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Physical Exhaustion Helped Me Find My Healthy Voice Again

10693779_722272227807843_1115779265_nI got in the car huffing and puffing and threw my hands over my face to hide the emotional storm that was brewing within me from the driver. I had stopped my Nike+ Sports watch at 6.2 miles because that is the distance that I had intended to run and the obsessive compulsive in me needed to know what my pace for that distance was, rather that the time after that where I slowed down and stopped pushing my body to perform at its maximum potential.

I’m pretty sure that I was once again on the verge of heat exhaustion and the fact that my body would not do what I wanted it to do was frustrating me so much that I was on the verge of tears. Not even two months ago I ran a 10k, 6.2 miles with a pace time of 12 minutes and  27 seconds per mile and now, here I was pacing out at 13 minutes and 24 seconds … I’d lost over 1 minute per mile in two short months of falling short of my training.

How had I allowed this to happen? How had I slipped into such a dark place and such a deep depression that in two short months I had lost nearly 60 seconds per mile due to lack of training and would I be able to catch up in time to meet my goals of running my next half marathon in under 3 hours?

Depression is an ugly thing. That’s no lie. The last seven months have been hard for me.  I started the year by moving half way across the country in February to start my dream job working as a weight loss and wellness coach in order to help others fight obesity.

10354408_665536556828411_332345651_n (1)Usually I am the type of person that takes the negative and spins it into a positive and finds a way to use the emotions wrapped around things that I am angry or upset about to fuel my personal fitness meter. For example: my response to an emotional evening of internet bullies that had tried to get me fired from that new job–over their ridiculous assumptions about a Facebook post that I made, keeping me up late into the night with their harassing and inflammatory posts the night before I had to run a 10K (to make pace time for my upcoming Half Marathon Event)– was to drag my ass out of bed with very little sleep, and pull off one of my best event times yet of 12 minutes and 17 seconds per mile.

But when it came to dealing with the depression and funk that hit me around Father’s day and lasted well into the beginning part of August just seemed to be something that sidelined any personal fitness goals I had and propelled me into this place where it was a constant struggle for me to run because I associate running so much with my Father that every time I went for a run I found myself missing him even more. It was a double-edged sword really. I’d go for a run to achieve that feeling of spending time with my Father, and then I would hurt inside that he wasn’t here anymore.

924450_735630803149282_1711825532_n (1)And though I was struggling through the anniversary grief of his death in July, I got out there and ran a 10K during one of the hottest months of the year where I had to cross bridges and run on unsteady ground, up several hills I didn’t know about and still managed to pace out only 10 seconds per mile slower and now here I was in September fighting my body and struggling to finish with a time under 13 minutes and 30 seconds per mile and the truth is, I wasn’t angry at anyone other than myself. How had I allowed myself to lose this much ground in just two short months?

I hid my face from the person in the driver’s seat so they didn’t see the tears falling down my face as I tried to convince my body that it could do just a little bit more.  I had already stopped once at just about 5 miles into my run when my heart rate reached 177 and my face felt like it was about to melt off of my body to run into a Burger King to get a cup of ice water in order to lower my core temperature and heart rate and now here I was again, just two miles later, struggling to continue.

Once my heart rate got down into the 90s again I opened the car door and got out, determined NOT to finish the run, because I had already done that, but to finish the mission I was working on in my Zombie Run game so that I didn’t lose 55 minutes of effort put into it by ending it before it was completed. I hate failing at anything, even a mission on a run game. It’s just who I am.

I ran for less than 3 minutes before I had to walk again, I knew that I was border-lining heat exhaustion again, but I continued to walk determined to complete that mission. Seven minutes later of running when I could and walking when I had to, I started looking down at my phone in confusion. Could this mission possibly be this long? Most of them average 30 minutes or so according to my settings, so what in the world was going on? I was only getting slower, the heat beating down on me, and finally after an hour and 32 minutes, and more exhausted than I have ever been in my life I realized that if I didn’t stop I was going to end up passing out. I was tired, and I didn’t understand how that mission could possibly be still going.

