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12 Presents for the Fitness Focused Female

I see shopping lists come out each year with titles like “15 Things For Fitness Oriented Women” and “20 Presents For Women Who Run” and to be honest, half of the time the things on these lists are things that I look at and thing are either over priced, over extravagant or just unnecessary.

So to help you help your friends, family and significant others, I’m writing a list of things that I actually believe women like me would actually like to unwrap on Christmas morning.

Now let’s be honest this is for you ladies, because it’s the fitness focused gal that is reading and sharing articles like this with the people I mentioned above in hopes that you actually get something you want for Christmas instead of something that you’re highly unlikely to use.

So here is my list of 12 Presents for the Fitness Focused Female

FitBitA Fitbit – There are lots of other fitness trackers out there and receiving any of them would be a great present for fitness focused female. But my personal recommendation after trying a lot of them is the Fitbit. — I’m a big fan of both the Fitbit Charge HR and the Fitbit Surge. If the lady you are shopping for is a runner go with the Surge for sure.






Raw Threads Bamboo ShirtsBamboo – There are lots of nice fabrics out there to exercise and run in. Lot’s of them. But in my personal opinion none of them beat bamboo. I’m a huge fan of working out and running in the bamboo shirts from – their line includes lots of exercise themed shirts, tanks and hoodies. If you want to make this an even more special present include a gift card for their Club Membership This will cost you $100 but it will get them a $20 gift certificate, a custom shirt and the opportunity to purchase some of their race registrations through the Raw Threads Club Membership which often includes sold out races.



BondiBand HeadwearBondiBand – There is nothing more uncomfortable than sweat in your eyes. Whether you are in a group exercise class, lifting weights or on a long run. These amazing headbands are a no slip, no drip athletic head-wear. I swear by these wicking headbands. I try to never leave for a workout without one. They even offer a feature that allows you to design your own and put your own message on them to make them extra special and a more personalized present.




Victoria Secret Gym BagGym Bag – I could never have enough of these. Really. I have one that goes to the gym with me. One that stays packed for a last-minute run in the back of my car. One that stays packed with extra gym clothes and an extra change of clothes just in case I need them. I even have one that serves as a sauna bag. As far as brands go, there are two that I’d really love to have under the tree this year, the Under Armor Watch Me Duffle and the Victoria’s Secret Sport Essential.




New Balance Heat Hybrid JacketCold Weather Sport Jacket – Whether your Fitness Focused Female is a runner, jogger or walker, getting that cold weather cardio in can be really unpleasant without the right gear. These three jacks, which I will admit were some of the few items featured on one of the other Christmas lists I read. Other lists will list them as three different items. I’ll list a cold weather jacket as one but give you a few ideas of ones this runner chick would pick if you were shopping for me. ( In the order I’d select to receive them ) New Balance Heat Hybrid,  Saucony EXO Jacket, Brooks Seattle Shell



Sparkle SkirtSparkle Skirt – Lot’s of other lists will put other running skirts on their list. Here’s the thing, if you are going to buy someone a running skirt, skip the typical brand names that don’t offer anything special and unique and go for what runner chicks everywhere are in love with. The Sparkle Skirt. The Sparkle Skirts address the need for comfortable, FUN and efficient active wear giving you a great, no riding,no chaffing fit and the amazing addition of pocket room to carry everything you might need on a run in! If you order one of these amazing skirts please tell Sparkle Momma Leah Powell that Pandora sent you! If you want to buy me one I’m a size medium and really want the Big Bang, Haunted and Flitter Green and Red Queen versions.



Balega SocksSocks – I’m not kidding here. A Christmas without socks and an orange in my Christmas Stocking is a sad year for me. Really. And if you’re buying athletic socks, there is really in my opinion only one brand to be buying. Balega. They make lots of different styles but as a runner I am married to the blister resistant Hidden Comfort style. Though if you stuffed my stocking with anything by this company I’d find an exercise to wear them doing.




