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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.

What’s Your Reason? Recognize and Recover from bad behaviors

Dear Slender Seekers,

As a woman effected by obesity there was a time when material things held more value to me than emotional things and everything I wanted and needed was wrapped up in my Christmas or Birthday list.

Wants versus needs.  For a long time it was hard for me to understand the difference. Anything I wanted I felt like I needed and I didn’t really have any priorities. Everything fell into the “I want it, I want it right now, I need it right now, “category.

After losing weight, this became even worse for me. It was very easy for me to justify what I wanted based on whether or not I deserved it, not whether or not I could afford it. If there was still room on a credit card and I thought I needed it for something, then of course I deserved it and I should have it. After all rebuilding a wardrobe after losing 260 lbs. is no small feat and after losing that sort of weight you want to look good, real good, in what you are wearing.

Over the course of the last several years this changed for me. It’s wasn’t an overnight change, but life situations taught me different lessons. Losing my Father and dealing with two monumental people in my life being hoarders started that ball rolling. Then finding myself on the brink of bankruptcy and really having to re-define need verses want helped put this all in perspective for me.

But the biggest change for me was when I realized that what I needed most was to feel wanted.

The moment that we realize this, we can go back and look at our other behavior and see the clear path that it was leading too. Everything I wanted and needed before were material things that in my thought process might make me more desirable to those looking at me and therefore, make me feel more wanted.

As a Wellness Coach, when I have a client that struggles with attention seeking behavior or struggles with the realization that feeling wanted is where their smaller obstacles stem from I do an exercise with them to help them visualize the pattern in their life. Very rarely to we actually recognize the emotions involved in the behavior we are exhibiting and if we can stop and pin point the source of the behavior we can often start to find solutions to the obstacles that the behavior is creating for us.

I call this exercise; Emotional Rewind and I ask my clients to start with the first physical relationship they had and then move forward, listing how each one made them feel.  When I did mine it looked something like this…

  • Relationship 1: A dirty secret, something he didn’t want his friends to know about.
  • Relationship 2: Wanted, Attractive, Appreciated, young and crazy.
  • Relationship 4: Wanted, Attractive, Appreciated, Curious
  • Relationship 5: Abused, Unwanted, Unattractive, Used
  • Relationship 6: Abused, Unwanted, Unattractive, Used
  • Relationship 7: Unwanted, Unattractive – then Wanted, Attractive, Appreciated – then Unwanted, Neglected, Emotionally Abused
  • Relationship 8: Wanted, Pretty, Attractive, Sexy, Appreciated – then Unwanted, Neglected, Emotionally abused.

When I wrote this down and I looked at it, what amazed me most were how these relationships and my feelings paralleled my struggle with obesity. In every relationship where I said I felt unwanted, unattractive and abused, I was at points in my life where my weight was the highest it had ever been at that give time and the person I was with, had usually in some form or another expressed something that made me feel unwanted and unattractive that I carried with me instead of talking out and working through.

From that first boy in high school that didn’t want his friends to know he was sleeping with the resident “fat girl” when I looked at my “emotional rewind” it was very clear to me that I have always sought emotional fulfillment, love, and being wanted through my physical relationships with people and that when that physicality was lacking, I internalized it into very negative feelings. The moment I started to feel “unwanted” all these words like: Unattractive, Neglected, Abused and Unappreciated are instantly triggered in my emotional thought process and once we are in that negative mind frame it’s very hard to break out of it.

This negative mind fame can lead us to all sorts of very bad places. Ask yourself for a moment.

Have you ever stood in front of the mirror and thought “What is wrong with me? Why doesn’t he want me?”

Have you ever found yourself asking, “Why isn’t he more affectionate with me?”

Have you ever blamed the lack of attention you are receiving on your weight, the excess skin you’re dealing with after the weight loss?

I can empathize with all of those thoughts. When these feelings flare up, what do you do? Let’s play a little game for a moment; I call it “Emotional Feud.” It reminds me of that game show, Family Feud, where they tell you a question they asked a hundred people and you try to come up with the top answers.

“What do women do when they feel unwanted?”

  • Eat
  • Buy New Clothes
  • Snoop Through Personal Items
  • Withdraw
  • Escapism
  • Drugs & Alcohol
  • Emotional or Physical Self-Mutilation
  • Have Affairs

Those would have been my top 8 answers. All of which, when coming from a negative place promote more negative feelings and inner struggles. When this happens a cycle begins where we spend more time addressing the symptoms of the problem rather addressing the source of the behavior.

What can we do to stop it? Rewind, Re-assess and Re-frame! That’s right, go back to the Emotional Rewind you just did and the Emotional Feud you just had and re-frame it.  Find the positive things that you can do to address the problem rather than the old negatives that were your original answers. For example;

“What can I do when I feel unwanted?”

  • Write it out
  • Make a cup of tea
  • Exercise
  • Read a Book
  • Do something that makes me feel pretty
  • Take a Bubble Bath
  • Call a Friend
  • Communicate my feelings

When we talk about emotional wellness and healthy lifestyle changes, one of the biggest obstacles we have is recognizing when the behaviors we are exhibiting is unhealthy. Recognition is the first step to recovery though, and if we can recognizing when those unhealthy behaviors have started creeping in, we can move forward and figure out how to recover from it before it leads us to really negative places. We can do this by rewinding and finding what the real source is. Once we have done that we can reassess the situation and attempt to re-frame in a way that is healthier for our emotional well-being.

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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.
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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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