So I stopped, and when I did I realized that I had completed the mission ages ago and was now just tooting along in the extra segments of “radio mode” without realizing it. That’s how confused my brain was, I hadn’t even realized that I had completed the mission and was simply adding extra time now.

Once I realized that I had been done ages ago and that I had continued to push my body past what it was capable of, into what was obviously another round of heat exhaustion now manifesting itself in the form of confusion, I sat down on the sidewalk and I started sobbing.

Roy 62I’m not even sure where the tears were coming from. Being angry with myself, missing my father, months of feeling bullied, being hurt by some of the people who I had tried so hard to give to, months of feeling like so much of my efforts in the last two years had gone unnoticed and unappreciated by people and organization that I absolutely loved; none of it mattered. It was time for those emotions to hit the surface and when I had worn my body down to exhaustion they were all pouring out uncontrollably.

Then I asked myself, how in the hell am I going to run a half marathon in October and November when I can’t even push my body to do 7.5 miles today? Why had I stopped running as much? Because of the hours I was putting in at work, and the stress over trying to study for a test and the pressure I felt to focus on weight and resistance as well as cardio, it was all catching up to me. But as I sat there on that curb crying a little voice inside me said… “You can’t please everyone all the time, the person you have to worry the most about keeping happy is yourself.”

It was my Father’s voice. A voice I have spent several months searching for, missing the sound of and regretting the fact that I hadn’t recorded it so that I could play it back in times that I really needed to hear it.

It was exactly what he would have said to me in that moment and it was exactly what I needed to hear because the truth is, that I’ve become so worried about keeping everyone else happy that I’ve forgotten about myself. From my employer, to my fellow employees, to my clients, to my blog readers to some of the people in my life that I hold closest to my heart; I’ve once again allowed myself trying to keep all of them happy to alter my behavior.

I’ve once again reached that point where I have spread myself too thin with everything I have taken on, so thin in fact that  I can no longer accomplish my own goals and truthfully, I have slipped into a place where I am afraid to say what I really think or feel out of fear of judgment.

And where does this horrible fear of judgment come from? I’ll tell you: it comes from not wanting to feel rejected or unliked. It comes from that horrible fear of being that little girl who gets picked on, bullied, talked about behind her back and made fun of.

It’s gotten to a point where not only have I given up my own fitness goals and let the important me time of getting my runs in fall to the wayside, but also to a point where I am afraid of writing what I really think, feel, or do on my own blog where I promised I would always be raw, truthful and honest because god forbid I give anyone any extra ammunition to use against me.

It’s gotten to a point where there are very few people in my life I feel I can share my real feelings with without causing some sort of emotional hurricane in my world and instead I’ve just become a giant avoider. Avoiding confrontation, avoiding conversation about anything we might disagree on, and living my life in fear of not being liked, accepted or wanted.

I picked myself up and I walked back to the car and managed to avoid breaking down in front of the driver and I went home and I collected my thoughts and the next day, even though it was an off day on my training schedule I got my ass on a treadmill and I ran 3.1 miles with a pace time of 11 minutes and 57 seconds.

10644001_1470229873253377_9252383_nAnd yesterday, I laced up my shoes for a nine mile outdoor training run and with humidity, heat, and rain, I ran 9.3 miles with a 13 minute and 27 second mile, and though it’s not the pace time that I wanted there was a part of me that found solace in the fact that I could do more distance under better weather conditions than I could two days ago, and a part of me that found comfort in knowing that if I absolutely had to run that half marathon tomorrow, I could find the athlete inside me that could do it.

