Obesity Help is a leading website that brings together
obesity practitioners (including bariatric surgical practices), plastic
surgeons and people who are trying to lose weight. I used to refer to it as “the
Facebook of weight-loss.” Each year the Obesity Help Conference brings together
specialists, as well as fellow post-ops, to speak on various subjects relevant
to the weight loss community. This year’s featured keynote speaker is Chef Graham Elliott of Master Chef, who himself had the Sleeve.
Where I’ll be:
Everywhere! Kidding (sorta). I’ll be presenting a session on
the 15th on the awkward situations we can face as post-ops. I’m
collecting stories about awkward situations so if you have one, be sure to addto my list! I’ll also be a part of a panel of weight-loss surgery graduates.
IMPORTANT: If you are coming to this event, I’ll also have
an exhibitor table on the 16th where I’ll be selling copies of The Bariatric Foodie Guide to Perfect Protein Shakes and The BariatricFoodie Breakfast Book. If you are coming and you already have copies, I’d
also love to write a special note of gratitude in yours, so bring it along! It’s
also my goal to take selfies with as many Foodies as human possible. So come
Lastly, if you are not attending, no worries! I'll be sharing all my experiences on social media. Be sure to stay plugged into the Bariatric Foodie Facebook Page and follow Bariatric Foodie on Twitter. I'll be using the hashtags #OH2014" and "#FoodieNation" for my posts so you can follow those as well!
(Quick hashtag tutorial. Searching hashtags on Facebook/Twitter allows you to go to posts about specific subjects you’re interested in. In the above examples following those two hashtags would get you straight to my posts about the conference for Bariatric Foodie without having to go to my page or scroll through a bunch of non-relevant posts. Make sense?)
Where: Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld - Orlando, FL
What it is:
This is the 3rd annual “Your Weight Matters”
Conference. If you were around when I went to last year’s conference in
Phoenix, Arizona, you’ll know this event is packed with great information for
people in the fight against obesity.
What makes this gathering unique is the caliber of expert
speakers. OAC engages top-notch professionals on the cutting edge of obesity
research and advocacy. The conference is also extremely well executed, taking
into account at every level the needs of people trying to make better choices
(for example, they give you the full conference menu with nutritional
information and spaces to write in
what you ate so you can track your food).
If you were around last year you also know that YOU sent me
to this conference with your purchases of the shake book so I was on social
media overload. I plan to do that again this year (I even managed to impress
OAC’s social media team!) so get ready!
This is a conference where I am simply a participant. But
like I said, I plan to share what I learn – as much as possible in real time!
So be sure to tune into the Bariatric Foodie Facebook Page, follow Bariatric
Foodie on Twitter and also pay specific attention to the hashtags “#YWM2014”
and “#FoodieNation” as I’ll be using those to post updates.
“Hey, Nik, you’ll be in my neck of the woods. How’s about a meet-up?”
Great idea! If you live near one of the two locations above,
send me an email at email@example.com.
I’m still getting plans together but I definitely want to meet as many Foodies
as possible while I am traveling. So if you’re interested in staying in the
loop on my plans, hit me up!
The Obesity Help Conference 2014 is quickly approaching (I'm trying not to freak out too much about the session I'm leading!) To celebrate the event, OH has been doing giveaways and the current one is really good.
So I promised a Foodie recap of FitBloggin (meaning
Fitbloggin in terms of what yours truly ate). Not everything was that exciting
so I thought I’d hit a few points.
Make your own granola
with California Almonds!
The folks at California Almonds had a neat set up. They had
these HUGE bowls full of a bunch of different things you could use to make
granola. My roomie, Sarah, and I hit up Kroger on the way to the hotel for some
supplies (Note: A Foodie always
requests a mini-fridge in the hotel room!), including CarbMaster yogurt. OMG! I
love this stuff. For those of you who aren’t too big on Greek yogurt this stuff
is a great option: low sugars, low carbs, high protein! I topped my cinnamon
roll yogurt with some of my granola (please don’t ask me to remember what’s in
it!) and that was breakfast!
Playing With My Food
Well not me…but there were a lot of foods I know and loved
that were presented in new ways! The folks at Ninja Kitchen did smoothies (click on the
picture to expand for the recipes). The green one I liked, the orange one was a
little strange for me.
The big surprise was the avocado people! California Avocados
made a blueberry muffin with avocados replacing much of the fat and they. Were.
Awesome! Here’s the recipe although it is NOT WLS-friendly. I will work on tweaking. But in it's current form I think I could even get this past my oldest (read: pickiest) daughter!
Tapas! (And Ignite)
One of the highlights of FitBloggin is an event called “Ignite.”
The concept is simple (yet petrifying for presenters, I think). You choose a
topic and you do a PowerPoint Presentation that’s five minutes. But here’s the
kicker: the slides change every 15 seconds! So you don’t really have much time
to talk. For me, this would be a disaster. Sarah did a great Ignite talk to
raise awareness about Lipedema and Lymphedema so I enjoyed watching her.
