Nicole, featured right

As a first-time Your Weight Matters National Convention attendee, I was unsure what to expect when I signed-up for the Convention. The unknown of whether or not I would feel welcomed or even experience a sense of belonging. Although many people in my life understand the reason why I had bariatric surgery, very few actually “get it.”

Over the course of several days, I was able to meet and get to know individuals who knew exactly what it’s like to struggle with obesity.

After having gastric sleeve surgery in November 2015 at age 25, I realized that I wanted to go into Bariatric Social Work. What made my surgery and post-op life successful was understanding my coping skills and behaviors in relationship to food/eating. Through my own journey, I realized there was a clear disconnect and lack of support services locally – and I really wanted to learn more about how I can drive change. When I found the Obesity Action Coalition and the Your Weight Matters National Convention, I felt as if this was a direct validation that I should further my education and personal growth on a topic that my entire life had been encompassed by.

My “ah-ha” moment at YWM2017 was realizing that we are never alone in our weight management journey; that there is a huge community willing and able to provide support every step of the way. This is true for anyone in the pre-operative stages of surgery, several years post-operative or someone who has not elected to have bariatric surgery at all.

This community serves as the close-knit familial support we all need! The ultimate takeaway from my first ever Your Weight Matters National Convention is that I am truly lucky to have met so many kind-hearted individuals who welcomed me for exactly who I am.

Written by YWM2017 Convention Attendee: Nicole Rivera