some sleep. (The face make up did come off first though.)

Saturday morning came earlier than I expected and the sessions seemed to zoom by and I really didn’t feel like I had nearly enough time to hit the vendor booths and really talk to folks. I was able to say hi to some of my favorite Vitamin Companies, the folks at Celebrate VitaminsAmeriWell and Bari-Life and of course my two favorite protein powder companies Chike and Bi-Pro.  I also got to meet the folks at Quest and Perky Jerky, and the two best peanut butter products on the market were there, PB2 and Better Butter.

Of course Celebrate Vitamins  is my favorite one on that list because they are “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest Sponsors.

Before I knew it Saturday afternoon was upon us. I had the amazing opportunity of sitting at Dr. Al Aly’s table for lunch with the experts and listen to him answer people’s questions about reconstructive surgery, skin removal, and body contouring after massive weight loss. I attended Dr. Gary D. Foster’s afternoon session “Channeling Stress: Healthy Outlets to Replace the Calories,” and Dr. Sean G. Connolly’s “Who’s In Control? The Science Behind Willpower,” before rushing off to the Saturday Afternoon General Session – “Expectations of Your Body after Weight-loss: Plastic Surgery and Other Options,” discussion where I was member of the panel. This was my first time being asked to speak at an OAC event and it was so exciting and scary at the same time. I truly felt out of my league up there amongst such esteemed professionals. But it was over before I knew it and Saturday night was upon us. The awards dinner was underway and we were all looking fabulous!

The awards dinner is actually a sad night for me. It’s the prelude to good-bye which is just around the corner the next morning. Even though I was excited to get a peek at the #YWM2013 Convention wrap-up video that they put together to show us, at the same time it brings tears to my eyes knowing there are some many people I love in this community that I won’t get to see again until next year.

 

RainbowBriteSunday morning came too early and the Walk from Obesity where I was grounded from participating because I still had stitches and wasn’t supposed to get sweaty, in Phoenix, Arizona, in August began. (Yeah Right! Like this was even possible it was 110 outside!) I was dressed up like some sort Rainbow Brite and Punky Brewster love child, and participating via loan of a little scooter thanks to the very thoughtful Kristy Kuna at the Obesity Action Coalition. I managed to snap a few quick pictures at the walk then I did a video testimonial and then rushed up to the room so Tammy could yank my stitches out before she had to leave. Our Sunday afternoon consisted of Ethiopian food and tearful goodbyes as I had to start leaving people I likely won’t see for another year or so if not longer and close friends I made in Dallas and am going to miss dearly now that I am back in Portland, OR on a regular basis.

I am so blessed to have met so many wonderful people in Phoenix, Arizona at the Second Annual Your Weight Matters National Convention, and I can’t wait to bring you more up to date news and information from the OAC and the YWM2014 Convention as it becomes available.

The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) is the ONLY non-profit organization whose sole focus is representing individuals affected by obesity. If you are affected by obesity or care for individuals affected, I ask that you join the OAC today and help us strengthen our voice. Together we DO make a difference.

I am a proud Member, Trained Advocate and Supporter of the OAC

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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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