Altra Intuition Running ShoesShoes – Okay so if you’re talking about me there is only one running shoe that I recommend. I’m an avid Altra fan. You can’t get me out of them. I’m currently bouncing back and forth between 4 pairs of Intuitions ranging from 1.5, 2.0 and two pairs of the 3.0 model. I also have a pair of the Torins that I wear when I want a little more cushion for my run. But as a runner chick myself the last thing I want is someone buying me shoes I don’t want or getting me the wrong size. So here’s what you do. Look at the shoes your lady friend is wearing right now and jot down the brand and size. Now go buy THAT brand in THAT size. If you can tell the model stick with the same model. You can even take a picture of them and take them to the store with you to get an associate to help you. If you want to thank me for this list and buy me some shoes I’m a 9.5 in Altra Running Shoes 🙂


GymBossGymBoss – Whether you’re interval workout is Circuit Training, HITT Training, Kettlebell Workouts, Weight Lifting, Tabata or you are timing Running Intervals the GymBoss is where it’s at. I use mine (which I received as a present) all the time. This small, easy to set and easy to hear interval timer makes sure that I know when my work period is and when my rest period is when I am doing my Circuit Training and makes sure that I stay on track with my run times and walk times when I am out on the road doing a run. I recently broke the clip on mine so hopefully a new one shows up for Christmas!



Moving Comfort Sports BraSports Bra – Okay so I always promise I will tell you the truth. Here is the truth. You probably shouldn’t buy your fitness focused female a sports bra. Even though she probably really needs a new one. So many women are wearing bad sports bras! But do you and her both a favor and make her go pick it out herself and try it on, bounce around, do some jumping jacks in the dressing room and make sure she likes it. Buy her a gift certificate to a store that carries the Moving Comfort brand ( owned by Brooks ) In fact, go to their website, click on shop local, find a store that carries their sports bras and go buy her a gift certificate. Get creative with the presentation on this. Maybe grab her a Starbucks gift card or a gift card for her favorite place to buy a drink ( Tropical Smoothie Cafe ) if you’ve got one is a great choice and make it a fun little day trip for her.


Brita Sports BottleWater Bottles – I can’t go on enough about how much we love our water bottles. There are lots of different brands and lots of different uses. In the gym I like the Brita Sport Bottle that lets me refill it from a water fountain and have fresh filtered water. I’m also a fan of the Nathan Hydration Handhelds as well as the CamelBack 25oz Podium Insulated if I am on my bike for a long ride. If you are buying her a Sparkle Skirt like I mentioned earlier ladies that use them swear by the FredWater Bottles that fit in your pocket nicely because of the shape.




LUSH Beauty ProductsPamper Products – So anyone that is really into fitness as days when they really could just use a relaxing hot bath to help soothe those muscles. If your lady isn’t a bathtub type girl maybe it is a long shower with some products that just make her feel special and pampered. Either way LUSH products is the way to go. I’ll tell you right now the way to my heart is with a bath bomb. Seriously. From bath bombs, bubble bars and bath melts to shower gels, shower smoothies, shower jellies and shower scrubs LUSH has got something that is going to make your fitness frenzied female feel pampered, spoiled and relaxed. Put together a basket of a mixture of products so that she has them on hand those nights she really needs a little tender loving care after pushing her body to be the best that it can be. She’ll appreciate it.


stockingstuffersDon’t forget the stocking stuffers! If you’re shopping for stocking stuffers always think of things like gift cards for her favorite places, shoe strings, energy beans, energy gels, blister band-aids, anti-blister sticks, chap-stick, tissue packs and gum. These are things I’d love to find in my stocking Christmas morning and

There you have it. Twelve presents ideas that any fitness focused female would love to find under the tree Christmas morning and several ideas for stocking stuffers that say you thought about the things she enjoys and the things she might need when she was doing them.



The most important thing about Christmas presents is the thought that goes into them and any of these presents are sure to tell a fitness freak like me that you put a little thought into what you put into the box this year.


 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.

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

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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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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