Get to Know Us – Tammy Beaumont, BSN, RN, CBN
1. How did you become involved with the OAC?
In 2005, I was just beginning my professional journey into the world of bariatrics. I was at my first meeting of our professional bariatric society, milling through the vendor expo, collecting information from a zillion resources, including the OAC. I got on their mailing list and soon after received an email from them telling me all the wonderful work they were doing, and asking me to join their grassroots efforts to bring a voice to those affected by obesity. Turns out I was member #7 and the rest is history!
2. Have you personally dealt with obesity, and if so, how has it impacted your life?
I was impacted by excess weight since birth. I joke that I was born larger than I am now, so I’m not sure how my mom birthed me! I led the typical childhood of always being the largest kid in the class. I remember vividly being called “tomato” in the second grade because my face turned beet red whenever I exerted myself.
We all know what the teenage years are like but fortunately, I compensated by becoming involved with student government and making some lifelong friends. In both high school and college, I kept active by participating in sports and intramurals but remained a “wanna-be” athlete because my weight kept me from excelling.
Unfortunately, even being somewhat physically active wasn’t enough to keep the weight off and my weight continued to climb despite diet after diet. My rude awakening came just before my 40th birthday when as a nurse, I felt like I was jeopardizing the care of my patients because I could barely make it through a 12 hour shift on my feet. I changed jobs to an education position that was less physically demanding but soon started looking into weight loss surgery as an option.
I won’t even go into how surgery has changed my life, but let’s just say that I would love to run into the girl in college who teased me about my “thunder thighs!”
3. What is your favorite part about being a board member of the OAC?
That’s a tough one….. while it’s amazing to be able to bring a voice to those in my community, much like an elected official in our government it’s also about being surrounded by some of the most knowledgeable individuals within the weight management industry. From their expertise, I’m learning about new resources that I can use to better help my patients and to help become an even better advocate myself.
4. Why is the OAC valuable in advocating for obesity awareness?
The OAC unites us in the effort of awareness and education. Changes in public opinion and eventually legislation take time and a coordinated effort. The creation of the OAC brings together a group of leaders in the industry who are able to reach out into our communities to recruit members, educate the healthcare populations and hopefully teach us all how to not be afraid to stand up against bias and bullying.
5. What is one goal that you want to accomplish as a board member?
I want to be a sponge and soak up some of the immense amount of knowledge my fellow board members bring to the table. I want to be able to bring that knowledge back to my community and share with them the importance of becoming part of the solution instead of sitting back and allowing weight bias to be the last socially acceptable form of discrimination left in this country.
6. What is your favorite film?
My favorite film has always been “The Wizard of Oz.” I remember my Dad going out and renting a TV when I was maybe only four or five so we could watch it in color. It never ceases to amaze me how something as simple as answering questions like these can open up your subconscious…..What actually JUST dawned on me while writing this is WHY it was always my favorite! I always loved the Cowardly Lion. I even played him in a stage version when I performed in a community theater production while in High School. What I just realized was that it was the Cowardly Lion would become the inspiration for who I am today giving me the confidence to keep going in the face of adversity. WOW! What a moment!
7. What is your fondest memory from this past year?
Wow….. do I have to pick just one! How do I pick from the Phoenix OAC Convention, the Washington advocacy trip, or our bariatric professional meeting in Atlanta where I was able to come in a little early and piggy back on a camping trip with old friends while participating in the Savanah Rock and Roll half marathon?
Well, in reality, when I look deeper, I think about some of my personal accomplishments since I started living a healthier lifestyle. While I’ve walked a zillion 5K’s in my life, since bariatric surgery I started pushing the envelope to 10K’s, half-marathons, sprint triathlons, and most recently mud run obstacle courses. While many of you might not know exactly what I’m talking about, think of the obstacle course in “An Officer and a Gentleman” only add in a LOT of mud! (and people wonder why I hide my finger nails and cuticles!) While there is a huge range of degree of difficulty, no matter which race you attend, there is no shame for walking around an obstacle (although the “Gladiator” run required “burpees” as an alternative).
My last race of 2013 was the “Mud Factor” that I participated in with several of my co-workers and patients. Everything was going great for all of us until we hit “The Wall.” Here was a 12’ vertical wall with a dangling knotted rope hanging down from the top and 2 x 4’s nailed on horizontally across, top to bottom, with about two feet between each one. Not so bad unless you consider that the rope, the first two rows of 2 x 4’s, and our bodies were covered in MUD! Everyone in our group except the husband of a co-worker said no way. As Judd crept up the wall, something inside me just couldn’t walk around without at least TRYING it. Needless to say, up and over I went. I was pretty amazed that I had the upper body strength despite a nagging shoulder injury. But what probably made it especially significant was the fact that when we were done with the run and walking around afterwards, we passed the volunteer who was on a ladder on the top of “the wall” monitoring the obstacle and cheering on the participants. He noticed me and said “hey, you were that girl who flew over the wall…… way to go!” I think I grew three inches taller instantly. At that moment, I realized that maybe I’m not such a “wanna-be” athlete anymore.
8. If you could’ve had any career other than your current one, what would it have been?
Definitely an actress. While I consider myself an introvert, I loved performing in the theater when I was in high school and college, and as an adult, I always seem to find myself in situations where my job involves teaching and presenting. Going out into the community to give talks on wellness is my favorite part of my bariatric nursing career.
9. What is your favorite place to vacation?
For almost as long as I can remember I have always been fascinated with the Olympics. While in high school, my best friend and I even started jar where we jointly contributed so we could attend the 1980 summer Olympics in Russia. Needless to say that didn’t happen but I have been fortunate to be able to attend both the Atlanta summer Olympics and the Salt Lake City winter Olympics and I doubt there’s been an Olympics where I haven’t been glued to the television. In 2012, as I was preparing a blitz of marketing materials to the local area for the Inaugural OAC convention, I took two weeks of vacation. Fate works in mysterious ways because as it turned out, the summer London Olympics occurred simultaneously. Since a lot of the preparation required sorting materials before I could deliver them, I was able to turn my living room into an assembly line, prepare the materials AND watch the entire Summer Olympics! Hopefully the Olympic Gods will shine on me because I would LOVE to attend the summer Olympics in Rio in 2016!
10. What is your most prized possession?
While I don’t consider pets to be a possession, my “kids” bring me more enjoyment than anything else I own. I often joke that with my dog “Ben,” I’m not sure who rescued who because of how he always brings a smile to my face. I would love to get him involved with a therapy dog program because I see first-hand how animals can wipe away or at least temporarily mask, pain, fear, and stress.
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Join us next time as we feature Tracy Martinez, RN, BSN, CBN, OAC Board Member!