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Bariatric Fitness

Winner of Bariatric Fitness Half Marathon Contest Giveaway


Alright folks our very first WLS Fitness oriented contest has come to a close. After reading ALL of the essays submitted and after watching the one video submission we received, the judges have reached a verdict! and it is time to announce our contest winner. But before I do, I want to send a huge thank you to our Sponsors Kay’s Naturals, Celebrate Vitamins and Pace Setter Athletics for making this all possible. I have dreamed of a Bariatric Fitness contest of this caliber for a while and our these are the people who made it happen. Please show them some love!

Now, allow me to introduce you to Dawn Brell, our Official “How do YOU Celebrate Success.” Contest winner. Dawn is 37, from South Sioux City NE and when asked how she Celebrated Success in non-food oriented way this is what she had to say…


I celebrate success in a lot of constant small ways. I’ve done things I would’ve never done otherwise, I’ve gone places I would’ve never gone before, and I’m wanting to do something I never thought remotely possibly.

The things I’ve accomplished since my surgery have been nothing short of amazing. First let me say I’m not a very impulsive person. Big decisions for me require a lot of thought that usually result in my doing nothing. My best friend and I have talked for 4 years about attending a professional sporting event together. It would make him happy to hear I wanted to but due to my size and constant pain we never did. This year when it was announced that the NHL would have a season even with the lock out, I went on the first day of sales and bought us tickets to see the Colorado Avalanche (my team) play the Minnesota Wild (his team). I didn’t really consult him. I just did it. I waited 14 years to fit into my jersey and by God we were going. I was able walk to and from the game. I can’t explain the feeling I had when we got there. I was so happy for both of us as he is a WSL patient also. I was so proud of myself for being there I never worried if I could fit in the seat or if I would be in pain. I walked in head held high and had one of the best times of my life. That’s how I celebrate success.  My second celebration came after saying and neglecting to even try for 3 years to get my motorcycle permit I did it. I decided the new me could and would do this. Yes on my first attempt I didn’t pass but the fact that I even tried was more than the past and I would try again. Which I did and aced the second time.


I’ve had many other smaller successes. I’ve had two photo shoots to document my weight loss. Pictures of me were rare. I never wanted to be photographed because I didn’t like what I saw. Now I’m more than willing even if I’m not sure I look the best. It’s important to recognize the new me and my journey. I’ve learned to be comfortable in my own skin. Starting with buying and wearing clothes I was unsure of. Shorts and tank tops being a major challenge for me. I would photograph myself in the dressing room and send pics to all my friends asking for help. It would take hours to buy anything or maybe leave with nothing. Now I can pick it out, try it on and decide to buy in a few minutes. I now buy shorts that are shorts and not knee-length ones that hide everything and are too hot to wear. No shirts or long sleeves covering my saggy arms. I’ve learned that its ok. It’s a sign of what I’ve accomplished. I’m no longer scared or ashamed of the new me. I embrace her and try hard to show her to others. My telling my story (the good & the bad) to others has led to a friend getting WLS in a few weeks.

I celebrate success by honoring the gift of WLS and a shot at a good life to thank the person responsible for my being here now. When I say my surgery was a gift it honestly was. The company I worked for closed and I had to take cobra to get my surgery. Cobra set up my payment schedule but didn’t have all the information correct. My former employer also had issues with earnings reported to our state. I lost my income and my cobra was due to lapse because I’d been under paying. My best friend stepped in and began paying my insurance to be sure I got my surgery, to be sure I had a chance to live. My doctors said I would be lucky to see 40, I’m turning 38 this year. I’ve had to plan my own funeral. That’s how serious it was. I try to honor him by following the rules, by pushing myself to try new things, to step outside my comfort zone and not be afraid of everything all the time. Due to abuse in the past on all levels I hid away and let life pass me by. I hid so much that I had tickets to see my favorite band Halestorm 7 times last year. I only attended 2 because I was afraid to go alone. I don’t do that much anymore. I want to experience everything I can now.

