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Obesity Action Coalition Convention 2012 Day 1

So I had every intention of writing blogs and doing a video at the OAC Convention, then I got there and realized how incredibly busy I was going to be and how many new friends I would be wanting to spend time with and decided the writing must wait.

So we arrived in Dallas on Wednesday. Heather and I got checked into the Hilton Anatole and got our room in the Tower area of the hotel. The room was very nice, the hotel was very nice too, very large, it had several restaurants, shops, a spa and fitness area a running trail, two bars, pretty much anything your heart could desire. Even a Fed Ex place to save my butt and get my business cards that were left at home.

HJ and I decided to have dinner at the Media Grill were we planned to take advantage of their free Wi-Fi, I’d planned to get a blog written while we had a drink but I decided to check in with Rain Hampton from, someone I was very excited about meeting, and low and behold we were seated about 3 tables away from each other in the restaurant, she and Linda we’re having dinner there too and being the lucky girl that I am I met one of my new besties my very first night there! Rain, Linda, HJ and I spent several hours sitting and talking and dancing. Rain and I stayed out late, talking, sipping on cucumber water and dancing. In fact we danced so much we both left the restaurant sweaty and certain we’d gotten a workout in.

On the way to my Advocacy Training session I decide to head to the gift shop for some hairspray and boy I was so excited when I happen to run into Michelle from The World According to Eggface! I’ve admired and looked up to this woman for so long. I’ve followed her voice through her blog for nearly three years now. Her blog and what she has been able to do for the Bariatric Surgery community through sharing her passion and love for food by providing healthy, delicious and easy recipes for the weight loss community is simply amazing.  Along with Michelle I also met another Weight Loss blogger that I had just recently found and started to follow, Beth AKA MeltingMama the founder of the Bariatric Bad Girls Group on Facebook. I tagged along with both of them and their friend Sarah and we had breakfast together. I also got the opportunity to meet Shawna and Carla, two members of the BBGs for the first time at breakfast. A whole table of what would become new friends by the end of the weekend. And then we were off to the Advocacy training program.

The next morning we were up bright and early for the Advocacy Training program. Now I have to admit, going into the OAC Convention I wanted to get involved. My passion for fighting obesity is limitless and my desire to help others is one the biggest needs I have ever felt within myself. But I had no idea how much attending this Advocacy Training session would change my life. I’ve never been a very political person. I’ve never been the type of person that would get into an opinionated  conversation about a political issue. I’m more the type to avoid Politics and Religion knowing that they often lead to disagreements. But as I sat there and listened to Joe Nadglowski, the CEO of the OAC and Chris Gallagher, the OAC’s Policy Consultant explaining the concept of Marching to Capital Hill in defense of a bill that might affect people with obesity; suddenly I realized, there is a point I will indeed get involved in politics, a point where I care enough. When the politics start affecting the goals and aspirations I have by affecting the people I want to help. You’re damn right I’m ready to risk talking about one of the big No Nos in order to try to make a difference.

The best way I can explain this, I’m the type of person that always roots for the underdog, that always fights for the victim and wants to take down the bully. I’m that girl who will be completely non confrontational with you, I’ll be calm and rational with you, but you mess with my friends and I’ll come out swinging like a mama bear defending her cub. That’s just who I am, I’ve been a fighter my whole life, I’ve fought emotional battles for a long time, I’ve got good training, and I’ll come out with my gloves on to defend someone else so that they don’t ever get emotionally beat up the way I did faster that you can blink.

Several times along my weight loss journey I have had moments of epiphanies. Moments that something hits me and I realized that I have just achieved another mental breakthrough. I love these moments because for someone who was used to having mental breakdowns ALL the time this is a very big non scale victory for me. It shows how much I have grown as a person and how far I have come in breaking the cycle of abuse that plagued my family.

As I sat there participating in the OAC Advocacy Training program; all I could think of was the day that my Personal Trainer first introduced me to Kick Boxing. While we were doing combo punches on that bag I felt so much emotional release. It was a physical manifestation of the anger I needed to release. I beat the heck out of that bag. Ever since I’ve used exercise as a physical outlet for anger and frustration. The more I need to workout the harder I push myself to do it. I saw what the OAC was telling us we could do on Capital Hill as my opportunity to find my emotional release. I believe that our weight loss journey consists of several elements, some physical, some emotional, some mental. I think we need to be engaged in all those ways, and I think; working with the OAC is going to be another way for me to be engaged emotionally and mentally. I’m so excited.

