Yelena: Why I Attend ObesityHelp National Conferences!September 21, 2022
The ObesityHelp Conference is just around the corner, and there are many reasons to come! For those new to the conference, the yearly event is “a celebration of health and wellness for those navigating their weight loss surgery journey” and has been happening since 2004. Bariatric professionals, pre-ops, post-ops, and those looking for weight loss solutions come together one weekend per year to learn, cheer each other on, and build community.
My First Conference
I had weight loss surgery in 2008 and have been on an amazing bariatric journey ever since. My first time coming to an ObesityHelp Conference was in 2009, and just like many newcomers, I had no idea what to expect. As a person who struggled with obesity from a young age and all the social challenges associated with it, the idea of coming into a group of new people was extremely frightening. I barely knew anyone, and the individuals I did know, I had only met virtually. To my surprise, within hours of flying into the event, I was surrounded by loving, like minded people. After several days of education and social events, I made friends who I still communicate with till this day.
The Benefits of Coming to the Conference
Year after year, I’ve made it a priority to attend the ObesityHelp Conference, no matter the distance I had to fly (and it was always a distance because most events would be in the southern states, and I’m from Minnesota). Beyond the friendships and connections that I made with others who understood my struggles, the biggest takeaway has always been the education. Just like any topic that’s important to you, you want to continue learning and keeping up with the latest trends and information. The weight loss industry is ever evolving and ObesityHelp continuously brings in top experts in the field to speak. There has not been a year where I didn’t leave the event with a huge “Aha!” moment as it pertained to my health.
Why Do I Attend 14 Years Post Surgery?
Through my involvement in the bariatric community, I have had the opportunity to not only be an attendee at the conference but also teach fitness, be a speaker, and even a host.
One question that often comes up from pre-ops or newer post-ops: why do I keep coming back, especially if I don’t “need” the support?
A misconception about long-term post-ops is that we don’t need the support of the bariatric community. While that may be true for some individuals, many of us desperately crave and need the support of our fellow weight loss friends.
The road to maintenance is often paved with support and encouragement, as well as resources, outreach from physicians and overall guidance. Once we reach maintenance weight, many of us feel like we’re in the middle of an ocean without a life preserver. This is where the bariatric community comes in!
Why does someone like me – a 14-year-out bariatric patient at maintenance weight – come to ObesityHelp Conferences? I come to remember that I am an individual fighting the disease of obesity. I come to support and inspire those who are just starting the journey. And most of all, I come for the support and understanding of bariatric patients and medical professionals, because, let’s face it, they get it!
Within our community, there is a lot of give and take. In the beginning of our journeys, we are often big takers. We are learning from those individuals who came before us and from the experts who have dedicated their lives to researching obesity. Over time, we start to be givers. We support others just beginning their health journey and inspire those who are struggling.
Whether you’re just starting to consider weight loss surgery or other weight loss options or are a long hauler like me, there is a place for you at this year’s ObesityHelp Conference. Let’s come together on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 in Costa Mesa, Cali., for a weekend of education and socializing. I hope to see you there!
ABOUT THE AUTHORYelena Kibasova is a 14-year bariatric post-op, certified fitness instructor and professional writer. She has spoken at numerous obesity-related conferences over the years, including ObesityHelp, Obesity Action Coalition and WLSFA. She is passionate about fitness for all levels and sustainable weight maintenance plans that combine physical, mental and social well-being. She coaches clients on habit transformation for weight loss and regain. Website: www.morethanmyweight.com. Read more articles by Yelena Kibasova!