Today is Father’s Day and I’m struggling with missing my Dad terribly. I miss my Dad everyday but I think there are some days when it is worse than others. Father’s Day, the anniversary of the day he passed away, and his Birthday.
Yesterday, I ran a 5K in honor of my Father at the Dadfest 5K in Frisco Texas. I finished in just under 37 minutes and then doubled back to where my friends were ( they were walking it instead of running or jogging it ) and finished again with them at just a little under an hour. ( 00:59:24.748 )My total distance yesterday was 4.75mi with a 13.07 min/mi pace.
This morning when I woke up and saw all the “Happy Father’s Day” messages on Facebook I realized it was going to be a really hard day for me. I sat on the end of the bed sobbing my eyes out and feeling the pain of missing my Dad in my life as I composed a poem for him.
My Dad was so special to me. I looked up to him so much. He was really one of the most amazing men I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. They don’t build men like my Father anymore and I can honestly say that I feel blessed to have known him, and even more so, to have been raised by him. My Father helped mold me into the woman I am today and I am eternally grateful for the thing that he taught me.
I wish that I could tell you how much I miss you so.
Or explain how hard I struggle with how I had to watch you go.
My life has changed so much since the day had to leave.
And it hurts sometime that you’re not here to see what I’ve achieved.
You taught me to be kind and you told me I was smart.
And said that anything worth doing, was worth doing with all my heart.
You taught me to love others even if they couldn’t love me.
You taught me to be strong and face my fears with dignity.
You taught me to give back and to be someone that cares.
You taught me to be loving and be someone that shares.
You taught me life’s a river and destiny a dance.
And told me to approach each moment as a chance.
And though it hurts that you’re not here to share the journey I’ve begun.
I know that I can find your guidance when I exercise and run.
I miss your hugs, I miss your smile but most I miss you voice.
And I know you wouldn’t have left me if life offered another choice.
I know that you would smile and tell me it’s okay.
And to go and do something else because it’s just another day.
But I had to say I love you, even though you can’t be near.
And let you know I feel your presence even though you can’t be here.
And since I know you’re listening, there’s just one more thing to say…
Thank you for being my Dad, and Happy Father’s Day.
I set out to do my usual 5K, but today I was running out emotions and as I finished the first 3.1 miles a little voice inside me started to ask, I wonder if I could run a Half-Marathon today. I dismissed it at first, thinking shut up Pandora, that’s crazy, you haven’t trained for a half marathon. Then I thought, I did a 5K for Dad yesterday, maybe I could do a 10K today. I did a 10K, and then, I kept going. I pushed for a 15K next, thinking “Hey maybe I can run 9.3, I’ve never gone that far before.” I did a 15K, I got that 9.3 and then I kept going, and I got that 13.1 – Actually I got 13.2 as I ended up at my special little ending place in the middle of my friends community where I decided to make a video and share this very special non scale victory moment with you.
Click the photo clip below to watch the video.
I struggled on Mile 11 to Mile 12 and I ended up walking that whole mile as I refueled with a Starbucks iced coffee and a banana. And the closer I got to the end of that half-marathon the more emotional it became for me. I reached out to a few dear friends at that point to try to distract myself from how hard those last two miles were and when Joy called me back I was hauling my eyes out in an emotional whirlwind of being proud of what I was about to accomplish and yet so sad at how much I was missing my Father. I was at 12.26 miles when Joy called me, and she stayed on the phone with me, listening to me and supporting me and cheering me on and reminding me how proud my Father would be of me until she had to go to meet with a client. When Joy hung up I was at just about 12.8 miles – I pushed hard at that point and I made it. Then I sat down, cried it out, and took a moment to catch my breath and gathered my thoughts for a moment before I made the above mentioned video.
After the video, I walked home, ( another .74 miles ) – I was sore and stiff and that three-quarters of a mile took me nearly twelve minutes.
Then I sat there down for a moment and looked at what I had accomplished.
13.20 Miles – 2:52:45 Average Pace 13:05
00.74 Miles – 0:11:39 Average Pace 15:46
Total – 13.94 Miles 3:04:24
My Father is a huge part of my weight loss journey. Him coming to me and letting me know that he was concerned for my health was a hug part of my decision to have weight loss surgery. “Honey I love you fat or skinny, black or white, but I’m not going to be around too much longer and I need to know you are going to have a happy and healthy life.” Those words will stick with me forever and forever motivate me to maintain my 260 lb, weight loss.