Lastly I celebrate by showing the haters I can do this. People doubted I could lose weight to qualify for surgery. Although it was hard and I suffered chronic pain I did it. People doubted I would go through with surgery but I did it. Scared to death and hysterically crying in the operating room before hand but I did it. When I had complications and people thought I would give up, I stuck with it. I fought on even when I was so sick they wanted to feed through a tube. People doubted I would change and be a success but here I am 138 pounds lighter. Most of the people who would be proud of my journey have passed away but I know they would be proud of me. One of my best friends who passed away took her final trip to Disney. I promised her someday I would see it to. This is my chance to possibly fulfill that promise and again celebrate success and show the people who are now doubting I can run a half marathon that I can do it. I celebrate success by believing nothing is impossible for me to accomplish now as I’ve already pulled off feats greater than anyone ever thought I could.

Now that our winner is picked we will follow her journey through a 20-week training program that is scheduled to being in the end of August. I personally invite you to follow Dawn’s journey and watch as she works her way towards that happier, healthier life that my father wished for me as we take on a goal to cross our first half marathon finish line together at Disneyland in January of 2014.


Dawn is a little nervous. Who wouldn’t be after taking on a big goal like this? I was nervous too! In fact, I had to run a personal half marathon on my own first to prove to myself that I could do it before I was even willing to consider taking someone else on the journey with me.

But we have over six months and as I have promised Dawn, if she provides the determination, I will provide the motivation. After-all, that’s my job.

So now the really big question …

Dawn Bell you just won the How do YOU Celebrate Success contest! What are you going to do now?”

– Sorry folks, I just couldn’t help myself.



The “How Do YOU Celebrate Success” contest is sponsored by:

Kay's LogoKay’s Naturals
Like Kay’s Naturals on Facebook ]

Celebrate Vitamins
Like Celebrate Vitamins on Facebook ]

PSA logo red from vector file
Pace Setter Athletic
Like Pace Setter Athletic on Facebook ]

Please support our sponsors!

Falling Without Failing What Chris Powell has Taught Me

As you all know I am a big fan of Chris Powell.

Chris and his kind-hearted wife Heidi Powell through their communications with me on Facebook have become an integral part of my weight loss journey and huge motivators in my desire and determination to become a personal trainer.

Chris often mentions the need to learn to “Fall without Failing” – What this concept teaches is that we have to expect that there are going to be times when we fall short of our goals no matter what they are. Times when we are going to fall flat on our faces. But we have to look at these times not as failures, but as the I have heard Chris put it; “ultimate opportunities.” How is falling flat on your face or falling short of your goal an opportunity? It’s an opportunity to do three very important things that Chris Powell teaches: confess, reassess and recommit.

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 8.10.35 AM

I’ve spoken about my father a few times in the last several days and how men these days are not built from the same cloth that they once were. How my Father was old-fashioned and that the ideas he taught me as a little girl are often void in men I meet in the world today. This is one of the predominant reasons that Chris Powell is one of my heroes and that his words of praise mean so much to me, and that they have been able to become nearly a replacement in my life since my Father’s passing. These words of praise from Chris when I get them hold a meaning few understand, because Chris Powell, through his words and actions, often echo the very things my Father taught me and the things he expressed he wanted for me.

My father taught me that the most important thing I had to do was value my word and live my life with integrity. Chris Powell teaches us that in our weight loss journeys we are making a lifestyle transformation that depends on integrity and that integrity is valuing your word to yourself.

My father taught me that I could do anything and be anyone I wanted to be. He echoed the words of Walt Disney to me “If you can dream it you can do it.” Chris Powell teaches us that we can be whoever we want to be, that all we have to do is live into that identity, that when we find ourselves in any given situation, we just decide who we want to be and we commit to being that person.

My father motivated me to lose weight and became a champion in my weight loss journey until his passing just about two years ago because of a wish that he had for me to live a happy and healthy life. Chris Powell does what he does and reaches out to help the people that he helps because he believes we all have the right to a happy and healthy life

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 9.07.05 AM

Why do I bring this all up? Well there are a few reasons. Because yesterday I fell short in a couple of areas. Actually, I felt flat on my face…

So let’s apply the three important things that Chris and his kind-hearted wife Heidi Powell, who has also managed to become an integral part of my support system since I had the opportunity to meet them in May, [ A Bucket List Moment – Meeting Chris Powell ] have taught me…

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 9.24.40 AMConfess: I didn’t meet this huge goal I had to secure enough sponsors to be able to send myself and a Desperately Seeking Slender reader to the Disneyland Tinkerbell Half-Marathon. Additionally, even though I said I would not allow anything to interfere with my biggest goal right now of studying for my Personal Trainer Certification Exam, I did. I allowed trying to secure these sponsorships to eat up Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I knew it was happening, in fact when Chris put a message out of his Facebook page yesterday asking what we were doing to stay on track with our goals this week, I openly admitted that I was letting this project distract me from mine.

