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How YOU aid in my Transformation. Thank you Slender Seekers

20140520_193824It’s hard to believe how quickly time flies. It seems like it was just yesterday that I was moving to North Carolina and we were holding the second “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest and selecting our winner. Now here we are in June and we’re in the final week of our #WineDineC210K training program.

These last few months have been amazing. That old saying time flies when you’re having fun is the truth. I feel like I’ve had less and less time to be here sharing with all of you but in some ways that is good, because I am spending more and more time doing what I love: helping people lose weight.

Last week was my busiest week ever. In addition to putting in about 35 hours of floor time at the gym, I had six private one-on-one weight loss and wellness coaching sessions and the three weight loss boot camp classes I teach each week (which is a mixture of low impact cardio and strength and resistance training. We’re nearly full for all three nights!). If you do the math there, that’s a forty-four hour work week.

I’ve had to work really hard lately at making sure that helping everyone else get their exercise in doesn’t mean I don’t get my own and it’s taken a lot of determination for me to keep up with a strength and resistance based program. You all know how much I love weights (NOT). I’d much rather be on cardio machines for 2 hours. That’s my comfort zone, but I know how important strength training is and so it’s become a focus of my exercise regimen now.

20140517_083010Three weeks ago I ran a 10K at the Hope For Warriors event in Jacksonville, NC. This was quite a humbling experience for me. I set out with a goal of having under a 13 minute per mile pace time. A little voice inside me said maybe I can do better, maybe I can get a 12 minute mile, but I was afraid to say that out loud and commit to something I didn’t know I could accomplish. I ended up pacing out at 12:18 and that included a wrong turn I took on the route that likely cost me about 2-4 minutes of additional time so I don’t think I was far from a 12 minute mile, but I won’t know for sure until my next one. I lost a little wind in my sails when results were posted and I found my name on the bottom of page seven of eight with only a dozen people or so after me. I had to sit down and remind myself that the only person I am competing with is myself and that it didn’t matter how fast everyone else was; I finished and I finished with a time I could be proud of. These are lessons that even I have to remind myself of every once in a while. I’m doing better than I did before and that’s all that matters.

20140529_174209A few days after that I took three of my clients to their first 5k when they joined me for the WILMA Dash event in downtown Wilmington. Each one of my clients is special to me. Each one of them has something unique and special about them and being part of their journey is a privilege that I am grateful for each and every day. The fact that they have chosen me as their coach and their guide during their weight loss journey is a special honor I probably cannot put into words. 20140529_174214If you think about it, my dream was to help others fight obesity and lose weight. So each one of my clients, in choosing to allow me to do that is a part of making that dream a reality for me. My clients make my dreams come true and I am eternally grateful to them for doing so. Two of the women that joined me at the WILMA Dash event hold a very special place in my heart. Why? Because they were my first official clients. They are a Mother/Daughter team who were not only my first official clients as a weight loss coach but they were also the first two people signed up for my Weight Loss Boot Camp classes. I’m not sure either of them truly realizes how special they are to me. But they’ll have a place in my heart forever and I will always do anything I can to help them. In April, they came out and walked six miles with me at the New Hanover Relay For Life event that my gym, Wilmington Lady Fitness, participated in. To cross the finish line with them at their first 5k was awesome though. When we were at Relay For Life the daughter of my Dynamic Duo ran with me for a couple of laps. I’m hoping that one day I can inspire her to run a 5k with me, it’s a gift of accomplishment that I would love to give her. Struggling with being affected by obesity as an adult is hard enough, struggling with it as a teenager was even harder and because of that, I want to help her more than I’ve wanted to help anyone else.  So if you’re reading this hun, know that you’re vastly important in my world. I can’t wait to do Color Me Rad with you and your Mom.

10402449_10154271978050347_3327798548943399054_nAnd then there is Amy. My second “How Do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest winner. This girl is amazing. Absolutely amazing. She reminds me so much of myself. Her pay-it-forward mentality and the number of lives she has helped me touch through her blows me away at every turn. In the last month, Amy has done two things that as her coach make me burst with pride. First she put together a team for a 5k event! The fact that she named her team #TeamSlenderSeekers nearly made me cry. It was so special to me. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, what does she do? The woman goes out and runs a half marathon without telling me just to prove to herself that she can do it. I’m so proud of her, and the fact that she credits me with somehow inspiring her to do it makes me smile. Inspiring people to find the fun in fitness has been a dream of mine for nearly three years, and once again, people like Amy are enabling me to do this and making my dreams a reality.

