"Big As TEXAS: Putting Ourselves First"

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Big As TEXAS: Putting Ourselves First, officially began at 7:00 P.M. on Friday, March 14, 2003, in Houston, Texas. Attendees gathered for a Southwestern dinner in the Sam Houston Ballroom at the Intercontinental Airport Marriott Hotel. Each table had a hostess to introduce newcomers to old timers, and get the dinner activity started. This year, tables acted as teams to try to identify six childhood photos of current attendees. Two tables correctly identified four of the six photographs, and received small prizes.

Following dinner, the vendors presented the fashion show, MCed by the always stylish Linda Solarczyk.

Saturday Workshops:

Putting Ourselves First, this year's theme, is not meant in a selfish way. So many of us have spouses, children, aged parents, jobs, and other things we usually put before ourselves on a daily basis. This year, we stressed putting ourselves first for the weekend, in order to look to our own needs for renewal and replenishment.

Image: Two women on exercise balls.

Our first Saturday workshop was our movement activity: Aerobics for Larger Bodies. Certified fitness instructor Melissa Taylor started up off with warm ups and gentle stretching, followed by a workout that could be done either sitting or standing. We learned strengthening exercises, and guided relaxation. Exercises were adaptable for all levels of fitness and mobility. Next year, Melissa, who is also certified to teach water aerobics, will give us a class in the pool!

Elizabeth and Melissa warm up some exercise balls before the aerobic workout. Photo by Jay Early

Image:Woman leading workshop

Our second workshop of the day was Supersize Nutrition: Delicious Ways to Nourish Yourself. Andra Lozzi facilitated this workshop, a discussion of foods to increase our vigor and strength, as well as ways to get needed vitamins and minerals from foods themselves, rather than expensive pills. Andra brought an assortment of nuts and seeds for us to sample, as well as recipes designed to get the most nutrition on a daily basis.

Workshop leader Andra Lozzi. Photo by Jay Early.

Image:Woman leading workshop

Karen Smith, an employee with the Social Secrity Administration on disability claims, led our third workshop, a discussion of the filing process for disability. Karen shared how to prepare forms, what worked, what didn't work, and answered questions regarding the procedure.

Workshop presenter Rev. Karen Smith. Photo by Jay Early.

Image:Man speaking.

Following lunch we had the fourth workshop of the day, our Activism Workshop. Ray Hackney led the discussion on issues facing the fat acceptance community. He brought to light several bills pending in the Texas legislature that would allow teachers to fail students based on weight alone. In other words, legalized discrimination. Ray also introduced a new tool available only to former attendees of Big As TEXAS, the BaT Activism list, which will be an e-mail forum for discussing size-related issues on a state, national, and international level.

Ray Hackney leading the Activism Workshop. Photo courtesy Ray Hackney.

Image: Woman speaker
The fifth workshop of the day was Beyond Self Esteem, led by Anne S. Kaplan, PhD, CPCC. Through visualization and relaxation, we each sought to connect with and honor our core self. The workshop was designed that we might identify, share, and celebrate the many ways in which we are unique, divine, and magnificent.

Workshop presenter Anne Kaplan. Photo by Jay Early.

Image: Man speaking to roomful of people
The sixth and final workshop on Saturday was Putting Ourselves First with EMDR. Social and clinical psychologist James P. Flanders, PhD, gave us practical ways to use EMDR to control how we feel on the inside. Research has shown that EMDR is the most effective treatment to neutralize traumatic memories in therapy. It can also be self-performed to enhance relaxation, to pull us out of negative moods, and to lessen physical pain.

Workshop presenter James Flanders. Photo by Jay Early.

Saturday Evening:

Attendees gathered in the Sam Houston Ballroom for a filet mignon dinner. Following dinner, we heard from our Keynote Speaker, Lynne Murray.

Lynne is the author of the Josephine Fuller mysteries. Jo Fuller is a sleuth of size who doesn't apologize. Lynne's four Jo Fuller mysteries are Larger than Death, Large Target, At Large, and A Ton of Trouble.

Following our keynote address, we had our Saturday night dance. This year, we had live music. The Dirt Brothers, from Conroe Texas, was on hand to insure our dance was lively. They had such a good time they said they'd follow us anywhere!

Sunday Morning:

We closed the weekend event with our traditional Sunday morning brunch buffet. Following brunch, Lynne Murray spoke again, less formally, and read passages from each of her four Josephine Fuller novels.
Image: Woman reading to audience
Keynote Speaker Lynne Murray reads from four of her novels. Photo by Ray Hackney.

Next year, we meet in Corpus Christi for Big As TEXAS: Laissez le Bon Temps Rouler!

More photos of the event.
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