We ended the evening at the meet and greet at the hotel where I got to meet WanningWoman for the first time. You have no idea how excited I was. There are two women in this community whose voices I followed through a time in my life that was full of darkness. It is amazing how much one person’s voice can stand out like that. But for me, when I was struggling through one of the most emotional times of my life after my Father’s death, there were two women who were really able to help me with what they were sharing on their blogs.

Michelle: The World According to Eggface: I could follow her voice and find answers about what to eat and put in my mouth when I was struggling to eat at all, her examples and suggestions kept me trying things and eating rather than sitting in bed crying and grieving.

Keisha : WanningWoman: This woman’s confidence, her take no prisoners approach and her drive and determination coupled on top of her ability to persevere against crazy odds reminded me often of what kind of voice I wanted to have when I was done healing emotionally. Her voice guided me back into the light and every picture she posted in that I’m bringing my sexy back attitude reminded me of the woman I wanted to be. We headed out with Keisha and several of her friends, and I’ve got to say, this Dallas local crowd were the first to open their arms up to me and truly make me feel welcome. The moment I hung out with these women I knew I had started to build friendships that would last.

I got to meet both of these women my first day at the OAC Convention and both of them were just as genuine in person as they are on their blogs. I’ll always admire these women greatly for what they were able to give to me trough sharing their voices on their blogs and websites. I’ll always credit them for inspiring me to do the same. But now, after visiting the OAC Convention I have the privilege of calling these two amazing women my friends.

My first day at the OAC Convention was amazing. But it just got better and better each day…

Stay Tuned for day two!

Getting Involved in the Bariatric Surgery Community

So I am unfortunately one of those people who takes on far much than they can handle on their own, and often times end up with so many things I want to do that there is no possible way to do them all and then I get frustrated that I can’t do it all.

Since I have joined, or I guess I should say emerged (I joined over two years ago, I was just sort of quiet until now!) in the Bariatric Community online, I have been astounded by the involvement and support of the women involved. I’ve had the unpleasant experience of being involved in some very big online communities. I’ve been involved in some pretty weird one’s too because, well, I’m a freak. I don’t hide that I’m a freak. But I’ve been participating in online communities since about the time that AOL came out and the internet started booming.

At first I hung out in Hacker channels on IRC and ended up spending time with a bunch of people that ended up teaching me about computers. Of course when I got a cease and desist letter from AOL saying they would press charges against me if I kept hacking AOL accounts I decided that probably wasn’t the best route for me and moved on.  The last big online community that I participated in ended up leading me to one of the most important people in my world, by Soul Sister Debby, her husband Colin, my godson Alex, and my soon to be little niece Abby.  Though I always meet someone amazing, if I am being honest, in my experiences in the past when you get a bunch of women together sooner or later the cattiness and the claws come out and someone gets nasty. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE – That I have not seen that sort of behavior in the Gastric Bypass community. Or Maybe I am just not seeing it on the same level that I’ve seen it before. There are a lot of people out there that get judgmental about how you live by the rules after gastric bypass. I honestly tend not to pay too much attention to those folks. Overall though, this community is far more accepting than any other I have ever been in and I absolutely love that.

As I get more involved with this community … I get more and more involved with this community! Yes I know, redundant, but seriously it’s like I can’t stop myself. And the more involved I get the more I want to bring to this community. Like I seriously sit here at night with visions of Bariatric Friendly Fashion Shows, Beauty Pageants, I just have all these ideas, there are so many things that I feel your typical Bariatric Surgery Patient has missed out on and I’d love to find a way to give it to them.

There was a conversation going on the Bariatric Bad Girls Club BBGC Page that really got the wheels in my head turning. Several of the women were participating on a thread cheering on a woman and her husband trying to conceive (Cheering on the efforts, I’m not saying there was like a big group watching and cheering, in case there is ANY confusion.) I started joking about how we should have an organized dance to help them, you know think African mating ritual from “Can’t Buy Me Love”(1987) – and someone else was like “We could have a Ball.” Suddenly my head goes WOW – A Ball, like a big costume party Masquerade Ball, a Bariatric Ball! An occasion to get dressed up in serious formal attire; how many of us have gotten do that as adults? The last time I wore a dress like that was at my Senior Prom and I didn’t look nearly as good in it as I would now! These ideas run through my brain on rapid fire. Balls, Benefits, Events, I can’t stop, it’s like these things are running through my head a mile a minute and I don’t know where to start, where to begin or where to even tackle some of the things I want to do for this community or where to start, I just know that I’m not going to stop until I make some of these things happen.

