Going to ObesityHelp 2023? 10 Tips For What To Bring!August 23, 2023
The ObesityHelp 25th Anniversary National Conference will be held on September 15th and 16th, 2023 in Costa Mesa, California. Weight loss surgery pre-op and post-op patients, medical professionals, speakers, vendors, and family and friends will gather to share information and products, as well as build relationships and support. After attending five conferences since 2016, with a two-year hiatus for the pandemic, I have formulated a nearly full-proof plan to make the conference going experience helpful and significantly more stress-free than my very first conference. Here are my top ten tips for what to pack for the ObesityHelp 2023 Conference, whether it is your first or 25th time.
10 Tips For What To Bring To ObesityHelp 2023
Pen and Paper
I know pen (or pencil) and a notepad are old school, but the large amount of information presented can be overwhelming and there may be some ideas which stand out above all the other nuggets of wisdom from the conference. All my articles and my talks for ObesityHelp percolated out of small statements stated by professionals at the conference. They were not even the major focus of a presentation, but the ideas stuck with me. If I had not written them down, they would have been swallowed by all the other information I learned. I also write down goals and changes inspired by each presentation or each day of the conference. It helps build a springboard for post-conference life. Additionally, there are post-conference blues that can happen right after the conference ends because we had a great time and felt supported there. Looking back on your reflections and notes can help you maintain momentum.
The Conference Schedule
You will receive the conference schedule with your swag bag when completing check-in at the event but by looking at the ObesityHelp.com website ahead of time and writing down which talks, the time, and the day on your notepad (See what I did there?), you can optimize your conference experience. You can even pre-write the title of each session you plan on attending and leave a blank space for it in your notepad to take notes. It also helps you know how much time you have before the night events.
Snacks and a Water Bottle
Because the conference is built on a set schedule of events, it is important to build your nutritional needs around it. My life as a teacher is highly routine oriented, so I need to have a snack or meal at a set time. I bring small, portioned out snacks to the conference in order to maintain my eating schedule and keep my energy up for all the day’s events. This can also defray the cost of buying snacks at the hotel or local shops. I am a creature of habit, so I also bring protein shakes and cold brew coffee for my morning shake routine. Plan your water routine as well. Do not get dehydrated. It makes you lethargic and miserable on the second day of the conference. I assure you that there are plenty of restrooms and willing people to tell you what you missed if you need a break. Because I am local to the conference, I pack a few bottles of my preferred water.
Comfortable Clothes and Shoes
Now I know that there is a costume party and a gala bash at the conference. However, during the day, make sure to be comfortable. You will be sitting at hotel tables, on hotel chairs. You will get stiff and your ankles may swell. There is exercise class in the morning as well. You do not have to be gym ready, by the way. Just wear clothes that allow you to move around safely and comfortably. The morning class is a great way to close those rings or get those steps if you have a pesky, nagging watch which tells you to move or breathe throughout the day.
Conferences can be cold. While our fabulous conference team has a little control over the thermostat, ultimately you will get cold sitting in one place listening to speakers. Conversely, make sure you can take off a layer if the opposite happens. Overheating will make you sleepy and, if you are like me, cranky.
Electronics and Their Cords
A huge help at a conference is the ability to take a picture of a slide, if permissible, so you don’t have to write down every percentage or list of foods. Save the writing for those pieces of information that deeply touch your heart and mind. Also, take pictures of products you like, including your swag bag contents. Consider making an alternate email account for the conference, like gmail for example, so you can sign up with vendors and have all the information go to the same place without clogging up your personal email. Finally, take photos of the people you meet, know, and especially photos of you! The memories in those photos will remind you of everyone who supports you and will help to motivate you throughout the year (and make you want to attend next year’s conference!).
Clothes You Don’t Need Anymore
The free clothing exchange is a great way to pass on gently used clothing items to someone who needs them, especially if they are in their first-year post-op from weight loss surgery. Bodies change rapidly during this time, so the exchange can be helpful for in-between sizes. Everyone is welcome to donate and benefit from the exchange. I still wear items from my first several conferences. I also bring clothes my husband no longer needs, so there are items for everyone.
Space In Your Suitcase
Between the clothing exchange, the vendors, your swag bag, and potential prizes, you will need space in your suitcase to bring home goodies from the conference. Alternatively, pack a reusable shopping bag to help hold items throughout the day or use it at night to gather all your new items and information together.
A Costume (Or NOT!)
Friday night’s Meet and Greet is a costume party. Go wild and crazy with a costume or be subtle and make people guess what you are. Alternatively, you do not need to wear a costume. The most important thing about Friday night is you being there and spending time with people who support you. We want to get to know you. If you have a giant chicken costume on or are in everyday clothes, that desire to befriend you remains unchanged. I have been in costume, in street clothes, and, in a stroke of sheer genius, spent last year’s party in my regular clothes, which happened to match last year’s beach theme. (1990’s skater kid for the win!) At a loss for a costume idea? Press the easy button. Throw on a robe, mess up your hair, and carry a coffee mug. Easy and cost-effective. The same is true for Saturday’s red-carpet event. Be you. If you want to dress up, amazing! If you want to wear tennis shoes and a hoodie because that makes you feel your best, you are in good company. I have done both. Do what works for you. Just come and be with people who care about you.
An Open Mind
This is the number one thing that you need to pack for your weekend. We often get stuck in certain patterns and belief systems about our weight, health, and exercise choices. I can’t (or I won’t) keep you from experiencing something new and fantastic, like Zumba in the morning or a new nutritional product. Being open-minded allows you to take in different information, sometimes contradictory to one another, and decide what works for you. It allows you to make connections with a variety of people and stretch your comfort boundaries. Ultimately, having an open mind gives you the freedom to make changes in your life which will offer long-term benefits.