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The Essentiality of Self Worth in the Weight Loss Journey

DesperatelySeekingSlender-03“It’s okay because they love me,” – if I had a quarter for every time these words escaped my mouth or invaded my head space I’d be rich. Because the truth is  my never-ending search for unconditional love led me to these thoughts over and over again.

From as young as five I can remember that feeling of “Nobody else wanted me,” that evolved from being given up for adoption. With the exception of my Father I never truly felt loved by my family; I felt abused, lied to and held back by their presence in my life and I started to live in a world of ifs and when’s. “If I do this, maybe life will get better.” Before I had even realized it I had successfully become an escapist, spending more time in my little fantasy world of what if and maybe when than in reality.

When I started to realized that boys and relationships offered “love” at the age of fourteen, I was willing to do anything to get it. Somewhere along the way I had adopted Prince Charming Syndrome. More than anything I wanted some boy to come along and rescue me and make my world a better place by bringing something that I sought after into my life; happiness. I equated sex with love and love with happiness; after all, my daddy had taught me that if you had love, you had everything.

At eighteen, I took the first opportunity I had to get out of the house: his name was Eric, a guy six years my senior with a steady job working at the biggest internet service provider in the country at the time. He taught me computers, how to play Magic: the Gathering, and he offered me a new life and something that I desperately wanted… a family. I look back on that relationship now with more regret than any I have had since then; how poorly I treated him and how little I appreciated him, because I didn’t understand yet the value in these things.

DesperatelySeekingSlender-02The biggest problem at this point was that I didn’t understand the concept of loving myself. It wasn’t a skill I had learned or been taught. I never thought I was pretty, I never thought I was anything except someone’s burden or inconvenience and those feelings of inadequacy led me into a lifestyle where I sought out men that wanted to make decisions for me, tell me what to do, and were willing to take care of me in return for my agreement to allow them do so.

And this is where addiction started to take over my life. This was the moment that I opened the door and let the devil come in. A downward spiral began and before I knew it, food was my confidante. I turned to food for everything. The emotion did not matter, sadness, anger, stress, even the rare times I felt happy, food was a constant part of my emotional world. The more I buried myself in food and the more weight I gained the worse it got. Before I knew it I weighed 420 lbs. and had less love for myself than I had ever had before. I hated myself, and as such, it was easy to start letting people abuse me again; I felt as though I deserved it.

“It’s okay because he loves me.” – This was my answer to be abused physically, verbally and emotionally for years to come. Whether it was some fleeting romance, or a serious long-term relationship, it didn’t matter how abused and battered I felt, because in my head I truly believed that nobody else would ever love me and that having someone love me was better than the alternative.

I share this story with you not so that I can garner your sympathy, but so that I can help you understand that I’ve been there. I have felt that cloud of darkness over my life for so long that when the light shines in, I instantly recoil and think the touch of it on my skin might physically hurt me.

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Self-love, Self-Respect, Self-Worth; these are things I have only begun to learn as a bi-product of my weight loss, my involvement in the weight loss community and most profoundly, the education process to becoming a Motivational Speaker, Weight Loss Coach, Wellness Coach, and someday, Personal Trainer.

There are times in my life today that my first reaction to something that is making me unhappy isn’t “How do I fix this,” or “How do I re-route the path I am on?”  There are times that my first reaction to someone in my life doing something that upsets me is to keep it bottled inside and tell myself it’s ok because they aren’t where they need to be in their own journey yet and because they don’t mean to hurt me, after all… they love me.

I have always said that when it comes to successful and long-term weight loss you have to address what is going on in your head. If you don’t figure out what led you to the unhealthy behaviors that drove you to obesity, then the chances of you ending up on that train again are extremely high. Sometimes it is hard for us to admit that we have an addiction. For some of us, it is hard for us to admit what those addictions are.

I personally was afraid that my food addiction would translate into a chemical dependency, which is what I was educated and warned most about. There were times during the last year that I worried that perhaps my addiction had transferred into a shopping addiction, or worse, there was a point that some people in the community had me convinced I might be addicted to plastic surgery. What I have come to find though, is that at the crux of my addiction was a lack of self-respect, a lack of self-worth, and that when I found those things, the rest started to fall in place.

DesperatelySeekingSlender-05I no longer look at photos of myself as a little girl and think “Nobody ever loved me, nobody will ever love me, and I am unworthy of being loved.” – Now I look at those photos and I say to myself, “How sad it was that they didn’t see my potential, but I see it now.” Today, I love myself, I respect myself, and for the first time in my entire life I am proud of what I have done, what I have accomplished, who I am and what I am about. Never again will I look at someone who has hurt me or caused me pain and think, “It’s okay because they love me.” It’s taken me nearly a year of self-searching, trying to understand my own emotions and a lot of cognitive processing to come to a place where I can honestly say, “It’s not okay, and it’s not about whether or not someone else loves me, it’s about whether or not I love myself.”

We reach a point in our life and–I believe–in our weight loss journey where we have to stop, take a deep breath and be willing to face our inner demons and the things we fear the most so that we stop listening to their voices. Changing these thought processes, and finding ways to silence those negative voices and finding the courage to face our emotional fears is all part of the transformation process. The first step being acknowledging that you are only miserable and unhappy if you allow yourself to be, and that today can be the start of a different journey. Today can be the day that you make a promise to yourself to live a happy healthy life. Today can be the day that you love yourself enough to keep that promise.

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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.

