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Lets Box Obesity Together at YMW2013 with the OAC

attendingconventionbadge2It is the beginning of June. ( Or it was when I started writing this blog ) The months ahead of me are full of adventure as I embark on the next part of my weight loss journey. June begins with me heading to Dallas to work on my studies to become a personal trainer, taking some courses at the Cooper Institute and make my final decision on what plastic surgeon I am going to use, ( Which I did already! ) and the reward at the end – a NKOTB Concert with my best friend.

My surgery will be on July 10th giving me time to heal, back in the gym and working out to my full potential by October, when I am now aiming for the soft launch of my Personal Trainer Business. Getting this last skin removal surgery is big for me, it sort of feels like winning the lottery or being on the sports team that just won the World Series or the Superbowl…

“Pandora Williams! You just finished a month of studying for your Personal Trainer Certification Test, You’ve had your last plastic surgery, you’re all recovered and ready to go, what are you going to do now?”

The answer isn’t “I’m going to Disneyland.” Though, I do love me some Disneyland, the answer is “I’m going to the OAC’s Second Annual Your Weight Matters Convention.” Yes, that is how much this event means to me. This event, being there with all my WLS Friends, is going to be my celebration of this part of my journey.

I had the pleasure of attending the Inaugural Your Weight Maters Convention that the OAC put on in Dallas in October of 2012 and the experience that I took away from that was life changing for me. I took more away from that event than I have from any other event or function I have ever attended.

  • I met the women that I know refer to as my WLS Mammas Laura Van Tuyl, Sandi Henderson and Yvonne McCarthy.
  • I met a woman who I know, I am somehow spiritually bonded with my sister from another ma’am and mister – Joy Muller.
  • I met the women that have become part of my support system and made friendships that I know will hold against the test of time.
  • I met the women (and a couple of men) of this community, who motivate and inspire me to continue my journey through helping others with theirs.
  • I met Bobby Whisnand who is like a guardian angel and my Mentor in the intimidating journey I am taking to become a personal trainer.
  • I met the people who encouraged me to select the Cooper Institute as the school from whom I wanted to get my education.
  • I met the people who wrote my letters of recommendation and made the Scholarship I got to attend the Cooper Institute a possibility. ( Thank you Joy Muller and Pam Davis )

Convention-Details-Main-Photo1I met an amazing woman who taught me to appreciate the value of the transactions in my emotional accounts, to be myself, to fight the automatic negative thoughts that creep into my head and helped me understand that I’m not alone in my struggle with body image issues. (Thank you Merril Littleberry)

I got the opportunity to meet the amazing Bloggers that helped get me from Pre-Op to Post Op Success with their honesty, recipes and positive reinforcement. Eggface, Waning Woeman and Bariatric Girl. – ( That sounds like a Super Hero team and truthfully, it is. )

I had the opportunity to sit next to a Doctor Robert Kushner who specializes in Obesity during the Lunch with the Experts “Is your Ideal Weight Ideal for you?” table talk and have him help me understand that I didn’t NEED a normal BMI to be happy and healthy or to be worthy of moving forward with my dream of being a personal trainer.

Attending this event opened more doors for me than have ever been opened before.

I could go on and on – but these are the ones that stand out in the forefront of my mind. So when you ask me, what I want to do to celebrate at the end of this new journey, that is my answer “I’m going to the OAC’s Second Annual Your Weight Matters Convention.” and guess what? I can’t wait. Last year’s YWM2012 Event was amazing and I expect GREAT THINGS this year!

This years topics are so amazing that I’m having a hard time deciding which ones I want to go to.

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The Lunch with the Experts that provided my “Wow Moment” last year, has so many amazing topics this year that I could hardly select which ones to do.

I am incredibly excited to attend some of the fitness classes ( Even if that means standing on the sidelines and cheer others on because my surgeon hasn’t released me to exercise again yet! )

I’m elated by the opportunity to hang out with my friends, enjoy their company and even more so by the opportunity to meet new people, make new friends, and open my arms to hug and welcome those that might feel new and out-of-place the way others did for me last year.

But most of all I am honored to be a part of this event. I am honored to be a Post-Op Speaker on the panel led by a Pioneer in Reconstructive Surgery after massive weight loss, Dr. Al Aly, to be chosen to sit in the company of such esteemed professionals and bring you the Patient Perspective on this topic is flattering and rewarding in and of itself.

It is rare for me, to stand up and ask anything of my blog readers, followers and friends other than emotional support in the form of a “Like” on Facebook or a “Retweet” on Twitter; I feel like it is my job to give to you, it’s my mission to pay it forward and to help anyone that I can, to try to empower and try motivate and inspire others in their weight loss journey. But this my friends is one of those rare times when I am going to ask you for something.

