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NKOTB Inspires my Body Confidence

So there I was dancing around the room naked in front of the mirror. For someone who struggles with body image issues after massive weight loss, being able to do that without stopping to find a flaw and pick at something you don’t like about yourself? That is quite a non-scale victory moment in and of itself. I had to stop and double-check and make sure that the blinds were drawn and that nobody could see me rocking out to one of my favorite NKTOB songs as it started playing while I was put on lotion.

I was feeling like I was a sixteen year old girl, standing in front of the mirror naked dancing around like I was on stage with the five boys that owned my heart. Yeah roll your eyes, I was indeed a first generation block head. And no, I was not using my hair brush like a microphone. It was my lotion bottle. Don’t judge.

For months I have been trying to find the extra cash to buy tickets to their upcoming concert in Charlotte, NC. (The closest venue they are playing to where I live) Even after what happened when my best friend and I went to their meet and greet. And with everything else that suddenly came up my suddenly in my life. Well, it just didn’t happen. I probably could have afforded tickets if anyone that I knew was actually as big of a fan as I am. Then I could just buy one ticket but when I’d also pay for the privilege of making someone else go with me, that’s definitely not in the post bankruptcy Pandora budget.NKOTBGroupShotWeb

Several months ago, I had the money and could have bought the tickets. But I wavered back and forth, trying to decide if I really wanted to go after my best friend got slighted and disappointed when we attended the Dallas show of their last tour with meet and greet tickets.

I danced around my room sans my clothing last night grooving to not only one, but three of their songs as they came on back to back. I realized how good I felt in that moment. I realized that I had made a mistake. I should have bought the tickets and I really shouldn’t have based my relationship with the band on how someone else felt. Even if that someone was my very best friend.

I make a point out of fighting weight bias and fighting weight stigma and since my friend felt that perhaps she had been slighted by her weight I wanted to rescue her and make her feel better. But there is something else that I have learned in the last year or two since that concert: sometimes we create that bias and stigma ourselves.

See me? I’m the walking billboard. It’s hard being the big girl in the crowd. It’s even harder being the big girl in the crowd when your now skinny friend who lacks the ability to know how not to sparkle comes up with a plan to try to get someone’s attention. While I believe that Tora was entitled to her feelings–they are real and valid and  I wish that she never had to feel them–I also came to my own conclusion that it might have had a lot more to do with us and our actions (or lack thereof and personal sensitivity to the subject) and a lot less to do with the band members.

But my question of do I go or not? Can I go after telling everyone that I was upset my friend was so disappointed and felt it was related to her size? Can I support a band that had even a small part of someone I care about feeling that way? Will she be angry at me if I do go? [ See Related Article ]

dsc_2264-1All these questions made me hesitate and second guess myself, and in the end I decided to take the money that I would have spent on the concert tickets and buy myself something really nice at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend event I was attending. So I bought myself the 2015 Dooney and Bourke limited edition Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend purse. I heart it. I heart it much.

The purse is lovely, but as I danced around my room like a teenager getting my heart rate going, I remembered something my father taught me. Sometimes you have to focus on how people treat YOU.  My experience at that meet and greet was absolutely amazing. If you had told sixteen year old me that someday I’d get to meet, hug and talk to each member of New Kids On The Block I would have signed any sort of pledge you asked me for. I’m talking obsessive-teenager-I-owned-all-the-merchandise-fan here, guys. As a young lady meeting them was one of my biggest dreams. As an adult it was still of the top 5 items on my bucket list.

Each one of them was amazing. They were kind and complementary.  Jordan Knight made my century when he rubbed the back of my head not once but twice! Donnie Wahlberg paid me the best comment I’ve ever gotten by someone who doesn’t really know me personally regarding my weight loss when he told me that he wanted to hug me but more than half of me was already gone.

And that moment when Jordan Knight crossed a crowded room to head toward the stage and made a point to walk over to where I was, give me another hug and rub the back of my head that second time, well let’s just say my heart still drops when I think about my hands on his waist and his on the back of my head. In fact, my heart just skipped a beat. Yes, that really did happen. I have it on video. I kid you not.photo-3

I’ve had a really rough few months financially. Things went downhill really fast in the beginning of the year when I was trying to juggle taking care of myself and assisting in financially taking care of about five other people. My family in Oregon. My roommate and though not nearly as much as I once had too, my mother. I’m just learning the income flow patterns of the fitness industry. I’m in the second year of a new career and I’m trying to recover from the 6 digits of debt that 3-4 years of focusing on weight loss and reconstructive surgery cost me. I just started drowning fast when trying to stand on my own two feet for the first time ever while still having so many people who need my help.

The good news. I am standing on my own two feet for the first time ever.  Even though I did have to declare bankruptcy, I haven’t fallen flat on my face, and that is a better financial me than I have been since I left home at sixteen. I can do this. I just can’t afford the little extras like getting my nails done, concert tickets, traveling for weight loss conventions and flying all over the country to run half marathons anymore. There are no more credit cards that I can use with the best of intentions to pay it back later. Shopping wasn’t really my transfer addiction. Experiencing life was. That’s how I explain it to my closest friends.

