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Miles To Go – A Running Conundrum

I’ve been struggling with a big decision lately.

Six months ago I signed up for one of the biggest running challenges of my life. I decided to take on a running event that has me scheduled to run 49 miles over a four-day period.

It sounded amazing when I signed up for it. I was drawn to all the bling that I’d get for doing it. Six new medals to add to my wall for the accomplishment of running a 5k, a 10k, a Half Marathon and a Full Marathon four days back to back.

I’ve ran enough Half Marathons that they don’t scare me anymore. 

I’m pretty confident in my ability to complete them. So I set a running goal of running a Full Marathon in 2016. 2016 is a special year to me.

It’s the year that my Father would have turned 90-years-old, it’s the year that I will turn 40-years-old. My Dad was born in 1926 and I lost 260 lb. I wanted, no I still want, to run a mile for every 10 lb. that I lost.

I’m a numbers gal. The numbers all worked and made 2016 THE YEAR that I decided I wanted to run my first and only Full Marathon.

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I decided to not just take on the challenge of running a Full Marathon but decided to put three days of running in front of it and beat my body up a bit before the true big day came.

But here I am in the beginning of October, in the middle of the training program that will get me there and…

I am struggling.

My body is starting to tell me that I am overdoing it. I’ve completed 13 half marathons now. 14 if I count the first one where I walked the entire thing. Now, three years later I’m dealing with injuries that though they aren’t really caused by the running itself, are amplified by it.

I’ve got degenerative arthritis in my knees. I’m currently struggling with achilles tendonitis in my ankles.

I am seeing doctors and spending nearly 2 hours a day doing everything they tell me to so I can maintain and treat those issues so that hopefully I can push my body do what I want it to do.

Running is my therapy.

Nobody has told me not to run. Some doctors have told me to run less often and that is something that I am more than willing to do. Just as soon as I accomplish this goal of running a full marathon.

So what is the decision that I am struggling with? Because obviously I’ve already got my mind set on completing my first and only full marathon in 2016.

Here’s the thing. I have a really hard time letting go of a goal that I set for myself. Even if that goal is above and beyond what I really wanted to do in the first place.

You see, I could make this all much easier on my body. I could use the option that RunDisney has to defer my registration for the 5k, 10k, and Half Marathon portion of this event and go back to my original goal of running my first Full Marathon and not have it stacked behind three days of progressively running longer and longer distances right before I attempt to do it.

Why is that decision so hard for me to make? Truthfully, it’s hard for me because in the back of my mind there is this little voice that feels like somehow if I change my plan and alter my course and decide not to do this challenge that I signed up for I have somehow failed at achieving a goal that I set for myself.

You don’t have to tell me how wrong that little voice is.

I’m a coach, I know quite well how wrong that voice is. But that doesn’t change that it exists and that it sits there in the back of my mind taunting me and nagging me.

I’ve got that proverbial devil and angel on my shoulder right now…

The devil says…

“Hey you set this big goal and you can probably do it if you really push yourself, and just think of how great that accomplishment will feel when you are done and you managed to do something that you’re scared of right now.”

The angel says…

“Why not just stick to your original goal? Why go all bat shit crazy and make reaching that goal so much harder for yourself by making it more challenging than it needs to be?”

There is a part of me that wonders…  If I do defer the first three days of this running event and just run that original Full Marathon that I intended too, will I regret the fact that I didn’t attempt to complete the entire challenge once I cross the finish line?

I’ve never fallen short of a running goal that I have set for myself. I have never had the experience of not actually being able to complete a distance I set out to run.

Truthfully at this point I am not sure which is better for my emotional state of mind. Deciding right now to rein myself in and alter my goal to one that I know is more realistic, or to attempt to do what I set out to do and know that for the first time in my weight loss journey and running career I just might not be able to finish what I started.

This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.

Never let anyone tell you that once you lose your weight everything is magically fixed. The weight loss is just the beginning of your journey. There are lots of emotional and physical challenges that come up as you walk the path of weight maintenance and start to live life after weight loss. True story.

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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.

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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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

This is #MyBariLife

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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