I could tell you some crazy stories about my third day at the OAC convention, really I could, but if you want the really juicy details you have to come meet me at the next Convention and find out for yourself. I’m just kidding really. But on a serious note, let’s talk about what I did on Day Three of the Obesity Action Coalition’s First Inaugural Convention.

I’m going to admit that I probably didn’t do what most people did on Day 3: I didn’t attend all the Seminars for the day. I’m the type to shoot straight and tell it like it is, so let’s be honest: although I have been involved in this community on and off for the last three years, I’ve been relatively quiet as I was dealing with the situations life handed me and working out my own personal emotional issues. Because of that, my emergence in the community is relatively new. Let me be frank: my purpose in going to this Convention was not only to meet other women in the weight loss community, but to also have the opportunity to talk to companies that have a vested interest in weight loss bloggers like me.

With this in mind I set out on Day 3 to go and meet several of the vendors and visit their booths. I figured I needed to do that first, before they closed that area. Since it was the last day of the Convention and I really hadn’t found time to do that with the exception of ONE vendor, it seemed the logical thing to do.

My first stop was Celebrate Vitamins, since these are the vitamins that I myself personally use and highly recommend. The Celebrate Vitamin vendor made me laugh. The first question he asked me when I introduced myself and told him that I was interested in developing a relationship with their company as a weight loss blogger and soon to be Personal Trainer was, “Do you use only Celebrate Vitamins?” I’m a huge fan of Celebrate Vitamins and hopefully after meeting me, they are a big fan of me and want to give me lots of stuff to give away to all of you! ( I’m shameless. Really, I make no effort to hide it!)

I also took a trip over to the other vitamin vendors that were present, I like to know what products are out there to that I can recommend stuff that I feel is really good. I was very impressed with another vendor that was there as well: Ameriwell Bariatrics. I’m not going to lie, when I hit their booth and saw the multivitamin gel tabs the first thing that I thought of was a bunch of post bariatric surgery patients standing around doing jello shots. But it was just a brief moment of humor. Once I tasted the jello, and I tried the lemon lime one, I was a little surprised. It was REALLY good. I’m not sure that I could do jello everyday to take my vitamins, especially this far out of surgery, I’m at that point where I would rather take small pills than the chewable and eating my vitamins. But OMG what I would not have given to have been able to have vitamin jello right after my gastric bypass. I was never a big fan of the chewable calcium.

Of course Bariatric Advantage was there too. I used some of their vitamins very early out of surgery and I got to meet their rep as well. I have to say I tried a couple of their protein bars at the event – their crisp ones – and they were rather delicious.

I also got a chance to talk to the representatives from New Life Bariatric Supplements. I must say, this was one of the first vendors that I spoke too, and the one thing that I was REALLY impressed with by both this vendor and the Ameriwell vendor is that they both took special care to make sure that they told me that they recognized what an integral role weight loss bloggers play in this community.  I spent a great deal of time with this Vendor though, because the gentleman was not only a Personal Trainer but a Life Coach as well, and seeing as that is the direction I am heading in with my career – the whole Life Coach, Personal Trainer thing – I had lots of questions and was very interested. I can’t wait to see what comes of all those conversations.

The next booth I visited was that of a Personal Trainer named Bobby Whisnand Victory of Life. Now I have to say, Bobbie is the FIRST Personal Trainer that I have met who is focusing specifically on exercise post bariatric surgery and focusing on exercise that isn’t just geared for fit and thin people but for the people who really need help getting started: those that are just starting their weight loss journey. Bobby and I talked quite a bit , and we even got on the floor, with me in heeled sandals, and started doing some exercises. We talked a lot about my goals to become a personal trainer and what sort of goals I had with my business, and it was so refreshing to me that someone else in the fitness field shared the same goals that I do in regard to making myself obsolete to my clients. I don’t ever want my clients to feel like they NEED me to do their exercise routines, eventually I’d like to know that I have taught them everything they need to know to go forward on their own.

I was especially impressed with one of Bobby’s employees who was there, who was named Justin, who had lost quite a bit of weight and had continued working with Bobby and now trains others. Bobby promised to send me a copy of his new video coming out for me to try to review, and we talked about the possibility of him doing an online training session and assessment give-away through DesperatelySeekingSlender.com! Wouldn’t THAT be exciting? Maybe he’ll throw an extra video my way for one of you too! We’ll see, but I can tell you one thing, if I lived anywhere near Bobby Whisnand I’d be trying to get a job with him!

