I attended my very first OAC Your Weight Matters National Convention in New Orleans in the summer of 2017. As a first-time attendee on a scholarship, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I walked away from the Convention even more empowered to talk about the disease of obesity and become an advocate for those who need care.

I’ve suffered from obesity for more than two decades. I’m very fortunate that to date, I’ve lost 440 pounds – but obesity will always be something I fight. The entire Convention – from staff and exhibitors to presenters – was extremely well laid out, and the topics spoke to me.

For so long, society has been lead to believe that obesity is always an individual’s fault. That couldn’t be further from the truth! It was great to hear science-based information presented at the Convention which reaffirmed for me that it’s not the individuals fault. It’s the disease’s fault.

The presentation which stuck out to me most was presented by Dawn Jackson Blatner – a renowned dietitian nutritionist. Her session was titled, “What’s Your Comeback Rate?” and I was excited to explore what that meant for my own life. In my own weight-loss odyssey of three years and counting, I’ve had to come back from many ups and downs, such as an aborted bariatric surgery due to safety reasons. Dawn’s presentation reinforced that we’re human and we make mistakes, and that we shouldn’t dwell on it, but rather reassess and come back. I remember early on in my personal odyssey feeling defeated because the scale didn’t move after the hard work I’d put in. However, I had to come back from it, reassess and work harder.

Ultimately, I walked away inspired from the Convention. Now, I want to be more vocal than I already am about struggles with obesity and the care that’s needed. I’m grateful for those in the medical profession and beyond who are fighting to make sure we receive proper care to fight the disease. It was amazing to hear the stories from various Convention-goers about how they’ve struggled and how they’ve succeeded.

The whole Convention had a family-like atmosphere. I never for one moment felt out of place. As one Convention-goer said in one of the breakout sessions, it felt like being among family – and I felt the same way. I met many great people, and I hope I continue to meet and get to know people involved with this amazing organization at future Conventions. I’LL SEE YOU IN DENVER!!

Sal Paradiso,
YWM2017 Scholarship Recipient

To learn more about the Your Weight Matters National Convention Scholarship Program and the opportunities it provides, please CLICK HERE.

If you would like to help someone Take their Health to New Heights and make a donation to the OAC’s Convention Scholarship Fund, please CLICK HERE!

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