With YWM2022-Engage just around the corner, we wanted to take a few moments to talk to someone who is already registered about their motivation for attending —OAC Member Nancee Nichols from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Nancee has been involved with the OAC for a number of years, but our Convention isn’t the only reason she remains an active part of our Community. She advocates for people with obesity and loves to uplift and encourage others.

We sat down with Nancee at the start of her summer vacation to ask her a few questions ahead of YWM2022-Engage next month.

Q: How did you discover the OAC? What keeps you active in our Community and motivates you to get involved?

I first heard about the OAC from a magazine in my doctor’s office (Weight Matters Magazine) and asked one of his staff about it. She told me she was very active in the OAC and had been to the Your Weight Matters Convention the year before. I liked the magazine and the Convention interested me, so I went – and I’m glad I did! It was so informational and educational that I really couldn’t stay away. Every year, I learn new things and meet new people. I love sharing the knowledge I gain within the OAC Community and outside of it.

Q: What is your favorite OAC resource, tool, or offering?

I think my favorite OAC resource is my fellow members. They are a second family who I can go to for questions, encouragement, and reliable information. My second favorite resource is the OAC’s Convention, whether in-person or virtual. I always learn something new and gain a new perspective, whether it’s about obesity as a disease or how to navigate and stand up to a world with weight bias and stigma in it.

Q: Which of the OAC’s core focuses are most important to you?

The most important part of the OAC for me so far has been the education, even though I’m a retired health care worker and I’ve had plenty of time to learn about obesity. I’m still learning! It’s important for me to trust the information I get, and I’ve found that the experts at the OAC can be trusted because they are knowledgeable and extremely approachable.

Q: Throughout your nursing career, what have you learned about obesity that others may not be aware of?

Learning how to advocate to end weight bias has been very helpful for me as a nurse. It’s surprising how many health care workers are biased when it comes to weight. I try to point them to the OAC Facebook page and website to educate themselves. I tell them to follow the science and not just what they hear. The OAC is a great place to start. It’s rewarding to see the health care workers that actually follow through and want to learn more. Unfortunately, like in the general public, some of them don’t want to listen or learn something new. This  always surprises and disappoints me from health care workers.

Q: As someone who is now retired, how has this affected your current stage of life and your health journey?

Being totally retired with no casual or part-time work has been interesting. Unfortunately, retirement came with COVID-19 on its heels. Then, add to the mix the George Floyd and Daunte Wright murders, and Minneapolis and the suburbs were not in a good place. Out of necessity, I became somewhat physically isolated. Daunte Wright’s murder was only four miles from my house, and the police station and the riots were only three miles away. Then, there were vicious attacks over mask mandates. The double-edged sword for me was that the attacks were both racially motivated and weight biased. For example, during one of about four experiences, I upset a woman because I would not walk up to the cash register while she tended it with no mask. She called me fat, threw racial slurs at me, and ranted to the store owner to call the police.

Needless to say, I spent the first two years of the pandemic at home. Along with that came some not-so-healthy food choices and a decrease in physical activity. The good news is that I was able to video chat with my friends in the OAC Community and they helped me get through the rough patches. I started to feel happier, healthier, and back on track. I’m venturing out again and looking forward to YWM2022-Engage in July where I can see people in-person. Even though I’ve had a few health setbacks, they aren’t holding me back.

Q: What do you wish others knew about obesity?

I hope for others, both outside of and in the OAC Community, that they find answers and learn new information about living with the disease of obesity. I hope they find ways to use their voices against weight bias, even if it’s just in a small way. I think that sometimes, small ways matter the most. I always wish and hope people know that they have support for their struggles with obesity in the OAC. We are not alone.

Interested in joining Nancee and others in the OAC Community next month at YWM2022-Engage? Click here to learn more about our upcoming in-person Convention and to see registration details.