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Sex Love and Obesity Part 3

Last week, in Sex Love and Obesity Part 2 we left off at the point where I had found out my insurance would not pay for bariatric surgery and I had depression eaten my way to 420 lb.

“Do you believe in the nobility of suicide?”

As harsh as it may sound it’s a question I ask people who don’t seem to understand how dramatically obesity can impact your health both physically and mentally.

At that point in my life, I did, and that is exactly what I was doing. I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to die before 40 and I was digging my grave with a fork and spoon.

I was diabetic and taking insulin shots three times a day. I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and severe edema – all of which were requiring medical treatment. I had a plethora of medical conditions that were brought on by my obesity, and it didn’t matter because there was no way that I was going to lose over 200 pounds and be able to keep it off without the help of bariatric surgery.

I was 35-years-old, I hated my life, and I didn’t really believe that I was worthy of anything better.

I was content to die from obesity.

Nothing in my marriage was getting better, we were still in the same holding pattern of being strangers that passed in the hallway with nothing more than a few words exchanged. I felt alone. The marriage was physically and emotionally vacant.

He continued to not try to find a job and take unemployment until it ran out. Essentially, he was sitting on the sidelines watching me drown in the mess that had become our life together.

We never fought; I wasn’t allowed to fight with him and he was exceptional at sticking his head in the sand and pretending that problems didn’t exist in a hope that they would go away. I figured that at that point in our life, I was just one of those problems he was escaping and sooner or later he would bury me and find someone more in line with who and what he wanted.

This was the life I was living when I got a call from my Father. He told me a story about how he woke up in the middle of the night from a nightmare that I had passed away and confided in me that he spent his days worrying that he was going to outlive me and that all he wanted for me was a happy and healthy life.

Two days later I got a letter from the insurance company explaining that they had changed our insurance plan to include coverage for bariatric surgery.

Something inside me clicked at that moment.

I saw a light at the end of the tunnel and I was willing to chase it. I didn’t want my then 85-year-old father to spend the rest of his days worried about me and I suddenly decided that I wanted to live. That same day I started making phone calls to try to get a consultation appointment with a bariatric surgeon.

I borrowed enough money from my Godfather to pay off all the credit card debt that we had gotten into living on them to pay the bills and buy groceries while our finances were in a downward spiral. I sold him my Jeep to get us out from underneath one of our car payments and get our finances back to something we could afford to keep up with on my dwindling income.

I moved us out of the rent to own house we were living in, knowing we were not going to qualify for any sort of loan to allow us to buy it with the end of the 4-year lease terms just a few months away. We moved back into an apartment that was nearly $500 a month cheaper to give us more breathing room financially. My husband finally went back to work again, and things started to look like they were going in the right direction.

I started the process of having bariatric surgery. I started working on meeting all of the pre-operative requirements.

I still believed that if I lost the weight I could save the marriage.

I chalk much of that up to denial, delusions and an overall desire to believe that people will do the right thing.

I started exercising, a lot. I began using it as an emotional outlet and a way to get my weight down to what the Bariatric Surgeon required to put me on the table.  Between August of 2009 and September of 2010, I had managed to lose nearly 70 lb. and get my BMI was where it needed to be to meet my surgeon’s requirements.

I was about 4 weeks away from my scheduled surgery date of October 19th, 2010 when I found out that my husband had been lying to me, yet again about his online affairs.

This time the lie had been going on right in front of my face for the better part of a year. The woman involved was someone I knew from the online games I played. This time around I wasn’t sure that I could forgive him. There were letters talking about how he was waiting for his daughter to graduate from high school and turn eighteen so that he could leave me. There was talk about in person visits and emails about how the only reason he stayed with me was because of money.

I considered leaving at that point. I had a bag packed and was ready to get on a train to California and go stay with my best friend and her husband. The sting of betrayal was so deep I was almost sure there was no coming back. But he asked me not to go, and agreed to find a therapist to see together to try to fix our marriage.

My best friend, who is like a sister to me, told me I could come and stay with her as long and I wanted.  But, she also told me that she felt that I really needed to stay there. We discussed how instead of trying to fix the marriage, which we all knew was sort of lost cause at that point, I needed to focus on myself. I needed to make sure I stayed where I was because I needed to be available for all of my doctor’s appointments and to make sure that the surgery actually happened.

Stay at that point was hard. I was angry. 

The next few weeks were terrible. I was angry all the time. I buried myself more and more in exercise. During the first week, he came home with a sore on his foot and that quickly went from bad to worse and landed him in the hospital with a horrible infection in his foot. He was given a diagnosis of a rare muscle degeneration disease called Charcot Marie Tooth. The diagnosis was bad. It really wasn’t something that was treatable, he’d just have to accept that it would get worse and worse and they would just have to continue to medicate him more and more to try to compensate.

He was in the hospital for two weeks and I hardly visited. I was just too angry with him over the betrayal. I didn’t want to be anywhere near him, even if he was in the hospital, in pain and dealing with his new diagnosis.

In Sex Love and Obesity Part 4, we’ll talk about how I started putting myself first – sometimes.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Cooper Institute Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies. Her training and coaching services are offered exclusively through GoGirl Fitness Studio.

My Body Issues vs My Support System Them Zero Us One

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.

Screen Shot 2013-05-24 at 10.19.58 PMI 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.

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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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