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Coming Out of the Dark – When Life Derails Training

I wish I was perfect.

10467772_680115812117141_1972508978_nI’ve striven for perfection ever since I was a little girl and got very discouraged when I couldn’t do something that stood up to those high standards. I’ll never forget the first time I brought home a report card with a B on it; I sat in the car crying hysterically because I hadn’t gotten straight A’s. I was in the third grade.

I wish I was clairvoyant. I wish I knew what was going to happen weeks, months and years in advance so that I could know going into any commitments that I make whether or not I could perform them to the best of my ability.

I wish I had a magic wand that could instantly fix anything that wasn’t quite the way it was supposed to be and that could suddenly repair any mistake I made.

But I have none of those things, what I do have is the ability to say “I really messed up,” and hope that anyone involved can forgive me. This is after all a growing and learning process and while most people don’t realize it, I am new at all of this.

What is all of this you ask? Being thin, being healthy, being fit, having a life that involves people outside of my protective little bubble, being social, having a full-time job that takes me out of the house, and, learning to deal with my emotions in ways that are not disadvantageous to my weight loss journey.

For as long as I can remember I was the chubby girl who stayed at home and played on the computer. After my high school sweet heart most of my romantic and social interactions were in online and chat mediums where I could hide my weight, feelings and emotions behind a screen and text.

So what did I do that I am so regretful for? I dropped the ball and I failed to live up to promises I made to sponsors, my contest winner and to you, my readers.

I think whenever we make a mistake so grand that we feel an overwhelming remorse, we instantly have this need to explain ourselves. Why did this happen? For me the answer is very easy:  I took on too much during a time of year that is already an emotional storm for me.

You may have noticed that there was no “Father’s Day’ post from me this year. Because as Father’s Day rolled around I was so overwhelmed with grief that I didn’t even know how to begin talking about it. Professionally I refer to this as “Anniversary Grief”; it’s this overwhelming sense of loss, sadness and depression that hit me during the time of year that my Father passed away. I’m the sort of person that associates moments in my life with dates and songs, this works against me during a time of year where an entire month is filled with dates that bring this anniversary grief forward in my mind.

This is now the third year that I have experienced this intense sensation of loss and sadness that starts in mid-June at Father’s Day, leads into the 4th of July (My Father passed away early morning of the 5th and the night of the 4th was the night we said good-bye) and then haunts me all through July until we get it his birthday on July 20th. And even still here into the beginning of August I find myself struggling to come out of the dark silence that these emotions evoke in me.

For the last seven weeks it has taken nearly all of the emotional strength I have to get up in the morning, go to work, smile for my members and clients and make it through the day without tears and sadness seeping in.  I miss my Father so much that it is overwhelming and as I realize that I’m starting to forget the sound of his voice or the sound of his laugh I find my heart breaking even more. They say time makes things better, but this just keeps getting harder for me.

I’ve struggled with the question of “Would he be proud of me?” And though I look around me and I see all the wonderful things I do that would make him proud, it is hard for me not to focus on the few aspects of my life that he wouldn’t be so proud of and it’s hard for me not to beat myself up over them emotionally.

Sometimes life just doesn’t help either. These last couple months haven’t been easy for me at all. While trying to keep up on a full-time job where I’ve got 30-35 hours a week on the clock and another 6-12 hours a week off of the clock when I’m teaching classes, doing one on one weight loss and wellness coaching and doing special VIP session with my clients and trying to squeeze in my own 1-2 hour work hours each day I’ve had a lot of other things sort of thrown in the pool of Pandora Must Do’s.

I struggled so much from Father’s Day to July 5th but I tried to keep myself distracted with as much work as I possibly could. The weekend of the 4th of July, I isolated myself from just about everyone in my world as I slipped into some very dark emotional places. I tried to distract myself, with my Half Marathon Training, The Launch of the #20Week2WineDine Virtual Challenge and when not one single soul signed up for a challenge where I offered a $100 cash prize to the participant that had the best pace time improvement, I found myself discouraged and feeling defeated and unappreciated.

I tried to continue to focus on my passion of helping others lose weight and tried to ignore that lack of participation and apathy I once again saw in the online bariatric community and I focused on getting ready for the 10k run that I was doing on July 12th. This was my second 10K this summer and my last chance to get a better pace time to submit to run Disney for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon my How Do You Celebrate Success Contest Winner and I are doing in the beginning of November.

924450_735630803149282_1711825532_nJust a couple of days before my race I got the news that the owner of the condo I was renting from, my roommate, had sold the condo in a quick sale and that I needed to be out of the place by the following weekend; The weekend of my Father’s birthday.  So I ran my 10K came home and started packing, and continued to try to keep up with my busy work schedule. I had support groups to speak at, a healthy food picnic party to host at work, and I continued to do the one thing that somehow made me feel supported–Keeping the gym open late so my clients and I could exercise together while watching Extreme Weight Loss and live tweeting with Chris Powell and Heidi Powell, because let’s be honest, when my world gets really dark, the Powell’s always seem to be there to pull me back into the light.