At the event there was tapas. If you don’t know what tapas
is, it’s a way of eating food in really small portions, small plates. In my
estimation, tapas is MADE for us! Here's what we had:
Little Caprese skewers - aren't they cute?
Watercress/tomato pureed cold soup with shrimp
...um...whatever this is. I don't think I ever determined. It tasted like fish...sorta. It was good though!
Pork tenderloin with (I think) mango salsa
So I know I wasn’t…like…IN the bayou…but still. We went to
this lovely restaurant that had a gumbo with gator meat. I am an adverturous “Nawtherner”
so I tried it! Although this LOOKS more like bean soup, it’s definitely gumbo.
And it was GOOD! The texture of gator is slightly gamey/chewy. It’s good. As my
friend Julia would say, “I’d hit that again.”
I mean c’mon…I’m in Georgia. And besides I refuse to lie to
you. I ate pralines - but not THAT many of them!(Six years post-op and I still dump). I
also brought some home thinking I’d save them for the kids but alas I left them
unwrapped and they dried out and, I’m sorry, but I wanted my kids to get the
REAL praline experience! (Side note: I have it on good authority that it's "prah-lines" not "pray-lines" like I always say it!)
On the day I left Georgia, my friend Martinus and I went on
a tour and visited some African-American historical sights. The tour ended with
a stop at one of those places that I call “the truth.” The truth is a
restaurant in a city that is not touristy. In fact, it may be a dive or a hole
in the wall. But the food is as authentic as you can get.
Now I want to emphasize that a) I don’t eat this kind of stuff every day
and b) my pouch still works so I didn’t get through a lot of this plate! It is
BBQ ribs (what is it about ribs!), okra, some kind of rice (rice generally
upsets my stomach though so I didn’t fool with that too much) and some mac ‘n
cheese. (Yes, I ate mac ‘n cheese. Crucify me if you want but it was worth the
pouch space and the resulting extra workouts I had to do once I got home!)
So there you have it…the Foodie recap of FitBloggin. I owe
you one more and that’s some of the stuff I learned. It’s coming!
Bonus: One thing I did NOT consume...
Now I'll say there are a lot of doom and gloom warnings about alcohol consumption post-WLS. For me it's not so much of a problem. I have a sip or two of wine every once in a while and leave it at that (usually because two sips and I'm tipsy!). Plus...I'm cheap.
There's way better stuff I could spend my money on. Like these things, many of which I also did not spend my money on!
Like honey from the Savannah Bee Company. I did spend some money here. I bought a jar of honey from their Bee Cause Project that lets kids learn to tend hives in schools and learn about the importance of beekeeping. All proceeds benefit the program! I like to leave a little love when I visit places.
Can I just say this is the FOURTH time I’ve written and
re-written this FitBloggin recap post?
In the end, I determined there will be several blog posts.
In upcoming posts I’ll highlight some of the food I experienced and the cool
products I got to try, but for today I’d like to focus on people.
FitBloggin brings together lots of interesting folks who are
all working toward healthier lifestyles. I can’t possibly list everyone who
inspired me in one post, but luckily I don’t have to because FitBloggin made a list! Check it out to discover some great bloggers with excellent advice and
But for now here are a few folks I’d like you to meet!
Her story: Roni is a former teacher who decided to get her health and weight under control. So like many of us at the conference, she started a blog to help keep her accountable. And the blogging bug bit her! Now she brings all us crazy bloggers together for the Fitbloggin conference every year. And we love her for it!
Why she inspires me: Roni is an entrepreneur. I too have that spirit in me (which is why I do crazy things like write books in the span of a month!). But I also love how she's paired a passion of hers (health/fitness), with her skill as a communicator, with the desire to help other bloggers. I can't say enough about Roni - she's awesome! Go follow her!
His story: When Martinus decided he wanted to lose weight by training to run a race, he decided to go big or go home - so he signed up for a marathon! Now he chronicles his eating experiments (including "time served" on the Paleo diet), fitness, shoe reviews and more on his blog.
Why he inspires me: Having met Martinus in person I can say he writes the way he speaks, which is refreshing! He takes on tough topics (like "Running While Fat," a series of posts about the challenges of being a bigger person who runs) and is 100% real about the struggles he faces in trying to achieve his goals. So if you like reality with a smile, Martinus is your guy!
Her Story: Allie gave an Ignite Talk about her process of being a diathelete (diathalons consist of running and biking but no swimming), including how she competed nationally right after having twins! She chronicles her training, life as a mom and her race travels on her site.
Why she inspires me: Um...hello? Do you see the shoulders??? But besides that I can relate to being a mom trying to keep up with a routine (although mine doesn't even touch hers!). I think she's an inspiration for all moms looking to get fit!
