I’ve been attending ObesityHelp conferences for quite a few years. I look forward to them every year. Although a lot of people at the conference know each other well, we still have LOTS of new attendees every year. That, for me, is the best part. I’m not going to lie: it takes courage to attend a weight-related conference. A lot of us haven’t had the best history when it comes to meeting new people. Some of us are introverted, while others deal with extreme anxiety. If 2017 is your first time, here are a few things to know that may be helpful:
- You don’t have to wear a costume to the costume party. This is a meet & greet party. Lots of people wear costumes and lots of people don’t. It’s up to you and no one cares either way. The point is to get to know people.
- Remember that a lot of people deal with personal issues that are a part of their weight journey. Some may come off as cold, some may look anxious, some may look lost. Be empathetic and be friendly. Personally, I have a major problem tying names to faces. I may talk to you every day on Facebook or through my blog, but if I meet you in person, I have a hard time recognizing faces. If a person is sitting alone, invite them over. If someone looks like they are lost, ask them if you can help. These types of people helped me through my first conference.
- The fashion show is a way to showcase your newfound confidence. It’s not a “look who lost more” contest. It’s about progress toward a happier and healthier life. I went up there when I was nowhere near my weight loss goal. Why? So I could get some acknowledgment for how far I’ve come and gain some confidence. People sign up on the website and they wear whatever they want — dresses, pants, suits, etc.
- If you’re lost, ask for help. I know it’s tempting to hide away in your hotel room. I get it. But there are tons of friendly faces: organizers like Kim, Dave and Rusty. Oldtimers like me (you can send me a message on Facebook while at the conference if you need to spend time with someone or ask for my cell phone number at any time).
- There is a big room with lots of clothes! Go in there and TAKE clothes home. No, you don’t have to donate to take. Just go and take! Usually, the donation room is filled and we want people to take the clothes they need!
- Attend the fitness events – it’s a great way to make new friends!
- Check the Facebook event page often during the event and search the hashtag #OH2017. People will often post where they are going out for lunch or dinner or nightly fun so you can tag along!
Most of all, just have fun and relax! You are with like-minded people!! There is no better place to be yourself.