A Lesson in Distracted Eating for WLS Fitness Contest Winner

Guest Blog
By Dawn Brell 
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Dawn Brell rocking her vampiress for Halloween 2013

After a week with a few set backs Pandora asked me to write a blog about my experiences.  I have to say that anyone who has been through this have my sympathies and respect and for those who haven’t I hope that you never have to.  So we are going to talk about distracted eating and the consequences of that.  Star Date OCT 17 2013 (lol star trek humor) I was having a wonderful rib eye steak for supper. Normally when I eat I don’t do other things.  I focus on my food and eat slowly.  But this was the first time that I was going to miss my hockey team on TV. So I was trying to find it on the internet so I could listen and I was Facebook-ing and messing with paperwork.  So I was not watching how I cut my food. I was not thinking about my chewing.  You may guess where this is headed.  After a little bit of eating I knew that I had a problem.  I could tell that I had a piece of steak caught in my pouch.  It was a pain that I have never experienced.  I finally pushed my plate away and sat for probably an hour with my head on the table and rocking back and forth in my chair.  It didn’t do anything.  I finally decided that I was going to sip on some Powerade and hope that it would move.  No luck at all.  It did not move. I finally decided that I was going to put my hockey game on my phone and go to bed.  I laid in bed and just had pain, pain, pain. I decided that if I could get sick I would feel better. But no matter what I tried it was not going to move.  I couldn’t even force myself to get sick. It was stuck and it was REALLY stuck.  I couldn’t lay on my back at all because I couldn’t breathe and it felt like I was being ripped in half.  All I could do was roll side to side and cry.  It was awful.  It took about 14 hours for it to move.

My advice is to not partake in distracted eating.

I did try to do the right thing and the next day for lunch I had soup. This was the right thing to do but I didn’t stick with it long enough. For dinner I had a small grilled chicken sandwich.  I ate light all weekend but I was eating solids. I was not having pain so I thought I was ok to do that.  Fast forward to star date Oct 22. I had a half a cheeseburger for lunch and then dinner rolled around.  We were going to grill pork steak for supper.  I had a strange “don’t eat it” feeling but I had been feeling well so I thought it was going to be ok. I cut all the fat off and get rid of it.  I ate a little of the meat. I made sure that I was cutting it very small and chewing and chewing and chewing.  I thought it was going well.  I ate until I felt full.  But about 30 minutes later. I had that same horrible pain as last week.  It was horrible.  I decided that something might really be wrong and was going to go to the hospital.

 No food is worth dying for. No food is worth being in pain for. No food is worth a permanent problem. – Dawn Brell

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Dawn pausing for a moment for one of those epic “Selfies” that remind us how far we have come.

As I was heading outside to go, the cold hit me and I got very very sick.  But after all of that I felt so much better.  So I went back inside and tried to relax.  But every 20-30 minutes I was still getting sick. I was so sick and finally got empty and was just bringing up foam.  I could not even hold down a sip of water.  After about 5 hours the pain was unbearable and I had no choice but to go to the hospital.  I was not excited about that at all. I have small fragile veins so for me the hospital is basically cruel torture.  But given that I may have been having a huge complication I was going to have to endure that torture.  They had a hard time getting an IV started and blew a few veins.  They finally got the IV going and I was given anti nausea and vomiting medicine.  I was given a lot of pain medicine.  I finally started to feel a little better and was able to get a little sleep.  I am now covered in horrible bruises but a small price to pay.  I did email my surgeon to tell them what happened. I was still worried that I had something stuck.  They didn’t do any x-rays at my local hospital. They basically said I hurt my pouch and it needed to rest.  My surgeon called me to get all of the details.  I told them everything and what had been happening.  Basically they told me that I need to go liquids for 3 days and then mushy for 3 days. I am also back to taking antacids everyday to aid in the healing also. I did have the right idea in doing soup after the first episode but I gave up on it fast. I enjoy eating now.  I used to inhale my food and never tasted it.  Now I have a new appreciation for it however I still have rules to follow. I am blessed that I can eat almost anything and everything post surgery I have very limited problem foods.  But I know that I have to do this because I can do permanent damage to pouch.  I didn’t let it rest and just kept irritating and irritating it until I had another problem.  A blockage or obstruction is a common complication for us and people do get sick and sadly some of them do pass away. I have experienced that in my life actually.

I couldn't help but throw in these photos of our "How do you celebrate success" Contest Winner Dawn Brell, showing off where she has been as she swims in her old jeans. Congratulations Dawn, I can't wait to run with you in January!

I couldn’t help but throw in these photos of our “How do you celebrate success” Contest Winner Dawn Brell, showing off where she has been as she swims in her old jeans. Congratulations Dawn, I can’t wait to run with you in January!

My advice is to not partake in distracted eating.  You never want to experience this pain.  You don’t want to have to worry about having a serious complication. You don’t want to have to give up eating.  I will tell you it is hard.  Its only day 2 and I hate it about as much as I did a year ago pre-op.  So be mindful of your eating, be mindful of the size of your pieces, be mindful that you are chewing. It sounds simple and I can say I took it for granted until this happened. But I don’t want to repeat this. I don’t want to do permanent damage after the gift I was given in my surgery. I hate pain and don’t want to go through that again. I know that I need to always stick to the rules because no matter how well things are going a bump in the road can and will happen.  But acting and treating it properly can be the difference in healthy and sick and sometimes life and death.  No food is worth dying for. No food is worth being in pain for. No food is worth a permanent problem.

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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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