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Skin Removal after Weight Loss

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NKOTB Inspires my Body Confidence

So there I was dancing around the room naked in front of the mirror. For someone who struggles with body image issues after massive weight loss, being able to do that without stopping to find a flaw and pick at something you don’t like about yourself? That is quite a non-scale victory moment in and of itself. I had to stop and double-check and make sure that the blinds were drawn and that nobody could see me rocking out to one of my favorite NKTOB songs as it started playing while I was put on lotion.

I was feeling like I was a sixteen year old girl, standing in front of the mirror naked dancing around like I was on stage with the five boys that owned my heart. Yeah roll your eyes, I was indeed a first generation block head. And no, I was not using my hair brush like a microphone. It was my lotion bottle. Don’t judge.

For months I have been trying to find the extra cash to buy tickets to their upcoming concert in Charlotte, NC. (The closest venue they are playing to where I live) Even after what happened when my best friend and I went to their meet and greet. And with everything else that suddenly came up my suddenly in my life. Well, it just didn’t happen. I probably could have afforded tickets if anyone that I knew was actually as big of a fan as I am. Then I could just buy one ticket but when I’d also pay for the privilege of making someone else go with me, that’s definitely not in the post bankruptcy Pandora budget.NKOTBGroupShotWeb

Several months ago, I had the money and could have bought the tickets. But I wavered back and forth, trying to decide if I really wanted to go after my best friend got slighted and disappointed when we attended the Dallas show of their last tour with meet and greet tickets.

I danced around my room sans my clothing last night grooving to not only one, but three of their songs as they came on back to back. I realized how good I felt in that moment. I realized that I had made a mistake. I should have bought the tickets and I really shouldn’t have based my relationship with the band on how someone else felt. Even if that someone was my very best friend.

I make a point out of fighting weight bias and fighting weight stigma and since my friend felt that perhaps she had been slighted by her weight I wanted to rescue her and make her feel better. But there is something else that I have learned in the last year or two since that concert: sometimes we create that bias and stigma ourselves.

See me? I’m the walking billboard. It’s hard being the big girl in the crowd. It’s even harder being the big girl in the crowd when your now skinny friend who lacks the ability to know how not to sparkle comes up with a plan to try to get someone’s attention. While I believe that Tora was entitled to her feelings–they are real and valid and  I wish that she never had to feel them–I also came to my own conclusion that it might have had a lot more to do with us and our actions (or lack thereof and personal sensitivity to the subject) and a lot less to do with the band members.

But my question of do I go or not? Can I go after telling everyone that I was upset my friend was so disappointed and felt it was related to her size? Can I support a band that had even a small part of someone I care about feeling that way? Will she be angry at me if I do go? [ See Related Article ]

dsc_2264-1All these questions made me hesitate and second guess myself, and in the end I decided to take the money that I would have spent on the concert tickets and buy myself something really nice at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend event I was attending. So I bought myself the 2015 Dooney and Bourke limited edition Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend purse. I heart it. I heart it much.

The purse is lovely, but as I danced around my room like a teenager getting my heart rate going, I remembered something my father taught me. Sometimes you have to focus on how people treat YOU.  My experience at that meet and greet was absolutely amazing. If you had told sixteen year old me that someday I’d get to meet, hug and talk to each member of New Kids On The Block I would have signed any sort of pledge you asked me for. I’m talking obsessive-teenager-I-owned-all-the-merchandise-fan here, guys. As a young lady meeting them was one of my biggest dreams. As an adult it was still of the top 5 items on my bucket list.

Each one of them was amazing. They were kind and complementary.  Jordan Knight made my century when he rubbed the back of my head not once but twice! Donnie Wahlberg paid me the best comment I’ve ever gotten by someone who doesn’t really know me personally regarding my weight loss when he told me that he wanted to hug me but more than half of me was already gone.

And that moment when Jordan Knight crossed a crowded room to head toward the stage and made a point to walk over to where I was, give me another hug and rub the back of my head that second time, well let’s just say my heart still drops when I think about my hands on his waist and his on the back of my head. In fact, my heart just skipped a beat. Yes, that really did happen. I have it on video. I kid you not.photo-3

I’ve had a really rough few months financially. Things went downhill really fast in the beginning of the year when I was trying to juggle taking care of myself and assisting in financially taking care of about five other people. My family in Oregon. My roommate and though not nearly as much as I once had too, my mother. I’m just learning the income flow patterns of the fitness industry. I’m in the second year of a new career and I’m trying to recover from the 6 digits of debt that 3-4 years of focusing on weight loss and reconstructive surgery cost me. I just started drowning fast when trying to stand on my own two feet for the first time ever while still having so many people who need my help.

The good news. I am standing on my own two feet for the first time ever.  Even though I did have to declare bankruptcy, I haven’t fallen flat on my face, and that is a better financial me than I have been since I left home at sixteen. I can do this. I just can’t afford the little extras like getting my nails done, concert tickets, traveling for weight loss conventions and flying all over the country to run half marathons anymore. There are no more credit cards that I can use with the best of intentions to pay it back later. Shopping wasn’t really my transfer addiction. Experiencing life was. That’s how I explain it to my closest friends.

I’ve learned a good lessons out of this. Lessons are experiences points I accumulate. Learning them allows me to make better decisions next time.  Next time I know what not to do in order to ensure that I get a more positive outcome.

Last night’s lesson was a special one. Last night I remembered that even in times when I feel like the struggle is too hard and road ahead is too long. There are five men out there whose voices can make me stop what I am doing while they are signing. Listening to their music motivates me and gives me a sense of self and a sense of strength that though it is inside of me I can’t always dial into.

