My Experience & Take-Aways at #OH2015 Conference + VIDEO!

December 19, 2015

I’ve been attending weight loss conventions for four years but the #OH2015 Conference was my first ObesityHelp National Conference that I've attended.  I'm so glad that I attended!

Connecting With My Friends

I was excited to connect with my friends as the #OH2015 Conference got underway. Many of those friends I've met from attending conferences. I was excited to make new friends at this ObesityHelp Conference.

Shortly after arriving at the Conference, I joined one of my friends, Elena Kibasova, for the Water Zumba class that was one of the Conference sessions. I’m not the Zumba type. I don’t dance. Elena encouraged me that Water Zumba was fun and a good workout. I took her class and had a blast. I'm glad that Elena encouraged me to try something new, and out of my comfort zone. That’s what attending conferences like this are all about - trying new things!

My Presentation: Using Emotions to Fuel Your Fitness

I was one of the break out session speakers. I was a nervous wreck.  The presentation at #OH2015 was the first big presentation that I've ever done. Previously, I've been on panels and spoken but this a presentation!  This was just me and my audience for 45 minutes. I was terrified, and wondered what I was thinking when I decided to do this.

My presentation topic was Using Emotions to Fuel Your Fitness went really well. If I had ever doubted my abilities to be a motivational speaker, those doubts were gone the moment that presentation was over.  The feedback I received after the presentation was amazing. One of the attendees asked me where I had invested in speech coaching. I smiled, thanked her, and told her the only coaching I had came from my friends who had to listen to my presentation over and over each night for nearly a month as I practiced!

From attending numerous conferences throughout the years, I've attended many presentations. I've had many influences by other speakers such as Merrill Littleberry and Connie Stapleton. I aspire to be as good as they are someday. When my friend shared with me that she thought I'd held my own in my presentation, my heart swelled. I was truly more proud of myself in that moment than words can express.

The Olympians at the Costume Party

I love a good costume party. I’m sort of well known for having pretty elaborate costumes so this costume party would be no exception.

The costume party was a blast! I had a ton of fun running around the room dressed as Pandora, carrying around Pandora’s Box and passing out little bits of chaos to everyone. I don’t think there was a single person in the room that night that didn’t have some sort of glowing object gifted to them. I’m the sort of person that likes to make other people smile, so seeing everyone in the room enjoying that aspect of my costume was just awesome.

All of the costumes were awesome. I think Jake from State Farm, and Little Red Riding Hood with her companion dog dressed as the big bad wolf, were among my favorites. Our group of Greek Mythology themed costumes that we called “The Olympians” won the group costume contest. I never win costume contests at weight loss conferences that was another first for me too!

Pandora #OH2015 Costume

Full Day at the #OH2015 Conference

Welcoming ceremonies started at 9:30 am followed by the Keynote presentation “Head Hunger and Fitness, Taking Willpower Out of the Equation" by Zonya Foco.

I attended Dr. Connie Stapleton’s session “Make the Commitment to Accountability and Maintenance. TODAY. EVERY DAY.” Connie Stapleton never ceases to amaze me with the wisdom and insight that she shares. If you ever have the chance to hear her speak, do it. She’s one of the most amazing speakers I’ve ever heard.  I've never left a session where she has been a speaker without feeling as though I had something new to take away and apply to my journey.  I got so much from her presentation.

I had a late afternoon appointment with the folks at A Lighter Me. I discussed with them the possibility of finishing off a few of the things I’d still like to see addressed with respect to reconstructive surgery after massive weight loss. I really can’t say enough about how pleasant that experience was and how impressed I was with their pricing in compared to the quotes that I have received elsewhere. I’d never be able to afford more reconstructive surgery at this point without considering medical tourism as an option.

On Saturday evening, some of my friends and I invited other attendees to go out with us and try Ethiopian food. A group of 20+ people went to a great little restaurant in town. Introducing others to Ethiopian food at conferences is an ongoing tradition that a few of us started in Dallas and has now carried over to conferences held in Arizona, Orlando and North Carolina.  We get to hang out with friends and make more new ones!  If you go to a conference, I hope you'll join us for the fun.

Walking the Catwalk at the #OH2015 Conference

After dinner was the fashion show.  I was in the fashion show so I had the opportunity to dress up and walk the red carpet.

The fashion show was an amazing way to highlight the weight loss of attendees. I absolutely love the concept. Anyone that wanted to participate was invited to be in the fashion show. All anyone had to do was to send in their before and after pictures, and a brief profile that was put on the screen as we walked the catwalk. I love to celebrate the weight loss of others. The fashion show is one of the neatest ways I have seen individual attendees weight loss showcased, cheered and celebrated with them. My hats go off to ObesityHelp for such a brilliant idea.

The After Party and Fashion Show was sponsored by Premier Protein, and sadly marked the end of the Conference.

Pandora Fashion Show

My Long Lasting Take-Aways

It amazes me to look back on the weekend and everything that I did and experienced. From Water Zumba, to my first solo presentation as a motivational speaker, and all the other good times I had made the #OH2015 Conference one I'll never forget.  After the Conference ended, I also ran my first 17 mile run!

If you had told me just five years ago as they wheeled me into the operating room for my gastric bypass that this is what I would be doing five years later, on the weekend of my surgiversary, I would have thought you were lying or that you’d already had some really good anesthesia medication!

The ObesityHelp 2015 National Conference was an awesome experience. Each day of the Conference offered something that, even as a five year post-op, was a new experience for me either physically or emotionally. I’m grateful not only that I attended but that I was invited as a speaker. ObesityHelp definitely gets credit for teaching me what I am capable of as a motivational speaker, and I really hope that everyone that attended my presentation enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed giving it.



Pandora Williams is the weight loss and wellness coach at Wilmington Lady Fitness in Wilmington, North Carolina. Her journey began 5 years ago, spurred on by the loss of her father, who insisted that she lead a healthier lifestyle after he was gone. Now nearly five years after bariatric surgery, she is 260 pounds lighter. Learn more about Pandora through her blog, Desperately Seeking Slender!

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