We ALL need support systems. Not everyone in our lives will be good support systems, even those closest to us, may not be the best to go to with the good, the bad and the ugly of our internal dialogue struggles. We all need uplifting people in our lives. We all need good support and love from one another.
I have found that in so many people in this community. People who are brave enough to say something to you, do something, and offer help, be it through friendships or professional relationships. There are good people out there doing good things because they want to inform others before they make the mistakes that they've made in the past. They want to support you in achieving your goals by keeping you informed, accountable and let their love of good ooze over into whomever needs it.
There are many groups online that are free and offer great support. However, this post is going to go against one of my tenets-- I am going to back two programs I believe are 100% worth the money and the investment of your time.
The first is Fit and Flourishing. Erin Akey is one of those amazing support system for me. She has built her career around helping bariatric patients through her Bariatric Guru programs. She has a weekly radio show, Fit Living Radio. Currently, Erin is recovering from back surgery, a spinal fusion, which for a personal trainer is a thorn in her normally very active side/back. So, she's starting a challenge on June 15 through August 15 (Ends day 1 of Your Weight Matters Convention in Arizona!) I invite you to join us here: 60 Day Move Your Butt Challenge. This program is 100% FREE, and the challenge is to collectively get 10,000 miles in the group. If you LOVE this group, think about signing up for Erin's Online Personal Training for $12.99 a month. You'll get access to a certified personal trainer, Erin, and soon to be Nutritionist (Erin's just gone back to school to get a second degree in Food & Nutrition at Bama. I forgive her for that Bama part, she is a NOLA girl, through and through, her other degree IS from Tulane!)
A Post Op and A Doc. Talk about funny and witty and amazingly fun support, knowledge, and expertise packaged into interactive sessions weekly. Cari, the Post-Op, and Connie, The Doc, were some of the first personalities I encountered at my very first WLS event, the ObesityHelp conference in New Orleans in September 2011. I took Connie's Continue Education program, "Understanding the Obese Patient". That's what us counselors have to have to continue our qualifications for licensing in our states (CEU's.) It was this event, Connie's program, that made me realize I had to focus my career on helping bariatric patients. I had to take my experience as a patient and offer up my knowledge and experience through my professional lens.
Connie and Cari offer a free weekly chat on Spreecast, as well as upcoming paid programming Recovering From Obesity. This program will be 12 weeks, one and half hour group meetings online, on Monday evenings. I know for sure whoever has the opportunity and resources to attend this program will benefit from it tremendously. You can reserve your spot now for $50, the full program fee is $300. Certainly worth every penny if you have the means and are willing to commit to those 12 weeks with these great ladies.
The disclaimer: None of these three amazing women have asked me to do this. I do this because I know and have been affected by their reach and care in this community. They do good work. I don't normally promote paid services, but I realize, as a clinician, that free does not always have the same impact as paid services. There are many free support services out there. They are amazing enough to offer those to you too! That's why I love and admire them for their continued contributions to the WLS community.
I continue to offer my services to this community for free as well. If you are struggling and are in need of a therapist, I am here. Please email me at email@example.com. I will help you locate a counselor in your area who specializes in the diverse, complicated issues associated with the struggles of obesity and bariatric surgery. FOR FREE. ALWAYS. If you are in Louisiana, I'm also happy to discuss with you my services and sliding scale fees for counseling services. I am currently a Counselor Intern in the State of Louisiana, and I have to abide by certain restrictions due to being a candidate for licensure. However, I'm no spring chicken, I received my master's degree in Counselor Education in 2006 from the University of New Orleans, and I have specialized in treating patients with depression, anxiety, learning disorders, and the affects of obesity. I believe in using motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, and existential therapy to help people recover from their personal experiences, we all have an opportunity to live a better live through empowering our minds and shaping our environments.