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This Is How I Roll – Desperately Seeking Slender in Vegas

There are a million things I should be doing right now other than writing this blog. Maybe not millions, but a ton. Studying for my PT Certification that I feel I am nowhere near ready for, at the gym working on that perfect form I am going to need, helping my Godfather with his house project… the list goes on and on.  I can always find something I should be doing now that I am thin enough to maintain healthy fitness.

But still I find myself drawn here, where I share my journey with you, whether it’s good bad or indifferent, that is what I’ve always been about. We’ve been through a lot together since I started this journey, but now, we embark on dangerous territory.. I must participate in … drum roll please … the social game.
I am just a little over a week for leaving for the WLSFA Las Vegas Event. Now while I am nobody particularly special to this organization, I will say that my involvement with them since last October has taught me that sometimes the little people do a lot that goes unnoticed.
For this Las Vegas event, Laura Van Tuyl and I were literally working around each other’s schedules and doing things we had to do at the last possible moment just because of how busy we both were. She needed some help with some of the projects on her agenda for the event. From the swag bags at the Carnie VIP Lunch to the graphic images on the charms that will be sold and even so far as to working together on an entirely different WLSFA PNW Chapter Project, almost the entire time that life has been dragging me all over the country to take care of people I love, Laura was right there with me. Not only helping me and giving me advice when life got rough but dealing with her own traveling, personal life as well as doing all the WLSFA work that she does. I am literally amazed at how much of her time Laura gives to the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America, it is outstanding really. I’ve never met anyone that wants to give back as much as I do until I met some of the women at the WLSFA.
I talk a lot about some of the Ladies that have positively impacted my life in ways that I can never repay just by caring about me, seeing potential in me and encouraging me. Let me talk for a moment about my dear friend Yvonne McCarthy from Bariatric Girl– Several years ago, before my insurance would approve my Gastric Bypass, I wrote Yvonne a six page letter asking her for help because I had nowhere to turn. I’d never heard back from Yvonne, I figured I wasn’t important enough to get her attention or like all the other “celebrities” I’d written, ( Because that’s what she was to me, a WLS celebrity ) my story wasn’t special enough to get her attention. When I saw Yvonne at the OAC Convention in Dallas last October I was really put off by this, I didn’t want to introduce myself or talk to her because I felt she had ignored me. Encouraged by Diana Lyn, I approached Yvonne and told her who I was, about my letter and about her not responding. I have never seen a woman so beside herself that she missed an email in my entire life. 564711_10200840649757685_2055684940_nSince then Yvonne has been one of the dearest friends I have made and stands in a group of women who have supported me in ways they may never even realize. All it takes is a sad blog post or an update on Facebook that I am having a bad day or struggling and I have a text from Yvonne asking me to call so she can check on me.  It’s not often that I put negativity out there, I really try to stay positive about everything, but bad things happen to us once in a while and can get us down and break our hearts, and when that happens I tend to let it leak out a little. Yvonne picks up on it right away, and always knows that whatever I am actually saying aloud, it’s probable a lot worse than I have shared yet, because I keep that stuff very close chested. When I got the opportunity to get together with Yvonne for lunch and shopping in Dallas last month, not only did she insist on buying my lunch, but also my dress for Vegas. She is such a kind-hearted and giving individual I cannot help but love her. She’s taught me to be myself, to see the positive in as much as I can, and to appreciate what I have and not dwell on what I don’t. ( Even if that last part is a lesson I am constantly working on. )