Reassess: Okay, I didn’t meet my goal and get my sponsors; There is good news and bad news involved in that. We’ll come back to that. More importantly I lost focus of what I am trying to do here and got sidetracked from studying for my test. But this happened because I was doing some of the very things that my Father and Chris have taught me to do. Back in May when the season premier of Extreme Weight Loss aired Chris and Heidi spent some time talking with people live on Twitter. I asked Chris…

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 8.15.28 AM

I’m still working on that 10 lb. window! But what got me distracted from my goal here was actually something that is part of my goal. I saw an opportunity after I completed my own personal Half-Marathon on Father’s Day to bring that sort of sense of accomplishment to someone else and set off on a mission to do so. Being able to do this sort of thing for others is exactly why I am studying for that test to become a trainer in the first place. So while I was off the path I had committed to a bit, it wasn’t that far off, I was just taking a little detour and pressing the pause button for a moment to create a purpose for someone else. Neither of these things were failures. In fact both of them were huge opportunities for me to show the weight loss community and my potential clients who I am and what I am about.

Recommit: It’s time to get back to the grind. I took a break to do something that was well within the parameters of who I am and who I want to be. But now that I have created that purpose for someone else,  it’s time to get back to my other service oriented goal and get that certification by my personal deadline date: October 19th, 2013 so that I can really start helping others in their weight loss journey. Now, it’s time for me to set a couple S.M.A.R.T goals of my own… my focus now is back to WLS Fitness, Bariatric Fitness and helping people Fight Obesity, here is my commitment:

Starting today, June 25th, I will study for a minimum as 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, as evidence by keeping a log of my steady hours. I will do this for 2 weeks until my Surgery on July 10th. I will reward myself with a week of doing nothing but healing and talking to my friends in the social media world. – This goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, rewarded and timed.

After a week or so of healing I will recommit to this same goal again, setting another two-week time frame and at the end of that two weeks I will take my practice exam to gauge where I am in this process more accurately.

I will not allow my own fears or doubts prevent me from taking the practice exam.

I will take the practice exam at the latest by August 7th and if I do well on it, I will schedule my certification test for first available testing date upon my return to Portland on August 19th.

I will be held accountable to these goals since I have put them all out here on the internet and I have so many people who will check on me.

That addresses one part of my confession… now the other… I did not meet the goals that I set to achieve Sponsorship and funding to send two people to Anaheim CA to participate in the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in January, 2014 – I did however receive enough sponsorship to send ONE person, and there is plenty of time for me to figure out how to get myself there. And I WILL figure out how to get myself there all I have to do this month is make sure I am registered and I can handle that financial responsibility myself. The most important thing is that ONE of YOU is going. So watch for the announcement of the How do you Celebrate Success” contest which will begin announced later this week and find out what you have to do to enter to win. The prize will include; Airfare, Hotel Accommodations, Race Fees, Park Entrance Fees and Ground Transportation to and from the airport.

I want to send a HUGE and I mean HUGE shout out to the companies that have already stepped up and committed to Sponsoring The How do you Celebrate Success Contest.

Kay’s Naturals [ Like Them on Facebook ]

Celebrate Vitamins [ Like Them on Facebook ]

Pace Setter Athletics  [ Like Them on Facebook ]

The Support these three companies showed to step up to the plate and help me make this contest a possibility will never be forgotten. And for any other companies that would like to consider Sponsorship of the How do you Celebrate contest – there is still time. If you are interested, please contact me at – Now it’s time to get today’s six hours in. I have a goal to meet, and I have the personal integrity to make sure it gets done.


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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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BariLife has decided to send me back to Paris to represent the WLS Community as I attempt to find my love of running again.
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