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This is #MyBariLife

There are moments that you look back on in life and think, “If I had that to do all over again, I’d sure do that differently.” Everyone has them. The emotion that drives these feelings can be different; sometimes it’s regret, sometimes it’s lack of education, while other times it’s a lack of knowledge.

When I wrote “The Truth About Why I Stopped Running” blog last week, if you asked me what emotion was fueling my “I wish I could go back and do that again” moment, I would say that it was disappointment.

You see, I was disappointed in myself for not having the inner strength, the self-awareness and self-worth to have stood more firmly in my resolutions.

I told you that I made sacrifices. I gave up running to try to fix the relationship I was in. I felt like had allowed him to steal the joy of running from me. I used a very important word – “allowed”.  I knew it was happening and I made a conscious decision to let it happen. I allowed it. That’s on me.

I did something I tell my clients not to do all the time. I turned my can into a can’t. I wasn’t physically incapable of running anymore. But, instead of finding a way to continue to prioritize it and stand firm in my resolve that it was important to me and for me, I made a different choice.

I chose to let a year and half long relationship hold more importance than the emotional value of a five-year long relationship with running.

I was disappointed in myself for that decision.

That disappointment was the prevalent emotion behind my ” I wish I had a magic time machine or a magic wand and could go back and do it again” moment.

As I said, we all have those moments.

I firmly believe when you have something true and pure in your heart and you put it out into the world, if it is supposed to happen, the powers that be make it happen.

A few weeks ago, when I wrote the “If You Are Reading This I Owe You an Apology” blog, I was contacted by Guinn Boyce from BariLife. She told me that they were happy to hear that I was going to be blogging again. She reminded me that while I may not have been blogging in the last couple years, I had been doing other great things for the bariatric community. She reminded me that I hadn’t just disappeared; I had just focused on other things.

BariLife Lemonade Multivitamin PowderGuinn also suggested that they would love to team up with me in some way. She asked me if I wanted to try BariLife’s new Watermelon Multivitamin Powder. As if I would say no to that! I am a huge fan of BariLife products! I haven’t gotten my hands on the watermelon powder yet, but I’ve been using the Lemonade version of the product since it came out last year. I mix it with iced tea and make an Arnold Palmer out of it that makes me forget I’m taking my vitamins.

I wrote back and told her that of course I’d love to try the new Watermelon Multivitamin Powder! The fact is, I use their products all of the time, so this was a no-brainer for me.  I also mentioned that although it may sound crazy, if BariLife was interested in teaming up with me as I worked on resurfacing as a prominent fitness and weight loss motivation blogger in the bariatric community, there was something that I REALLY wanted to do. I really wanted to go back to Paris and see if I could find my love of running where I felt I had lost it.

I wanted to run that Disneyland Paris half marathon again.

A week and a half later, Disneyland Paris announced the theme for the upcoming September Disneyland Paris Half Marathon. Villains. Yes, Villains. If you know anything about me and my infinite love of Disney you know that 1. I love me some TinkerBell and 2. I love me some Villains.

I haven’t participated in a half marathon event in almost a year now. My last event, the TinkerBell half marathon last May came during a really hard time for me.

My current relationship was ending, I was traveling back to Portland to collect the rest of the things I had left behind when I walked away from my marriage. That included my father’s ashes. Sifting through the remnants of my marriage and my father’s things while going through a break-up had me in a down whirl spiral with an emotional struggle with grief.

Running wasn’t working as an emotional outlet for me. Instead, I was in the middle of doing something I am notorious for – emotionally running.

I had run away from the town I was living in to put distance between me and my recent ex. I was staying with a previous ex-boyfriend 3-hours away. I was about to uproot my entire life by moving away and I wasn’t sure where the heck I was going. I was considering Dallas, Atlanta, or another area of North Carolina altogether.

I was in epic Pandora panic mode, and all the stress and conflict had me barely holding together the ends of a frayed mental capacity.

May rolled into June, June became July. I started to put it all back together but in July I decided to try giving things with my recent ex another shot again. That lasted about three months. We ended up breaking up again.

It wasn’t as hard the second time around. I was in therapy getting help and I held things together much better in round two of that relationship saga.  I was in the middle of my brand new, dream come true job, and while I didn’t have running as an emotional outlet, I was on an emotional high as the things I had been dreaming of for the last 7 years started coming to fruition.

I was busy. Which gave me lots and lots of great excuses to avoid facing my fears of running again. With no TinkerBell half marathon event on the RunDisney schedule for this year, there wasn’t an event that I wanted to do bad enough that I’d muster up the courage to pull those running shoes out of the closet and put my feet to pavement again.