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Then there is Sandi Henderson, who let me tell you, I wish this woman was my Mother, if I had this woman in my corner sooner I think I would have been someone big in this world. She is constantly there to remind me I can do something, to remind me to stand up, fight and make noise as I am put in positions where I can advocate for this community. She encourages me to be the best that I can be, and anytime I ask for help, anytime I put my hand out and say, please stand with me on this I need support, she is one of the women that will be the first to dig her feet in the sand and reach out to her social media network to help me.  I knew that Sandi was going to be special to me when we first met at the OAC Convention in October and I had decided to make the Walk From Obesity my first official 5K run. I was running around and stopped for a moment to catch a breath and fell in next to Sandy so I could talk to her and one of the Sponsor Representatives on the sidelines called out, “Hey Pandora you are supposed to be running why are you walking?” Sandi turned around and said “That is NOT a Positive Message and that is NOT how you encourage someone,” – I fell in love with Sandi right then and there. I’d walk a mile or twenty-five for or with this woman any day she asked me to.
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Then there is Rain Hampton, who is now working with the WLSFA So California Chapter, doing amazing things with fundraisers and young new chapter. Rain Hampton is, quite honestly, the reason this community has a Pandora in it. I don’t mean that to sound full of myself at all but honestly it was my friendship with two people who I met at the OAC Convention in October that forever cemented in me the desires I already had to reach out and try to help this community in their weight loss journeys, Rain and Joy, Rain helped me figure out who I wanted to be and where I was going to go and how to play Switzerland and THAT helped me figure out the direction of Desperately Seeking Slender. Then it was Joy, her place in her journey, how much of me I saw in her and the instant emotional connection that we had that ensured that I would forever work to help people in this community that wanted it. If there is one Joy in my life for every year I continue to have my blog I will be a happy person a blessed friend. Unfortunately Joy won’t be in Vegas, but we are rooming together in August for the OAC Convention.
There are so many people who have come in to my life because of my blog, my attendance at the OAC Convention and my desire to help others and be a part of things like the OAC and the WLSFA. So many people who have encourage my desires for a new career as a personal trainer with an emphasis on Bariatric Fitness and Weight Loss. I could never list them all in one blog. I have to bring them up a little at a time. The ones I talked about today are all part of the WLSFA and a huge part of this Vegas trip I leave for a week from Thursday.
Today, I was informed that I was pretty much going to hate Vegas by a good friend of mine on Facebook. She told me that Vegas was notoriously clicky and that it breeds exclusivity. Well folks, guess what, that isn’t how this Seeker rolls, so I’m going to squash it pretty quickly by saying this…
ANYONE is welcome ANYWHERE I go outside of my hotel room and WLSFA Stuff in Vegas. So… if you want an exclusive environment, don’t invite me. I’m likely to tweet where I am to #DSSeekers and let anyone that follows me on Twitter know so they can join or post it on Facebook. I don’t believe in being exclusive, I didn’t drive all the way to CA from Oregon and decide to go to a WLS Vegas Party so I could go play secret society with my BFFs, I came to have fun with the WLS Crowd and by that I mean EVERYONE. I don’t have a lot of money to go do fancy things, so most of my time will likely be spent checking out casino scenery, walking the strip just because I can, playing some nickel slots in honor of my Father, and just being social with the people who I came all this way to meet, greet and get to know. There are before and after photos I can’t wait to see, people I can’t wait to hug, and stories I can’t wait to hear, because I KNOW you all have them to share.
This last picture is a photo of my favorite Teach, Ms. Karyn and some of my friends from the week I studied at the Cooper Institute in Dallas Texas to prepare for my Personal Trainer’s Certification Test. I like to gather together people who smile and throw their hands up in the air for me like this \O/ So make sure you come see me and we get a picture for my blog!
I believe that I can participate in this event and not fall prey to the Social Status, High School Environment social nightmare that I so often say I hate. No matter what size you are, what gender you are, how much you love or hate exercise, or where you are in your weight loss journey, you and I can find something to talk about and something to share with each other, I promise. I’d love to meet you. I’ll be participating in whatever social media the WLSFA has set up and using my own #DSSeekers tag as well on Twitter and of course you can like Desperately Seeking Slender on Facebook or just friend me personally and keep up with me there! I will also be hosting a peer-to-peer table discussion at the event on “Plastic Surgery from the Patient Perspective.” So be sure to sign up for it when you register if it is a topic that interests you! I’d love to meet you! #Inclusive #WLSFun #DSSeekers #WLSFA #ILOVETHISCOMMUNITY
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Training To Become a Personal Trainer

