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Big Brother, Big Dreams, Life after my 260 lb. Weight Loss

SmileThis year I’ve been working on my bucket list. Recently, that meant sending in an audition tape for the Big Brother reality show.  This was quite a surreal experience for me. Realizing that I was actually doing something that I had dreamed of doing for years and let my struggle with obesity hold me back from was yet another non scale victory moment for me.

There was a time that a list of things I wanted to do in life included names of foods I wanted to try and restaurants I wanted to eat at. It included a few other things as well; my life didn’t totally revolve around food. But I did feel like food was all I could do.

I dreamed of things like traveling to different countries, but I knew that it wouldn’t happen because I was intimidated about not being able to fit in an airline seat or not being able to physically do all the touristy stuff you do when you travel.

I thought about things like bungee jumping, skydiving, zip lining, going to amusement parks, riding roller coasters and truth be told, ever since I watched the show in 2009 when Jeff and Jordan were on it, I dreamed of auditioning for Big Brother.

My Dad–who I lost in the middle of my weight loss journey but remains with me through my passion for exercise and my determination to live the happy healthy life he wanted for me–used to watch the show too and he’d always tell me, “You’d be really good on this show kid.” My Dad was a game show guy, he always dreamed of being on Wheel of Fortune or the Big Spin, he always wanted a chance to go on TV and win big money and when the era of reality shows that gave you a chance to do that started he always encouraged me to try.

Of course I never did. Because when it came to something like physical challenges or having to do something that required any sort of strength, dexterity or endurance, at over 400 lbs. I never felt like I was even close to a feasible casting option.  Not to put myself down, but the only show I felt I might get cast on if I tried was The Biggest Loser; and truthfully my weight stopped me from applying for that one as well. In a world where I was already self-conscious about my weight, my appearance and myself, why would I put myself out there for everyone else to talk about and shame? That was what I really felt I would be doing by auditioning for ANYTHING.

All I could think about was being a kid and having our entire class going out for PE (Physical Education) Class together. It didn’t matter what we were playing: softball, basketball, volleyball, dodge-ball. When it came time to pick teams, my name was never called. I was always the last one standing there, and whoever ended up with me was forced to take me and I stood there fearful of what they would say. Let’s face it; we all knew what they were thinking “She’s no good at this game; she’s too fat to play.”

Every single time I thought about auditioning for Big Brother that fear and that memory paralyzed me. But I am NOT that scared little girl anymore. I’m not afraid to put myself out there. If there is anything I have learned since I lost the weight it’s that I can do anything that I set my mind to. I can accomplish anything that I am determined to accomplish.

In the last year I have managed to:

  1. Go to school to pursue my desire to become a Transformation Specialist and Personal Trainer.
  2. Go to school to become a Cooper Approved Wellness Coach
  3. Met my heroes Chris and Heidi Powell
  4. Ran My First Half Marathon
  5. Gifted One of my Blog Readers with a Disney Half Marathon Adventure.
  6. Ran three more Half Marathons during my training for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
  7. Completed the Tinker Bell Half Marathon
  8. Moved across the country to take a new job at a Ladies only Gym Facility as their Weight Loss and Wellness Coach
  9. Gifted Another of my Blog Readers with a Disney Half Marathon Adventure.

671e345ec71811e39d0724be059614f0_8And I still have another month left before a calendar year is up. I’ve accomplished amazing things in the last year.  All of these things have led me in the same direction; they enable me to make sure that I make my father proud of me, that I follow my dreams and keep myself motivated, that I pay it forward to others on a regular basis and that I help others in the fight against obesity.

It was with those four major motivations in mind that I decided; “You’re damn right. I’m going to audition for Big Brother 16!”

I am sure that thousands upon thousands of people enter. I’m NOT sure that in the few minutes I had on video that I convinced them that I would make a good addition to the house. But I am sure that just by applying I achieved something. I achieved the courage of knowing that this is something I can do. I achieve the accomplishment of knowing that if chosen, my weight won’t hold me back. I achieved the excitement of realizing that if I was selected, I would be able to share my story with millions and millions of people watching and that I wouldn’t be worried about what they said or about being ashamed of myself. In fact, I’d be hoping that if nothing else came out of being in that house, that I was able to touch the life of just one more person and motivate them. I’d be hoping that by hearing my story someone else realizes that if I can win the fight against obesity and go on to accomplish dreams like this, that they could too.

The house guests selected will enter the Big Brother House in just 62 days. I may or may not be one of them; I have no idea when house guests are selected, when they know if they are chosen or what not, but I know that if I was picked I wouldn’t be allowed to tell you. Which means you’ll just have to tune into the show on June 25th to find out for sure.

When they extended the original audition date from April 4th to April 25th there was a part of me that said “Well, I guess they haven’t found what they were looking for just yet,” and felt a smidgen of disappointment.