But more important than that, I found something else in my run yesterday: I found me again. Somewhere in that 9.3 miles of running in the rain, heat and humidity of the south I found my voice again. I found the woman who will tell you the truth about the struggles of life after weight loss. I found the woman who will tell you this is a constant battle for me, wanting to be liked, wanting to be accepted.  I fight with body image, I tussle with the numbers I see on the scale, I struggle with my fears of failure and inadequacy and I wage an emotional war within myself with my yearning to be perfect and wanting to be normal even though I know deep inside that I’m anything but normal and everything but perfect.

If you had asked me in the beginning of this journey what I wanted most it would have been “To have the happy and healthy life that my Father wanted for me.” But somewhere in the midst of becoming a target of bullies, building a new career, dealing with the anniversary grief of my Father’s death, and building new relationships, I became afraid of being myself and decided to try to be what everyone else wanted me to be instead.

And now, I’m done. I’m done being anything but myself, unapologetically and understanding that some people won’t like me, let alone love me, and that’s okay because at the end of the day there are only three things that really matter to me, being able to look at myself in the mirror and being happy with who I am, honoring my Father’s desire for me to live a happy and healthy life and knowing that in the end, I have given those that know me the best thing I can give them, my desire to motivate and inspire them to do the same.

And now Slender Seekers, I need to get up, jog in place and remove the red bar of inactivity from my fitness tracker and decide what to do with my day off and get ready for this afternoons #20Week2WineDine #TeamSlenderSeekers training run.  But for those of you who have missed reading my blog and following my voice, fear not. I’ve found it, and you’ll be hearing a lot more from me again.

OXOXOXOXOX,
Imperfect Pandora

I’d like to take a moment to thank our sponsors because without my obligations to their support I might never have pushed myself hard enough to finally break down and start to admit my feelings.  Ameriwell BariatricsCelebrate VitaminsKay’s NaturalsWellese and BariMelts thank for being the sponsors of a contest that helps people celebrate their weight loss success and propels me to remember that my one of my number one goals is to help motivate others.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.

Check out the Second “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest

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Emergency Broadcast – Stop Social Bullying in WLS Community

DssButton2FBEhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh – We interrupt your normally scheduled program for an Emergency Broadcast.

Important Message: #StopSocialBullying in the #WLS Community.

So I’m going to weigh in on this in a fashion I usually don’t. Mostly because I have to be true to myself and my message to this community. I stand up in this community and I tell people, “I will fight for you,” If they try to knock you down I will be in your corner. I will fight against weight bias, weight shamming, weight stigma, bullying and obesity. If you’re a part of #TeamSlenderSeekers I’m in your corner.

When I have been the target of bullying in this community I have done what my Father and Kenny Rodgers taught me, I have turned the other cheek and understood that sometimes I didn’t have to fight. But as that Kenny Rodgers song says “There’s someone for everyone and Tommy’s love was Becky,” my love, my passion and my heart really lays with those who are affected by obesity. And right now, I’m going to prove my word is good… I will stand up and fight against the bullying that I am seeing taking place….

This is going to be long, I am going to tell it like it is, that’s what most of you read my blog for because you know I will always shoot straight with you. Here we go….

These are people I want to help take back control of their lives and often times, the people who are affected by obesity, also deal with issues that deal with body image, lack of self-confidence and lack the courage to stand up for themselves. I’ve always said when I was big; I was really good at being the biggest invisible person in the room.

The transformation that occurs as we start to regain our self-confidence through weight loss is very evident if you go back through the archives of my blog. There was a time I wouldn’t post pictures of myself at all, just little gingerbread type figure pictures that started out big and progressively got smaller with me.

This transformation occurs in our minds as well. We start to gain back that self-confidence, we start to think we’re worthy again; this is evident in how many of us pull away from relationships that we once settled in because we didn’t think we could do any better.

The transformation that occurs in how vocal we are about our feelings is a good thing and is also very evident. For so long so many of us stuffed our feeling down with food and avoided feeling them.  Once food is removed from our tool box as an emotional outlet, we are forced to find other coping skills and that opens up the door for us to also learn to communicate our feelings more.

