OAC “Your Weight Matters” (#YWM2013) Conference Recap: Friday!

WARNING: There’s a lot to cover so this post is going to be LONG. Many of you got the moment-to-moment on Facebook and Twitter, but I wanted to give you a more in-depth look at what I did today!


Let’s start there because that’s pretty straight-forward. So far, OAC has been doing an excellent job of giving us healthy options (and with the help of the handy-dandy nutrition guide, I know how to make smart choices!). For breakfast I had an egg white/veggie scramble with cheese, some turkey bacon and a big dollop of Greek yogurt with fruit. Yummy!

I did a “Lunch with the Experts” session. A lot of you ask about pregnancy after WLS so I went to the session that covered that topic! I’m going to post about that in a separate post because there’s a lot of information that came out of that one.

We had bagged lunches. I chose the tuna salad bag. The entire bag came with two pita breads, tuna salad, lettuce & tomato, a bag of pita chips, hummus, salsa, an apple and a little piece of dark chocolate. Of that, I ditched the pita breads (broke my heart too, I love them!) and kept the pita chips so I could dip the hummus, ate the tuna naked with the salsa on top. I skipped the apple altogether (apples are like four Thanksgiving dinners in my pouch).

Dinner was at the welcome event which had a Hollywood Beach Movie theme. I didn’t do a costume because…well…I just didn’t! But there were some good ones there, including my beloved Eggy dressed as seaweed:

The dinner was…enhhh. It had potential. They had a lovely garden salad, some tofu and veggie dish (I did not partake), a quinoa-veggie medley, fruit salad with mint and a Hawaiian-esque chicken dish and Mahi-Mahi were the proteins. This is what I took.

Total eyes bigger than stomach moment but it turned out for the good because I didn’t care for the Mahi-Mahi so I nibbled on the chicken and ate some of the salads.

The Sessions

I don’t have pics of all the sessions but my plan (so this post doesn’t exceed the Iliad) is to describe each session and summarize the key points.

Plenary Session #1

We started with an opening session featuring Heidi Hanna, who is the author of The SHARP Solution: A Brain-based Approach for Optimal Performance. She talked about stress and energy management. We think a lot about managing our stress but not so much about how we manage our energy. Especially us WLSers. I can’t tell you how many Foodies I’ve heard say that they have a hard time saying no when people ask them to do things. Well when you don’t refuel your own tank, how can you be there for others?

Hanna suggests that we:

  • Think about the commitments we make. Are you investing your energy wisely?
  • Don’t be afraid to care for yourself first?
  • Sleep is important – don’t skip it!
Plenary Session #2

The second session was my favorite of the entire day. it was led by Dr. Robert Kushner of Northwestern University and was on the major events that impact a woman’s weight. Basically in his work with Northwester, Kushner began asking his women patients to chart life events as they charted their weight. He began to see certain links between spikes in weight and life events. He also noticed that at different periods in a woman’s life, different factors effected her weight and that some of those factors could also affect others as well. I learned that:
  • Women who give birth as obese women can “imprint” the risk of certain diseases on their fetus, such as obesity and diabetes. He cited studies that found that children born to women after they’d lost weight did not carry the same level of risk.
  • That in adolescence many girls experience weight gain because of a variety of factors, including psychological. Teenage girls can be affected by socialization, the media and a host of other factors.
  • Stress is a major factor in weight gain for women but not just for the reasons you may think. He relayed that our coping mechanisms have as much to do with resulting weight gain as the stress itself.
  • He shared that people who lack sleep tend to gain weight more easily.
  • And finally he shared that menopausal women, due to hormonal changes, can experience a change in weight and size. This, coupled with lifestyle changes associated with age (which can include a decrease in physical activity) can lead to significant weight gain.
Northwestern is doing several interventions to help women overcome these factors, including a program that does obesity intervention with pregnant women. I flagged this program to learn more about it because I was so fascinated!
Plenary Session #3