I’ve learned a good lessons out of this. Lessons are experiences points I accumulate. Learning them allows me to make better decisions next time.  Next time I know what not to do in order to ensure that I get a more positive outcome.

Last night’s lesson was a special one. Last night I remembered that even in times when I feel like the struggle is too hard and road ahead is too long. There are five men out there whose voices can make me stop what I am doing while they are signing. Listening to their music motivates me and gives me a sense of self and a sense of strength that though it is inside of me I can’t always dial into.

IMG00014When I was a lonely, overweight and sad teenager they helped inspire me to dance around and pretend that someday a boy like them would love me. [ See Related Article ] When I was a 30 something adult suffering from morbid obesity at 420lb. they helped inspire me to move. My first form of exercise was slowly walking around my neighborhood listening to their reunion album The Block. Now that I am approaching my forties as a healthier me who struggles with body image issues, they are the musical source that touches me deep enough that I can spend twenty minutes in front of the mirror dancing around naked without once stopping to find some excess skin I don’t like and tugging on it to see if it tightens up an area of my body that I am insecure about.  I can waste hours of my day off doing this to myself if I allow it. True story.

I’m not perfect. I don’t always make the right decisions. I should have bought the tickets instead of the Tinker Bell purse. But live and learn. Maybe next time instead of wishing I had bought nose bleed tickets I’ll be making better financial decisions and buying a front row bar seat so I can remind those 5 men who I am. I’ll see if I can get Jordan Knight to rub my head again and who knows, throw my bra onstage or something. Dream big. I am not lying. I would do this. I’d likely do many things that someone out there somewhere is likely to disprove of.  Freebie List. You understand.

Today however,  I’m a little pouty. So I’ll allow myself to pout for a moment. I can’t afford $200 for decent tickets for two. OK. I’m done. Now instead of pouting  I’ll throw on a NKOTB play list that includes all my favorites songs. I’m talking from the days of Jones Beach 1988 all the way to The Remix. I will enjoy knowing that I’ve had the opportunity to meet them and that nothing has changed in my relationship with them in the last twenty-seven years. They still touch my heart and some other parts of me, with their music.

And… Jordan Knight rubbed my head. Twice! Plus long after the concert is over I will have that gorgeous Tinker Bell Bag around my neck. So there is that.

It’s all about appreciating the experiences you’ve had, being grateful for what you’ve got and finding the joy in the lesson that life is teaching you.

And now, I’m going to go dance around naked to “Block Party” which is the song that inspired my fitness career.

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Attitude of Gratitude – Appreciating Your Journey

Sixteen months ago I wrote a blog that documented my running achievements thus far and gave a few tips on staying motivated and inspired in your journey.  At that point I had ran my first three half marathons and I was getting ready to take Dawn Brell, the winner of my first “How Do You Celebrate Success” contest, to run the Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland.  I’ve learned a few things since then.

Sometimes life changes and things can get a little crazy.

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I started working full time as a professional weight loss and wellness coach in an all-women’s gym facility and the time I used to have to write about everything I was doing suffered greatly, as all my extra time outside of work was being spent on trying to get my own exercise done and getting acclimated to my new situation.

My days off became the days I had to run errands and get things done around the house and all that free time I once had thanks to my old work-from-home, set-your-own-hours life started to dwindle. Finding the time to be a runner, a blogger, a puppy mom and a good girlfriend sort of took a back seat to my career.

In March of 2014, I held the second “How Do You Celebrate Success Contest” and my winner Amy Smith and I were off and running. First we were doing a couch to 10k program to get ourselves ready to run a 10k that we would submit as our pace time for coral placement and next, we were training for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon.

 

Sometimes the biggest struggle is admitting you need support and being able to ask for it.

10724109_374080759417401_1504303184_nI lost myself somewhere between June and October. A really horrible bout of anniversary grief took me for a tail spin in June and it really took quite a while for me to recover.  I learned a valuable lesson though. I’m not impervious to falling into old bad habits and I don’t deal with the time of year that my Father passed away well when I try to do it alone.

But I had obligations to people that were important to me.  I had a commitment to Amy, as well as a commitment to a client of mine, Megan Hyler, to run the half marathons with them that I had helped them train for.

As the time for the first half marathon I had to run approached I was terrified. I wasn’t sure I could do it. I was convinced that all the time I had let go by between June and September had cost me my cardiovascular endurance and I’d lost the confidence that I could actually run 13.1 miles so I did what I normally do when I start doubting myself.

 

Sometimes you gotta pull up your big girl panties and deal with it.

20141111_130318So I went out and ran a half marathon, by myself, with just my dad and the music as my chip and time-keeper and I reminded myself that though it might be hard and I might have to push myself, I could indeed still do it.

Two weeks later I ran my fifth half marathon next to Megan Hyler at the Wake Forest Haunted Hallowed Half and pulled a PR of 2:31:59

Two weeks later, I was on a plane to Orlando to meet up with Amy, her friend Stacey as well as my dear friends Tammy, Heather and Joy, to do the Wine and Dine Half Marathon at Walt Disney World where we all got to experience Heather running her first 5k. I learned so much about myself in that experience. I grew as a person and a coach thanks to the amazing women that were there to help support me.