But now, Disneyland Paris is coming, there is a Villains theme; it was just the inspiration and motivation I needed to want to try again. I like to think this was the powers that be saying to me, “Alright Pandora, it’s time.” Because guess what….

I’m going to go back to Paris to run that half marathon again!

I’ve always told you, fitness fits everyone, it just fits us all differently. It fits us differently at different times and different stages of life. Running hasn’t fit my emotional and mental state of mind for the last 11 months.

I want to run again. But, I’m scared it won’t be the same, I’m scared I won’t have that amazingly positive emotional connection to it that I once had. Even as I write that sentence in text and see the words, anxiety floats in my heart.

I might be right. It might not be the same. But as one of my readers reminded me, it just might be better.

I’ve always told you that fitness is a lot like fashion, you must find the style of fitness you like and wear that. Something tells me that as I put running back on, it’s going to feel like my favorite pair of yoga pants or that warm soft sweatshirt that I like to wear on lazy days.

Thanks to the amazing people at BariLife, we’re going to find out. I say we, because if you are reading this, you are part of this journey with me. Hopefully you’ll be following the next five months of this adventure with me as I train for this event, get my vitamin routine back into check, and lace up those sneakers to get back to the right kind of emotional running.

I might have lost my way there for a moment or two. But, I’m back and I’m back with a mission. I’m an Obesity Rebel and this rebel has a good cause.

I want all of you to know that no matter where you are in your relationship with fitness right now, if it’s not where you want it to be, it can change. The lives we choose to live after bariatric surgery and after weight loss are ours to make whatever we want them to be. We are the authors of our own destiny. This is our story to tell.

This is #MyBariLife, and I’m done letting my fears get in the way living it. What is #YourBariLife? Are you wanting to write a different ending to your story?  If so, why not start now? We can do it together.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Cooper Institute Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies. Her training and coaching services are offered exclusively through GoGirl Fitness Studio.

Make #YourBariLife the best it can be.

Visit the BariLife Website for all your Protein and Vitamin Needs!

 

The Truth About Why I Stopped Running

I’m an Obesity Rebel.

That means I don’t let this disease kick my ass any more. I make sure that I am always fighting back and that it never gets to have the hold on me it once did.

But the methods I use to fight back have changed a little over the nearly 8 years since I started this journey.

One of the keys to my success in weight loss was that I traded my love of food for a love of running. I started running in July of 2011 to deal with grief of losing my father.

Between July of 2011 and May of 2017, I ran a total of 41 half marathons, one full marathon and an average day of exercise for me included training runs that ranged from 5-10 miles a day. I ran a lot. In my mind I was the genuine Forest Gump of the weight loss community.

Running made me feel better.

It helped me deal with my emotions, whatever they were. It got me through the grief of losing my Dad, the grief of my failed marriage, and the grief of a couple failed attempts at relationships along the way.

Whether we realize it or not, when relationships end — whether because someone passed away, someone left, or because you walked away — it’s still a loss that affects our hearts and our minds, and causes a form of grief that we must deal with. I used running, and the emotional high it gave me, to deal with that grief.

Instead of turning to food to cope with my emotions, I ran. As a recovering food addict and self-admitted emotional eater, using my emotions to fuel my fitness became the pillar of my weight loss success.

Running also helped me build up my self-confidence and self-efficacy. Every time I completed a training run for a big event, I felt accomplished. Each time I completed a half-marathon, and hung another participation or finishers medal on the wall, I felt the pride in that accomplishment. The more I did this, the more certain I was in my ability to keep the weight off.

Keeping the weight off, being proud of myself and being at least mostly happy with my new body led to me develop more self-confidence and inner strength. I no longer had all those feelings of unworthiness that I had when obesity was kicking my butt.

I shared my journey with others through my blog, motivational speaking engagements and a newfound career as a Weight Loss Coach and Personal Trainer. And when I saw how my actions could inspire and affect others, I was even more motivated to run. Running was special to me. The love I found for running changed my life in so many positive ways.

And then, everything changed.

If you had asked me 11 months ago, when I completed my last half marathon, why I was taking a break from running, I would have told you that it was because I was suffering from overuse injuries that needed to heal. I would have told you that I had developed achilles tendonitis in both heels and that the pain made running not worth it to me anymore. I would have told you that I was worried I might injure myself in a way that would make it impossible to continue running.

