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Celebrate Weight Loss with Fitness – Meet our Contest Winner

Today is the day! Are you ready for the big news? We have an official winner of the Second “How Do you Celebrate Success” Contest.

Before I tell you who she is, let me share her story with you…

I found out I was different in kindergarten when a boy asked if I was pregnant. That was the first time I was made aware of my weight at school, but not the last. In 7th grade I was excited to wear my new yellow ESPRIT sweater to school, where I was devastated to be called “a yellow balloon.” In 10th grade I skipped school when we had to run the mile in gym, because I didn’t want my peers watching while it took me another 10 minutes to finish what they had long since completed.

HDYCS2aMy hatred of running began in 8th grade gym. As “the fat kid,” laps were torture. I’d make it one lap before walking. One day the teacher announced, “if Amy runs all of her laps without walking, nobody has to run any more.” So there I was, in a gym of classmates who had finished, screaming at me to RUN. Not screaming supportively, but threatening. Dizzy and fighting to hold in my breakfast, I finished. For a moment, I felt victorious. I’d been hugely embarrassed, but I had saved us from ever running laps again! Then the teacher said, “I expect you to run them all tomorrow, now that we know you can.” Someone reminded him of the deal: my success meant no more laps! With a sneer, he said, “I meant no more laps today. You’ll run again tomorrow.” Everyone else groaned then moved on. I went to the restroom where I vomited and cried, humiliated. I carry the pain with me still, over two decades later.

So to me, running was a punishment. I couldn’t imagine how anyone could run for fun. For me, “success” wasn’t exertion, it was avoiding exertion! My celebrations were never healthy. They were cheesecake or a pizza. I’d been taught at a young age that success meant treats! Plays, musicals and concerts ended at Friendly’s with a sundae. My favorite part of elementary school was reading books to earn free pizzas. Success = a full belly!

In April 2012, I applied to The Biggest Loser. I stared at my application photos in disbelief. At 5’4” and 243 pounds, I was morbidly obese. I was terrified I’d be chosen. What would happen when Jillian screamed at me to RUN and I couldn’t? As I stared at my cheeks that swallowed my eyes, I realized I shouldn’t need to go on TV with my fat rolls hanging out to get healthy. I cancelled my audition and made a plan. On April 22nd, I began my weight-loss journey, on my own.

First, I celebrated success with marbles. I decided my goal was to lose 100 lbs, so I bought two vases, and filled one with 100 marbles. After weigh-ins, I’d move a marble for each lost pound to the other vase. Moving marbles felt better than sundaes! Seeing the empty vase begin to fill up was incredible!

Then I celebrated success with tools to help myself. Lose three, buy a yoga mat. Lose ten, a pair of jeans. I was able to wear my first pair of skinny jeans! I celebrated that by sending my BFF a picture doing the dance of joy at Target.

After doing the “walk of shame” from a roller coaster in 2010, another goal was to fit onto coasters. When I hit a comfortable weight, I celebrated success with a trip to Cedar Point. With shaking hands, I sat down and brought the seat belt together… click. It fit!!!! We had a blast, and for each 10 pounds lost, we went back to Cedar Point, a total of three times!

HDYCS2bAfter losing 55 lbs, I wondered if I should try running. I downloaded Couch to 5k and joined a gym. I told myself it couldn’t be THAT hard, day one was only running 60 seconds at a time! Well, it WAS hard, but I survived. Soon I completed week three. I celebrated that success by registering for a race I’d read about, The Hot Chocolate 5k. I was nervous but excited! I had two months to train.

As I got stronger and leaner, I decided to try a 5k just to see how I did. It ended up being 85 degrees that October day, and I had to walk some, but I finished under 45 minutes, the minimum pace I’d need for the Hot Chocolate. I celebrated THAT success by signing up for a third 5k!

By the end of 2013, I’d lost 85 pounds and did nine 5k’s. I was no longer morbidly obese, but I WAS a runner. A slow runner, but getting better all the time! I celebrated my success by making a video with photos from my 5k’s for Facebook. Prior to that, I hadn’t publicized my diet or weight loss, afraid of public failure. But for the first time in my life, I felt like I was truly a success.

