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Obesity Action Coalition Convention Day 4

So it’s my last day in Dallas and I think I was easily out till 2am again last night socializing in the Media Bar at the Hilton Anatole that we are staying at for the OAC Convention. I know I’ve done a lot of late nights this weekend and I have no doubt my body is going to make me pay for it in the next couple of days. We’ll see. But this day was no different from normal, I woke up to the alarm clock screeching in my ear in a way that would make you completely homicidal if that noise came out of any human being as you were trying to wake up. Now it was time for the typical morning dialog.

Me: The alarm is going off, time to get up, no sense trying to go back to sleep it never works, time to get up and be productive.

Sleepy Me: Grrrr

Me: Seriously get up! You’re wasting time! You could be doing several productive things already

Sleepy Me: Grumble

I looked at my phone and saw a text from Rain Hampton, you all might know her better from her website but she’s my Rain. Interestingly enough, and I don’t think I mentioned this to Rain, my first BFF growing up was a girl named Raina Halverson that I met in the third grade and stayed friends with all the way through high school. Perhaps I just needed more Rain in my life? That sounds funny coming from someone who lives in Oregon, but really, Rain and I just had this instant connection. I absolutely adore her and she’s someone who I look up to immensely in the weight loss surgery community. So my text from Rain said “Good morning…have fun at the OAC walk…” I gave Rain a quick response asking if she had decided not to go because it was freezing. Which it was! This Portland Oregon girl who is used to running in cold weather and rain started the morning with exercise clothes, a hoodie and a jacket on and I was wishing for my gloves and a skully. Of course once we started I warmed up and the layers started coming off.

Now if you follow my blog and have read my post “Things I want both Personal and Private” you will understand my excitement here. The bike rental vendor at the Walk From Obesity had an ElliptiGo on display! Not only was it on display but it was on a stationary stand that allowed you to get on it and try it. You KNOW I was all over this opportunity. Yes Sir-e-bob I was. And I can still say, I WANT! I WANT! I WANT! I really wish I could afford one but not anytime in my near future. My future is filled with paying off my credit card from attending this event. I had hoped that SWWMC would see the benefit of helping send me to this event and how much of an asset it would help make me for them and chip in, but they completely ignored my request and I never heard anything back from them after I contacted my Weight Loss Surgery Coordinator Cathy Geir. I love Cathy, adore her, would do anything she asked, but I’m pretty disappointed with SWWMC and their lack of interest in me. It’s ok, they’ll figure out sooner or later that I’m not your typical girl and that I’m going to be someone in this community. Regardless of that, and yeah I said that aloud and they will likely read it, but I’m honest and honestly, they dropped the ball. Regardless, it’s going to be awhile still before I can drop money on something like an ElliptiGo when it looks like I’m going to be dropping major cash to try to get to all these Conventions and Meets so that I can continue to meet and touch people the way I aspire too. I apologize to my Family ahead of time for the financial burden I’m about to put on us, but, this is important to me and being at this OAC Convention definitely taught me that this is what I NEED to be doing now, both for me, my career and the people who I am so desperately seeking to help.

Before the Walk From Obesity started I took the time to walk around and talk to the Vendors that had set up booths for the walk and collect a couple of Freebies along the way. Then it was time to get warmed up for the walk, or in my case, the run. Bobby Whisnand, the Personal Trainer that I’d had so much fun talking with the day before lead our little group in some exercise warm ups. Me being the fitness fanatic that I am, I was doing a lot of hooting and hollering cheering for exercise. I was pumped and ready. My new friend Joy Muller and I had decided to run the 5k instead of walking it, and we had a couple other girls doing the same including Lisa Tucker. I was so excited to have friends that wanted to run this 5k with me! It made my day!

So we had our runners in the front, and we started off the walk as we took off. Ok, let me just say that this was probably by far, the greatest running experience of my life thus far. My first official 5k run. I only stopped to walk three times, and there were so many people cheering me on! It was amazing, inspirational, motivating and, where do I sign up for another one?


Now this is where I have to pause and send a shout out to my Sponsor Pace Setter Athletics and thank them for sending me to the Walk From Obesity prepared. You see those beautiful, well-fitting, perfect for my feet Saucony Running shoes on my feet? Yup, I’ve got them to thank for it. And did I mention how excited they are to get involved in an Obesity Walk? I’m going to be doing everything I can to put one together in 2013 – The also told me that any of you who might find yourself in the Portland area, you know, like if you were attending some event that might bring you here in July 2013 – they’d be willing to give you a nice discount on running shoes. I wanted to take a picture that showed the spirit of what the donated these shoes to do, help me help others in the fight against obesity, so what better picture than this all shoes in photo. Anita, if you only knew who some of those feet belong too, you’d smile, such amazing women in the weight loss surgery community. I’ll hope that when I repost this picture on Facebook they will all shout out, say hi and tell you which foot belongs to them ( ad LIKE your Facebook Page too) Show my Sponsor some love folks! They’ve promised to keep me in running shoes so I can keep working on motivating you and that is quite a gift! Oh and don’t ask me WTH Beth was thinking with her sparkly flats, but she was out there warming up, and walking in them so I give her credit. I’m sure my Sponsor is wincing at those and those pretty pink flip-flops Sarah was wearing!