Now let’s talk about Bullying for a moment.  According to StopBullying.Gov Bullying is defined as: Unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves real or perceived power imbalances. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated over time.  They go on to define “Social Bullying” as: relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. The behaviors they list include: Teasing, Name-Calling, Inappropriate Sexual Comments, Taunting, Threatening to cause harm, leaving someone out on purpose, telling others not to be friends with someone, Spreading rumors about someone and embarrassing someone in public.

Now let me say, I’ve been a part of this community since I attended the OAC #YWM2012 Convention and I have witnessed these sorts of behaviors first hand ever since I attended a became involved with the #WLS Community on Facebook. This issue has been the purple elephant in the room that most people were afraid to talk about. Afraid is a very big word there, people were afraid; they were scared that if they stood up against the behaviors they were seeing they would become the next target.

And I was one of them. I was in the process of a complete career change, trying to start my own business as a Weight Loss Coach and Personal Trainer, I had aspirations to help others fight obesity, the last thing I needed was a lynch mob after me because I had upset the wrong person.

But it happened none the less. Strangely enough the first instance was right after it had been announced that I had received the Sponsorship for the first “How do you Celebrate Success” contest and was giving away to one of my readers a trip to Disneyland to run a Half Marathon that included airfare, hotel accommodations, park tickets and race registration fees.  Just a few days after that the OAC invited me to speak at the #YWM2013 Convention on a panel regarding reconstructive plastic surgery after massive weight loss. This was right around the time that I had been generously gifted by my godfather with the money needed to go forward with another round of reconstructive plastic surgery to assist in my own struggle with body image issues. As these things happened, guess what else happened, I was targeted. Suddenly the topic of “Plastic Surgery as a Transfer Addiction” was what all the cool kids in the community were talking about. My inbox was flooded with “concerned” folks who had read about this in their Facebook Group and felt the need to let me know that they felt I was a prime example of what was being discussed and that perhaps I shouldn’t be accepting my godfather’s gift, or that I needed to be more honest with the OAC because I probably wasn’t a good selection as a speaker on this topic.

The next time I was targeted strangely enough came right after the announcement of the sponsorship of the next “How do You Celebrate Success” contest, where one of my readers had the chance to win a trip to Walt Disney World. The prize again included all of the expenses involved other than food and souvenirs.  I had also just moved all the way across country and taken a brand new job following my dreams and had just been hired by a women’s only gym facility to design their weight loss and wellness program. Dreams I had been working towards for the better part of three years were coming true because of my courage to pursue them and suddenly, a post that I made on Facebook that mentioned no names and said“You can’t tell your coach you are adhering to a program and then post pictures of pizza, beer and cheesecake on Facebook.” was twisted and presented to the public in a post intended to incite them that read…

“I promise you – if my personal trainer publically shamed my fitness, body shape or eating habits of Facebook – I would publically shame them in a very different way.”

The first comment was by the poster herself “Unemployment checks” was all it said, though it hinted encouragement that if it were up to them I’d be fired. Guess what happened next? My employer was getting messages on Facebook along the lines of “It is highly ethical for a Trainer to be discussing their clients on their Facebook page; you should be more careful who you choose to represent your company.”

When my employer got the message, doing what a good employer does they researched it and they next day when I came in they talked to me about it. However when they didn’t respond to the message, the author, a member of the WLS Community, took it to the next level, they published a review of the gym, a gym they are not a member of on Facebook where my employer can’t use administrative rights to remove it, but can only respond to it. The review reported the incident drastically different from what actually happened.

“It’s highly unethical for a trainer to be posting on her FB about her clients! Social Media is not an appropriate place for someone to publicly shame a paying customer while announcing they are a representative of your company on their same page. #pandorawilliams #slenderseekers”

Luckily for me my employer understood the situation and what was happening and their response to the review wasn’t to fire me, but to post that they didn’t agree with the assessment of the situation as shared in the review.

