For most of my life, I have wanted to be an advocate for something. Be a voice of change and influence for others. In January of 2016, I had my first surgery, and I spent most of the year relearning myself with this new tool in place. At the end of 2016, through Nikki Massie, I discovered the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), and the Your Weight Matters (YWM) Conference. I researched the OAC and the YWM Conference and learned what they stood for. I felt the mission and ideals of OAC was inline with what I wanted to do as an advocate.
During my research, I decided that I wanted to attend the YWM Conference in 2017, which was held in New Orleans. I felt this would be a great opportunity to network, find resources to help others and be the advocate I wanted to be. With the YWM Conference, I had expectations of being taught how to help others with accepting themselves, having the hard conversations about obesity, discussions about the weight management options available, as well as standing up for themselves or others against weight bias.
I also had expectations of being overwhelmed with information on what I needed to do, but I knew I would be headed in the right direction. I knew I would spend each day of the conference wandering like a lost puppy, not knowing anyone but a couple of people who were busy. Outside of Nikki, I had not interacted with many from OAC, so I felt unsure about myself with all of these new people. And my biggest problem, and fear, was funding. This was a difficult year to do so, my husband’s position at work was dissolved, and he was having a difficult time finding the income stability that we had previously. I had to turn to donations and selling my stock options to go. However, this was all worth it.
When I got to New Orleans, I met my room mates. We had only talked online and over the phone, but very quickly a new deep bond of friendship was created. Over the course of the next few days, I experienced something I had never thought of in my wildest dreams. Everything I experienced is difficult to discuss with this simple post.
I found a place I belonged, and an organization that I can belong to. I learned so much more about obesity than what I had learned and experienced in my life so far. I learned much more than what I was expecting. Through the sessions I gained the knowledge of how to begin to help others as an advocate. Because of the community I made some amazing network connections with some amazing people.
I found much more than I expected, I found my tribe. New friends who are true to themselves. And most of all, I found that I am enough. There have been walls in myself that have been building for 30 plus years, yet they crumbled in the span of 3 days. This is all due to the support, atmosphere, and spirit found at the YWM Conference.
I encourage anyone who may be new to this organization to attend YWM 2018 in Denver. It’s truly a live changing experience that no one should miss. See you in Denver!
Written by YWM2017 Attendee: Konica Croft