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Upcoming Travel – Obesity Help Conference and OAC “Your Weight Matters” Convention

(Photo Credit: Lynn Friedman)

Summer is generally a busy travel time for me, being “conference season.” There are two coming up that I wanted to let you know about.

Obesity Help Conference
(Click here for more information or to purchase tickets!)

When: August 15 – 16
Where: Manhattan Beach Marriott, Los Angeles, CA

What it is:

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 see me!

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?)

OAC “Your Weight Matters” Conference
(Click here for more information or to purchase tickets.)

When: September 23 – 25
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!

Check out my coverage from #YWM2013.

Where I’ll be/How to find me:

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 bariatricfoodie@yahoo.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!

Coffee Lovers Unite! Giveaway from CLICK Espresso Protein and Obesity Help!

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.

Anyone who has followed my blog a while knows I love me some CLICK™ Espresso Protein Drink. I mean there's a whole section of the blog devoted to it!

Well the folks at Click have teamed up with OH for an awesome giveaway. One lucky person will win:
  • FOUR canisters of CLICK™ (Mocha, Mocha Decaf, Vanilla Latte and the new Caramel Flavor)
  • A blingy CLICK™ tumbler
  • A Ninja Prep kitchen blending system
And here's what's most exciting to me...a first look at 50 Ways to Click a mini-recipe book written by...me!

Here's a sneak peek at what you'll see in the booklet:

(Or you can skip to the chase and go enter the contest!)

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Mint-Mocha CLICK™ Frappe


CLICK Blueberry Coconut Cooler.

Coconut Blueberry CLICK™ Cooler

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CLICK-y Pudding, Three Ways!

So what are you waiting for? Go, enter! This is a BIG prize package worth $230!


What I Ate at FitBloggin

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

Gator!


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.” 

Indulgence

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!)

The name of the restaurant, by the way, is The Garden of Eden. The owner was super nice!

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.


...or a cupcake from Sweet Carolina's


While I didn't spend any money there, I did indulge...sorta...it was a group thing...


Although clearly I did not enjoy my bite as much as Martinus did. I think the Red Velvet cupcake gave him a religious food experience!


...or a trip to eat at The Lady & Son's (That's owned by Paula Deen, y'all! And yes I am black. And yes I would have.)


But still. It's fun to find these things and snap them!

FitBloggin' Bloggers That Inspire Me!

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 cool giveaways!


But for now here are a few folks I’d like you to meet!

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Roni Noone 

Her "blog": Well she has several: Skinny Minny Media and who (she also coordinates FitBloggin'. She's awesome!) Roni's Weigh chronicles her weight loss journey, while Green Lite Bites features healthy recipes.

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!

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Alan Ali


His story: Alan decided that enough was enough. It was time to lose weight! On his blog and on social media he shares his workouts, eating regimens and inspiration.

Why he inspires me: His workouts are – pardon my French – kick-ass! He’s done half-marathons and now I believe he’s going to do an Iron Man. Watching him makes me believe I can do it too!


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Martinus Evans

His blog: 300 Pounds and Running

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!


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Allie Burdick 

Her blog: Vita Train 4 Life

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!

Sarah Bramblette

Her blog: Born2lbFat

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!

Andre Smith (aka "Mission Meltdown")

His blog: Mission Meltdown

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) lift.

What I've Learned About Eating From Different Food Cultures

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 highlights.

Judaism



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.

Ethiopian





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!

Chinese




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.

Japanese 



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!)
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