This was an amazing day for me. It really was. I will be proud of this day for a very long time to come. But for right now, it’s time for me to get some sleep because morning will come early and I have something else I have to do to make my Dad proud tomorrow… classes at the Cooper Institute. Coaching Healthy Behaviors here I come.
I sit here with tears in my eyes still. Though I suppose it is better because they are a mixture of a bunch of emotions instead of the overwhelming sense of despair that I was filled with this morning.
You’d think after three sessions of Plastic Surgery I’d be more prepared for what this part of the journey offers me. False. It throws me curve balls constantly. Try having consults with 4 different surgeons and getting 4 different opinions with 4 different prices. Confusion? Trust me a blog on this and how emotionally unstable I feel sorting through the emotions associated with it are coming, but not today, today we are going to be talking about body image.
I hate my body. This is my problem first and foremost. In my mind, I want to look like that girl I always wanted to be and could not be because size held me back. You know how when we are big we joke about the “skinny girl locked inside us.” Well for ME, that skinny girl had a face, a body and I knew what she looked like. And guess what. I don’t look a damn thing like her now that I am slender and it just pisses me right the freak off. True story.
I associate the skin on my body with something terrible that happened to me. I was sexually abused by my step grandfather at the age of four and it went on until my Grandmother passed away when I was eight. I had a family that was emotionally, mentally and verbally abusive. I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and I wasn’t allowed to socialize with other kids much outside of school, I became a loner and food became my friend. I was chubby by the sixth grade and for the rest of my life I was the morbidly obese fat girl who was nearly invisible to the world and that very few people thought were worthy of their time and attention. Food stayed my friend, my addiction, my everything and it was a self sabotaging relationship that I felt was completely out of my control and I blamed it, 100% on the abuse I had endured through my life. I was malignantly obese because everyone else had hurt me so much that I hid behind my weight and had a relationship with food. But then I decided to take control back, to take my life back you know why? Because if I followed my line of thinking, I was now 430 lb., couldn’t wipe my own ass to go to the bathroom and was killing myself with a fork and spoon. I was miserable, because I had allowed what they did to me to push me to this miserable existence and you know what FLIP THEM. I won’t let them kill me, I can change this. I lost 260 lb. Then I looked in the mirror and what I saw looking back at me was “Ha Ha, you thought you won didn’t you, but really, you didn’t, I’m still here to remind you that you’ll always be that little abused girl who is somehow broken by what was done to you and no matter how hard you try you cannot get away from that.” – It’s a sad and mentally damaging thing to hear in your head when you look in the mirror, the people who abused you, laughing at you, but that is what I heard. True Story.
This is part of what drove me to exercise and part of why I love it. Because through exercise I feel like I can fight back. Let me throw some kicks, some punches, get out some anger towards those people who pushed me into a life of obesity with their abuse. It was a brand new outlet for my anger and I loved it. The first time my own personal Trainer Suzie Hamann put a punching bag in front of me I felt like I had just received one of the best mental health sessions of my life.
Today I sat here, asking myself what I needed to do to improve my mental head space on this skin issue, because I can’t fall apart and have a mental break down every time I get bad news from a plastic surgeon as I attempt to try to pick which one I want to use and figure out which one I can actually afford. And while I am ashamed to admit it… I was talking to my dear friend fellow WLS and reconstructive plastics patient Laura Van Tuyl, and I said, “I think this morning was the last time I have in me of breaking down and crying over it when it’s not the result I need. I think it’s time for me to stop chasing a dream I know I can’t get to right now and go home and salvage what my be left of my graphics design business.” Laura’s reaction was to ask me why I was considering this, and after hearing what I had to say, ended with this thought “Don’t doubt in the darkness (or the moment) what has been shown to you in the light (of discovery and wisdom).”
I left it at that, there was nothing else left for me to say, I don’t like being in this place mentally and today, for the first time in my entire journey, it had pushed me to a place where I just wasn’t sure I could go forward. I sat in my Godfather’s backyard for an hour crying and trying to catch my breath.
