The 2022 AdventHealth Bariatric Retreat took place May 5 – 8 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida. Hosted by the Bariatric Society, the dynamic, sold-out event welcomed 300 bariatric patients representing every state. International guests from the United Kingdom, Australia and Brazil also attended.
Most attendees were post-op patients, while some pre-op participants came to learn more about bariatric surgery and the bariatric lifestyle. All attendees had the opportunity to meet friends new and old and unify as a community to support one another.
Recapping an Amazing Retreat
We asked bariatric surgeon Elizabeth “Betsy” Dovec, MD, about her experience at the vibrant event. Here’s what she had to say:
“The retreat was a revival, an unexpected awakening. I witnessed some broken souls on full display who started to tape themselves back together. It was liberating and beautiful to watch so many people on their journey and just be free, myself included. It was about so much more than weight-loss surgery.”
Dr. Dovec was one of our featured physicians who led informative, inspiring sessions as a keynote speaker. In “Remembering Your Why,” Dr. Dovec shared a moving story about a patient who received a heart transplant from a teenage boy who tragically lost his life. She decided to take back her own life with weight loss surgery so she could keep the life gifted to her for many years to come.
“Opening Up About Your Weight Loss Surgery” was another powerful session with a healing effect and communal spirit. Together, Dr. Dovec, bariatric patient influencers and attendees talked through tough topics like finding support, building accountability partners, breaking generational stigmas and why the weight loss journey is so important to each patient individually, extending collectively to the weight-loss community and all those that come after them.
There were many more stimulating sessions on topics such as understanding cultural differences in the weight loss community, grief and loss on the bariatric journey, pregnancy and fertility led by Rachel Humphrey, MD, parenting in a bariatric lifestyle featuring Indira Leila Abraham-Pratt, PhD, as well as a packed room for “Plastic Surgery After Weight-Loss Surgery” with Raj Sawh-Martinez, MD, and Ashley Nestle, PA-C.
More Retreat Highlights
Events enjoyed by participants included fun and engaging workouts like dance fitness, beginner yoga and a no-equipment-needed ab and arm workout.
One of the retreat highlights was a dazzling fashion show. Attendees lit up the runway and confidently showed off their favorite styles with newfound confidence to a cheering, supportive crowd of attendees and fans. “This place is on fire!” Dr. Dovec cheered.
Included with their ticket, retreat attendees also got to experience Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom together for a non-scale victory celebration.
Reflecting more on the event as a whole, Dr. Dovec says, “I was profoundly moved and submerged into every emotionally charged moment. I thought there was a perfect balance between depth and playfulness. It was flawlessly executed with not a detail missed — just a perfect experience and the first of its kind. I left the experience a better physician — and human.”
Why Host a Retreat for Bariatric Patients?
AdventHealth Bariatric Retreat attendees agreed that the best takeaway from the memorable event was the togetherness and feeling of belonging. Building this sense of community for everyone going through this journey is important. Meeting new lifelong friends and making meaningful connections through sharing stories, shared experiences, laughing, crying and celebrating each other made the retreat about much more than weight loss surgery. As Dr. Dovec said, “It was an event that spoke to the perseverance of the human spirit.”.
Participants left the retreat with valuable tools to help them on their long-term weight loss journey, their lives changed, and their hearts full.
To start your weight-loss journey now, visit AdventHealthWeightLoss.com.