IMG_5258Please, if you have even considered attending a Weight Loss oriented event, make it this convention. No matter where you are in your weight loss journey and no matter where you are in the social climate of our community, I invite you to “Rise to the Challenge” and take advantage of this opportunity to come together for evidence-based education, and gain some of the helpful tools with weight an empowerment that I was able to gain from attending last year and attend the YWM2013 Convention.

Attending this event last year was life changing for me. ( And others just check out Last year’s Testimonials ) It empowered me in so many ways, not only did it lend to me finding some of the most important people in my support system, but it taught me that I didn’t have anything to prove and that I didn’t need to reach the “normal BMI” I was chasing to pursue the career I wanted as a Trainer. That my story, and my journey from a BMI of 69.9 to a BMI of 26.6 is enough to make me successful and to inspire the clients I want to work with. It empowered me in my desire to advocate for others…

That said … I have a message for you .. if you want to fight weight bias, if you want to fight fat shaming, if you want to fight weight prejudice, if you want to fight bullying, if you want to fight obesity, then set EVERYTHING else aside and join me at YWM2013 and let’s crane kick obesity together!

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The OAC is currently running a contest where one Blogger will win an all expense paid trip to the event and if I win, I will be using it as an opportunity to make sure that the woman that welcomed me with open arms and made sure that I felt included and has been there to support me through some very emotionally trying times in the last eight months (Waning Woman) is also able to attend this event. So if you are already registered and you did so with some inspiration or motivation that came from yours truly, please let the OAC know by sending an email to convention@obesityaction.org and telling them that Pandora at DeperatelySeekingSlender.com sent you and if you register now, be sure to put my name down on the referral and give me a chance to pay it forward to someone deserving. Join me at that OAC YWM2013 Convention and lets fight obesity together in an empowering environment that will be filled of positivity, inclusively and fun!

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This Is How I Roll – Desperately Seeking Slender in Vegas

There are a million things I should be doing right now other than writing this blog. Maybe not millions, but a ton. Studying for my PT Certification that I feel I am nowhere near ready for, at the gym working on that perfect form I am going to need, helping my Godfather with his house project… the list goes on and on.  I can always find something I should be doing now that I am thin enough to maintain healthy fitness.

