As you know, I spent this past weekend in Cincinnati at the Obesity Help Conference. I've loaded all my photos up to Facebook (and then my email inbox exploded with tagging, comments and general mayhem) - but I'll include a few of the highlights here too.
For me the conference was mostly about having a chance to meet - in real life - people from all over the country that I've been chatting with online for the past three years. Yes, the conference part of it was great too and I learned some new and interesting things... but mostly it was a social event for me.
A highlight of the conference was a presentation by Dr. Garth Davis from Big Medicine. He spoke about healthy eating and organic food. I'll write more about his presentation in another post with links to a bunch of books he recommends (that are currently on my shopping list).
I got to meet my dear friend Nikki (of Bariatric Foodie fame). She's just as much a hoot in person as she in online. We chat often via instant message - helping each other with daily WLS struggles, sharing triumphs and daily mundane life adventures too. We also like to brainstorm blogging ideas together and chat about work stuff and such. So actually seeing each other in person was a true treat.
I also got to meet Andrea -- the vitamin guru over at WLS Vitagarten. Her insight, expertise, patience and vast knowledge about vitamins and labs for WLS patients is amazing and I look to her often for information and sources. She's doing great work over on her blog and I'm so glad she's available to us as a community. One direct quote I love of her's about Flintstones Vitamins is now a t-shirt, made by your's truly...
Nessa and Beth and Christy were also a blast! Beth -of Melting Mama fame - is as real in person and she is online. It was a joy to meet her and get a taste of her fun spirit and hilarity. Nessa was a non-stop smile in shoes (except when she was barefoot). She never stopped laughing and was always keeping us in stitches with her antics. Christy was even more beautiful in person than her pictures revealed online. Among all the craziness, she was the sane one most of the time -- except when she was cracking up laughing with the rest of us.
I loved getting to know Tony -- he is the gentle giant among us (apologizes to the original "Gentle Giant" Don Williams). Yes folks he really IS that tall. But he's also a total sweetheart and every time I saw him he was hugging someone new. I've had the pleasure of watching his WLS journey online and he has done an amazing job of losing weight (200 pound!!) and getting healthy - he's an outstanding success.
Lora is an inspiration to me and I'm so happy I got to spend time with her at the conference and at King's Island on Sunday. She just celebrated her 3 year surgery anniversary, so she's like my big sister in this WLS world. She has worked so hard for her success and freely helps those coming behind her in this journey. Her caring nature on the forums is always calming and informative. She shares her experiences openly and is an encouragement to us all. We share some of the same struggles with the frickin' scale but I'm so proud of her and how awesome she is. I count myself as blessed to know Lora.
Saturday evening a big group of folks gathered at the Cadillac Ranch for dinner. So many people I had chatted with online for years and finally had the chance to know in person... and so many people who were new friends that I'm privileged to now know. While we waited for our food to arrive we passed around before pictures of ourselves (in the form of drivers licenses mostly) and shared in the triumph of each other's successes. After dinner there was bull riding and lots and lots of laughter.
I'm so happy I was able to spend the weekend in Cincinnati and meet so many wonderful people. So many more people that I'd love to call out here but this post is getting pretty long already. I'm looking forward to the next OH Conference (whenever it happens to come close to me again). If you have the chance to go to the Houston Conference in November -- GO! You'll be inspired and amazed and awed. And you probably won't get very much sleep - I know I didn't.
To see the rest of the photos from the conference you can check them out on my Facebook account (link in side bar) or you can see them on Flickr - click here - sorry, the Cupcake Porn and Spontaneous Lobby Yoga photos are only on Facebook, so you'll have to view them there rather than on Flickr.
PS -- if you plan to go to the Houston OH Conference, use the coupon code "Tremble" and receive a discount of $25 off you ticket price.