As a nonprofit patient-centered organization, our membership plays a huge role in the successes of the OAC. Our members are truly making a difference in helping the OAC move forward and grow. That’s why we are excited to share the triumphs and contributions of our valued and passionate members!

Bariatric Foodie OAC Membership DriveThroughout the month of June, dedicated OAC member Nikki Massie, also known as Bariatric Foodie in the bariatric surgery community, organized her very own “Bariatric Foodie OAC Membership Drive” and “Bariatric Foodie OAC Convention Sweepstakes” to engage her personal following and connect them directly with the work of the OAC.

In only 4 weeks, Nikki joined 236 new members to the organization and gave one lucky person the opportunity to accompany her to the OAC’s 2016 Your Weight Matters National Convention!

We applaud all of Nikki’s tremendous efforts, and share the story of her Bariatric Foodie membership drive and Convention sweepstakes with you below:

1. What motivated you to begin a membership drive?

N -The idea actually started with wanting to give one of my readers a trip to the Your Weight Matters National Convention. This will be the fourth one I am attending, and it’s such a great educational and social event. I always live blog from the event but I really, really wanted to bring one of my audience members with me. I go as much for them as for myself and I thought it would be a really cool thing to do.

2. What strategies and ideas did you have for the drive that made it so successful?

N- It was kind of serendipitous that Facebook released its live streaming capabilities recently. I think that made a big difference. I’m a professional writer and I love words – but the written word has limitations! I knew I could present my message so much better if I just talked to people and told them why I am so passionate about the OAC. I had some very emotional moments as I shared that obesity has affected me from birth and is part of the reason I lost my mother in 2012. It’s affected so many people in my life. I got to share that with people live and unscripted and I think that did make a big difference. When I talk about things I’m passionate about, you can hear the passion in my voice. I couldn’t hide it if I tried! I think when people heard me talking about my personal reasons for being an OAC member, they could probably connect to some of those reasons and that’s why they joined. I believe most people joined because they decided that the OAC is worthwhile, not just for the trip. Most folks have told me the chance to win the trip was just icing on the cake. That makes me so happy to hear!

3. What did you learn from doing a membership drive, and how did it impact you?

N- I learned that it’s ok to open up and talk about the variety of ways obesity has affected me. It’s led to some great conversations with many, many people. I think when you are working so hard to overcome obesity, you naturally want to “put it behind you.” I don’t think obesity will ever fully be behind me. It’s always there. And it’s a comfort that the OAC stands up for me no matter what stage of treatment I am in. Doing this membership drive, I heard perspectives from all sorts of people – those who had surgery and those who didn’t. Folks who were new post-ops and folks who had surgery years ago. It was great to hear their thoughts and their visions for what the world could be like if we treated obesity like the disease that it is.

4. What are you hoping for your followers to get out of joining the OAC through your membership drive?

N- What I see a lot in my community is people being so hard on themselves about their obesity. Yes, obesity has a behavioral component, but it’s a complex disease! That means it is not 100% anyone’s fault that they suffer from obesity. Many factors came together to create the obesity and it may take a variety of interventions to get to a treatment that works sustainably.

I hope my members take in the quality, evidence-based information the OAC shares and think about it. I hope they share it with others. I hope they begin to embrace obesity as a disease and see that they too have the right to adequate care without judgment or bias. I hope they promote that idea to their friends and families, at their jobs and doctor’s offices. I hope that by joining the OAC my audience members will get equipped with the information and inspiration to go out and change how our culture views obesity.

5. How has engaging so closely with the OAC helped your journey?

N- I think in general as an OAC member the educational aspect is what is very valuable to me. I learn so much from the magazine, at convention and from the OAC Facebook page. I’ve also become friends with many of the members of the OAC and their careers and life experiences have been very enriching. One example I’ll highlight is Ted Kyle of ConscienHealth. If it were not for the OAC I would not have met him or experienced his Web site, which provides great, digestible information on the latest obesity research. For me, knowing the research helps affirm that obesity is in fact a complex disease and that we must keep pushing for treatment options.

6. With a following of more than 27,000 people, you have tremendous influence. What words of advice do you have for people who want to make a difference and support the OAC, but don’t have that kind of following?

N- You don’t need a following to be a leader! I believe everyone has gifts they can use to make the world better in a variety of ways, including through supporting the OAC. Think about what talents you have and then think about how you can apply them to the causes you are passionate about. I feel like I’m good at gathering people and motivating them to act on things. So I used that to do this membership drive. Other people are good at organizing and keeping an eye on meticulous detail. Maybe that person could digest some of the more complex studies on obesity and share them on social media. Other people have financial means. How about helping someone you know needs to be at the Convention to get there? Everybody has a gift to share and all gifts are important. I would empower folks to think about what gifts they can contribute to this mission – then go out there and make it happen!

Nikki MassieNikki’s astounding dedication, drive and success is just one example of how a member can engage with the OAC and help support the OAC’s mission to advance the cause of obesity. Rather than wait for a timely opportunity to create change, she sought after it herself!

The OAC is grateful for the tremendous strides that Nikki has taken to help other individuals with similar journeys such as hers, and we encourage other members to make their own waves in creating change. Anyone is capable of making a difference, and every single effort from our members DOES count!

THANK YOU to Nikki Massie and her “Foodie Nation” for all of the support to the OAC, and thank you to each and every one of our members who work so hard to help the OAC grow. Stay tuned for a blog post coming soon that highlights some of the meaningful ways YOU can become more engaged with the OAC, and how you, too, can make a difference. With the strength of our more than 52,000 members behind the OAC, we are a united and powerful voice and together we will make a difference!