But still I find myself drawn here, where I share my journey with you, whether it’s good bad or indifferent, that is what I’ve always been about. We’ve been through a lot together since I started this journey, but now, we embark on dangerous territory.. I must participate in … drum roll please … the social game.
I am just a little over a week for leaving for the WLSFA Las Vegas Event. Now while I am nobody particularly special to this organization, I will say that my involvement with them since last October has taught me that sometimes the little people do a lot that goes unnoticed.
For this Las Vegas event, Laura Van Tuyl and I were literally working around each other’s schedules and doing things we had to do at the last possible moment just because of how busy we both were. She needed some help with some of the projects on her agenda for the event. From the swag bags at the Carnie VIP Lunch to the graphic images on the charms that will be sold and even so far as to working together on an entirely different WLSFA PNW Chapter Project, almost the entire time that life has been dragging me all over the country to take care of people I love, Laura was right there with me. Not only helping me and giving me advice when life got rough but dealing with her own traveling, personal life as well as doing all the WLSFA work that she does. I am literally amazed at how much of her time Laura gives to the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America, it is outstanding really. I’ve never met anyone that wants to give back as much as I do until I met some of the women at the WLSFA.
I talk a lot about some of the Ladies that have positively impacted my life in ways that I can never repay just by caring about me, seeing potential in me and encouraging me. Let me talk for a moment about my dear friend Yvonne McCarthy from Bariatric Girl– Several years ago, before my insurance would approve my Gastric Bypass, I wrote Yvonne a six page letter asking her for help because I had nowhere to turn. I’d never heard back from Yvonne, I figured I wasn’t important enough to get her attention or like all the other “celebrities” I’d written, ( Because that’s what she was to me, a WLS celebrity ) my story wasn’t special enough to get her attention. When I saw Yvonne at the OAC Convention in Dallas last October I was really put off by this, I didn’t want to introduce myself or talk to her because I felt she had ignored me. Encouraged by Diana Lyn, I approached Yvonne and told her who I was, about my letter and about her not responding. I have never seen a woman so beside herself that she missed an email in my entire life. 564711_10200840649757685_2055684940_nSince then Yvonne has been one of the dearest friends I have made and stands in a group of women who have supported me in ways they may never even realize. All it takes is a sad blog post or an update on Facebook that I am having a bad day or struggling and I have a text from Yvonne asking me to call so she can check on me.  It’s not often that I put negativity out there, I really try to stay positive about everything, but bad things happen to us once in a while and can get us down and break our hearts, and when that happens I tend to let it leak out a little. Yvonne picks up on it right away, and always knows that whatever I am actually saying aloud, it’s probable a lot worse than I have shared yet, because I keep that stuff very close chested. When I got the opportunity to get together with Yvonne for lunch and shopping in Dallas last month, not only did she insist on buying my lunch, but also my dress for Vegas. She is such a kind-hearted and giving individual I cannot help but love her. She’s taught me to be myself, to see the positive in as much as I can, and to appreciate what I have and not dwell on what I don’t. ( Even if that last part is a lesson I am constantly working on. )
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Then there is Sandi Henderson, who let me tell you, I wish this woman was my Mother, if I had this woman in my corner sooner I think I would have been someone big in this world. She is constantly there to remind me I can do something, to remind me to stand up, fight and make noise as I am put in positions where I can advocate for this community. She encourages me to be the best that I can be, and anytime I ask for help, anytime I put my hand out and say, please stand with me on this I need support, she is one of the women that will be the first to dig her feet in the sand and reach out to her social media network to help me.  I knew that Sandi was going to be special to me when we first met at the OAC Convention in October and I had decided to make the Walk From Obesity my first official 5K run. I was running around and stopped for a moment to catch a breath and fell in next to Sandy so I could talk to her and one of the Sponsor Representatives on the sidelines called out, “Hey Pandora you are supposed to be running why are you walking?” Sandi turned around and said “That is NOT a Positive Message and that is NOT how you encourage someone,” – I fell in love with Sandi right then and there. I’d walk a mile or twenty-five for or with this woman any day she asked me to.
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Then there is Rain Hampton, who is now working with the WLSFA So California Chapter, doing amazing things with fundraisers and young new chapter. Rain Hampton is, quite honestly, the reason this community has a Pandora in it. I don’t mean that to sound full of myself at all but honestly it was my friendship with two people who I met at the OAC Convention in October that forever cemented in me the desires I already had to reach out and try to help this community in their weight loss journeys, Rain and Joy, Rain helped me figure out who I wanted to be and where I was going to go and how to play Switzerland and THAT helped me figure out the direction of Desperately Seeking Slender. Then it was Joy, her place in her journey, how much of me I saw in her and the instant emotional connection that we had that ensured that I would forever work to help people in this community that wanted it. If there is one Joy in my life for every year I continue to have my blog I will be a happy person a blessed friend. Unfortunately Joy won’t be in Vegas, but we are rooming together in August for the OAC Convention.
There are so many people who have come in to my life because of my blog, my attendance at the OAC Convention and my desire to help others and be a part of things like the OAC and the WLSFA. So many people who have encourage my desires for a new career as a personal trainer with an emphasis on Bariatric Fitness and Weight Loss. I could never list them all in one blog. I have to bring them up a little at a time. The ones I talked about today are all part of the WLSFA and a huge part of this Vegas trip I leave for a week from Thursday.
Today, I was informed that I was pretty much going to hate Vegas by a good friend of mine on Facebook. She told me that Vegas was notoriously clicky and that it breeds exclusivity. Well folks, guess what, that isn’t how this Seeker rolls, so I’m going to squash it pretty quickly by saying this…
ANYONE is welcome ANYWHERE I go outside of my hotel room and WLSFA Stuff in Vegas. So… if you want an exclusive environment, don’t invite me. I’m likely to tweet where I am to #DSSeekers and let anyone that follows me on Twitter know so they can join or post it on Facebook. I don’t believe in being exclusive, I didn’t drive all the way to CA from Oregon and decide to go to a WLS Vegas Party so I could go play secret society with my BFFs, I came to have fun with the WLS Crowd and by that I mean EVERYONE. I don’t have a lot of money to go do fancy things, so most of my time will likely be spent checking out casino scenery, walking the strip just because I can, playing some nickel slots in honor of my Father, and just being social with the people who I came all this way to meet, greet and get to know. There are before and after photos I can’t wait to see, people I can’t wait to hug, and stories I can’t wait to hear, because I KNOW you all have them to share.
This last picture is a photo of my favorite Teach, Ms. Karyn and some of my friends from the week I studied at the Cooper Institute in Dallas Texas to prepare for my Personal Trainer’s Certification Test. I like to gather together people who smile and throw their hands up in the air for me like this \O/ So make sure you come see me and we get a picture for my blog!
I believe that I can participate in this event and not fall prey to the Social Status, High School Environment social nightmare that I so often say I hate. No matter what size you are, what gender you are, how much you love or hate exercise, or where you are in your weight loss journey, you and I can find something to talk about and something to share with each other, I promise. I’d love to meet you. I’ll be participating in whatever social media the WLSFA has set up and using my own #DSSeekers tag as well on Twitter and of course you can like Desperately Seeking Slender on Facebook or just friend me personally and keep up with me there! I will also be hosting a peer-to-peer table discussion at the event on “Plastic Surgery from the Patient Perspective.” So be sure to sign up for it when you register if it is a topic that interests you! I’d love to meet you! #Inclusive #WLSFun #DSSeekers #WLSFA #ILOVETHISCOMMUNITY
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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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