Right now, a half marathon seems nearly as unimaginable as a 5k once did. It was on a trip to Disney when I first became aware of RunDisney. That was before I began C25K, so it was more of a curiosity than a goal. But as I ran races this year, it turned into a dream. If there’s one spot in the universe for a dream to come true, it’s Disney. I want to show everyone that they too CAN do this, no matter how impossible it seems. I want to prove to that 8th grade version of myself that I’m taking care of her now, and that I’ll never let her be humiliated by her weight again. From now on, the only way for me to celebrate success is by setting another goal, reaching it, then reaching farther. The Disney Wine and Dine weekend falls on my 37th birthday, November 7th. What better way to celebrate my re-birth as a healthier, happier, stronger woman than to cross the finish line of my first half-marathon? That is how I’ll celebrate success!

CONGRATULATIONS to our Second How do YOU Celebrate Contest Winner :

Amy Jo Smith

She will be celebrating her 37th birthday with me at Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida!


Amy was selected as the topic pick of all of the entries by an outstanding 4 out of 5 judges and we’re very happy to celebrate her weight loss success by giving her this opportunity!

After her entry was submitted and Amy received the email confirming her entry Amy wrote me a short email. What she said, while i had no baring on her entry whatsoever, is the sort of thing that inspires me to do not only do things like the How do YOU Celebrate Contests, but to help others on their weight loss journey whether through motivational speaking, wellness coaching or weight loss coaching.

Again, thank you for this contest. Even if I don’t win, it has really inspired me this week to read the posts on your page, watch your video, look at your pictures, learn more about your victories and what drives you. It has helped me motivate myself to get to the gym when I wanted to lay on the couch. To push harder to run another minute or another two minutes. On Monday I ran 5 minutes on the treadmill before I walked. After entering the contest on Tuesday, I went and ran for 12 minutes. I felt so inspired, so much more strong and capable.

You are a truly special human being, and I hope to one day run by your side.

Have a great weekend!


Thank you Amy. For such a sweet note, and congratulations on being the winner of the Second “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest.

I cant wait to run with you, beside you, celebrate your weight loss, your 37th birthday and your first half marathon with you! You can now consider me your official motivator, coach, cheerleader and of course, friend.

And of course, a special thank to our sponsors. None of this would be possible without you. Ameriwell Bariatrics, Wellesse, Celebrate Vitamins, Kay’s Naturals and BariMelts thank you all for making dreams come true…

Amy Jo Smith I have a question for you. You just won the “How do YOU Celebrate Success Contest” What are you going to do now?


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.

Check out the Second “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest

Team Slender Seekers Sponsors:


AmeriWell Bariatrics
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Celebrate Vitamins
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Kay’s Naturals
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#TeamSlenderSeekers would like to thank these early entry Sponsors

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Ellen says “Fitch, Please” to Weight Discrimination

I had every intention of writing a blog today about my wonderful weekend at the WLSFA Event. I have so many great things to share, but I am afraid that will have to wait, something more important to our community is on my mind this morning.


Yesterday Ellen Degeneres weighed in on the current controversy surrounding a public statement by Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries that the brand was “Absolutely Exclusionary” and only “wants to market to cool, good-looking people.”


The original comment was made in 2006 interview with Robin Lewis, co-author of a new book, “The New Rules of Retail.” But let this be a lesson that they things we say can often times bite us in the butt later, right Mr. Jeffries? Because he’s now publicly apologizing for the comment nearly seven years later.

There are a few aspects of this issue that I want to address. First and foremost let me say that as a small business owner I believe all business have the right to target to their selected audience and target demographics and to choose who that audience is. There is a big difference between however between a positive message being sent to your selected demographic audience and a discriminatory message that tells other people they are not good enough to wear your clothes. What was inferred Mr. Jeffries comment was not, young beautiful people wear are clothing it was, people of size are not cool or good-looking. The error is in the delivery of the message, and it was a big error that bit him in the butt down the road.

Ellen’s monologue on the topic was great, and in true Ellen style, delivered the positive message that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and has very little to do with how you dress, what you wear or how much you weigh. Which, let’s face it, is a pretty important message to get to our younger generation in a society where weight bias, weight discrimination and bullying and name calling is an often accepted act.


