Get to Know Us – Michelle Vicari
10 Questions with Michelle Vicari
1. How did you become involved with the OAC?
Several years ago I stumbled on the Obesity Action Coalition’s Web site and was thrilled at the amount of information and resources that were provided. I spent about two hours reading that day and signed-up for a membership before I logged off. I started following the OAC’s Facebook and twitter posts and learning about the organization and all the wonderful work it does and I wanted to get more involved. I volunteered to serve on a committee, traveled with the OAC to Washington, DC to share my story and help in the fight for access to obesity treatments. A few years ago, I was honored to gain a seat on the National Board of Directors. This year I am excited to be Co-Chair of #YWM2014 our National Convention being held in Orlando, FL, September 25-28th.
2. Have you personally dealt with obesity, and if so, how has it impacted your life?
I’ve been affected by obesity most of my life. At 34 years old with several obesity related health issues: severe Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, High Blood Pressure, which required eight prescription medications I was told by my doctors that many of those painful, debilitating, and life threatening conditions could be potentially relieved and that having weight-loss surgery was the best option. Despite my qualifying BMI of 54 and multiple obesity related health issues (all of which were being treated by my doctors and costing my insurance company and myself thousands of dollars), I was denied weight-loss surgery. I was denied any weight-loss related treatments: no weight loss or fitness programs, nutrition classes, pharmaceuticals, therapy, nothing related to the treatment of weight-loss was covered. I remember receiving my insurance denial. I sat in my car and cried. The denial threw me for a loop for a while but eventually I was able to gather the needed resources to self-pay for surgery. I started my blog, The World According to Eggface documenting my journey to better health where I talk about the physical and emotional aspects of weight-loss, healthy lifestyle tips and recipes in hopes that it helps make other’s path easier. My involvement in the OAC helps me work toward insuring that others can access obesity treatments if they choose to.
3. What is your favorite part about being a board member of the OAC?
I enjoy helping set the goals for the year and adding my voice to ensure that the programs and initiatives we promote or create are in the interest of individuals affected by obesity. Taking part in planning projects like the National Convention is another favorite part. Seeing the plans on paper become a wonderful reality and then attending and putting faces, voices and hugs to the members of our powerful coalition.
4. Why is the OAC valuable in advocating for obesity awareness?
The Obesity Action Coalition is a strong advocate and voice for those of us affected by obesity. Through educational efforts like our many print and online resources, media sharing, our great Your Weight Matters Magazine and bringing our members together at our amazing National Convention, to our nationwide advocacy efforts with lawmakers in Washington, DC and providing our perspective on policy to creating public awareness of weight bias and stigma and its harmful consequences. The OAC is out there fighting the good fight for us and those we love.
5. What is one goal that you want to accomplish as a board member?
I would have to say my main goal is raising awareness. I would love have people in every town in America know about the Obesity Action Coalition and its mission of helping individuals affected by obesity through education, advocacy and support and want to join in on that mission.
6. What is your favorite film?
My favorite movie is “The Godfather” I and II only. I try and forget they made part III, they should have quit while they were ahead. Parts of the movies were filmed in Sicily which is where my family is from. The Godfather, Don Corleone was named after a town in Sicily called Corleone and my family was named after a town in Sicily called Vicari.
7. What is your fondest memory from this past year?
One of my fondest memories was my first trip to the Pacific Northwest this past June, the fresh air, all the green of nature, I saw my first waterfall. I think it was most meaningful to me because I got to hike up to get a closer look at the waterfall with Kris, a college friend of mine. Kris and I were friends during a time I was my unhealthiest. Back then I would have sat at the base of the waterfall and watched as my friends all ascended the hill. I would have talked my way out of climbing up by saying “my foot hurt,” “I had a headache,” or “I just didn’t want to.” Truth is just walking from the parking area to the falls base would have taken its toll on me and climbing the hill well that wouldn’t have been an option. This trip, I smiled and talked and laughed as I climbed up to get a closer view and feel the mist of the waterfall on my face. It was a non-scale, health victory for sure!
8. If you could’ve had any career other than your current one, what would it have been?
I have great interest in volcanoes and earthquakes. I probably would be teaching plate tectonics and subduction zones to 7th graders as a science teacher.
9. What is your favorite place to vacation?
I live in Southern California and its pretty much paradise weather wise so staycations are my favorite. There is so much to see and do here, from sandy beaches and blue Pacific Ocean waves to snowcapped mountains to the desert which are all just a short drive from each other. Perhaps the answer to the question above “if you could have any career other than my current one” should be changed to working for the Southern California Tourism Bureau.
10. What is your most prized possession?
My health. If you have had health issues before, you know how important good health is and now that I have it back, I treasure it.
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Join us next time as we feature OAC Chairman, Ted Kyle, RPh, MBA!