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Falling Without Failing What Chris Powell has Taught Me

As you all know I am a big fan of Chris Powell.

Chris and his kind-hearted wife Heidi Powell through their communications with me on Facebook have become an integral part of my weight loss journey and huge motivators in my desire and determination to become a personal trainer.

Chris often mentions the need to learn to “Fall without Failing” – What this concept teaches is that we have to expect that there are going to be times when we fall short of our goals no matter what they are. Times when we are going to fall flat on our faces. But we have to look at these times not as failures, but as the I have heard Chris put it; “ultimate opportunities.” How is falling flat on your face or falling short of your goal an opportunity? It’s an opportunity to do three very important things that Chris Powell teaches: confess, reassess and recommit.

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I’ve spoken about my father a few times in the last several days and how men these days are not built from the same cloth that they once were. How my Father was old-fashioned and that the ideas he taught me as a little girl are often void in men I meet in the world today. This is one of the predominant reasons that Chris Powell is one of my heroes and that his words of praise mean so much to me, and that they have been able to become nearly a replacement in my life since my Father’s passing. These words of praise from Chris when I get them hold a meaning few understand, because Chris Powell, through his words and actions, often echo the very things my Father taught me and the things he expressed he wanted for me.

My father taught me that the most important thing I had to do was value my word and live my life with integrity. Chris Powell teaches us that in our weight loss journeys we are making a lifestyle transformation that depends on integrity and that integrity is valuing your word to yourself.

My father taught me that I could do anything and be anyone I wanted to be. He echoed the words of Walt Disney to me “If you can dream it you can do it.” Chris Powell teaches us that we can be whoever we want to be, that all we have to do is live into that identity, that when we find ourselves in any given situation, we just decide who we want to be and we commit to being that person.

My father motivated me to lose weight and became a champion in my weight loss journey until his passing just about two years ago because of a wish that he had for me to live a happy and healthy life. Chris Powell does what he does and reaches out to help the people that he helps because he believes we all have the right to a happy and healthy life

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Why do I bring this all up? Well there are a few reasons. Because yesterday I fell short in a couple of areas. Actually, I felt flat on my face…

So let’s apply the three important things that Chris and his kind-hearted wife Heidi Powell, who has also managed to become an integral part of my support system since I had the opportunity to meet them in May, [ A Bucket List Moment – Meeting Chris Powell ] have taught me…

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 9.24.40 AMConfess: I didn’t meet this huge goal I had to secure enough sponsors to be able to send myself and a Desperately Seeking Slender reader to the Disneyland Tinkerbell Half-Marathon. Additionally, even though I said I would not allow anything to interfere with my biggest goal right now of studying for my Personal Trainer Certification Exam, I did. I allowed trying to secure these sponsorships to eat up Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I knew it was happening, in fact when Chris put a message out of his Facebook page yesterday asking what we were doing to stay on track with our goals this week, I openly admitted that I was letting this project distract me from mine.

Reassess: Okay, I didn’t meet my goal and get my sponsors; There is good news and bad news involved in that. We’ll come back to that. More importantly I lost focus of what I am trying to do here and got sidetracked from studying for my test. But this happened because I was doing some of the very things that my Father and Chris have taught me to do. Back in May when the season premier of Extreme Weight Loss aired Chris and Heidi spent some time talking with people live on Twitter. I asked Chris…

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I’m still working on that 10 lb. window! But what got me distracted from my goal here was actually something that is part of my goal. I saw an opportunity after I completed my own personal Half-Marathon on Father’s Day to bring that sort of sense of accomplishment to someone else and set off on a mission to do so. Being able to do this sort of thing for others is exactly why I am studying for that test to become a trainer in the first place. So while I was off the path I had committed to a bit, it wasn’t that far off, I was just taking a little detour and pressing the pause button for a moment to create a purpose for someone else. Neither of these things were failures. In fact both of them were huge opportunities for me to show the weight loss community and my potential clients who I am and what I am about.

Recommit: It’s time to get back to the grind. I took a break to do something that was well within the parameters of who I am and who I want to be. But now that I have created that purpose for someone else,  it’s time to get back to my other service oriented goal and get that certification by my personal deadline date: October 19th, 2013 so that I can really start helping others in their weight loss journey. Now, it’s time for me to set a couple S.M.A.R.T goals of my own… my focus now is back to WLS Fitness, Bariatric Fitness and helping people Fight Obesity, here is my commitment:

Starting today, June 25th, I will study for a minimum as 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, as evidence by keeping a log of my steady hours. I will do this for 2 weeks until my Surgery on July 10th. I will reward myself with a week of doing nothing but healing and talking to my friends in the social media world. – This goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, rewarded and timed.

