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Support, Health, Inspiration, Networking and Education – S.H.I.N.E. This was the theme for OAC’s 3rd Annual Your Weight Matters National Convention, and for those that joined the OAC in Orlando this past September, we did just that. Together, we truly did SHINE!

More than 500 individuals joined the OAC to learn about topics such as food addiction, mindful eating, weight-loss options and more from experts in the healthcare field. In addition to the unparalleled evidence-based education, the OAC also offered some brand new components this year, such as the OAC’s Inaugural Advocacy March to Washington, DC, the YWM Healthy Living EXPO, and a brand new advocacy session, Advocacy for Beginners: Developing Your Inner Advocate.

YWM2014 attendees pose for a picture during Lunch with the Experts.

THE SUPPORT
The Your Weight Matters National Convention is unique in that there is no other meeting in existence that offers the same level of support and sense of community. YWM2014 offered attendees a safe place to relax, feel comfortable and, most importantly, learn from each other.
The support offered at Convention is the foundation for the meeting. Only through support can we truly open up our minds to learning new information, accepting ourselves for who we are and helping one another in this lifelong journey toward improved health.

THE HEALTH
Why does our weight matter? It matters for our health. YWM2014 attendees experienced a wide variety of health-focused components of Convention, such as nutrition, exercise and health screenings.

Robanne Robin leading her exercise class in a hip hop routine.

Nutrition
Let’s start with the nutrition. Each meal offered at YWM2014 was carefully crafted by volunteer nutrition expert Cassie I. Story, RD. Cassie is a longtime member of the OAC and took great pride in developing all Convention meals. And not only were all of the meals nutritious and tasty, but they were also accompanied with full nutrition information.

Exercise
Walking, running, dancing, aquafit, yoga – you name it, and we offered it at YWM2014. The OAC knows that exercise is a core component of our attendees’ health plan. We wanted to give folks the opportunity to try something new or engage in a Convention-favorite such as our morning walks.

Health Screenings
Brand new for YWM2014 this year, the OAC unveiled the Your Weight Matters Healthy Living EXPO in partnership with the YMCA of Central Florida. Featuring more than 30 vendor booths displaying products and services best suited to help individuals along their journey toward improved health, the EXPO offered attendees a wide variety of useful products and services.

The YWM Healthy Living EXPO featured an incredible lineup of health-focused exhibitors, and most importantly it also offered attendees free health screenings.
Attendees were able to have their height, weight, BMI, A1C and blood pressure measured – all for FREE. Special thanks to Eisai for their sponsorship of this year’s health screening.
The OAC thanks the YMCA of Central Florida for their partnership in hosting the 2014 YWM Healthy Living EXPO.

Joe Nadglowski, OAC President and CEO, helps an attendee email their elected official.

THE INSPIRATION
Throughout the Convention, attendees took part in an inspiring effort to symbolically march to Washington, DC. The OAC’s Inaugural March to Washington, DC, challenged attendees, along with our members at home virtually, to generate enough steps to march from Orlando, Fla. to DC. The OAC needed to march 1.7 million steps to make it to DC – and we marched more than 2.5 million steps throughout the weekend!

The culminating event, held on Sunday of Convention, brought a finale to the Advocacy March. Attendees were able to visit interactive stations while walking the grounds of the host hotel. Each station offered attendees the opportunity to advocate in different ways such as standing-up to weight bias, contacting their elected officials and more!

Proceeds from this inspirational event benefitted the Convention Scholarship Program. In its inaugural year, the program awarded 13 Convention Scholarships to individuals from across the country, providing them the opportunity to take part in YWM2014.

THE NETWORKING
Learning from each other is one of the most valuable components of YWM2014. Quite often, individuals affected by obesity feel alone. Well, at YWM2014 attendees were anything BUT alone. From the social events to the special Advocacy Training Sessions (more than 80 attendees were trained advocates this year), networking and making new friends at YWM2014 was easy.

Advocacy for Beginners attendees practice exhibiting for the OAC.

Brand new to the Convention this year, the OAC offered a special advocacy session, Advocacy for Beginners: Developing Your Inner Advocate. Attendees learned there’s more to advocacy than just contacting your legislators. Session participants had the opportunity to practice exhibiting for the OAC and participate in mock radio interviews. Advocacy has many forms and for those in the Beginner session, we learned that advocacy can be as simple as sharing your personal journey with weight.

While we did lots of learning at YWM2014, there was no shortage of fun and exciting social events. From the “Blast from the Past – Party of the Decades” to the OAC Annual Awards Dinner, OAC attendees enjoyed themselves by dancing, laughing and connecting with others.

THE EDUCATION
By far, the most important component of the Your Weight Matters National Convention was the education. With a diverse offering of more than 50 topics on the Program Agenda, attendees had the unique opportunity to learn from the leading physicians, researchers and scientists in the obesity medicine field.

The world of weight-loss is often clouded with unrealistic promises made by gimmicky products and services. The OAC strives to exclude gimmicky weight-loss ideals from Convention and only offers attendees the latest evidence-based information on weight and health. We know our attendees want quality education, and that’s what we deliver at Convention.

S.H.I.N.E.
The acronym “S.H.I.N.E.” is one that the OAC takes to heart. Only together can we shine bright enough to raise awareness of obesity, continue expanding treatment options, eradicate weight bias and most importantly – support each other. If you were able to join us for YWM2014, we thank you for your time, dedication and support. If you were not able to join us, we hope that you will consider taking part in next year’s Convention set for August 13-16, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas. It is our hope to once again S.H.I.N.E. with You!