I took the day off the Internet yesterday to get some things I wanted to get done before I leave for Dallas and Oakland. A fish truck turning over on the freeway slowed my morning down dramatically but all in all it was a lovely day, I got to drive around with the sunroof open in Oregon in October. That is kind of amazing.  I saw the dermatologist, got my hair cut again after spending a week wishing it was shorter. Then I went and had a super yummy lunch, got a 2 hour massage at Massage Envy, when and got a manicure and an eyebrow wax. Picked up the business cards I had done to take with to pass out my contact information to people and then I came home, got Manny and HJ, went and got the stud that has been driving me nuts in my nose fixed (HOPEFULLY) returned something I needed to get taken care of by tomorrow, and pretty much cleared my schedule so that there is nothing I really have to do outside of the house before I leave. That’s good since I have a weekend to left to gram about 120 hours worth of work into before I go.

I got another response from Chris Powell yesterday. It wasn’t a super long letter or anything. But I send him a little not updating him on what had been going on with me since I had written him last month and asking if he had any suggestions on which certification I should get. I just can’t decide right now if I want to go ACE or ISSA – so I took a change and wrote Chris Powell another note. And he responded to me again! This man amazes me. HJ said to me yesterday – “You do know that he could very well just hire someone to maintain his Facebook Page.” HJ can sometimes be Princess Pessimistic and Nancy Negativity, I’m convinced that it is Chris Powell answering me and him telling me that he is proud of me, has filled a big void that was there because my Father couldn’t  I need to hang on to that, no matter what anyone else says about it. I believe Chris Powell things I am amazing and that he is proud of me and it’s helped me find a way to be okay with the fact that I can never hear my Dad say he is proud of me. That’s a big deal for me.  Anyways when it comes to the Certification, Chris Powell told me either works and to choose the one I am the most comfortable with. I just don’t know which one that is. I am REALLY struggling with this choice. I’m actually hoping I might find some insight into this decision at the OAC Convention when I get a chance to talk to some of the professionals there.

Of course I am not ashamed to plug myself either. So if anyone from the ISSA or ACE is reading this and you guys want to you know… sponsor me and help make my decision easier you I could probably be persuaded.

Speaking of Sponsors, I have a meeting with a prospective Sponsor tomorrow afternoon here in Wilsonville. I don’t like giving out details until I know something solid that I can share with certainty, but what I do know is that she is with a running shoe company here in Portland and it might be an opportunity for me to pick up a Sponsor that would help me put together some of the 5K, 10K and Half Marathons I want to start hosting. The end goal once I get my business as a Personal Trainer going is to hold one or two big run/walk events a year that focus on fundraising for other people in the Bariatric Community. I want to help people whose insurance won’t pay for Bariatric Surgery or Skin Removal surgery gets the surgeries they need. Then I want to do one event that focuses on fundraising and helping people who are pursuing something after their weight loss. That is a big part that I am really passionate about because it’s the part where I feel I’ve gotten the least amount of help and support.

People that successfully lose this much weight, their lives change so dramatically, I know for me it sent me in a completely different direction for where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing and I really want to be someone that not only helps people lose weight and achieve their goals, but helps them with their goals afterwards as well. I know right now one of the things I struggle with the most is that I don’t feel a lot of support from the people around me as I make this life changing career move. I feel like I have my little threesome of – Ashli, Heather and Tora, but other than that, there are not many people in my world that are standing on the sidelines rooting me on and telling me I can do this right now and that just drives me to be that person more for other people.

Alright, coffee cup is empty, my 2 hours of quiet time this morning is done and I’m thinking with as beautiful as this October day in Oregon is, that I just need to get out and do a little exercise. I also need to record the next DSS episode so I can work on editing this weekend and have it up before I leave for Dallas.

Today and Tomorrow are the last days to enter my Surgiversary Giveaway, so don’t forget to do that, I’ll be announcing the winner on Saturday!

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About (Pandora) The Author

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender
Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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