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Moments We Will Remember Forever In Our Weight Loss Journey

There are days in our lives that we will never forget. Moments and memories forever etched into our minds that have written part of who we are with their mere existence. I want you to think for a moment of a scene from your favorite book, for me it’s always that moment in Great Expectations where Pip is standing in the graveyard at the end of the story and he realizes that his life has come full circle. Think about that scene in your favorite movie; for me it’s Christian Slater looking at Marisa Tome in “Untamed Heart” and saying “I don’t make sense, you don’t make sense, together, we make sense.”

We have moments like these in our lives as well. Little scenes that will stay with us forever like that. I have a lot of those special moments and memories with my Father, I notice that a lot more now that he is gone.  And we have these moments in our weight loss journey as well, and just like in the movies, sometimes they are happy moments and sometimes they are painful moments, but each one of them is a pivotal moment in our weight loss story. I’m about to share one of these moments with you.  I call them “Forever Moments”

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For me one of those days was spending my Birthday at Disneyland in 2005. 

Growing up in Southern California I spent a lot of time at Disneyland as a kid. We went there anytime relatives came to visit, heck we went there once a year just taking me and a friend. I’d say we went easily 2-4 times a year for the majority of my childhood. it wasn’t  until I became a teenager and roller coasters, boys and Magic Mountain and getting in free over and over with “Twickets” became the forefront of my Southern California amusement park date life.

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This Photo was taken in August of 2005 During a Visit to my Parents house in California

I can honestly say at this point, that I have been to Disneyland with everyone in my life that was ever important to me right up to Jason. My love of Disney is likely what lead me to my affinity or maybe I should say obsession, with Tinkerbell.

Jason and I had been married for going on three years at the time. We had just moved into house that we were hoping to someday buy, when we got a call from my Mother that my Dad was using the old playhouse that he and my grandfather had built me when I was a little girl as a storage shed and the floor was falling out and it wasn’t safe anymore. Jason and I packed the dog up in the Jeep Grand Cherokee that we owned at the time and drove to California. It was August, very near my birthday and we spent a couple of days tearing down that playhouse and then went and bought my Dad a Tough Shed and put it up for him, organized it and Jason built my Mother a cat box she was certain she just had to have.

Then Jason decided to take me to Disneyland for my Birthday. Now Jason, let me say, was a lot more fit that I was at the time and even though he was a very big man and soared easily soared above me at 6’2 to my 5’5, he wasn’t what you would consider “over-weight” at the time. He was very much the type of guy that you’d look at and go, yeah he’s a football player or a bouncer or something like that, but he’s big, and intimidating and with his long hair, gauged earrings and tattoos he looked like the type of man who you really didn’t want to end up in a fight with. I can only say that it was this fact that made me think that it was a good idea to wear a little 4x black skort and a tank top to Disneyland when I weighed 420 lbs. Let me define skort too just in case you are unaware; a skort looks like a skirt but it’s really short, so short in fact that you have a little pair of biker shorts attached to it so that it’s not obscene when you walk. I wear running skirts very similar in fashion today and you know what… I wear leggings underneath them because I am ashamed and disgusted my the excess skin that hangs on my thighs. ( Or at least I did up until now! We’ll see how I feel this next summer about putting on a pair of shorts now that my thighs are done.)

I was always the sort of girl who wore long pants, long skirts, and tried to flatter myself even though I was so big I could hardly find clothes that fit me. I to this day have no clue what possessed me to wear that outfit out in public accept that at the time I was a newlywed, my Husband was very happy to be with me, despite my weight we had a very active, healthy and interesting sex life, and I had some semblance of self-confidence when I was on his arm that allowed me to think I could wear whatever I wanted, he thought I was beautiful and that was all that mattered. But it wasn’t really… so that day proved to me.

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This picture was taken during the Disneyland Visit I am writing about in August of 2005. I was 29 years old.