The Walk From Obesity was held on the running trail in the outside area of the Hotel. The path was .25 miles all the way around and, to help people keep track of how far they had to go volunteers handed out Mardi Gras beads every time you looped the path. We needed to collect 13 to end up with 3.25 miles which is .15 over a 5k but if you only did 12 laps you’d only get 3.0 which would be .10 miles short. I found it so interesting, that after listening to Merrill Littleberry’s session the day before, by far the best educational session of the entire Seminar in my opinion, all I could think about every time those beads shook around my neck and made that cha-ching sound was that every time I was handed one someone was putting a deposit in my emotional bank account. As I thought more and more about it when I ran I realized that for me, running is a multiple deposit payout. For me running makes a deposit in my Spiritual account as it makes me feel so close to my father while another is, it makes a deposit in my Physical account because it’s great exercise, and it makes deposits in my emotional account, especially when surrounded by a ton of super supportive people encouraging you and helping motivate you as you encourage and help motivate them. It was amazing, and I felt on top of the world.

When the run was finished I had a few really important people to hug. Heather, Joy, and Merrill herself. In fact, Joy and I both took advantage of the photo button souvenirs that one of the Vendors was handing and got our picture taken together with Merrill to commemorate the event. That button is going to become a magnet on my refrigerator that will always remind me of two of the people who touched me the most at this event. I got one done with Heather as well of course, because that woman is my own personal cheerleader. I wish I had gotten one with Rain but she stayed up to late the night before and was being a typical CA girl and avoiding the too cold weather. 😀 I love picking on you Rain <3

Now that the Walk from Obesity was over. I had one more little thing I needed to make sure I took care of while I was in Dallas. Some of you may recall a certain confessional episode on Desperately Seeking Slender Episode X where I made a promise to swallow my fears of spoiling a very special memory I have of my Father and try to ride a bike again in honor of my Father while I was in great state of Texas, a place my Father loved with all his heart. My original plan had been to try to squeeze a bike rental in on our first day there, but that just wasn’t doable considering what time we got in and how much was on the agenda and truthfully, there was so much to do, and I had promised Heather we’d go to Six Flags after the Walk on Sunday, so I was running out of time. But I headed back over to the bike rental booth and explained my story to the woman who was running the booth. With tears in my eyes as she helped me get on that bike, I rode it around the same little track that I had just ran around 13 times. A victory lap with my Father, on a bike. I faced my fear, the memory is still as special as it ever was to me, if not more. As I finished my little lap, and let me just say thank goodness there were not many people on it because if I was ever going to ride a bike seriously again I’d need some practice, I almost hit a few things and I totally forgot how the brakes worked. As I came back, tears falling down my cheeks, and knowing that my Father was with me in spirit and armed with the knowledge that Dr. Kushner had given me that allowed me to realize that I don’t need to achieve an “ideal weight” to achieve my dreams I felt, for the first time in all of this, like I had reached my goals, that I had successfully lost the weight and I knew, without any doubt, that my Father had been there to see me do it.

This feeling, this mental mindset, this emotional breakthrough, is the most rewarding thing that I took away from the Inaugural Your Weight Matters Convention 2012 and to be perfectly honest, the money it cost me to get there was well worth what I got out of it. In fact, I don’t think years of therapy would have provided me the emotional payout that this did.

It is hard to explain some times, the impact my Father’s death and on me and how terribly I needed to know that he saw me reach my goals and that he knew that I would have a happy, healthy and long life. And I know that if he was here today to see me starting a new career as a personal trainer, getting actively involved with the OAC, the WLSFA, enjoying exercise and making all these new friends, that he would smile and tell me this is exactly what he wanted for me.

This Convention, gave me something I don’t think anything else ever could, a chance to be in Texas, run with my Father, ride a bike with my Father, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Father knows what I have accomplished. I cannot thank enough the people who attended this event, the friends that accepted me, the professionals that helped validate me, and those that see in me the potential that my Father did and are holding their hand out to me to help me get my foot in the door and get involved. I’ve proven to my Father that I don’t disappoint, and I’ll be proving the same to you as I seek to help others in their weight loss journey.


Obesity Action Coalition Convention Day 3

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! 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! 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 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.

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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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BariLife has decided to send me back to Paris to represent the WLS Community as I attempt to find my love of running again.
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