Later that same day another member of the WLS Community wrote in about it too. The sentiment was the same;

“It’s disgusting that you would support a trainer who publicly shames a customer on a social media site. The hope is that this post spreads and it has an adverse effect. Maybe then, you will find it unethical and immoral to support this type of behavior.”

The bullying that has been going on in this community for the last few years; the behaviors where you get unfriended by people you thought liked you because you commented on something or responded in a way they didn’t approve of, attended an event they didn’t want you to go to, we’re friends with someone they don’t like. That is high school drama and if you choose to participate in it you do yourself a disservice. But really, other than a few hurt feelings, well, everyone shows their true colors eventually and the only person you really hurt in the end is yourself.

The problem is, things tend to escalate when it comes to this type of behavior and pretty soon it’s not petty little things like being unfriended on Facebook, now it’s using the power of a group of people who you have influence over to encourage interference in people’s lives. I’ve used an example of how it happened to me above to illustrate this for you.

Forget about the name calling folks, that’s high school too, but when we start seeing posts where people are trying to get someone fired over a post on Facebook, threatening law suits because the name or initials of a group are similar, threatening to call the police to report someone for drunk driving days after you heard it might have happened, sticking your nose in other people’s financial affairs, contacting other bloggers and implying that you’ve lost sponsors because they under sold you on advertisement; is it any wonder that you are losing friends, supporters, sponsors and people willing to fight in your corner? And whether you are actually the one saying these things or not only protects you from libel and slander, it doesn’t change the fact that you are the source of where it is coming from. People get wise to that behavior really quick.

With the recent drama that has flared up in this community, one of the women who felt bullied in this fashion finally stood up for herself and said something. She took what was behind closed doors bullying and brought it to the forefront so that people couldn’t turn a blind eye and ignore it and you know what, good for her. Because we should not be ignoring it, we should not be tolerating it, and we should not be supporting it.

This community should be about supporting each other, not tearing each other down. Many of the people in it have been torn down and torn apart, abused, bullied and picked on for a large majority of their lives; those are some of the very things that lead them to unhealthy weights, unhealthy relationships with food and unhealthy habits. You all have so much in common that there really is no reason to have to focus so much on thing things you don’t and there is certainly no reason to exhibit behaviors that could so negatively impact people’s lives.

If we continue to let this sort of behavior go on behind closed doors and we don’t do what this brave woman did and shine a light on the dark little crevice as a community we stand to lose some of the wonderful people who would be so damaged by this behavior that they’d give up and no longer try to do all the good that they do because they don’t want to be target.

I encourage each and every one of you in this community, the next time you see that vague little post that is meant to incite you and stir the pot and get you react, think for a moment about how manipulative that is and ask yourself, do you want to be that person whose name is out there in the public because you fired a verbal bullet at someone who had the potential to seriously hurt their lives? Do you want to be a part of the social bullying? What you put out there can’t be taken back you know. People might be able to delete posts and hide comments and try to make things go away, but you can’t ever take back the damage you’ve done.

In my circumstance, the woman who shot that bullet when her friend incited her, her name is still there on our Gyms Facebook review page for the entire world to see. And while she was ready to tear me apart over something I didn’t do, she sure wasn’t very vocal about saying thank you for the free registrations I had gifted her and her friends with for a fitness event just a few months earlier. Strange how certain sects of the community only want to talk about what they perceive you do wrong.

So I encourage you not to let it happen in private, public or any fashion. #StopSocialBullying in the WLS Community in its tracks before it takes something really tragic to show you that it’s gotten out of hand. Don’t participate in these sorts of threads. Don’t encourage them. Don’t like them. Don’t comment on them. Don’t be a part of Social Bully in the WLS Community.

This has been a message from your neighborhood Pandora.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies and Motivational Speaker studying to become a Certified Personal Trainer.
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About (Pandora) The Author

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender
Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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