Her story: Sarah is very active in the WLS community and is
a vocal advocate against weight bias. She also speaks on behalf of those living
with lymphedema (a disorder that causes a build-up of excess fluids around the
limbs) and lipedema (a disorder that causes a build-up of excess fat in the
various parts of the body).
Why she inspires me: Sarah doesn’t hold her tongue on
anything! She speaks truth to justice on her blog, on Facebook and everywhere.
She also has a no-nonsense attitude I find refreshing. No sugar-coating. Life
comes with problems and, according to Sarah, the best way to deal with them is
with a plan!
His story: Dre has been working for a few years to get his
weight under control and chronicles his journey on his blog. Recently he's decided to take a different path toward health (I don't have his permission to post about it so I'll let you check out his blog for the details). I'm sure he'll share that with as much good spirit as he does everything else!
Why he inspires me: Dre has an infectious personality. When around
him, you can’t help but smile. But he’s also so supportive and upbeat. When I
feel like getting down on myself I turn to him for a little (sometimes big)
I’ll start this off by saying I apologize in advance for any
inaccuracies about cultures. I’m speaking based on my own understanding.
But still. I’ve eaten a lot of different kinds of foods with
a lot of different kinds of people. As a lover of international cuisine, I am
quite passionate about authenticity so I work hard to seek out the spots that
aren’t touristy, but the places where folks of that same culture go to get food
(When eating Greek, go where the Greeks go!).
And I notice different cultures have different ways of
eating that I find inspiring. I think I’ve learned something about eating in
general from every culture whose food I’ve tasted but here are a few
While I’ve not experienced eating at a real Seder, my church
once re-enacted a Seder (I told a Jewish friend what we ate and she tried very
hard not to laugh). What strikes me about this ritual meal is that each food
represents something. It tells a story, conveys an experience. There is a
ceremony to eating at a Seder and that’s for a purpose as well (I won’t even go
into trying to explain the purpose. I know I have Jewish Foodies who can spare
me the taste of my foot in my mouth!)
The Big Lesson: It’s ok for food to have meaning beyond fuel
for your body. Your family’s dishes are steeped in history and experience. I
think in this modern age we sometimes get away from that. That’s why, for me,
cooking with others (especially others that I love) is so meaningful. We
actually talk about how we came upon
the dishes we are making, how others made them before us, what sensory memories
we have as a result.
I think Ethiopian should be the official food culture of
Bariatric Foodie. What says playing with your food better than eating with your
hands? Many African cultures eat with their hands, using a piece of food as
their utensil. In Ethiopia the most common food-utensil is Injera Bread. I
admit I wasn’t always a fan. It’s a flat bread that has a soft, almost
sponge-like texture and is slightly sour. When you go to an Ethiopian
restaurant you can get foods served on a gigantic piece of Injera bread and to
eat the foods on top of it you tear bits of the bread and scoop the food up.
The Big Lesson: It’s ok for eating to be fun. Also eating is
function of more than just filling our bellies. Yes, we already know it
involves the tongue and the different parts of the digestive tract but there is
also a certain satisfaction derived from having your hands in food. I find when
I cook and I have my hands in food, I eat a lot less. My theory? Part of my
need to be in communion with food is satisfied by touching it. I don’t always
need to taste it!
Dim Sum, anyone? That’s a term that references a style of
eating Chinese food where instead of one big plate of food you are served very
small portions of many different things.
I would call Dim Sum the official food culture of Bariatric
Foodie BUT there is the possibility of going completely overboard (and I have
even as a post-op).
What strikes me as so special about Dim Sum, though, is the
care that goes into creating such a tiny amount of food. When I’ve been
presented my little plate it’s been beautifully arranged and even though it’s
only one or two bites they are deeply satisfying.
The Big Lesson: It’s not the quantity of food on your plate
that makes for a great eating experience, but the quality. Good food tastes
better! I used to think since I couldn’t eat much there was no point in putting
any effort into my food. I soon found I was wrong! Mindfully and carefully
preparing well flavored dishes is a source of joy in my life.
Now I’m not sure if Hibachi is straight-up Japanese or Japanese-American
(I’m sure someone will chime in with the answer) but I absolutely LOVE going to
hibachi restaurants. If you’ve never been, it’s essentially a table where you
sit with others (who you may or may not know) and in the center is a grill where
the chef cooks your food for you. In the process he does some neat tricks on
the grill (food tosses, creating big fires, etc. etc.). Then he skillfully
prepares each person’s dish to their specifications.
The Big Lesson: Like it or not, food is social. That’s the
one thing I think hits us the hardest after WLS. We think we can’t be social
about food anymore. Our tiny portions, our “special food” make us seem like
outsiders and sometimes we’d just rather not bother. But don’t shut yourself
away! Eating is a good time to sit down and talk to people. And that can have a
stress relieving effect that can actually cause you to eat less.
What’s your Favorite?
What’s your favorite eating culture? And what has it taught you about making eating more enjoyable (because...um...we're still allowed to enjoy eating!)