After a week or so of healing I will recommit to this same goal again, setting another two-week time frame and at the end of that two weeks I will take my practice exam to gauge where I am in this process more accurately.

I will not allow my own fears or doubts prevent me from taking the practice exam.

I will take the practice exam at the latest by August 7th and if I do well on it, I will schedule my certification test for first available testing date upon my return to Portland on August 19th.

I will be held accountable to these goals since I have put them all out here on the internet and I have so many people who will check on me.

That addresses one part of my confession… now the other… I did not meet the goals that I set to achieve Sponsorship and funding to send two people to Anaheim CA to participate in the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in January, 2014 – I did however receive enough sponsorship to send ONE person, and there is plenty of time for me to figure out how to get myself there. And I WILL figure out how to get myself there all I have to do this month is make sure I am registered and I can handle that financial responsibility myself. The most important thing is that ONE of YOU is going. So watch for the announcement of the How do you Celebrate Success” contest which will begin announced later this week and find out what you have to do to enter to win. The prize will include; Airfare, Hotel Accommodations, Race Fees, Park Entrance Fees and Ground Transportation to and from the airport.

I want to send a HUGE and I mean HUGE shout out to the companies that have already stepped up and committed to Sponsoring The How do you Celebrate Success Contest.

Kay’s Naturals [ Like Them on Facebook ]

Celebrate Vitamins [ Like Them on Facebook ]

Pace Setter Athletics  [ Like Them on Facebook ]

The Support these three companies showed to step up to the plate and help me make this contest a possibility will never be forgotten. And for any other companies that would like to consider Sponsorship of the How do you Celebrate contest – there is still time. If you are interested, please contact me at – Now it’s time to get today’s six hours in. I have a goal to meet, and I have the personal integrity to make sure it gets done.


Sometimes There Just Are No Words

People ask me often what I believe in. This is a hard question for me, but what I do believe in, without a doubt, is unconditional love.

Unconditional love is a rarity in our world, it is not something that everyone is capable of giving and in truth I am not sure it is something that I ever would have understood had I not had the opportunity to experience it with my Father. My Dad loved me unconditionally, there was never a doubt in my mind, no matter where I went, what I did or what mistakes I made, my Dad was always there to ask me if I wanted him to beat up someone or if I needed anything. We assume that this sort of love exists between parents and children, sometimes we like to believe that it exists between spouses or partners, but really, the truth is, this sort of love is rare and usually, we all have a breaking point and a place where, if we feel strongly enough about an issue, we would walk away despite how much we love someone.

But this blog isn’t about unconditional love, I just feel that it is important that you understand my definition of such and understand what I mean when I say that I have been blessed to be loved unconditionally not just by my Father, but by a man who didn’t have to be my Father, my GodFather, Tom Geiger.

f18e71eeb8d711e2ac3122000a1fb77a_7The first time I remember this man saving my life I was 18 years old, living in a one bedroom apartment with a man who decided that I needed to lose weight in order for him to love me. He had convinced me that smoking meth and snorting speed lines was a perfect appetite suppressant and would help achieve this goal. I was so determined to lose weight that not only was I doing meth, but I was seeing a weight loss doctor and getting diet pills from him too. I was with the most attractive man I had ever been with in my life, I wanted him to want me instead of starting at the TV and watching porn when we were intimate with one another, and I was desperate to lose weight. I also, was completely destroying my life and didn’t know it. When he finally started physically abusing me, because at 18 the mental abuse wasn’t something I understood or took seriously, Tom helped me move out and find a new place to live.

A year later when I was living with my next abusive boyfriend, had been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder and my life truly started to fall apart at the seams, Tom saved me. I was a mess, the abuse I had gone through as a child had damaged me so much, I wanted nothing to do with my family because of the abuse I had went though. I was in and out of mental hospitals and mental institutions, I was a self mutilatior that cut herself just to know she could feel anything, and the man I was living with liked to throw things at my head when he didn’t get his way, my favorite was the vacuum cleaner. I had left home at 16 and except to call and talk to my Father, had never looked back and I had nobody healthy in my life at that point; other than Tom.

It never mattered what I needed, groceries, someone to fix my car, or a place to live when my latest boyfriend left me high and dry and I didn’t want to go home and live with my Family. It didn’t matter what it was, Tom provided it for me in an effort to help improve my life. Now everyone always asks, where there strings attached? Yeah there were. But whatever those strings were, they were put in place to make sure that the quality of my life improved. Tom’s conditions were always things like, you have to go to therapy twice a week and get help so that you can heal and have a happy life. This man loved me and supported me so much that when my life feel apart and I came to live with him in Central CA and the therapist I needed to see was in LA. He drove me to LA and back every two weeks, and made sure that I got the therapy I needed.