I tried to deal with the resentment I felt towards my friends here in NC who were also busy dealing with a last-minute move for not realizing how much help I needed getting through that day. This is the third year that I have dealt with this anniversary grief. The first year I got Manny, a puppy I am sure my Dad brought me so that I didn’t feel so alone. The second year I was in Dallas and I spent the morning working out with my Mentor Bobby Whisnand, surrounded by very best friend in the whole world ( Tora), my niece and nephew and spent the evening with my very dear friend Keesha who drove out to see me just to make sure I was distracted. This year I just felt alone, very alone. I took the time to get a new Tattoo that served as a tribute to my Father as well as a reminder to me never to forget how far I have come and the next day, I went and spoke at a local bariatric support group.

Things got really exciting on the 23rd of July when suddenly the gym I work for was accosted with Toxic Fumes from an oil based apoxy paint that they were using in the storefront next to ours and the next 10 days were an amazingly high stress situation for me as I tried to deal with upset members while my bosses were out-of-town, train a new front desk employee, and suffered from a constant migraine headache from the fumes and started to prepare myself for Thursday morning; when I would teach Metabolic Circuit training for the first time and fought my own self-doubt and self-worth as to whether or not I was good enough of a coach to be teaching that class while my boss and all the other trainers in the gym where out-of-town and of course all of this is going on while I am in the middle of trying to study for a test that terrifies me more than spiders.

The other day as I was getting ready to set out for my #20Week2WineDine Training Run I suddenly realized; holy cow it is August 5th and not only have I really dropped the ball and not gotten any blogs writing to fulfill my sponsorship obligations for the entire month of July, but I also missed the deadline for submitting my time to RunDisney for the event, which means I will be placed in the last corral of the race. While it’s not the end of the world, it is disappointing to me. I went to great lengths to run two 10k’s before the deadline with every intent to submit it and HOPE that I got into a corral that was a little further up and I completely brain farted it.

It’s been a bad month for me and in trying to take care of myself and find a light to follow out of the darkness; I neglected to do some things that were very important to me. It’s amazing how emotions like sadness, depression, loneliness, anxiety can become so overwhelming and it’s shocking to me how these emotions sneak up on me during this time of year and how without a strong support system in place to help me, I tend to be overwhelmed by them.

I wish I could rewind a few days and submit that pace time. I wish I could go back and set a reminder on my phone so that I wouldn’t have forgotten in the midst of my fast paced life. I wish I could go back and write the blogs that I was committed to writing (Which I will, they just won’t be published in a time frame that they should have been.)

I wish I was perfect. I wish I didn’t make mistakes like this. I wish the grief that I feel this time of year didn’t have such an emotionally crippling effect on me. But I am not perfect, I am just Pandora. I’m not free from fault or fumbles. Usually I say that I am myself unapologetically. I never apologize for being who I am, but this time, that’s not the case, this time I am truly remorseful that part of who I am and part of what I struggle with has caused me not only to let down some people who are very important to me, but also caused me to let down myself. This hasn’t been a pretty seven weeks for me, I slipped into some behaviors I wasn’t proud of and I let the emotional distress of my grief get me off track.

10598627_592504027533361_1464304025_nThe last seven weeks I’ve felt like I am constantly falling and then standing back up and trying to right myself again. For those that it has affected, my Contest Winner, My Sponsors, my friends and family, my readers, I apologize for the fact that I am not yet skilled in a coping mechanism that helps me handle this better. What I can promise you is that I’m standing up and I am working on maintaining my balance now so that I don’t have to spend all my time picking myself back up and dusting myself off.

Each and every one of you is more important to me than I can say. Everyone involved with #TeamSlenderSeekers has a very special place in my heart; unfortunately this year I’ve learned that it seems to sit next to this very special place that is left vacant by the loss of my Father, and the grief that causes me is still something I don’t have the tools in my toolbox to deal with. It’s something I’ll be working on.

I always say that weight loss is a journey. Despite what we think when we are struggling with obesity, our problems don’t all go away once we shed the extra weight, and learning how to deal with those problems without falling back into unhealthy behaviors is sometimes harder than we expect.

I’m not perfect, I’m not clairvoyant and I don’t have a magic wand, but what I do have is the earnest desire to live the happy and healthy life that my Father wanted for me; and to help others along their journey by sharing the things I have learned, the tools I have gathered and the education I have sought along with my own first hand experiences.