Disneyland as morbidly obese person wasn’t fun at all. The rides that I could ride on were so limited. Jason was so good about it though, he would sit me down somewhere near the ride entrance, then walk over and talk to the Disneyland attendant working at the front of the ride line and explain to him that I was a very large girl and that he didn’t want me to be embarrassed if I couldn’t fit on a ride and ask them first if the ride could accommodate my size. And Disneyland, I have to say, was amazing with their handling of the situation. I was really astounded by that. Anytime Jason asked ahead of time about me fitting on a ride, they would let him take me through the handicapped section and allow me to board before the other passengers so that we could make sure I could fit and that the seat belt would close before there was an entire crowd around to witness it if I couldn’t. They really went to great efforts to make sure I was spared any embarrassment they could afford me and to this day I am a loyal Disney customer because of that treatment.

But what changed me forever that day was the moment that I was talking about earlier. That moment in a movie or book that you will never forget… I remember this moment so vividly that I can close my eyes and see it like it just happened…

I was standing in Fantasy Land in that intersection right in front of the Story Book Whale Ride. I was holding the largest size drink that you could buy in the park, which is always the best choice financially because you get cheaper drinks all day by refilling it. But it’s size was ridiculous, probably 64 ounces, it was a diet coke, the sun was beating down on me and my face was breaking out in a terrible Lupus flare up. I was standing in front of the Matterhorn, that big white mountain that is like a trademark sight of the Disneyland California theme park and I could hear the music from the It’s a Small World ride in the background. I was trying to decide if I wanted to try squeezing into a teacup, or if there was a chance that I would be able to ride the Matterhorn, but was convinced that the Alice in Wonderland Caterpillar ride was the next thing on our to do list when it happened. This nice looking sort of exotic looking man walked by me. When his eyes hit me for the first time there was this moment of blankness of his face where it didn’t quite register. He was walking really fast, like he was trying to catch up with someone or trying to meet someone somewhere in the park, maybe even returning to where his family was standing in line to wait for a spot for the parade. We were thinking of doing that too. Suddenly he stopped dead in his tracks, like hit the brakes and just froze for a moment. Then he looked back at me and I watched as he took me in. It was the briefest moment, seconds really as he looked from my head to my feet and his eyes went wide. He was shocked, literally shocked, by how big I was. The look on his face wasn’t disgust, it wasn’t mean, it was sheer shock, and then when the shock faded, the look that was left was one of disbelief and fear and in that moment, I imagined the conversation he would have when he got to wherever he was going and met up with whoever he was there with, his girlfriend or wife I imagined.

“I saw this woman when I was walking back from the restroom. She was so big, I mean, literally I was shocked at how large her body was. I couldn’t help but wonder how she was even standing there, how strenuous it must be to try to move. She looked like she was in agony standing there. I can’t imagine how someone that large could spend a day at a place like this walking around. Her ankles were as big as my calves and her thighs were literally almost the size of your waist. I can’t imagine, being that heavy, out in this heat. I wonder how a day in a place like this can even be enjoyable. There is no possible way it is safe to let someone that size on a lot of these rides.”

This is a picture of my fellow Disney Loving Friend Joy Muller and I in October 2012

This is a picture of my fellow Disney Loving Friend Joy Muller and I in October 2012

And honestly that conversation I imagined him having after he saw me, is one of the kinder and gentler conversations that I’d ever imagined. Most the time as an obese woman, when someone reacted to my size it was a very negative thing. So for me to imagine this man having a conversation that wasn’t really meant to be mean or cruel truly speaks to how sincere I felt the look of utter shock on his face was.

I don’t think, that until that moment, I really ever realized just how big I was. I know that sounds strange, but I knew that I was fat, heck I knew I was way beyond fat, I knew that my weight was dramatically out of control, I even knew it was dangerous to my health. But I don’t think  ever truly until that moment realized my actual girth. I had been fat most of my life. I’d been chubby since I was a little girl, and I had really always sort of been one of those “If you don’t like me because I’m fat, you’re stupid and that’s much worse so screw you.” types. I’d always put on a very good show and a very strong face about my weight, I tried to play that BBW card like it was a good thing and under appreciated by most men that were just too vain or narcissistic to see beauty in something other than the norm.