As I grew up, because let’s face it, as at 18 I was a kid. Things never changed, He treated me like his own daughter and I always knew without a shadow of a doubt how much he loved me. He stood beside my Dad at my wedding and they gave me away together, and my own Dad, knowing how much Tom loved me and had done for me, didn’t mind at all.

When I first left CA to start my life in OR I had a car, $5000 to get me started, and no clue if I was going to fall on my face or not. I was more afraid than I had ever been in my life. I had spent years and years in therapy trying to make sure I was a whole person, and that I had the coping skills to move forward. I had just met Jason, the man I was convinced I was going to marry whether he wanted me or not and I had lost nearly 200 lb., doing Atkins and was at the lowest weight I had been my entire adult life. I remember pulling out of Tom’s driveway that morning, leaving home to start a whole new scary life where I wasn’t sure what the future held. But I knew I had Tom and that no matter what happened, I always had a home to come back to if I needed it; Tom was my safety net.

But things were good. At least they were on the outside. My job took off, I was making great money, I was blowing through it like rice paper, but I was making it. I was paying all the bills, living the high life, and anytime I could I paid it back to Tom, I did, because I was eternally grateful for the love, guidance and stability he had provided. I credit those things and him getting me the mental health care that I needed as the primary reason that I was able to heal, move on and move forward with my life.

When things took a turn for the worst. When Jason lost his job, when we couldn’t pay the rent, when we were drowning in two car payments. As always Tom came to my rescue and made sure that the basics were covered and that I had a chance to dig my way out. He drove from CA to OR to “buy” my jeep from me to get me out from under the car payment. When that wasn’t enough he paid the rent, helped me move out of the house we were struggling to afford and back into an apartment where we could spend a few years rebuilding. And when that didn’t work, he loaned me the money to pay off the credit card bills we had racked up living on credit trying to survive to give us a fresh start.

It was about a year later that I went to Tom and asked him to help me pay for a Gastric Bypass and for the first time in my life he said no to me. At first, it hurt me, I was asking for something I KNEW was going to save my life and Tom said no. He’d never said no to me before and the spoiled little girl in me really didn’t know what to make of it. All these other things he had done for me, and here we were, at this moment that I needed help to save my life, because at 420 lb. I was literally scared to death that I was going to die, and Tom said no. Not only did he say no, but no matter how desperate I was, no matter how much I cried, and no matter how many times my insurance denied Bariatric Surgery, Tom held his ground and did not waver in his decision.

In truth, it hurt our relationship a little, I was angry and hurt that the one person I always thought I could count on other than my own Father had turned me away. But, the entire time this was going on, Tom made it very clear that while he would not lend me the financial support to do this, he would give me all the emotional support I needed. People have asked me why I think Tom refused to help me then and in truth I think it was two-fold even if neither of us realized it. I think there was a part of Tom that didn’t support the surgery and didn’t want me to have it because he was worried about the risks involved, and I think there was a part of Tom that was practicing parental tough love and knew that if I was going to do this, I had to do it on my own. It had to be something I did for myself and not something that was handed to me or that someone else gave me, because I needed the self-confidence and I needed to learn that I could do this and that I could win this fight against obesity without anyone else helping me. After all, he had watched me lose 200 lb. on Atkins and gain it all back again.

Though we had drifted apart a little and I had a hard time accepting Tom’s decision he was always the one that I turned to when things got bad. When my weight loss journey started and life started through obstacles in my way he was the one I called and cried too. When my marriage started falling apart, he listened to me cry. When my Father was sick and I needed to be on a plane to get home and was still too big to fit in one seat, he bought me a first class ticket to LA to make sure I was where I needed to be without being uncomfortable, scared or embarrassed. When my Dad passed away and my Mother didn’t have a dime to her name and there was no money to pay for cremation, Tom has it covered. When my Father was gone, and it felt like my world and shrunk and I had just lost the only person that had ever loved me unconditionally was gone, I looked at Tom an I realized that wasn’t true. I still had a Father, I still had someone who loved me just as unconditionally as my Dad did.


Since my Dad passed away, Tom has been the only Father figure in my life. He has been the one I ran to when I needed a good cry, needed to let out some steam or just needed to vent about life or rant about some injustice in the world. He’s provided me more guidance in life than anyone else ever has, including my own Dad. Every big decision I have ever had to make in life, Tom has lent me council on. Even times that he couldn’t tell me what to do, or didn’t want to, because when it comes to relationship stuff, you don’t really want to tell someone what to do or give them advice, he would listen, let me cry, let me get it out, and a lot of times, let me talk until I found the answers myself.

