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Life after Weight Loss

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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My Fitness Tracker is a Watch

October 12, 2014

Photo from October 12, 2014

I just looked at my watch and it’s nearly approaching 10:00 a.m.

My watch is supposed to be much more than that. That’s why I bought it.

My watch was supposed to do all sorts of things for me. It was supposed to track my activity, tell me when I’ve been sedentary too long, tell me how many calories I’ve burned in a day, what my heart rate is when I am exercising and how many more steps I need to take to achieve my daily step goal.

I bought my Garmin Vivofit ( It’s the spiffy looking teal band in the picture to the left. ) as tool in my weight loss toolbox, but much to my disappointment, for the most part it’s just a watch.

On the plus side, it does have what I now refer to as the “Red Bar of Inactivity.” A little red bar of dashes that gets longer and longer when I have been inactive for too long that reminds me to get up and get moving.

But as far as an activity tracker, then device is extremely inaccurate. I’ve had days I have run half marathons that it’s calculated at nearly 8 miles more than I actually ran. I’ve had days I ran 8 miles and it’s tracked me at over 13 miles.

When I was in Orlando for the RunDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon last October I had the opportunity to speak to a Garmin Vivofit representative at their booth at the Fitness Expo. I asked specifically about the alarming inaccuracy in distance and was told that the device wasn’t meant to track running, it was meant to track activity. Needless to say I tilted my head to the side for a moment.

As a Fitness Instructor and Weight Loss and Wellness Coach, I do understand the difference between exercise and activity, Activity is considered the little things we do in a day that put our body in motion. Motion of any kind creates a caloric burn. Our body expends energy with every step we take. Activity is walking from the car to the door, doing housework, window shopping at the mall. Exercise is when we purposely get our heart rates into much higher zones to burn calories. It’s our time on a treadmill or elliptical, an hour of a step or kickboxing class.

Now if I had known that the Garmin VivoFit was only intended to monitor low intensity activity I probably wouldn’t have purchased it. When a device has a heart rate monitoring feature and asks me to spend even more money purchasing the additional heart rate strap that allows it to monitor my heart rate I expect it to utilize that information a bit more efficiently.

Let’s just be blunt here. If I am going to go the trouble of strapping a heart rate monitor under my chest which is the equivalent to me of wearing a small-scale torture device, I expect it to actually ascertain my heart rate and use that information to decide how vigorous my activity is and how many calories I am burning. The VivoFit does’t even really give me a true heart rate reading. If I set the screen to display my heart rate I get a reading of 0 – XXX where the end number is the highest heart rate it’s registering at that given time.

Last week I was doing a H.I.T.T. training workout on a treadmill where my heart rate was well into the 170s at times and it never registered my heart rate above 70.

According to the Garmin website the VivoFit “You can also pair vívofit 2 with a heart rate monitor during fitness activities, such as a run or a cardio class at the gym, to record your heart rate and zone data and get more accurate calorie burn information.”

Sorry, I’m not believing them.

The distance discrepancies on my device while annoying are also understandable. Everyone has a very different stride when they run. Many devices ask you to set your stride, the distance you take between each step in order to more accurately calculate your total distance. If there was a way to change that setting or actually calibrate the VivoFit it would probably be more accurate, but it failed to provide that feature.

So if my heart rate is being calculated wrong and my distance throughout the day is completely inaccurate, then I can pretty much bet that the daily step goal as well as the daily calorie burn count is also incorrect and thus when I look down at the $130 dollar device on my wrist and wear that $60 heart rate band, my first thought is, “I spent $190.00 on a watch that tells me when I’ve been sitting down for too long.”

All in all, if I wanted a device that told me the time and reminded me to get up and move I would have set movement reminder alarms on my smart phone and called it good. Lucky for me I bought mine at REI who let’s you exchange any purchase you’re not happy with within a year of purchasing it so hopefully I can find the packaging it came in and take it and trade it in for something more along the lines of what I was looking for and not a product that bills itself as an activity and fitness tracker and ends up being a decorative watch on my wrist.

 

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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 and currently works as a Fitness Leader, Weight Loss and Wellness Coach in Wilmington, NC
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About (Pandora) The Author

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender
Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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