I have always found that it is in the darkest moments of my life that the brightest bulbs go off for me. And though this period of darkness has lasted longer than others, I feel that in it now I have found a newer and stronger me. I am determined to run this race and to do it in my personal goal of under three hours.

Now it’s time for me to get back on track and to make sure that Amy and I own this Half Marathon!


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.

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Self Advocacy; What You Allow in Your Emotional Headspace

Dear Slender Seekers,

I’ve received a few letters from some of the #SlenderSeekers out there that heard that I got up and left the room during the Lisa Lampanelli show at the WLSFA event the other night and wanted to know why, so I wanted to take a moment to explain.

We each have different paths and different journeys, we each arrive at different places at different times. For me personally my path and my personal mission is to help those that are affected by obesity to overcome some of the emotional challenges they face along the way and find a path to wellness through transformation of not just their bodies but their minds as well.

For those of you that know me well, I am an abuse survivor. Verbal and Emotional abuse was prevalent in my world through my childhood and teenage years. I was also affected by obesity at a very young age; I remember being that little “fat kid” that got picked on as early as first grade.

Each and every one of us has to be our own advocate for our own emotional wellness; we are the ones that are the most responsible for who and what we allow to reside in our emotional head space.  As such, when I find myself in a situation where something that is going on negatively impacts my emotions I have a personal responsibility to address the issue.

Likewise, I have a goal, a mission, and a path that I am currently on, and if my involvement with something goes against that path, I have a personal responsibility to decide whether or not I wish to be involved with it. I have stood up in this community and said repeatedly that I will not tolerate fat jokes, fat shaming, weight bias, weight stigma or bullying. I do not feel that there is ever a time, social environment or population in which those things are ever tolerable, justified or acceptable.

My job as a Wellness Coach is to help my clients, who are affected by obesity to recognize obstacles and barriers that are in their way and to find solutions to problematic behaviors that are hindering their endeavors in weight loss in order to help them achieve their goals. I use these same techniques in my own life when trying to achieve my goals and if my goal is to be a positive beacon of light against weight stigma, weight bias and bullying, it’s contrary for me to sit in a room where those affected by obesity are the punchline to the jokes being told.

I used to be that girl who kids walked up to and said “You’re so fat when you go to Kentucky Fried Chicken you order the size on the roof.” I used to be that woman who teenage boys rolled down the window and made animal noises at when I walked down the side-walk. These things were not funny to me then and they are not funny to me today.

I understand humor as a self-defense mechanism as well as the concept of laughing at yourself so that others can’t laugh with you. We all build walls and defend ourselves from the things that we fear and the things that hurt us. I also understand that stand-up comedy has a certain kind of “expected offensiveness” to it.

There are many of my friends, dear friends, who stayed in the room and said that by the end of the show the comedian had turned it around, brought it to a place that was personal and allowed you to understand how much she cared about and wanted to help those that struggle with her weight, and it makes my heart smile that they were able to take that positive message away from it. I’m glad that there was a positive message to be heard if you waited for it.

For me personally, jokes that target people of size are never okay. If someone posted any of those jokes singularly in the social media as a community we would be outraged and I believe that if we create this gray area where sometimes it’s okay and sometimes it’s not, we weaken our stance in the fight against weight stigma and weight bias. If we say “It’s okay in this situation, but not this one or than one, we open it up for debate, but for me there is no debate, it should never be okay.  That is why I had also left the room the night before when the MC made a joke that referenced the size of someone’s belt. For me personally, with where I am in my journey, I cannot sit and laugh while those affected by obesity are used as comedy content.  Obesity just isn’t a laughing matter to me.

I have stood up several times and told you that I believe if you silently sit by and allow an injustice to take place that you have aided that injustice. So to me, if I tolerate even ONE joke that is weight biased I have done a disservice to my mission.

But this is MY mission, my path, my journey, and nobody else has to walk it with me.  I am not upset, angry or against the WLSFA, the people in attendance or anyone involved with the event.  I found myself in a situation that made me emotionally uncomfortable, that made me feel like I was betraying who am what I am by being involved and so I did exactly what I would recommend anyone else do in that position, I removed myself from the situation and went back to doing what I had come there to do; meet and greet and socialize with my friends.

There will be a few people out there who are upset with the fact that I have chosen to write about this, but as someone very special to me reminded me before I left Tampa, I’m not the type of person that lets fear of what others think drive me; I am fearless in my fight against obesity and I will always stand up and fight for those that are affected by it. Desperately Seeking Slender has always been a “I’ll shoot straight and tell you the truth, even when the truth isn’t popular,” sort of venue. And this time, the truth is that I’m not out to be popular. I’m out to win the fight against a disease that robs people of the health, their lives and their mobility and that Slender Seekers, is no joke.


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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

This is #MyBariLife

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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