Once in a while you meet someone and you just click. You goals are so similar and you are so passionate about the same things that when you are together it’s like you feed on each other’s positive energy. I call this “Motivation Transference.”

Bobby Whisnand Leading the Walk from Obesity at the OAC Inaugural Convention Dallas Texas October 2012

If you are someone who reads my blog and finds themselves motivated by what I share and write, you’ve probably experienced this same sort of thing.

I am the type of person that thrives on order and structure. I’m the type of person that has to look to someone as the paradigm.

In the beginning of this journey that I am on towards becoming a personal trainer, it was my own personal trainer that motivated me. We used to talk about how we’d work together some day, how we’d do big things together, help more people lose weight, what a powerhouse team we would be together. For almost a year, those dreams helped me stay focused on own weight loss journey and helped ensure my own personal accountability – something that is a monumental part of my weight loss journey.

I have a theory about my need for positive role models, good examples, mentors and heroes; I believe it stems from a childhood without a lot of friends and where my main form of socialization was among adults. You compile that on the fact that most of those adults ended up hurting me at some point or another and voila you have the reason that my heroes are people like Chris Powell and Ellen DeGeneres. I’ve been looking up to public figures and role models to learn who I want to be most my life when the examples I had in my life were more what I didn’t want to be.

Since last August when I believed that my last reconstructive plastic surgery would be in November I have been working on the goal of opening my own business as a personal trainer in July of this year. And since October I’d been working on finding a Personal Trainer that would let me sort of apprentice with them. Go to sessions and watch them in action. I was looking for someone to help teach me how to be a good trainer.

I talked to a few Trainers that I’d met thus far. My own Trainer, and another one from the local area that had some experience and was starting to get involved in the WLS Community. Unfortunately neither of them were able  or willing to help me.

Then a thought occurred to me. Bobby Whisnand. I had the pleasure of meeting Bobby at the OAC Convention back in November. In fact, it was his, Merril Littleberry and Julia Karstad’s high praise of the Cooper Institute that lead me to select it as my school for my CPT studies over the ACE, ISSA and NASM.

I had connected so well with Bobby at the event. His views on exercise, on making sure that people are taught how to exercise without hurting themselves, and his understanding that you have to understand the mobility limitations of people who are morbidly obese when working with them were things that Bobby and I could have talked about for hours. When I told Bobby that my goal was to teach people to not need me rather than to expect them to come work out with me 2-3 times a week forever and he agreed, I was elated. As Bobby shared exercises with me that he knew I would find exciting and told me all about his upcoming video I knew this man was someone who was going to be an important person in my life.

Bobby’s upcoming video is something that I am extremely excited about. It promises to be the first of its kind with special attention to bariatric fitness. Bobby is a front-runner in the definition of Bariatric Fitness and Nutrition and the efforts and steps that he is taking to start to mold the shape of Bariatric Fitness is something that I want more than anything to be a part of. Bobby has done some amazing things already in the Fitness industry when it comes to Diabetic Fitness and Nutrition and I can’t wait to see what he does with Bariatric Fitness and what this new video with a focus on movement for all levels of participation in the weight loss world comes out like.

As if that all isn’t enough, Bobby has also stepped up to the plate to help me out where nobody could locally. When I asked Bobby if there was anyway that while I was in Dallas working on my studies I could spend some time with him in a sort of apprenticeship fashion, not only was “Absolutely, yes.” the first words out of his mouth, but he also let me know that not only would he let me observe him in action, but put me through his own fitness program and teach me some things that I might not pick up in the classes at CI. As if that isn’t amazing enough, Bobby is also a Cooper Institute Alumnus, which makes me really confident in knowing that he’ll help me make sure I am well prepared.

I can’t wait to get my hands on Bobby’s new exercise video and he’s told me that I’ll definitely get a sneak peek and get to share my opinion of it with you guys, so we have that to look forward too. I’m so excited to have an entire month in Dallas to do nothing but focus on my CPT education and learning from a Mentor as amazing and fun to work with as Bobby Whisnand and I can’t wait to share that whole experience with you.

Until then, why not click on over to Bobby’s website  Victory of Life and check him out and of course be sure to visit him on Facebook, give him a little WLS high-five and hit the like button and tell him Pandora sent you!  I bet by the time you do that, you’ll be as motivated to go get your fit on as I am this morning.It just so happens that I am in Dallas until the 16th of April now, since I had to fly out here to help my friend deal with the unexpected and sudden passing of her Mother and I got in touch with Bobby today and will be meeting with him sometime next week. I cant wait to share more information with you then. But for now, I need to get some sleep, I have an After the Cut Support Group Meeting to attend in the morning and need to get a little bit of beauty sleep.

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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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