I purchased some Slimpressions at their Vendor booth, and then, I went to the CHIKE stand. Ok, let me say this: I AM VERY PICKY about protein. I use only ONE kind of powder and eat only TWO brands of bars religiously and have tried tons of others that I am NOT a fan of. But Remy at CHIKE handed me a sample of their Protein, Energy, Iced Coffee mix that turned into a Frappuchino type texture and I swear to god it was love at first taste. If I could queue “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers while showing you a video of me drinking the marvelous Blender Bottle they gave me, I would! But you’ll just have to imagine it from the pictures I have! Remy and Jason from CHIKE and I talked a great deal, and I am pretty sure we’re going to get together and line up at December CHIKE Giveaway on DesperatelySeekingSlender.com! I’m so excited about meeting all these Vendors, I feel like it’s going to help me help the community more by sharing these high quality post bariatric surgery products to help everyone stay motivated!

I spent a good deal of time talking to one of the Featured Authors from the event: Meredith Terpeluck, author of “Healthy Voice Life Beyond the Weight”. She and I talked quite a bit. Her book is about finding your healthy voice, and about dealing with the loss of her father and about cutting toxic people out of your lives. As I stood there talking to her about my mother and my father tears came to my eyes. She signed her book for me and it is on the top of my reading list. It’s going to be my gym or bath book as soon as I finish the Kelly Armstrong book that I am currently reading. Meredith told me that I have a healthy voice and we vowed to keep in touch with each other and about the possibility of me getting involved in some new projects in the horizon of hers. I’m so very excited to meet this woman. She is one of the first people who I have truly felt has actually understood the impact of my father’s death in my weight loss journey and my life. It was sort of like meeting a kindred spirit. I could have talked to her all day, but before I realized it the morning sessions were over, the time I stole to spend with the vendors was gone and it was time for the lunch with the experts sessions. You can buy Meredith’s book on Amazon.com and I will be reviewing it as soon as I read it.

My Lunch with the experts session was amazing. I had the pleasure of sitting at the table of Dr. Connie Stapleton, Ph.D. and author of THRIVING! and EAT IT UP! I have to say that it was extremely validating to sit at the table with someone like Dr. Stapleton and realize that I had managed to adopt several of her philosophies as my own without ever meeting her or reading her book. Women like this inspire the heck out of me with the changes they have made in the bariatric surgery community and the effort they put into helping others achieve. BOTH of her books are now on my reading list. I can’t wait to get to them. If only I had more reading time these days, but it takes me months to get through a book.

After giving up the morning sessions to see the vendors, I wanted to make sure that I attended the afternoon session that was important to me: Merrill Littleberry LCSW, LCDC, CCM, CI-CPT, who I’d met the day before, was speaking in her Mirror, Mirror on the Wall – Body Image Post-Surgery educational session. I cannot even begin to tell you how helpful I find her. From her concept of ANTS in your past (Automatic Negative Thoughts), to her concept of the 4H Club (asking yourself whether the behaviors that you are participating in are going to Help, Hinder Heal or Hurt you and using that as a measuring tool to decide whether or not you should continue to participate in it), I found myself completely enthralled with her session. Her concept of Life Accounts, and making deposits into them so that you can make withdrawals from them as well really stuck with me The five life accounts she talked about were Intellectual, Spiritual, Nutritional, Physical, Emotional. Merrill made a point during her session of discussing having to know when to let go of something you are holding on to, and how sometimes you have to let go of someone who is holding you down. This women really touched me with her session, so much so that I had to go up to her after and let her know and just talking to her brought tears to my eyes, she had touched me so much emotionally. Merrill Littleberry, Vitamin M, is one of those people who touched me in a way I will carry with me forever and taught me more about myself and my image of myself in a session than I had managed to learn in the last two years. Thank you Merrill. Your words and encouragement to talk to the folks at the Cooper Institute have influenced me beyond belief.

After the afternoon sessions were done I was signed up for a Fitness Class but I decided to skip it and head straight to the room and get ready, I was feeling a little weak, and I’d had a very emotionally stimulating day. I had already done the Cardio Sculpt class with Julia Karlstad at 7am that morning and I wanted to save my energy for the 5k run I was going to do the next morning. So at the encouragement of my friend Joy and Heather I decided to bow out of the cycling class and just head to the room and get ready for the OAC First Annual Awards Dinner that we were having that night. But before I did that, I headed up to my friend Joy’s room to operate some electrical buttons for her since she was still strictly observing the Shabbat (the Jewish day of spiritual enrichment) and we sat and had a nice long talk about marriages, relationships and personal growth post weight loss surgery.

I also spent a bit of time in the evening speaking to different members of the OAC and once again found myself wanting to get more and more involved. I had REALLY planned on heading back to the room after the awards party, but once again found myself in the Hilton Anatole Media Bar and Grill, dancing until the wee hours of the morning. My alarm was set for 7am to get up and do the walk and I knew it was going to come early. But I didn’t want to miss this experiences I had staying up late with my friends either.

I had one more day in Dallas and it was going to be a pretty big one for me. Stay tuned for Day 4 of my coverage of the OAC Convention, which I PROMISE will be up in the next couple of days, as long as my new niece and my two-year old nephew don’t need too much from me! I’ll try to get it done before the weekend comes.