While those all would have been good reasons, none of them were true. I had learned how to deal with my injuries. I was seeing a foot doctor that was helping me work through it. KT Tape had become one of my best friends and although my doctor did want me to slow down — meaning he didn’t want me running a half marathon every other weekend — he never told me I had to stop completely. He understood how important running was to me and my emotional well-being.

So, what was the truth then? The truth was, I had lost desire to run because it seemed to be the point of contention in an emotionally battering, circular argument that was going on in my relationship at the time. We were fighting in a way that was volatile and destructive and almost every time it happened it traced back to one of two things: my running or my career.

The fights were never about running in and of itself. It was about the time I spent doing it instead of paying attention to him and nurturing the relationship the way he wanted me to. It was about the money I spent doing it, even though my part of the bills were always paid. It was about the fact that I was going places he wanted to go, without him. It was about the fact that I could afford to go, and he couldn’t. It was about him not being invited, even though he couldn’t afford to go, on trips that were sponsored or that were all-girl weekend events with my friends.

It really fell apart when I got the opportunity to run in Paris

What I wanted was the sort of relationship where when I called and said, “I just got a sponsorship to go to Paris and run the inaugural Disneyland Paris half marathon,” the reaction was excitement, supportiveness, happiness for a great opportunity for me.

But that wasn’t how the story went.

That story will have to be a whole different blog. It’s too long to make you suffer through today.

What is important is that he REALLY didn’t want me to go to Paris. His big reason at the time, was that I was ruining his plans for a grandiose proposal. Once upon a time in one of those conversations you have in the pre-commitment stages of a relationship, I had confided in him that my ideal  proposal would be at the finish line of some big event. We’d discussed the Paris half-marathon when they first announced it. How much I would like to run it, how awesome it would be to go to Paris together. How perfect a finish-line like that would be for a proposal, in the years to come.

I had no idea when we had those conversations that I would get the opportunity to run that first inaugural Disneyland Paris event. I had no idea one of my friends would offer to let me stay in a hotel room she already had booked to make the trip more affordable for me. I certainly had no idea that BariLife, a WLS-centric company that makes vitamins, protein powders, protein bars and protein-based snacks would offer to sponsor my run. 

In no world did I think that my opportunity to go to Paris (for little, to no, out-of-pocket cost) would cause the man I loved, the one I was about to move in with and was seriously considering spending the rest of my life with, to throw a fit.

Like I said, he really didn’t want me to go. Or more accurately, he really didn’t want me to go without him. He moved in with me just a couple of weeks after I found out about the sponsorship. I refused to turn it down and pass up such an amazing opportunity, for no reason other than the fact that he wasn’t included in the travel plans.

I paid for that decision dearly, I couldn’t begin to count the number of fights we had about my decision to go to Paris. We fought about my running plans constantly between the time he moved in at the end of May and the time I left for Paris in September.

The fights were ugly, volatile, and made me feel bad about myself.

We were in this circular pattern and it was bringing out a very ugly side of me. I don’t do constant conflict well. I grew up in a household that was very hostile and volatile when it came to arguments. My mother and I fought a lot. This pattern of constant fighting and constant conflict, along with the financial strains that ensued after he was injured in a biking accident, just proved to be a huge source of never-ending stress.  

The more we fought, the more the ugly, defensive side of me came out. I’m good at fighting back with words. I did it for most of my childhood. It’s not something I’m proud of, but in a state of constant conflict I have a hard time controlling it.

He’d bring up how upset he was that I was going to Paris without him. I’d bring up that he couldn’t afford to go even if he wanted to, and that I couldn’t invite him because I was staying with someone else and a sponsor was paying for my trip. He’d make me feel bad by telling me how he wasn’t lucky enough to have friends that would let him stay with them for free, so he could do the things he wanted.

He’d make me feel guilty for not asking my sponsor to send him as well. He questioned why I went to them asking for a sponsorship for just myself when I could have asked for a sponsorship for us both. I’d explain that I didn’t think I could get a sponsorship that big. In short, he faulted me for not making my story more about him, so that he could go on this trip.

As a result, I started to lose my self-confidence. I started to doubt myself.

Was I just lucky like he kept telling me I was? Or had I worked hard to get to where I was, to build the sort of relationships and reputation that allowed for me to get such big opportunities?

The more we fought, the worse things got. That ugly side of me kept coming out — a side of me I didn’t like. I began to see signs of that little girl in side me who didn’t know how to disengage from an argument. The one who would just keep fighting and fighting. And his persistence at trying to strong-arm me into doing things his way had me in a constant state of emotional turmoil.

