In 2007, I hiked Mount Kilimanjaro for the first time in my life. A major feat for any hiker, I completed the hike weighing in at over 300 pounds.

But the truth is that as I took each step, I could also feel the weight of society waiting to push me back down – to tell me that I couldn’t achieve this as a person with obesity. Did I let that stop me? No. Instead, I decided to bet on myself and I climbed the same mountain again in 2009 and 2011.

During ObesityWeek® 2021, world-renowned doctors, experts and advocates are coming together to share the latest developments in evidence-based obesity science. Studies will reveal to us how biology plays a critical role in our weight.

Today, science often overlooks conversations about obesity. Instead of considering biology and genetics, our society views obesity through the lens of stigma and bias, which has gone on for far too long. And I think it’s high time to change the conversation.

Obesity is a health condition, not a character flaw. It isn’t simply a matter of willpower or motivation, and we cannot continue to allow weight to define us and how we perceive each other. It’s going to take people like you and me, who refuse to let this conversation continue, to make a difference. We must remember this disease is bigger than me, bigger than you, but not bigger than all of us.

It’s not going to be easy to change a conversation that’s been dominant in our society for so long. Change can be scary and challenging, much like climbing a mountain. It’s going to take all of us to start a meaningful dialogue and have the courage to listen. Only then can we slowly chip our way to the top.

Be part of the change. The movement starts at @itsbiggerthan and www.itsbiggerthan.com.