Then came December, my first Christmas away from Oregon, and depression and sadness started sneaking their way back into my world. I sort felt like taking on a new career had taken over my life and put a dent in the things that were once a top priority for me, running, writing and sharing my journey with others.

11008270_783898281695301_76359475_nMy next half marathon was supposed to be in March. I had committed to running with a member of the gym that had tried to train for a half marathon two times before and had to stop because of injuries, and as March started creeping near I doubted myself and my ability to run a half marathon.

So I pulled on my big girl panties and signed up for another half marathon. I’d ran 3 half marathons in 2013, 4 half marathons in 2014 and now to try to get 2015 started right and convince myself I still had what it took, I did a last day registration for a local half marathon and got up early the next morning and went and ran the Wilmington 13.1 Half Marathon.

Less than a month later, with a lot of babying an unpredictable knee issue I ran my 9th half marathon alongside Ashley Hunt at the Quintiles Half Marathon

Sometimes you don’t realize your achievements until you write them down.

11023209_1581836505434143_1648585778_nThat half marathon really put some things in perspective for me. That morning Ashley and I went into that half marathon both a little unsure of what our bodies were going to allow us to do. When we finished that half marathon Ashley said something to me that will stick with me forever “Thank you, I couldn’t have done it without you.”

It was the first time that I had the experience of running beside someone who really needed me there to help push them. Most of the other women I have taken to a half marathon already ran one before they ran with me. They had done the same thing I had done, proven to themselves that they could do it first.

But crossing the finish line with Ashley as she completed her first half marathon was a new experience for me.

That’s the point that I sat down and started to look at what I had really accomplished. Since I started my new career this year I’ve had the privilege of giving several of my clients their first taste of running.

In the beginning of 2014 I had a goal to help inspire others find the love of achievements like your first 5k, your first 10k and your first half marathon. I had held these two contests on my site in order to help facilitate that dream and I had accomplished it. Being a part of Dawn and Amy’s journey to their first half marathon was amazing.

Through my career this year I have also been able to walk beside two women who are very special to me in their first 5k at the Wilma Dash with Jamie Martin and her amazing daughter Kylee.  I’ve been able to run beside Nichole Marshall and Whitney Umberger in their first 5k at Color Me Rad. I got to be a part of Megan Hyler’s amazing journey from first 5k to first half marathon and got to cheer her on as she continued to take on her first full marathon and soon, her first ultra-marathon.

Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of running beside a new client turned friend, Sarah Hanson as she ran her first 5k. Sarah had taken on the personal challenge of running her first 5k in honor of her mother. Nervous and unsure of herself I decided to take the pressure of trying to do it with everyone watching off and take Sarah to run her first 5k with me the weekend before. Completing that 5k with her was really special, I got to see Sarah realize what she is capable of and though she swore to me she’d never run a full marathon, she didn’t exclude running a half marathon, and that brought a smile to my face.

Last weekend Sarah ran her second 5k in order to honor her mother and to do something healthy to deal with the anniversary grief of her mother leaving this world instead of falling back into unhealthy habits. In order to support Sarah two of her fellow Weight Loss Boot Camp ladies Crystal Conklin and April Turner took on running their first 5k alongside her.

I had led the entire group in a stretching warm up routine before the 5k started and one of the gentleman there told us that he was running his first 5k. We noticed him several times along the route and gave him the thumbs up every time we saw him to encourage him.  Once all my girls had crossed the finish line I decided to go back for him and see if he needed a little encouragement or support. When I told the girls I was going back, Crystal and Sarah decided that they were going to go back with me too. April would have gone too but she was nursing a really bad blister.

Let me just say that for someone who has lost weight and changed their entire career in order to help others fight obesity to see my clients come out to support one another and then go back to encourage someone else like this is one of the biggest emotional rewards I have ever received. Thank you ladies, it makes my heart sing to know that my clients are adopting the same pay it forward mentality that I have.

Sometimes you just have to stop and breathe and be grateful for what you have done.

Being a part of all amazing women’s journey has been a blessing for me this past year. It’s taught me more about who I am, what sort of coach I am, and it’s shown me that almost every experience that I have gone through during my own weight loss and running journey holds the value of experience that I get to pass on to others.

To each of you ladies that have chosen me as your friend, coach, and running partner. Thank you. Each of you has gifted me with something that is absolutely priceless, the experience of seeing you grow into healthier and happier versions of yourselves and celebrating your successes with you.

Each of us has a personal story, our journey is one big book and we write each chapter as we go. While I am always amazed by how my story can help motivate and inspire others I am even more amazed by how being a part of your stories motivates and inspires me.

I think one of the most important things for us to remember is that even though things might be scary and thought we might doubt ourselves sometimes it’s important to remember that sometimes life gets crazy and we have to roll with it and sometimes we just need to stop, look at what we have done and appreciate the journey and be grateful for it.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies, a Motivational Speaker and Exercise Instructor at a women’s only fitness facility in Wilmington North Carolina.
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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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