Do you have one of those moments in your life that seemed to change everything? That one moment where your life took a completely different course?

I have a moment like that. A good moment. And I’d like to tell you about it.

It was three years ago. I lived in Massachusetts and I was unhappy at my job, so I quit in pursuit of better opportunities. After all, I had years of experience, great qualifications and a great personality (if I do say so myself). I thought I’d be a great catch for any employer, but I didn’t get any bites. I couldn’t prove it, but I suspected it was because of my weight. At more than 500 pounds and over 6 feet tall, I think many employers wondered if I could perform job duties properly. Funny thing is, nobody ever asked me if I’d need help doing the job. The rejections just kept coming.

And those rejections made me really angry. I felt like I couldn’t provide for myself. I don’t like being dependent on others. Can you relate?

What made me especially mad was that I knew it wasn’t my resume. I strongly suspected my weight was the factor in why I wasn’t getting hired – but I didn’t know how to prove it. Even if I could prove it, I didn’t know if there was anything I could do about it. And, of course, I also knew my weight was a big health problem, but I was scared to do anything about it.

Thankfully, I put my anger to good use. I started researching “weight bias” and I came across the Web site of the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC). I found so many resources. I found things on what weight bias is. I found the Your Weight Matters campaign. I found resources on my weight-loss options. And I found an announcement for their annual convention, which would be held that year in Orlando, Florida.

I had no idea how I was going to get there, but somehow I knew I needed to go. I was unemployed and while I was almost ashamed to ask, I started a crowd-funding campaign and asked my family and friends to help me pay my way to the Convention.

And that was the moment that changed the course of my life.

At the Convention, I participated in an advocacy training that taught me how to talk about weight bias. I learned that I am a person first. A person who happens to have the disease of obesity. At this three-day event, I also heard from some of the leading researchers and experts.

After the convention, I began to explore my options and realized that weight-loss surgery was right for me. On December 1, 2014, I underwent gastric bypass surgery. Since then I’ve lost over 300 pounds!

And that’s not all that changed.

I decided to move away from Massachusetts to North Carolina. I started a new life with a new career path and I feel like I’m on a great adventure that would not have even been possible if I’d not taken that first, crucial step of getting myself to the Your Weight Matters Convention.

That’s how the convention changed my life. How will it change yours?

I can’t answer that question but I’ll tell you what I do know. You will never find out unless you come.

I will be there – in New Orleans, August 10-13. And if you come, you’re welcome to ask me anything about my experience, about how joining the OAC has changed my life. I can also guarantee you’ll make new friends, learn things you did not know before, and leave with a refreshed and renewed purpose – to live your best healthy life and to help other people with obesity do the same.

So what say you? Will you join me at the 2017 Your Weight Matters Convention? To learn more about the 2017 Convention and register today, CLICK HERE.

And I just want to say…if you are like me all those years ago, and you know that coming to convention would be a financial hardship, the OAC has an opportunity for you. You can apply to receive a scholarship. Be sure to sign up for Convention E-news alerts so you know when the process opens!

Joining the OAC changed my life. Coming to the YWM Convention set me on a new path. I’m so thankful for that every day. Now each year I come to get renewed in the sense of community I have found there. I’d love for you to be a part of it. Will you come?

Jeff Newell
OAC Member since 2014