I got an email the other day from a woman named Corrie. She found my site while doing some research on how to write a letter to Chris Powell and after reading through it, took the time to write me a share her story with me. Her story brought tears to my eyes and made me wish that I was closer to her so that I could take her on as a client. But there was one part of her letter that was exceptionally touching to me.

“After reading your story I know in my heart that you will become a great personal trainer and you will do great things to help lots of people that have gone through what you and I have. I just wish there where more people like you and Chris to help even people like me that are super obese but desperately need and want the help.  Finding someone like you and Chris are hard to find.”

8ede362ab2fa11e2aee522000a9f15b9_6I don’t hold a candle to Chris and Heidi Powell—I’ll never pretend to—they are my heroes and I will always learn from watching them. But Corrie inspired and motivated me with her letter, and now I just know that someday I will be comfortable calling myself a “Transformation Specialist.” To be spoken of by anyone, in a way that implies that I share similar qualities to Chris and Heidi Powell, gives me hope that I can be someone who helps lead others out of the darkness of obesity. Corrie, thank you. You have no idea how much your letter meant to me.

My dreams are coming true, and whether you realize it or not #SlenderSeekers, that is because of you. Each one of you that allows me to share my story, gives me the privilege of offering you my experience and guidance and the opportunity to be a beacon of inspiration, motivation or support in your world, you enable me to be the person that I want to be. Every single one of you out there struggling in the fight against obesity are my motivation and this morning, at the beginning of  #TransformationTuesday I want to thank you for being a part of my world. Without you I’m just an unheard voice. With you, I’m transforming into a coach, a guide, and a valiant part of the fight against obesity.

There are a few other people I have to thank for believing in my dreams as well and those of course are my sponsors…

So Ameriwell BariatricsCelebrate VitaminsKay’s NaturalsWellese and BariMelts, thank you for believing in my dreams as well. Each time we hold a “How Do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest, I am reminded of the famous quote by Walt Disney himself, “Our dreams can all come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” And thanks to all of you believing in something I had the courage to pursue. Not only are my dreams becoming a reality but so are the dreams of the people like our contest winners, Dawn and Amy. You guys are awesome and #TeamSlenderSeekers like Dawn, Amy, my clients and Corrie are living proof of the transformations you help people achieve with your support.


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:


AmeriWell Bariatrics
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Like WELLESSE on Facebook ]


Celebrate Vitamins
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Kay’s Naturals
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Please support our sponsors!



420lbs to a Half Marathon – The Tinker Bell in Reflection

1622089_708220655866564_1880926857_nRunning a half marathon wasn’t something I ever thought I would do. If you had told me five years ago that someday I would be running my fifth half marathon while studying to become a personal trainer and working at a lady only fitness establishment, I would have asked you what you were smoking.

But just three short weeks ago I was crossing the finish line at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon. The entire experience was amazing and I am thrilled to share it with you.

It all started back in June of last year when Father’s Day hit, and my mood was a little down. As many of my readers know, I lost my father, the champion behind my weight loss journey, just eight months into my story and developed a connection to him through exercise and running. When I woke up on Father’s day 2013 missing him more than usual, I headed out on what started out as a normal 5k run for me and ended up becoming my first half marathon. [ I ran a Half Marathon Daddy Happy Fathers Day]

The feeling of victory that I felt when I completed a half marathon was amazing, and something I instantly wanted to share with someone else, so I set out to put together the sponsorship to send myself and one of my blog readers to Anaheim, CA for the Disneyland Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend. I’d be doing my first official timed and bibbed half marathon, and I’d help someone else achieve that level of victory by crossing the finish line with me. That was my goal. [How Do You Celebrate Success Contest]

I fell a little short of meeting my sponsorship goals, but I did get enough funds together to pay one person’s way to the event. So that’s what I did. We had a contest on my blog, and one lucky winner received a trip to Disneyland to participate in the RunDisney Tinker Bell Half Marathon with me. [ Winner of Bariatric Fitness Half Marathon Contest Giveaway ]

With the help of my friends and sponsors at Pace Setter, I put together a 20 Week Training Program that intended to get us prepared for the event and we ran a virtual event for anyone that wanted to train alongside us and complete a half marathon themselves as event finale.  I coached our winner through the 20 week training program, and provided her with all the possible encouragement and motivation that I could from across the miles; seven months later, just three short weeks ago, Dawn and I were standing in our corral at 4:30 am getting ready to start.

a16d9e74940a11e3b8450e8c3b5b71be_8Dawn struggled from the beginning. Going from someone who has never run before to completing a half marathon in 20 weeks (after being benched for several weeks due to injury) was a big task and it wasn’t something that came easy. Of course, the coach and trainer in me says, “if it comes easy it isn’t worth having,” and pushing yourself is one of the main ingredients to successful long-term weight loss.