IMG00014When I was a lonely, overweight and sad teenager they helped inspire me to dance around and pretend that someday a boy like them would love me. [ See Related Article ] When I was a 30 something adult suffering from morbid obesity at 420lb. they helped inspire me to move. My first form of exercise was slowly walking around my neighborhood listening to their reunion album The Block. Now that I am approaching my forties as a healthier me who struggles with body image issues, they are the musical source that touches me deep enough that I can spend twenty minutes in front of the mirror dancing around naked without once stopping to find some excess skin I don’t like and tugging on it to see if it tightens up an area of my body that I am insecure about.  I can waste hours of my day off doing this to myself if I allow it. True story.

I’m not perfect. I don’t always make the right decisions. I should have bought the tickets instead of the Tinker Bell purse. But live and learn. Maybe next time instead of wishing I had bought nose bleed tickets I’ll be making better financial decisions and buying a front row bar seat so I can remind those 5 men who I am. I’ll see if I can get Jordan Knight to rub my head again and who knows, throw my bra onstage or something. Dream big. I am not lying. I would do this. I’d likely do many things that someone out there somewhere is likely to disprove of.  Freebie List. You understand.

Today however,  I’m a little pouty. So I’ll allow myself to pout for a moment. I can’t afford $200 for decent tickets for two. OK. I’m done. Now instead of pouting  I’ll throw on a NKOTB play list that includes all my favorites songs. I’m talking from the days of Jones Beach 1988 all the way to The Remix. I will enjoy knowing that I’ve had the opportunity to meet them and that nothing has changed in my relationship with them in the last twenty-seven years. They still touch my heart and some other parts of me, with their music.

And… Jordan Knight rubbed my head. Twice! Plus long after the concert is over I will have that gorgeous Tinker Bell Bag around my neck. So there is that.

It’s all about appreciating the experiences you’ve had, being grateful for what you’ve got and finding the joy in the lesson that life is teaching you.

And now, I’m going to go dance around naked to “Block Party” which is the song that inspired my fitness career.

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Staying Motivated When Life Puts You on the Bench

DssButton125Dear Desperately Seeking Slender,

~

I’ve noticed reading your blog that you often had a lot of down time between your running events. How do you stay motivated to get back into the swing of things so quickly?

Dear Slender Seeker,

You’re right; I’ve had a lot of down time between my running adventures. I started running sometime around July of 2011 when I lost my Father due to a stroke nearly smack dab in the middle of my weight loss journey. I had lost 132 lbs.–about half of the 260 lb. total loss I achieved–and my Father had really been the champion of that weight loss journey for me.

72011Losing my Father was one of the hardest things I ever went through. I miss him daily, especially as Father’s Day, the day he passed away (July 5th) and his birthday (July 20th) approach.

When I got the call that my Father was passing away I was on a flight back to California that evening to make sure that whatever time I had left wasn’t wasted. I’ll never forget walking into that hospital room. I walked over to his bed and I took his hand and I told him “Papa, I need to know that you’re not in any pain.” He squeezed my hand and told me he wasn’t in pain and that he loved me.  As the tears swelled in my eyes I told him, “I have no idea how to say good-bye to you.” He shook his head at me and said “I never say goodbye, kiddo.”

It was true, during my entire life my Father had made a point never to say good-bye. He’d always say “I’ll see you soon.”

My Father’s desire to know that I was going to live a happy, healthy life and that I would not spend my life suffering from the comorbidities of obesity was the incentive that started the ball rolling in my decision to lose the weight.  I needed to know that even though he was leaving this world, he was going to be there to see then end of this journey with me.

269503_203160199734695_2270748_nAs a victim of childhood abuse, faith, god, or the existence of a higher power that never answered the prayers of a hurt little girl had been something I questioned and struggled with. But I told my Dad that day, “Daddy I don’t know what I believe in. I don’t know where we go after this. But the one thing I know for sure is that if there is a place that you can go where you get to look out after me and watch over me, you’ll be there. So I’ll make a deal with you Papa: I need to know that you’re going to see the end of this journey when I get there. So I’m going to believe that every time I exercise you’ll be there with me, listening and watching over me.”

Most of the times that I have been “benched” or had downtime during my running adventures have been due to reconstructive plastic surgery procedures that I have had to get my body back after massive weight loss. I’ve had a total of six different procedures since February of 2012 and each one has taken me out of exercise for 2-10 weeks depending on the intensity or complexity of the procedure.

In that same time frame I have walked one half Marathon, ran 5 half Marathons, ran a 17K, walked 20 miles for charity, participated in several 5Ks and ran several 5Ks and 10Ks as a part of routine training.

My motivation to get back into running, build my pace back up and get off the bench so quickly usually comes from three things: my desire to feel connected to my Father, my own desire to help motivate and inspire others, and the fact that I have some very amazing sponsors helping me do that.

IMG_5315In June of 2013 when I completed my first half marathon I instantly set out to give others the opportunity to have that same experience with the launch of my “How do YOU Celebrate Success” contests. Since then we’ve almost always been in a steady state of training for either the Tinker Bell Half Marathon or now, the Wine and Dine Half Marathon. Paying it forward and coaching others in their post weight loss running adventure has been a huge factor in keeping me motivated.

Finding those intrinsic motivators. the things inside you that propel you do to something for you, is quintessential to the weight loss journey. Finding these things along with finding the fun in fitness has been one of the key ingredients to successful weight loss and weight maintenance in my journey.

I’d like to take a moment to thank the very special sponsors of the current “How do you Celebrate Success” contest, #TeamSlenderSeekers and our current #WineDineC210kPrep Training Program; Ameriwell Bariatrics, Celebrate Vitamins, Kay’s Naturals, Wellese and BariMelts.

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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

Team Slender Seekers Sponsors:

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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

This is #MyBariLife

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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