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Diary of a WLS Junkie!

The daily thoughts, ramblings, trials and tribulations of the journey to weight loss surgery.

Why I Choose The Tinkerbell Half Marathon

DssButton2FB2-150x150Today has started with so many projects half-open on my desk being worked on. But as a bariatric fitness enthusiast I have to stop and take a moment to share an exciting revelation with you as it pertains to my WLS fitness and wellness path.

So as many of you know I am still looking to and attempting to gather the sponsorship to secure my way to the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in January. My amazing “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest Sponsors were able to make sure I was able to empower someone to go and our winner Dawn Brell is currently getting ready to start her #20Week2Tink Training Program with me as part of a team participating in the event in January of 2014.

As I have talked to a few prospective sponsors in the last couple of weeks about not only helping me finance my way to the event, but additionally to perhaps get behind another bariatric exercise oriented contest in November that would allow someone to go to the Disney Wine and Dine with me as well, I was asked an interesting question, “Pandora why did you choose the Disney race instead of something in your neck of the woods?”

It took me a moment to absorb the shock of the question, because it had never occurred to me that there was some deep seeded emotional reason that I had made this selection, I honestly until that moment attributed it with my overall love for Disney, the lessons my father taught me based on the beliefs of a visionary like Walt Disney, and my little obsession with Tinkerbell.

But the truth is, there was a reason I chose this half marathon as my first, official, bibbed and timed event; because I need to face my fears and realize that my obesity and my weight and the skin on my body no longer define me anymore (Thank you Chris Powell) and because I need realize that pain has an expiration date. (Thank you Merrill Littleberry) because in those lessons you have taught me to recognize those amazing moments where I have broken through and see the huge steps that I have taken forward and the progression I have made in this chapter of my life.

Back in December I wrote about what I called a “Forever Moment” [Moments We Will Remember Forever in Our Weight Loss Journey]– A moment that changed you forever and sort of defined who you are. This was a particular moment that haunted me.  A look on some man’s face who likely doesn’t even remember me today and if he did, and he saw me now I’d earn the same shocked look for what I achieved as I had for what I had let my food addiction come too at the time he saw me. This moment happened for me at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.

I need to change this moment. I need to re-write the story my mind plays when I think of Disneyland. It needs to not be associated with the time I spent there with a family that I can’t allow in my life, or with this negative look I have allowed to haunt me. I needed to let the expiration date expire on this pain that I’ve been holding on to by allowing this moment to be something I have focused on that doesn’t bring positivity to my life. I need to learn to let go of the past, and I chose the Tinkerbell because, what better way to start a new year than with a new resolution to start re-writing chapters of your life that don’t fuel your inspiration and motivation than in the very place you have let a memory from haunt you.

I let the happiest place on earth get turned into my own personal emotional tower of terror and hadn’t even realized it.  So that is why I chose the Tinkerbell, to put me back in Disneyland and let me re-write the chapter of my story that happened there with something positive, and something that reminds me what my goals are, and what better way to do that than to take someone else walking the same path there with me and remind myself that the big goal is to get to a place where I can significantly impact other people’s lives by helping empower and motivate their weight loss journey.

This is a great revelation to have just a few days before Dawn and I begin our 20 Week Training Schedule on my birthday next Wednesday as my personal testament to how I celebrate in non-food oriented manners.  Now I am even more motivated than ever to make sure that I supply her and I the motivation needed to get us there to make this happen.

I’m feeling exceptionally grateful to the “How do I Celebrate Success” Sponsors this afternoon for their support in making part of this dream a reality for me and I’m super excited to get this party started this week as my birthday present to myself.



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

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Kay’s Naturals
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All of Me Movie Screening – A Post RNY Patient Perspective

All-of-Me-Poster-smallI used to think I put “All of me” out there. I used to believe that my life was an open book and that everyone was allowed to read each and ever chapter through my blog and this website. The other day I had the pleasure of watching the screening of the movie “All of me,” and you want to talk about putting yourself out there, these women left nothing about themselves and their journey unexposed.