There was a moment during the race when we had just passed the 2 mile marker that I looked at Dawn and said “Remember this is fun, you wanted to be here, you won the opportunity to be here,” and she looked back and me and said “This isn’t fun, this is hell,” and in that moment, the response she got out of me told me that no matter what happened, whether Dawn finished the half marathon or not, the coach and soon to be trainer in me had emerged. If there was ever a moment that I doubted my destiny, the doubt had just vanished. I looked at her in disbelief, and the diatribe started…

“You think THIS is hell? Move your feet! Let me remind you what HELL is… Hell was 175 lbs ago. Hell was not being able to walk from your car to your front door without panting for breath. HELL was not being able to stand still in your kitchen because your body hurt so much. OBESITY was HELL … THIS is fun, THIS is easy, THIS is achievable. Now move your feet and give me a 60 second run interval Dawn.”

RunDisney has a pretty strict pace time. (16 minutes per mile) and when I say strict, I mean strictly enforced. At mile marker three and the 5K split Dawn and I were pacing out at 17:26 and the “Sweepers” as they call them–the RunDisney folks that remove you from the race if you are not making pace–were on our heels.

c9a382b4940a11e394501215243b1345_8“You are behind the pace requirement ladies, if you do not speed up you will be removed from the route.” We’d been warned a few minutes earlier when I stopped to take a photo of Dawn that we needed to speed up. But Dawn was struggling and she and I both knew it. We’d had an agreement before the race that I would stay by her side unless she got swept and unfortunately, that moment seemed to be upon us. With my hand on her back, trying to literally push her forward I said “I need you to speed up Dawn, we’re way behind the pace flag and we’re going to get swept.”

As the words left her mouth they broke my heart, because I knew that there was nothing I could do in that moment to get her across the finish line and as we quickly said teary eyed good-byes I knew that what Dawn wouldn’t understand was that I wasn’t disappointed in her, I was disappointed in me. I had hoped that having me there at her side would help motivate her to make the pace she needed to make and help shave some time off her per minute mile. But in truth, Dawn’s times were slower than they were at home and I had to hope that by leaving her behind a sink or swim moment would kick in for her and that she would find the motivation she needed to finish.

I took off running. I turned on my headphones and played my Father’s memorial CD, listening to old-time country music by artists like Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty and Marty Robbins as I ran through Disneyland, trying to catch the pace flag.  I ran as fast as my little feet could carry me and I didn’t stop until I hit the 7 mile marker and had to take a detour to the port-a-potty. I’ve never been so afraid to urinate in my whole life. What if that potty break cost me the pace time? I figured by what my Nike GPS+ Sports-watch said that I was pacing out somewhere near 15 min/mile and I wasn’t far off; RunDisney had reported my 10K split time to Facebook at 15:36 min/mile – I’d shaved  1 minute and 50 seconds off the my time in about 3 miles thus far.


As I ran through the streets of Anaheim I stayed focus on my goal.  I had a half marathon to complete and people waiting on me at the finish line. Mile 9 came and went without much trouble, and surprisingly I wasn’t even feeling the need to put more fuel on board, though I did throw back a banana just to make sure I didn’t run out of energy along the way. My 15k split was reported at 15:03, so while the potty break cost me some time, I was still doing alright. I wouldn’t be seeing the twelve to thirteen minute pace times I was used to seeing on my runs, but that was alright, I wasn’t here to compete with anyone, I was here for the experience and to share that experience with Dawn.

I supposed I should have limited my hydration a bit, because Mile 11 hit and another potty break was eminent. In fact, if I am being honest, I was worried whether or not I was going to make it and hoping I didn’t end up with a repeat of my October half where I wet myself right before getting to a bathroom and had to strip down to my quick dry shorts and run the last mile while drying off and with a bag of wet pants and undergarments.

5750_10202982749632425_385513940_nbc0582f2812611e380a21273f828ffe7_8Mile 11-12 kicked my ass. I was struggling, and needed to take a moment to find a little inspiration so I pulled out my phone and checked in on Facebook to see what my cheer squad was saying. I started looking at all the names I was seeing liking posts about me running in the event. I started reading the comments and seeing the \O/ ‘s that people were throwing up. Then I saw a post by one of my best friends; my friend Kelly, who I’ve been friends with longer than I can remember, we went to grade school together, grew up in houses just around the corner from one another. There was a post with a picture of her son Logan; one of the cutest little boys in the whole world dressed up as a lost boy with a caption that said, “Lost Boy Looking for his Tinkerbell Pandora Williams \o/ You can do it!!! We’re waiting for you @ the finish line.”