But then I realized that whether I get on or not, I accomplished great things and learned a great lesson just by auditioning for the show. And guess what? I was able to share that with you. So whether they pick me or not, I will know without a shadow of a doubt that I wasn’t the last one standing there and that my weight had nothing to do with it and I will walk away from this whole thing knowing that no matter what happens, when it comes to the fight against obesity, there are a lot of people out there who have already chosen me. After all, I’m the captain of #TeamSlenderSeekers!


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.

Emotional Clarity in my Weight Loss Journey – “I Feel Weak”

I have had an epiphany. It happens. I have had that break through “ah-ha” moment when you FINALLY put your finger on a problem and go “Oh THAT’S it! THAT’S why this was bothering me.” The great thing about this moment is that once this clarity has arrived we have essentially arrived at the problem, knowing the problem allows us to start to map our destination, to plan for our imminent future; the solution. So here we go. Time to utilize some of the things I have learned along my journey.

69be1efe261e11e3b96122000a1fc5c9_7First step confess: Okay I have finally figured out what I am so scared of and what is holding me back. I’m scared because I feel weak. I’ve lost all my weight doing mainly cardio, and got this insane idea and dream that I wanted to become a trainer and help others reach their weight loss goals and I didn’t realize until I actually started to study this stuff how important resistance training, strength training and absolute and dynamic strength really are. With no medical background when the first thing my textbook started to cover was muscle structure and anatomy, plains of motion and joint action movements, I was lost. I started to realize that I was missing a huge piece of the equation when it came to my dream of being a trainer; anything that wasn’t cardio, nutrition or emotional wellness. Suddenly there I am at the Cooper Institute in a room full of people I feel are a hundred times more physically fit than I am, I don’t know the first thing about how to do a bench press and I can’t pass a sit and reach flexibility test, but I’ve got a passion, a dream and I want to be a  Transformation Specialist more than I have ever wanted to be anything in my entire life. But me feeling weak and being embarrassed because I can’t do a pull up or a proper push-up and because I have no upper body strength, that’s making me feel like I can’t walk the walk so I don’t fit the part, so I have no room trying to play it, so I actually … feel unworthy of studying for this certification I want so bad, because in my head, I haven’t earned the right to it yet because even though I can tell you what a Max RM is, mine is laughable.

71ada7a223cf11e39bdc22000a9f3c8f_7Reassess: Okay well I know the problem, and really I know the solution. The part I am not quite sure about is the journey to get there. Which of course, is exactly why I don’t feel worthy of this test, because if I can’t figure out how to get there myself, then how can I expect to help someone else? Can I motivate you? Oh yes I can, I can inspire you, but I need to be able to hold your hand and guide you, and that, I am not confident I can do yet because I can’t do it for myself. So what I need is to build confidence in my strength, and for me, doing that means, building my strength and since I have so much going on with this half marathon training schedule, it means doing it without compromising that cardio schedule at all. What I need is someone to help me understand exercise prescription and how to apply all the stuff I have learned about the principles of opposition, my muscles, my joint actions and stuff like the concept of volume overload and volume increase and how much weight to add when if my goal is to improve dynamic strength.  I need someone to help me figure out if I start with 3 sets of 12 reps at 30 lb. on that machine or if I start out at 3 sets of 8-10-12 and start at 50 lb. and decrease the weight by 10 lb. at each rep because I can lift 30 lb. without being at the brink of muscle fatigue by the end of my 12th rep.  – I just wanna cry, because I feel like I know this stuff, I feel like I would be so good at it, I just don’t know quite how to apply the knowledge. I just need someone to teach me how to be a good trainer. Because I want to be that, so bad, that the thought of NOT being that, breaks my heart and brings tears to my eyes.  This is the thing I need to work on for me right now. And that right there is the problem. For some reason I can’t explain, I think I need someone else to help me on this goal.

That’s right. I want someone else to help me and support me right now because I am feeling like this is the point of no return for me. Since the beginning of this entire journey, this is the first time I have ever truly been afraid of failure. When it comes to learning this stuff I need to learn, taking this test, passing it and being a trainer, and I’m looking for a little more than “Go get’em tiger” here.

I have realized that I am very upset with the people in my life who have not been 100% behind me and completely supporting this endeavor with more than just poms-poms –This part of the journey is so hard, the emotional honestly, but this is the part that I struggle with the most, the emotional stuff. I know what to put in my mouth, I know how to continue to improve my run times and build a cardio respiratory program and build up my cardio respiratory health, but when it comes to being honest about what I feel, that’s where I struggle, and because I am an ex-food addict who is used to stuffing her feelings with food, this becomes a problem.