This one was on weight bias. I admit I didn’t even have a great conception of how deep weight bias runs until I listened to the presentation from Joe Nadglowski and Ted Kyle, both members of OAC’s national board. They pointed out such influences biases as:
  • Those in the media. Do you ever notice many times in pictures and videos in the media obese people’s chest and stomach are shown but not their faces? Showing someone’s face gives them an identity and dignity and I admit even I had become used to those images!
  • In the healthcare industry: Studies have shown many doctors don’t spend as much time with obese patients and don’t offer them as many preventative services. What made me the most sad is that in a poll taken, 24% of nurses reported being repulsed by obese patients.
  • In the work place. Obese people can be perceived as lazy, unkempt, unintelligent or “not a good fit” for a job or a promotion. They can experience lower pay and fewer advancement opportunities.
  • In education. Obese youth can be considered not as smart or not as great a candidate for college.
The main way to fight weight bias is to communicate clear messages like:
  • Obesity is bad. Obese people are not bad.
  • Obesity is a disease, not an identity. Reject the label of “being obese.” You suffer from the disease of obesity.
After lunch we had three breakout sessions.
Break-out session #1: Home is where health begins: Creating a healthy home environment

This session wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be about. It was mostly about the habits of people who have successfully maintained weight loss. There is a national registry of weight control that studies the habits of people who have lost and maintained weight. The habits were nothing new. People who maintain their weight tend to eat breakfast, exercise, weigh themselves routinely. But they also:
  • Think of themselves as having a healthy lifestyle, not as being on a diet
  • Don’t get fazed over plateaus. They persist through them because they are living an overall healthy lifestyle
  • Set S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timely) goals

One thing that was stressed here was something I say all the time. The only way to replace good habits with bad is to habitually practice the good habit in place of the bad. It will feel strange and out of place at first but eventually the good habit will become second nature.

Breakout session #2: Planning, Shopping & Dining: Practical Tactics for Good Nutrition
I enjoyed the speaker, Dawn Jackson Blatner, very much. She’s a registered dietician and author of “The Flexitarian Diet.” She taught us that just as we consider a manicure or pedicure or sweets a treat, so should we also look at feeding ourselves healthfully. So she gave the following tips.
  • Planning: plan out your meals. She suggested planning just two meals of each kind (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and rotating between those meals or variety. 
  • Shopping: She also suggested writing down your list when you go to the grocery store to avoid bad decision purchases and shared that the best time to go grocery shopping to avoid crowds and stress are either during the day on a weekday or later in the evening. She suggested that the ratio of types of products in your shopping cart should mimic how you eat. So for me my shopping cart should be 40% protein products, 35% carbohydrates (and remember carbs are not just starch but fruits/veggies too!) and 25% fat. She also empowered us to remember reasonable condiments like sauces and dips. They can make eating healthy foods more enjoyable!
  • Eating: Many people talk about mindful eating and Blatner issued a challenge. You want to eat more mindfully? For 7 days commit to eating every meal at a set table, off a plate with silverware. I know that’s not always possible but to the extent that we can do it, I think it’s a great idea!
Breakout session #3: Who’s Staring Back at you in the Mirror? Improving Self-Perception

This session was led by a very charismatic and dynamic woman named Merrill Littleberry, a psychotherapist. She challenged us to change how we look at ourselves by changing our behavior in relation to others.
  • Stop holding onto the negative. Write new “cue cards” for yourself. Instead of focusing on everything you haven’t done, focus on what you have done.
  • Show Gratitude. When someone compliments you on your progress, learn to say thank you instead devaluing what the person has said. If you practicing gratitude, eventually you may begin to believe those compliments.
  • Be careful of the people you surround yourself with. Are they just taking and taking? Healthy relationships are give and take so if people in your life aren’t giving it’s time to re-examine. Unhealthy relationships can be a drain on your psyche and can further damage your self-perception. 
If you want more information on these sessions, I’m going to post the links to the presentations when they become available to me. For now, I’m going down to today’s sessions! There are some sessions that are being live-streamed if you want to watch (and you should because this is good stuff!). Otherwise, I’ve been posting a lot of the detailed stuff on Facebook and Twitter for discussion. Tune in by following the hashtag #BFYWM or for general insights from all attendees use #YWM2013.
I look forward to sharing another great day with you in the second day of the conference!
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