I want to take a moment to say thank you to Ellen personally for standing up against this sort of discrimination and bullying and making sure to send a more positive message. While I may be able to fit into A&E clothes today if I wanted to, there was a time when I weighed 420 lb. and I couldn’t fit into the seat of airplane or a small car let alone some of Abercrombie and Fitch clothes. There was also a time, when I was that teenager getting called “Fatty,” listening to the fat jokes as I walked through the halls of my Southern California beach community high school, and pretty much being alienated from life because of my size. But more importantly, there was a time that my size 26 prom dress had me sitting in a bath tub trying to slit my wrists because of the hurtful, hateful, mean, and derogatory comments that people made to me made me feel helpless and worthless. I’m not telling you this for sympathy, I am telling you because I feel it’s important that we as a society understand how horrible comments and actions like these can be on a sixteen year old girl. The people who teased me had no idea WHY I was big. They had no clue how bad my home life was. They didn’t know that I had put on weight as a self-defense mechanism to the sexual abuse I had endured as a kid. They didn’t know me at all, all they knew was that I wasn’t “Normal Size” and so of course it must be ok to make fun of me and tease me.


Of course, now, with her joke about a size 0 and size 00 clothing, Ellen has upset a whole new audience. But hang on a minute folks, you’re missing the point. Ellen isn’t saying there is anything wrong with being small, being petite or being thin, what Ellen is saying is that the way that such things are marketed and labeled are unhealthy to our society. What would you think if I walked up to someone and said “Hey you’re not here, you are invisible, you have no value.” or “You’re nothing,” or “You’re the lowest point or degree on a scale of human beings.” – It’s not the people who wear these sizes that Ellen is speaking out against, it is the clothing industry for the way they are labeling it. You notice she wasn’t joking about size extra-small, size small, or anything of that sort, she is making a point that the clothing industry is taking this too far. Several years ago there was an episode of One Tree Hill where the model stood on stage wearing a shirt that said “Zero is not a size,” The message here is NOT “you are too skinny, there is something wrong with you.” The message here is, “It is not ok for society to pressure you into eating disorders with their marketing strategy because they think beautiful is defined by a big fat zero whether it’s a size, a body fat percentage or part of a number you see on the scale. The message here is NOT shame on you for wearing a size 0, the message is shame on the clothing manufactures for making a size zero.

Now you can defend a size 0 all you want, but let me ask you something, why did they need to make it? Why must there be a size 0 to begin with? Because what a size 1 or 2 wasn’t small enough? Have you been shopping lately? I have, a lot, and you know what, I have clothes that range anywhere between a size 6 and a size 12, and you know what? Because everyone makes their clothes differently, some run big, some run small, some use metric sizes, some use centimeters, some use inches. Then there is Misses, Juniors, Petite, the list is endless. So why do we need a size 0? Why do we need a size NOTHING? Why do we need a size “I Don’t Exist?” Why wouldn’t clothing manufactures just make their smallest size a size one or an XXS? And what is next? When size 0s aren’t good enough will we go into negative digits? Why would anyone want to be defined as a zero to begin with? And why doesn’t our society see how damaging this is to our sense of self-worth?

Obesity is a disease that over one-third of our nation is fighting. It is one of the top killers in our country right now. People are dying every day from obesity related conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, cardio respiratory disease, sleep apnea and instead of standing up and battling this disease our society thinks it is ok to call them names, make fun of them, exploit them, and treat them like they are less than deserving and when we allow companies to do things like tell us that zero is a feasible size, and if you aren’t a size 10 or lower you aren’t beautiful or worthy of shopping where the beautiful people do, we are tolerating weight biased, weight prejudice and weight discrimination. I’d like to know how many people would tolerate the sort of behavior that is accepted against people who are overweight towards people battling some of the very diseases that obesity causes. Just think about that one for a moment.

Ellen DeGeneres is an amazing example of a human being and I hope that if I am ever in a position one day to impact so many with my voice and my words, that I am strong enough and brave enough to stand up and send the same sort of message she sent with her monologue “Fitch, Please.” I would buy this shirt in a heart beat if Ellen produced one, and I will always support anyone that stands up in the fight against obesity and size discrimination.

If you’d like to join the fight against weight bias, weight discrimination and help in the fight against obesity, I invite you to check out the following non-profit organizations. The Obesity Action Collation and the Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America.
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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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