The relationship a lot of women have with their mothers, I have with my Godfather. I can call him up, complain about my Family and with 20 years of history behind us, he understands every single emotional I feel. He probably knows me better than anyone else in the world, Jason, Heather, Debby and my own Family included. He has been my emotional pillar, and in times where there simply was no light and no end of the tunnel in sight, he has held my hand and guided me towards the exit of darkness.

My Godfather’s downfall is that he is a pack rat, which leads him to a house of chaos and clutter. It breaks my little OCD, neat freak brain, but we all have our shortcomings. Last January I made a promise to Tom that I would come to California in the beginning of April and help him get his house in order. While I had every intention of doing just that, life tends to make other plans for us and my needing to rush off to help my best friend get through the traumatic experience of loosing her Mother to advanced cancer in a matter of weeks and then rush back to Heather’s home town in Ohio to help her Mother get through the passing of Heather’s step-father changed things and we ended up arriving in California weeks later than we should have. Tom wasn’t angry though, as always he understood that life had plans for me and that these were things I had no control over.

We’ve spent the better part of month here in CA – in the middle of that we’ve attended the annual car Rally that Tom holds each year. We’ve traveled down to LA to pick up my Father’s ashes, gone to the Extreme Weight Loss Finale and met my hero Chris Powell. We’ve spent a day here and there visiting with old and new friends, and we drove to Vegas to attend the 2013 Mother of All Meet & Greet that the WLSFA put on where I consulted with different plastic surgeons about the remainder of the skin removal surgery that I need to have done in order for me to feel ok with my body and move forward with my life.

In my last blog, I shared with my readers the pain felt as I fell apart over my body image issues, the reconstructive plastic surgery I want, my inability to pay for it, and the overall confusion that I have trying to figure out what surgeon to use and which expert opinion to follow. Several of my readers told me that their hearts broke with mine as they watched that emotional break down unfold on my blog.

Last Monday as I left California to head back Oregon for a few days before I rushed off to Dallas for this month that I have promised to spend devoted to myself and my studies so that I can take the test to get my certification to become a personal trainer Tom rescued me once again. I am not sure I will ever be able to accurately explain how mentally damaging the excess skin that I see on my body when I look in the mirror is to me. But as I leave, I leave once again feeling like Tom has saved my life. This horrible feeling inside me when I look in the mirror, this thing that could very well have held me back from pursing my dream to be a personal trainer because of how self-conscious it makes me, has been taken care of for me. I leave CA with a check to cover the costs of this finally skin removal surgery and to insure that this skin doesn’t hold me back from the dreams I have right now.

I have no idea how Tom saw the potential in the broken and damaged young girl that I was nineteen years ago when he first met me or what made him decide to take me under his wing and treat me like his own daughter. But he was truly the first person in my life that ever saw the strength and potential inside me and helped me find it within myself. But this gesture, it goes beyond anything anyone has ever done for me, There are no words. There is not enough gratitude. There are some times in life that the words “I love you,” and “thank you,” pale in comparison to what actually needs to be said. While this may seem cheesy to everyone else, this song has history for Tom and I, and it is probably the closest thing I can get to expressing what I need to express.

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For all those times you stood by me

For all the truth that you made me see

For all the joy you brought to my life

For all the wrong that you made right

For every dream you made come true

For all the love I found in you

I’ll be forever thankful baby

You’re the one who held me up

Never let me fall

You’re the one who saw me through through it all


You were my strength when I was weak

You were my voice when I couldn’t speak

You were my eyes when I couldn’t see

You saw the best there was in me

Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach

You gave me faith ‘coz you believed

I’m everything I am

Because you loved me


You gave me wings and made me fly

You touched my hand I could touch the sky

I lost my faith, you gave it back to me

You said no star was out of reach

You stood by me and I stood tall

I had your love I had it all

I’m grateful for each day you gave me

Maybe I don’t know that much

But I know this much is true

I was blessed because I was loved by you


You were my strength when I was weak

You were my voice when I couldn’t speak

You were my eyes when I couldn’t see

You saw the best there was in me

Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach

You gave me faith ‘coz you believed

I’m everything I am

Because you loved me


You were always there for me

The tender wind that carried me

A light in the dark shining your love into my life

You’ve been my inspiration

Through the lies you were the truth

My world is a better place because of you


You were my strength when I was weak

You were my voice when I couldn’t speak

You were my eyes when I couldn’t see

You saw the best there was in me

Lifted me up when I couldn’t reach

You gave me faith ‘coz you believed

I’m everything I am

Because you loved me


I’m everything I am

Because you loved me


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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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BariLife has decided to send me back to Paris to represent the WLS Community as I attempt to find my love of running again.
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