For the first time that I could remember I was truly ashamed of my size and for the first time I could actually recall I felt unworthy. I felt like less of a human being because I was so morbidly obese. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be there shocking other people with my mere existence like some circus side-show freak.

Another picture of my fellow Disney loving WLS BFF Joy Muller and I after we ran our FIRST 5K at the Walk from Obesity in Dallas TX Oct. 2012

Another picture of my fellow Disney loving WLS BFF Joy Muller and I after we ran our FIRST 5K at the Walk from Obesity in Dallas TX Oct. 2012

That California trip held two moments like that for me. Moments when I realized for the first time that I was truly so big that I could never go out without expecting, understanding and accepting that someone was likely to be shocked and likely to do or say something negative because of my size.

I can honestly say that day changed me. I realized for the first time that my weight was so out of control that I could no longer function in the everyday world. It was the very beginning of what would later end up being a good couple years of me practically becoming a hermit and only leaving the house when it was absolutely necessary.

One moment, forever etched in my memory, I am so grateful today to not live in fear of how people will look at me and not have to worry about those shocked faces. I’m so thankful to not worry about whether I will fit in a seat somewhere or if I can ride a ride or not. I am so happy to no longer feel so ashamed of myself that I am reluctant to go out with people I love because I don’t want to embarrass them. These are emotions that I’ve left behind me, ones I never have to fear or feel again thanks to the healthy lifestyle changes I have made and how I have used my weight loss surgery as a tool to take back control of my life.

I am an example of Bariatric Surgery gone right and if I can do this, anyone can do this, that’s my message for you all today. If I can do this, you can do this. And if you need some encouragement, I’m right here. We can do this. I just want to share a few more pictures with you of me and some of my favorite people. To really show you how different my life is today!

Me and some of the most wonderful women I could ask for as friends.

Me and some of the most wonderful women I could ask for as friends. Laura, Yvonne, Connie, and Sandy taken at the OAC Convention Awards Dinner October 2012

So now you know one of my “Forever Moments”, how about you share one of yours with me?

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Obesity Action Coalition Convention Day 4

So it’s my last day in Dallas and I think I was easily out till 2am again last night socializing in the Media Bar at the Hilton Anatole that we are staying at for the OAC Convention. I know I’ve done a lot of late nights this weekend and I have no doubt my body is going to make me pay for it in the next couple of days. We’ll see. But this day was no different from normal, I woke up to the alarm clock screeching in my ear in a way that would make you completely homicidal if that noise came out of any human being as you were trying to wake up. Now it was time for the typical morning dialog.

Me: The alarm is going off, time to get up, no sense trying to go back to sleep it never works, time to get up and be productive.

Sleepy Me: Grrrr

Me: Seriously get up! You’re wasting time! You could be doing several productive things already

Sleepy Me: Grumble

I looked at my phone and saw a text from Rain Hampton, you all might know her better from her website AfterTheFat.com but she’s my Rain. Interestingly enough, and I don’t think I mentioned this to Rain, my first BFF growing up was a girl named Raina Halverson that I met in the third grade and stayed friends with all the way through high school. Perhaps I just needed more Rain in my life? That sounds funny coming from someone who lives in Oregon, but really, Rain and I just had this instant connection. I absolutely adore her and she’s someone who I look up to immensely in the weight loss surgery community. So my text from Rain said “Good morning…have fun at the OAC walk…” I gave Rain a quick response asking if she had decided not to go because it was freezing. Which it was! This Portland Oregon girl who is used to running in cold weather and rain started the morning with exercise clothes, a hoodie and a jacket on and I was wishing for my gloves and a skully. Of course once we started I warmed up and the layers started coming off.