The movie is about a group of women who started together as a Big Beautiful Women ( BBW ) Group that participated in Fat Acceptance ( FA ) parties together and then later began embarking on a journey to lose weight together through different Bariatric Surgeries. The movie focuses quite a bit on the change in the relationships not only between these women, but with their significant others as well.

We talk often about how our decision to have Bariatric Surgery changes us. How it changes our friendships and how it changes our relationships. Very rarely do we see it unfold in front of our eyes on the big screen and manifest itself in a way that actually makes these thoughts and feelings portrayed in a way that we can see them happening. This movie did that.

DawnI had the pleasure of meeting Dawn, one of the stars of the film. I wish I could express how much I identified with Dawn in the movie. I often say that at 420 lb., I was invisible in the world. I was huge and yet nobody noticed me. It is very obvious when you meet Dawn, and get to know her through the movie, that she is passionate about helping make sure that people whose voices are not necessarily loud enough are heard.

ZsalynnThe truthfulness in this documentary film amazed me. The open and candid approach to things like past BBW adult oriented modeling that some of the women in this film participated in, quite honestly made me smile. I do however think that the film included a little too much of the actual modeling content than it needed to, and I think some of the points the film maker wanted to make got lost to some of their audience in the shock factor response to this. Mentioning it is one thing and showing a few examples another. But the scene where one of the women was actually plopping down on her partner in bed was one of those moments where the audience made a lot of shocked sounds and I think that particular vision stayed with some of them for so long that they missed some of the more important relationship aspects of the film because of it. Though I think there was a little too much of it included, I still applaud the film maker and the women in the documentary for including it. The Bariatric Community as a whole can be very judgmental and so much like high school that to see this documentary where these women were completely honest about their pasts and their journeys with no regard or care as to whether or not they were judged for it, made me smile and think to myself, “This is a group of women I could be friends with.” But I’ve always been of the opinion that this community is far too judgmental to one another and far too un-accepting of one another and our vast differences.


Watching the audience responses to the film intrigued me. Watching what characters they liked verses which ones they didn’t was interesting to me from a psychological standpoint. It seemed many in the audience didn’t like one of the characters in the movie that had successfully lost her weight, changed her attitude quite a bit, and seemed to distance herself most from those that were not on the same path that she was. It appeared that many found her cocky, arrogant and didn’t like her. I on the other hand found myself understanding the need to remove yourself from situations that are not necessarily mentally healthy for the path you are on and not aiding in getting you to your lifestyle change goals whether they are weight related or not.

I often feel within the Bariatric community we live in a bubble where EVERYTHING is about weight loss, weight loss surgery, support groups, conventions and our weight loss journeys. The thing is, for those in our lives that are not weight loss surgery patients or are not trying to lose weight, this can be a very annoying issue. I’ve seen in it my own personal relationships. My family wants nothing to do with the WLS community, they don’t want to attend events because they feel this community is all-consuming. I have been told on more than one occasion “I want to have a friendship with you, but we have nothing in common anymore because all you are about is WLS, weight loss, fitness, and exercise.” – One of my closest non-op friends told me just recently “You know your Father wanted you to have a happy healthy life. Not a sheltered one where 100% of your life was about weight loss surgery.”

At 420 lb. I was defined by my weight. It held me back from things I wanted to do. Today at 165 lb. my life revolves around my weight still, and I’m so busy doing things with and for the WLS Community that its pretty hard to get time with me outside of that. I remember not to long ago, I made the decision to come to Dallas to attend the NKOTB concert with my chosen sister, and when it meant me not attending a weight loss, exercise oriented convention I was going to attend I was ridiculed a little for it. But my life can’t always be about weight loss or I’m letting my weight control my life just as much now as I did when I weighed 420 lb.