I made a video trying to explain what I was feeling to this community because I’m not sure anyone gets it, heck I am not even sure if I get it yet… and then I looked down and my phone was ringing, I didn’t answer right away, I needed a moment or two to compose myself, so I let it go to voice mail.
The call was coming in from Bobby Whisnand, a Personal Trainer that I met at the OAC Convention in Dallas who has sort of taken me under his wing a little and has been helping me pursue my dream of becoming a trainer. A former Copper Institute Graduate, Bobby was part of my decision to attend the CI Course, he was also, the one that supported me and told me to go when I second guessed myself and whether I should attend the course back in April or wait until June as I had originally planned. I’m a huge fan of Bobby’s “It’s All Heart,” Program, not just because I am a fan of Bobby and everything he has done for me, but because it is the first program I have seen that I truly believe is centered around making sure EVERYONE can exercise, no matter what level of fitness they are starting at, and understands some of the physical limitations that morbidly obese people face. It is also to my knowledge the first program out there that actually has section included on Bariatric Nutrition. I could go on, but trust me I’ll be talking about It’s All Heart a lot when it comes out; the point here is the program is amazing, but Bobby Whisnand, the man behind it, is even more amazing.
The first thing Bobby said to me was ‘Pandora I want to tell you something and I want you to hear me out.” Which was exactly what I needed right then because I could hardly talk without sobbing. I listened as Bobby explained to me in great detail, how much he personally believes in me and in what I want to do, and be, and how much he is willing to help me get there. I wish I could tell you word for word what Bobby said, but honestly my head was spinning. What he said specifically isn’t as important as the message though, it was very clear to me after the call from Bobby, that whatever doubt I was having about where I am and where I am going, need to be gone. That is the one solid thing I have right now. I may never be ok with my body and what I see in the mirror, that is something I have to figure out for me and a very difficult part of my weight loss journey. But I do need to separate that from my future as a personal trainer, because I know that the only person doubting whether I can be a trainer or not because of how my arms look is me, and I’m not doubting my ability, I’m doubting my self-confidence.
I do not know how it is that I have been so blessed that on the days when I have fallen, and I mean fallen hard, on the days that I am so close to giving up, throwing in the towel and curling into a ball and screaming “you win, you win” to those nasty little body image demons that haunt me so much, I have the most amazing mentors in the world to reach out to me, take my hand and pull me through the darkness back into the light.
This excess skin, body image issues and my mistake of associating my body image with something unhealthy is a battle for me, I am fighting it hard, and I’ve had the blessing of having some amazing people there to pick me up and help make sure I “fall without failing” – people like Chris Powell, Heidi Powell, Bobby Whisnand, and some of the women in this community, I am a very lucky to have such an amazing support system filled with people who somehow know just when they need to reach out a hand to me.
As sad as this is, as I sat outside crying over this today, there was a moment where I felt sorry for myself and the thought entered my head that maybe I believed in my potential far too much, I mean what qualifies me to become personal trainer, I don’t have a normal BMI, I’m scared to take the test because I don’t believe I know it and I don’t think I have studied enough, I’m not a YouTube Superstar or a Marathon Runner, and then I looked down and there was Bobby Whisnand calling me. Alright Universe, I’ve heard the message.
I don’t know what lies ahead with this reconstructive surgery thing. I have a couple good ideas of where I am going, and right now, I think that includes right back to my own surgeon for an honest one on one about how confused I am right now. But what I do know, is that I am going to Dallas for a month where I am devoting 100% of my time to studying for my test, working with Bobby, and making sure that I utilize all the tools I can to pass this test, because what I want more than anything is to be a personal trainer and help others in their weight loss journeys. The excess skin and the surgeries to correct that might come before, during or after, but like my Father used to say, I will cross that bridge as I come to it. The next part of my journey is a month in June in Dallas focused on my future, and who knows, maybe when I am back in Texas, the rest will work itself out, my journey has a way of putting me in the right place at the right time and when I started second guessing this trip my mind was changed fast.
Next stop Dallas, next goal PT Certification, everything else I turn over to fate, destiny and whoever out there I am so blessed to have watching over me. This is my fist victory over my body image issues, it’s a small one, but I’m claiming it. My body image issues vs my Support System. Them zero, us, one.