If there is one thing I will tell you about openly and honestly about gastric bypass surgery. If you are a feed my feelings with fuel type of person rather than a fuel my fitness with feelings type of person, this will probably be a very hard journey for you. If I have one regret ever, it is that I can’t sit down with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and look at the person I love and offer them a spoon and say “Today sucked, can I whine about it.” Because there are just some days in life when sharing a container of Ben and Jerry’s should just be okay and something we can accommodate for with an extra 5 minutes in on the elliptical every day this week. But as a RNY patient who dumps, that is never an option to me and that is probably a good thing on most days, because it keeps me from feeling like turning to food is okay on a regular basis, and let’s face it, I’m an addict and there are few things that I have ever learned to do in true moderation.

Since the day I decided to make this transformation I have felt alone in this journey. Since the day I started I quoted a lesson that one of the few people I can claim to have loved in life taught me. I believe that in life we have two major responsibilities to ourselves; one is to understand that we are never better than anyone else; we are only farther along in our journey than they are at times.  In a time when that is obvious, we should take a moment to stop, hold our hand out with a smile and say, “Hi, let me give you a hand and try to help you get farther along in your path.” – Likewise, we are never better than anyone else, and there are people who are farther along in their journeys than we are, with more experience, and when that is obvious, or when we realize that we need help with something, we should stop, admit that we need help, and be responsible enough to reach out to those ahead of us in the journey for that guidance.

ea3d25f621ab11e3968922000a1fbe74_7One of my biggest problems in life is that I have never felt like when I reach out for help, anyone is truly there to take my hand. I have always felt, self-taught, alone, and like the poster child for, if at first you don’t succeed, keep trying because you’re the only one you can ever count on to help you. I’ve felt like that since I left home at 16 to build a life for myself outside the chain of abuse. I felt that way when I self-taught myself computers and learned to make a living for myself hiding behind it and I felt that way when I decided to get healthy and the people in my life decided not to. I have felt this way with this personal trainer thing every inch of the way give exception to how Mr. Bobby Whisnand has treated me. I really wish I wanted to live in Dallas or that I could spend more time there with Bobby, because I do believe that he has every intention of helping me make sure I am one of the best trainers I can be, but with me so far away the potential to do that is limited.

That is why my biggest dream right now is to be trained by my hero, Transformation Specialist Chris Powell and his lovely wife Heidi Powell, who really has become quite a role model to me. Because really in my head, Chris is the beginning of Transformation Specialists, he does exactly what I want to do for people, he has my dream job; heck he created my dream job, he is the visionary behind Transformation Specialists.

So now that I realize the two big things holding me back. It’s time to fix them. So it’s time to, you guessed it folks. Recommit.

Okay so now it is time to ask myself what things I can do to improve these two situations. First of all I need to reach my hand out to people I have that can help me when it comes to building strength and working on and learning more about strength and toning and RX prescription, I am NOT quite sure what that means just yet, but for some reason, I’m inclined to reach out to one of my Cooper Institute teachers and see what she has to say.

200e50d421ab11e3822f22000a9f09ca_7Step One: I feel alone in this part of my journey, I feel like I need more help guidance and support. Now what can I do to fix it?

  1. I will reach out to my teacher for help with the feeling lost when it comes to building a resistance program issue.
  2. I will reach out to my peeps and let them know what I need. – Hello peeps, because if you love me you read this blog right? With a hand few of exceptions to particular people in my life, that is true. Anyways hello, my dear friends, I love each and every one of you. But if you are reading this, maybe you could help me by doing just one thing this week that encourages me to study and reminds me that I am worthy of taking and passing this test? Sometimes we have a really hard time just coming out and asking for what we need. Today I am feeling exceptionally vulnerable.
  3.  My Trainer Friends if you are reading this; anything you can do to help me I would so appreciate. Some guidance in setting up a resistance program that starts to address this “I feel weak” feeling I have by helping me start to build some dynamic strength would be awesome.  Something that doesn’t interfere with the cardio I’m doing as I train for this half marathon. Some words of wisdom here would be amazing.

Step Two: I feel weak and I want to build dynamic strength. What can I do to work on this?

Okay so I need a couple of things, an exercise schedule I can stick too, which for me means about 90-120 minutes a day. I need stuff I can do at home and I want stuff that makes me feel like I am working within realistic goals. So here is the plan.

I’m going to go back for a refresher on Basic Anatomy in my book for the next couple of days.

After that I’m going to set the KSA’s aside, go back to the Resistance RX section and I’m going to study that section of the book until I understand exactly how to build a Resistance program using myself as a case study.

I’m going to stop depriving myself of reading time and actually take the time to read Chris Powell’s new book Choose More to Lose More for Life and see what pieces of wisdom I can glean from them in regards to a dynamic strength exercise program design.

I’m going to try to teach myself how to design a strength and resistance program just in case nobody else can help me and I have to do it on my own.  Because whether or not I find the support I am looking for in this, I still have to get it done and right now that is the promise I am working on keeping to myself. I will do whatever it takes to achieve this goal, so if what I have to do first is tackle this “I feel weak” thing, so be it. Project “Let’s find that strength” shall commence.


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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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