In this emotional state, I started turning to unhealthy habits as a way of coping. I relapsed into smoking several times. I started drinking too much. Then those things started becoming a source of contention. The more he fought with me, the more I would turn to the things he fought with me about.

To try to persuade me to do things his way, he would point out how my behaviors could ruin my career. He’d ask me what people would think if he told them about all the unhealthy things I turned to instead of food. He’d tell me I was a hypocrite, a liar, that I didn’t practice what I preached about living a healthy lifestyle.

I’d counter with the fact that I never said I was perfect. That I didn’t always make good choices to deal with my emotions. That what I told people is that I could help them lose weight, find the fun in fitness, learn not to use food to deal with their feelings — not how to live a perfect existence, free from struggles.  

I tried to take solace in the fact that I was still doing all those things. But my emotional stamina was dwindling, I was starting to believe all the things he said. I couldn’t take the constant arguing anymore, I knew I was getting close to the end of my rope when it came to my mental health.

To stop the fighting, I started making sacrifices.

Since the fights often centered on the things I consider foundational to the person I have become since my weight loss — my career, the time devotion to my blog, running — these were hard sacrifices for me to make.

I stopped blogging. I didn’t really have anything going on I was comfortable talking about or sharing anyways. I was embarrassed about how things in my life were going. I was ashamed of some of the things I was doing and afraid to talk about them. After all, he’d convinced me that talking about my struggles would ruin my career and reputation.

I couldn’t stop working, I couldn’t work any less than I was, I was barely making it financially as it was. So, I started running less. At first, I gave up all the Disney runs that seemed to be the major focus of his jealousy. I made a promise that after Paris and Princess and TinkerBell, which I already had plans for, I would try not  to do anymore Disney runs or trips without him.

That didn’t work either. Instead,  we’d argue about my wanting to go on a weekend trip with my friends to Myrtle Beach, Washington DC or Atlanta. So I stopped trying to travel for runs at all. I committed to only participating in local races.

When that didn’t end the fighting, I committed to only doing virtual runs, running around town with one of my best friends instead. But the fighting still didn’t stop. We just fought about other things. And soon the fighting was so bad that trying to add running back into the mix just caused me more anxiety.

So, finally, I just stopped running.

I don’t know if I should say that I lost my love of running. I just think running got a lot of negativity attached to it. Because of the problems it seemed to be causing, it didn’t provide me that release from my emotions because any time I was doing it I knew it was going to cause me more problems.

This all left me feeling like running had been stolen from me. It had been taken away and turned into the villain of my relationship. I gave away a piece of my heart when I decided to love someone, and he wasn’t happy with just a piece of it, he wanted the entire thing. I wasn’t allowed to love running as much as I loved him.

He had successfully accomplished that goal, whether he ever intended to or not. Running wasn’t helping me deal with my problems anymore, it was making them worse.

Looking back now, I realize that what I should have done was lace up my running shoes and run as fast and as far as possible from the relationship as I could. I thought that if I stopped running, we might stop fighting, and I might have that amazing love story I had been dreaming of since I was a little girl.

But I think that love story ended the moment I decided to go to Paris without him. I just didn’t accept it, and I wasn’t strong enough to walk away then. My heart was involved. Instead, I hung on for a year and by the time it was over I had two big holes in my heart: the one I left on the ground somewhere in Paris when I decided to allow him to steal the joy of running from me,  and then one that got left in my heart the following April when the relationship finally came to an end.

If I had it to do all over again, I’d go back to the moment he told me he didn’t want me to go to Paris, and I’d end it all right then. I’d lace up my running shoes, like I did the night my father was dying, and I’d run the hell out of that Paris half marathon, using running as my trusted method of dealing with grief. Except that time, it would have been the grief of a relationship that didn’t work out.

But I don’t have a time machine, a magic wand or a re-do. Instead, I must find a way to get past the fear and anxiety that swells up inside me when I think about running. I need to get past all the other reasons I convinced myself and others that I shouldn’t run. Because the truth is, I want to run again. I’m just scared it won’t ever be the same. And fear, my friends, can be one of the biggest obstacles you’ll ever face in your fitness journeys.

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Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Cooper Institute Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies. Her training and coaching services are offered exclusively through GoGirl Fitness Studio.

Did you miss the blogs about that amazing Inaugural Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Adventure? Just want to reminisce with me about the most amazing run I ever did? Check out these past articles on Desperately Seeking Slender.

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About (Pandora) The Author

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender
Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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