Now if you follow my blog and have read my post “Things I want both Personal and Private” you will understand my excitement here. The bike rental vendor at the Walk From Obesity had an ElliptiGo on display! Not only was it on display but it was on a stationary stand that allowed you to get on it and try it. You KNOW I was all over this opportunity. Yes Sir-e-bob I was. And I can still say, I WANT! I WANT! I WANT! I really wish I could afford one but not anytime in my near future. My future is filled with paying off my credit card from attending this event. I had hoped that SWWMC would see the benefit of helping send me to this event and how much of an asset it would help make me for them and chip in, but they completely ignored my request and I never heard anything back from them after I contacted my Weight Loss Surgery Coordinator Cathy Geir. I love Cathy, adore her, would do anything she asked, but I’m pretty disappointed with SWWMC and their lack of interest in me. It’s ok, they’ll figure out sooner or later that I’m not your typical girl and that I’m going to be someone in this community. Regardless of that, and yeah I said that aloud and they will likely read it, but I’m honest and honestly, they dropped the ball. Regardless, it’s going to be awhile still before I can drop money on something like an ElliptiGo when it looks like I’m going to be dropping major cash to try to get to all these Conventions and Meets so that I can continue to meet and touch people the way I aspire too. I apologize to my Family ahead of time for the financial burden I’m about to put on us, but, this is important to me and being at this OAC Convention definitely taught me that this is what I NEED to be doing now, both for me, my career and the people who I am so desperately seeking to help.

Before the Walk From Obesity started I took the time to walk around and talk to the Vendors that had set up booths for the walk and collect a couple of Freebies along the way. Then it was time to get warmed up for the walk, or in my case, the run. Bobby Whisnand, the Personal Trainer that I’d had so much fun talking with the day before lead our little group in some exercise warm ups. Me being the fitness fanatic that I am, I was doing a lot of hooting and hollering cheering for exercise. I was pumped and ready. My new friend Joy Muller and I had decided to run the 5k instead of walking it, and we had a couple other girls doing the same including Lisa Tucker. I was so excited to have friends that wanted to run this 5k with me! It made my day!

So we had our runners in the front, and we started off the walk as we took off. Ok, let me just say that this was probably by far, the greatest running experience of my life thus far. My first official 5k run. I only stopped to walk three times, and there were so many people cheering me on! It was amazing, inspirational, motivating and, where do I sign up for another one?

 

Now this is where I have to pause and send a shout out to my Sponsor Pace Setter Athletics and thank them for sending me to the Walk From Obesity prepared. You see those beautiful, well-fitting, perfect for my feet Saucony Running shoes on my feet? Yup, I’ve got them to thank for it. And did I mention how excited they are to get involved in an Obesity Walk? I’m going to be doing everything I can to put one together in 2013 – The also told me that any of you who might find yourself in the Portland area, you know, like if you were attending some event that might bring you here in July 2013 – they’d be willing to give you a nice discount on running shoes. I wanted to take a picture that showed the spirit of what the donated these shoes to do, help me help others in the fight against obesity, so what better picture than this all shoes in photo. Anita, if you only knew who some of those feet belong too, you’d smile, such amazing women in the weight loss surgery community. I’ll hope that when I repost this picture on Facebook they will all shout out, say hi and tell you which foot belongs to them ( ad LIKE your Facebook Page too) Show my Sponsor some love folks! They’ve promised to keep me in running shoes so I can keep working on motivating you and that is quite a gift! Oh and don’t ask me WTH Beth was thinking with her sparkly flats, but she was out there warming up, and walking in them so I give her credit. I’m sure my Sponsor is wincing at those and those pretty pink flip-flops Sarah was wearing!

