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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!

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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.

Growing As A Coach: Get Over Yourself. It’s Bigger Than You

April started just over a week ago and now #TeamSlenderseekers is in the middle of week 4 of our 13 week couch-to-10k training schedule.

This time things have been a little different for me and I have to say it’s taken me a little bit to get caught up with the crazy deposits this has put in my emotional bank account.

Dallas, Texas, the way we looked at it in 1949Some of you may remember this, some of you might not, but around this time last year I was struggling with some very rough body image issues. I would stand in front of the mirror each morning and ascertain what was wrong with my body and tear myself apart with this overwhelming need I had to try to achieve perfection.  It got so bad that eventually while in Dallas, a group of four women who shared a common concern for me took me out to dinner and we had a conversation about where I was in my journey.

One of them looked at me  and in a tough love moment said to me, “You need to get over yourself and realize that this is much bigger than you.” It’s sounds harsh, but sometimes harsh is what you need to hear. “If I took a pin,” she continued, “and placed one on a map all over the country for every person whose life you have touched and then I put a pin in the map for every person whose life they have touched because you touched theirs, maybe you would start to realize that this is much bigger than you.”

I receive emails daily from Slender Seekers out there whose lives I have touched and it humbles me and makes me realize why I do what I do. I take those emotional deposits and I put them in my bank account and they pile up and I pull from them on those days I need a little extra strength to get me through.

But with this contest, with this contest winner, with this new person training under me as their coach; it has been different.

When Amy first wrote in, attached to her essay entry for the contest was a little note with a line that read “Thank you for inspiring me and so many others! You are a Warrior. This contest will change a life.”

A little bit later, after receiving the confirmation that her email and been received her message included another short note that read;

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.

Each time I receive a note like this it brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. To know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have impacted someone’s life and motivated them into a happy healthier life is the biggest emotional paycheck I could receive.

new_blog_headshotBut it didn’t stop there, not with Amy. Because my “How Do YOU Celebrate Success” contest winner seems just as motivated as I am to motivate others and before I knew it a few things had happened.

First not only did Amy and I get registered for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, but my contest inspired others to do so as well, and both Amy and myself are bringing friends along; friends who signed up on their own to join us in this adventure.

Team Slender Seekers isn’t just Amy Smith and Pandora Williams, it also includes Tammy Beaumont and Stacie Bollon, not to mention Heather Rosenberry who is joining us for the Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k.

As we launched the #WineDineC210kPrep Virtual Event the numbers started piling in for people who were participating.  Another 48 pins hit the map of lives I had touched as both mine and Amy’s friends joined up and committed to training alongside us and completing a virtual 10k with us as part of the #TeamSlenderSeekers #WineDineC210KPrep – Virtual Event Group

It is truly amazing watching my dream unfold in front of my eyes. In the last month since we announced the winner of the second “How Do YOU Celebrate Success” contest, the deposits going into my emotional bank account have been huge. It’s like I won the emotional lottery. Watching Amy start working on paying it forward to her community and seeing those pins go in a map and realizing that so far, with one contest and one winner I have touched the lives of so many other people is probably the most rewarding gift I have ever been given.

Next Amy decided that she was going to do a 2k Color Us United run on May 26th as part of her training and invite her friends to go, without my prompting her at all. She named her team “Team Slender Seekers” and without even knowing it, Amy put one of the biggest emotional deposits in my account to date. As I look at the Facebook page for that event ( Team Slender Seekers: Color Us United ) this morning, tears swell in my eyes and all I can think is “My Daddy would be so proud of me.” Thirty-three people are signed up to go participate with her and they are currently waiting for their Team Slender Seeker shirts to arrive. To each and every one of those signed up for that team, thank you for being a part of a dream of mine.

WineDinePrepC210K

Walt Disney once said “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”

To everyone that has gotten involved in this event, from those participating to those cheering us on, from the companies that have stood up to help Amy with photos ( Solid Rock Photos ) to the people who have helped me with travel planning–and especially to the Sponsors that have made this all possible: thank you. Thank you for believing in my dream and for being part of the group of people who have made it a reality.

Today my emotional bank account is full because of you. The message that I hope you get here #SlenderSeekers is that each one of us is just one small pin, but what we do when we start to pay it forward to our community no matter how small it may seem; (Because that first pin hole seems so tiny sometimes) is much bigger than you may realize. Never be afraid to pursue a dream and always have the courage to reach for the stars.

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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:

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AmeriWell Bariatrics
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#TeamSlenderSeekers would like to thank these early entry Sponsors

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About (Pandora) The Author

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender
Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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The kind people at BariLife have been generous enough to send me to Paris to represent the WLS Community in the inaugural RunDisney Paris Disney Half Marathon.
Please take the time to visit their website and check them out! Be sure to tell them Pandora sent you!

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