That picture put the pixie dust in my tinker-toes and the next thing I knew I was hitting the 13 mile marker and hugging my Godfather, my friend Tammy and of course, Kelly, Logan and Heather as I made my way to the finish line. When all was said and done, I finished with a pace of 14:58 min/mile and an overall time of 3:16:08 which is proudly engraved on my medal, thanks to Kelly and Logan.

Standing in the finishers corral, I was reunited with Dawn, who did indeed find that inner drive to move her feet when I left her, and managed not to get swept at that 3 mile marker, and made it all the way to Mile 10. I’ll be posting Dawn’s write up about the event in the next day or two.  I feel it’s her story to share with you, not mine, but what I will say is that as a coach and soon to be trainer, I am damn proud of how far she made it, and her overcoming the obstacles and fears that she had to get that far.

1546018_10151839935267447_249017529_nI always say there is no such thing as failure. Each time we fall short it is just an opportunity for us to do better the next time. And while I may not have given Dawn the experience of crossing the half marathon finish line like I wanted to, I gave her the experience of participating in her first half marathon. Just yesterday I saw a post from her on Facebook that said she was doing another half marathon in April and that she was going to participate in a mini triathlon. Apparently Dawn realized along the way that it wasn’t “Hell” after all and has decided to give it another go. This is both a victory and a success in my book as a coach and I will gladly stand up and say “I took Dawn to her first Half Marathon, I helped her find the motivation and determination to run, and I helped her find the fun in fitness enough to make her want to do it again.”

As for me, I found a few things during those 13 miles that I didn’t know I was looking for. I found closure on any doubt I had of the destiny that lies ahead of me. I found closure to a chapter I wasn’t sure about the ending of, and as I stood there at the finish line getting hugs from some of the people I know love me the most; I felt my father smiling down on me and I knew in that very moment, that standing there in the midst of the happiest place on earth, I had fulfilled a promise I made to my father. I was living a happy, healthy life.

I want to send a very special thank you to everyone that was a part of this day. To our sponsors, Kay’s Naturals, Celebrate Vitamins, Pace Setter Athletic and Ameriwell Bariatrics, thank you, thank you, thank you. Walt Disney said “I dream, I test my dreams against my beliefs, I dare to take risks, and I execute my vision to make those dreams come true.” Without your financial support this dream never would have come true. I can never say thank you enough for what you allowed me to learn, experience and give to someone else in my community.

To my on site Cheer Squad – My Godfather; Tom Geiger, My “WLS Parents” Sandi & Chuck Henderson and their lovely granddaughter, My dear friends Tammy and Kelly and my “Lost Boy” Logan, and of course, Heather. – I could not have asked for more loving, supportive and wonderful people to share this amazing experience with me. Each of you holds a special place in my heart and each of you is loved, beyond measures of time.

To my Facebook Cheer Squad – there are just too many of you to mention, but I’ll be writing a blog about just you and about “Social Media Motivation” and how you are all a pillar in my world. So look for that to come. But know that each one of you that liked or commented on anything related to this experience has been someone special in my world and given me a gift that can never be replaced and I am forever grateful.

Lastly, to my Father– thank you for opening my eyes and helping me find the runner in me. Not a day goes by that I don’t wish you were still here to share the happy healthy life you helped me achieve with me; that I don’t feel showered with your love, pride and joy knowing that though I cannot touch you or see you, I can always feel your presence… especially when I put my feet to the pavement. Below is a picture that was taken of me standing next to Eeyore at Disneyland when I was 24 years old and weighed 420 lbs. Next to it, you’ll find a picture of me standing next to Eeyore at Disneyland last month, at 37 years old and weighting 166 lbs. This is my gift to my Father, this is my promise fulfilled. I love you Daddy.


Now it’s time to wipe my joyful tears and get ready for work and start working on that Sponsorship Letter for my next dream… RunDisney Wine and Dine – November 2014 – Here comes Team Seeking Slender \o/


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.

Slender Seekers Gold Team Sponsors:

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Kay’s Naturals
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Celebrate Vitamins
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Pace Setter Athletic
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Slender Seekers Silver Team Sponsors:


Team Slender and The #20Week2Tink Training Program was made possible by:

The “How Do YOU Celebrate Success” contest sponsors:


Please support our sponsors!

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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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