The Walk From Obesity was held on the running trail in the outside area of the Hotel. The path was .25 miles all the way around and, to help people keep track of how far they had to go volunteers handed out Mardi Gras beads every time you looped the path. We needed to collect 13 to end up with 3.25 miles which is .15 over a 5k but if you only did 12 laps you’d only get 3.0 which would be .10 miles short. I found it so interesting, that after listening to Merrill Littleberry’s session the day before, by far the best educational session of the entire Seminar in my opinion, all I could think about every time those beads shook around my neck and made that cha-ching sound was that every time I was handed one someone was putting a deposit in my emotional bank account. As I thought more and more about it when I ran I realized that for me, running is a multiple deposit payout. For me running makes a deposit in my Spiritual account as it makes me feel so close to my father while another is, it makes a deposit in my Physical account because it’s great exercise, and it makes deposits in my emotional account, especially when surrounded by a ton of super supportive people encouraging you and helping motivate you as you encourage and help motivate them. It was amazing, and I felt on top of the world.

When the run was finished I had a few really important people to hug. Heather, Joy, and Merrill herself. In fact, Joy and I both took advantage of the photo button souvenirs that one of the Vendors was handing and got our picture taken together with Merrill to commemorate the event. That button is going to become a magnet on my refrigerator that will always remind me of two of the people who touched me the most at this event. I got one done with Heather as well of course, because that woman is my own personal cheerleader. I wish I had gotten one with Rain but she stayed up to late the night before and was being a typical CA girl and avoiding the too cold weather. 😀 I love picking on you Rain <3

Now that the Walk from Obesity was over. I had one more little thing I needed to make sure I took care of while I was in Dallas. Some of you may recall a certain confessional episode on Desperately Seeking Slender Episode X where I made a promise to swallow my fears of spoiling a very special memory I have of my Father and try to ride a bike again in honor of my Father while I was in great state of Texas, a place my Father loved with all his heart. My original plan had been to try to squeeze a bike rental in on our first day there, but that just wasn’t doable considering what time we got in and how much was on the agenda and truthfully, there was so much to do, and I had promised Heather we’d go to Six Flags after the Walk on Sunday, so I was running out of time. But I headed back over to the bike rental booth and explained my story to the woman who was running the booth. With tears in my eyes as she helped me get on that bike, I rode it around the same little track that I had just ran around 13 times. A victory lap with my Father, on a bike. I faced my fear, the memory is still as special as it ever was to me, if not more. As I finished my little lap, and let me just say thank goodness there were not many people on it because if I was ever going to ride a bike seriously again I’d need some practice, I almost hit a few things and I totally forgot how the brakes worked. As I came back, tears falling down my cheeks, and knowing that my Father was with me in spirit and armed with the knowledge that Dr. Kushner had given me that allowed me to realize that I don’t need to achieve an “ideal weight” to achieve my dreams I felt, for the first time in all of this, like I had reached my goals, that I had successfully lost the weight and I knew, without any doubt, that my Father had been there to see me do it.

This feeling, this mental mindset, this emotional breakthrough, is the most rewarding thing that I took away from the Inaugural Your Weight Matters Convention 2012 and to be perfectly honest, the money it cost me to get there was well worth what I got out of it. In fact, I don’t think years of therapy would have provided me the emotional payout that this did.

It is hard to explain some times, the impact my Father’s death and on me and how terribly I needed to know that he saw me reach my goals and that he knew that I would have a happy, healthy and long life. And I know that if he was here today to see me starting a new career as a personal trainer, getting actively involved with the OAC, the WLSFA, enjoying exercise and making all these new friends, that he would smile and tell me this is exactly what he wanted for me.

This Convention, gave me something I don’t think anything else ever could, a chance to be in Texas, run with my Father, ride a bike with my Father, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Father knows what I have accomplished. I cannot thank enough the people who attended this event, the friends that accepted me, the professionals that helped validate me, and those that see in me the potential that my Father did and are holding their hand out to me to help me get my foot in the door and get involved. I’ve proven to my Father that I don’t disappoint, and I’ll be proving the same to you as I seek to help others in their weight loss journey.

 

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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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