We all change, people change as they get older, as they gain more life experience, and interestingly enough that seems to be one of the big fears people have when it comes to weight loss. “I don’t want to change who I am on the inside because I changed who I am on the outside.” I always want to ask them, if who they are on the outside is a true representation of who they are on the inside. Because when I started this journey, I wanted to change. I wanted to live a happier, healthier life. As I started making those changes, my relationships changed, a lot of them. My business relationships, my friendships, my intimate relationships, they all changed as I changed and became more confident in myself. The things I wanted out of life changed and it caused me to separate myself from people who were unhealthy for me.

As I watched this film I asked myself, if I had been in this group of women, would have remained friends with this group of women or stayed with the men that the women in this film were in relationships with and my answer, because I am honest, was no, I would not.

Dawn-and-GuyIf prior to my decision to lose weight I had been a part of a Big Beautiful Women group where the theme of the group and the friendships in it were, “I’m a big woman and I believe that I am beautiful and there are plenty of people out there that believe that I am beautiful as well.” I would have distanced myself. I would not have found that sort of mindset helpful to where I was trying to go. I was always the girl who looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw. I still have issues with what I see in the mirror sometimes because of the excess skin issues. But I was never ok with being morbidly obese, I was never accepting of it in that regard. When it comes to the men in the movie, to be honest I sort of felt that they were unfairly painted in a negative light. Would I have stayed with a man who wasn’t happy with my decision to lose weight and seek a happier, healthier life? No I wouldn’t have. I would have left someone who didn’t support my decisions. That said, if I had married someone who was specifically a “Fat Admirer” or someone who had a fetish for big girls, and I suddenly decided that wasn’t who I wanted to be anymore, I would leave out of respect and love for them. I would look at it and go “Who am I to expect him to give up what he wants and what makes him happy because I have suddenly changed my mind about what I want and what makes me happy and our wants and needs in the relationship no longer parallel each other.”

I wrote down a couple of quotes from the movie that stood out to me as I was watching it and there was one thing in particular that I took away from this movie that really touched me. One of the women talked about how she felt about herself when she looked at her before and after photos. – I have often discussed that I feel completely disassociated from the woman in my before photos. I think one of the biggest relationship changes that we go through in our weight loss journey is our relationship with ourselves. The thing that stood out the most for me in the movie was one of the women saying that when she looks at her before picture, she is thankful to the woman in it, grateful to her for finding a way to protect her. This was one of those lightbulb moments for me. I always looked at my before picture and thought “What was I thinking, why did I ruin my body like that, why did I let me addiction to food get so out of hand.” Today as I am packing up for the OAC Your Weight Matters 2013 Convention, I pulled out the before picture I usually take with me and as I looked at it for the first time I thought to myself…

“What an amazing woman I am that I found a self-defense mechanism that could get me through the horrible abuse I endured. I learned to have relationships with food because food didn’t hurt me when everyone else around me did” We talk about building proverbial walls around ourselves when we have been hurt and having to take them down brick my brick when it is time to start letting people back in. Fat cells were my bricks and I built a very thick wall around myself to protect me from the physical, sexual, mental and emotional abuse that I went through as child and later, a teenager. The truth is, that wall of fat cells probably saved my life a dozen times over. It protected me during a time that I didn’t have healthy people in my life and when the time came, and I was ready, I started taking those fat cells down just like we talk about taking our walls down brick by brick. I don’t think I will ever look at my before picture the same again. I don’t ever think I will look at the woman in those photos with so much disdain, disgust and dislike. That is probably one of the move valuable things I could have learned and this documentary empowered me with that.

I’d definitely recommend the film to anyone who fights a battle with Obesity. It’s a different perspective than I think we are used to seeing, but I think that is healthy. Seeing things from different perspective sometimes helps us see ourselves more clearly. Putting ourselves in other people’s shoes and asking ourselves what we would do, often times gives us a glimpse into who we are that we might not have seen before.

In closing I think All of Me is a documentary that can open doors and discussions about relationships with others and with ourselves and how they change as we battle obesity. It also made me realize that even though I think I am an open book for everyone to read, I am sure I haven’t quite put “All of me” on there… and that’s probably a good thing. I have to save a few things for the book I’ll write someday, right?


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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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