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Suivez-moi à Paris pour mon prochain demi-marathon

FullSizeRender25 years ago I had the opportunity to go to Paris. 

I had taken several years of French classes at the high school level and two of my favorite teachers were leading a group of their students on a 14 day educational trip to France.

Traveling internationally was something my Father dreamed of doing but other than the travel that his service in the war afforded him he never really had the opportunity to do that. Having five kids from his first marriage and a wife and new baby to take care of when he started life over at fifty sort of ensured that he always worked hard and provided for us instead.

But providing for us and making sure we had the opportunities he wanted us to have made him happy. My Father was that type of man.

So as a teenager I packed my bags, got on a plane and I went to France. I spent two weeks traveling around different parts of France and seeing different things.

I went to Versailles, a royal chateau in the Ile-de-France region of France. I went to the Louvre. I saw the Mona Lisa. I visited the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe. I walked around Montmartre and took pictures at the base of Sacre Coeur. I visited the Champs-Elysées and the Musee d’Orsay. I saw Napoleon’s Tomb and I visited the Centre Pompidou. I did all things touristy and educational.

I was an overweight teenager. I struggled to keep up with the crowd. 

Everywhere we went my feet hurt and I found it hard to keep up. But the opportunity to go to France, to experience another country and to travel internationally was an opportunity that a lot of people would never get. One I should savor every moment of and grab memories that I would hang on to for the rest of my life. My Dad had taught me that. So I spent my two weeks taking in every little detail I could. Taking as many photos as possible and collecting as many memories as I could.

I’ve never had the opportunity to travel out of the county again. Travel is so expensive and when you are starting life over after weight loss in your late 30’s, jumping on a plane to travel the world just really isn’t in the cards. There is adulting to do and bills to pay.

But recently the opportunity to do just that fell in my lap. When RunDisney announced the Inaugural Paris Half Marathon in Disneyland Paris (which by the way was originally Euro Disneyland and opened in April of 1992 while I was in France) I silently rued that I wouldn’t be able to do it. RunDisney events are already so expensive, but doing one in Paris France was out of the question.

Until BariLife came along and my friends came along.

It just so happened that I had a good friend and fellow RunDisney fanatic that was going to the event to earn the first ever “Coast to Chateau” medal. The medal is a commemoration of the achievement of completing a half marathon in either Walt Disney World or Disneyland and completing the half marathon in Disneyland Paris. Jess, a friend that I am blessed to have thanks to my attendance of the OAC (Obesity Action Coalition) Conventions, offered me a place to stay if I could get myself to Paris.

But getting to Paris is no cheap feat. You’ve got outrageous airfare to get there, not to mention luggage fees, passport fees and the cost of the race registration itself. Even with Jess’s help, this opportunity wasn’t in the cards for me.

But when Derek and Guinn over at BariLife approached me about writing some guest blogs for the BariLife website a light bulb went off in my head. When I talked to Guinn about this adventure at the WLSFA event in Nashville this year I told her how much it would mean to me and how important it would be to my Father that if this was a possibility for me. Knowing it would be important to my Father made it really important to me.

A couple of months later we were solidifying plans, purchasing airline tickets, scheduling guest blogs and I was standing at the passport office turning in my passport application.

Thanks to a wonderful opportunity presented to me from BariLife in a partnership to write guest blogs for them in return for a sponsorship to the Inaugural RunDisney Disney Paris Half Marathon I am about to take my running adventures international.

It’s been a few minutes… or I should say months since the last time I wrote a blog. Since May when this all started to come together life has been a series of events that tends to keep me going for twelve to thirteen hours a day and makes finding the time to write blogs a bit more difficult.

But the guest blogs for BariLife have started and you can read the first several in the series over on their website.

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Pandora Goes to Paris!

Despite what life has been throwing at me I have still managed to get all of my training runs in. I am currently in week 7 of my 13 week to Paris Training Schedule and I have a 10 mile long run on the agenda next week.

When I first wrote this blog for you 7 weeks ago, I was just about to design that training schedule and promise you that…

You can be expecting to hear lots from me as I develop what will be my training program from the RunDisney Disneyland Paris Half Marathon event and document how things are going along the way. This entire adventure has me super excited and eager to share the whole thing with you.

Sometimes the daily grind of life can start to make it feel like there isn’t much new to write about. I work two jobs, workout, spend time with my partner in crime and my dog and then get up and do it all over again. But now I have an exciting new adventure to share with you and it motivates me to write more because I actually feel like I have something out of the ordinary to share with you again.

Maybe the Universe heard me talking about how ordinary life was starting to get and decided to spice it up for me. I am a firm believer in you get what you asked for in mysterious ways. The last 7 weeks of my life have been far from boring. But that is a whole different blog and one I need a few more hours to write and currently I just don’t have those sort of hours in the day.

Currently I am getting ready to attend the #YWM2016 National Convention in Washington DC in a couple of weeks, spending my day working two jobs, walking the dog in between, training for Paris and writing for BariLife. All in all, even with everything that is going on, other than my time in a check stand to make extra money, I am still doing things I love throughout most of my day.

If you are attending the #YWM2016 National Convention there are a few places you can expect to find me if you want to get your fit on with me. I will be attending the morning walk on Saturday morning and running a 5k as part of my Paris training schedule and as a way to celebrate my birthday. I heard that Jeff Newell over at DefyingObesity.org has a few birthday celebration medals to give out to people who come out to celebrate with us. So if you like bling join me out there with the walk/run organizers Saturday morning at 6:30am and wish me a happy birthday by getting your fit on with us and take home a medal as a souvenir.

You can also find me doing the Guided Fitness Coaching in the Gaylord National Gym exercise session at 5:30pm on Saturday night.

Make sure you stop by the BariLife booth at the convention. Say hello and tell them that you are following Pandora to Paris! I am sure you will find me hanging out there as well.

But if I don’t see you in Washington DC, you’ll find me here writing when I can and sharing life after weight loss with you.

Until next time. Be good to yourself. Follow your dreams and go get your fit on.

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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.

Please Support My Sponsor! Visit the BariLife Website for all your Post Operative WLS Protein and Vitamin Needs!

Social Media and YOU – Silence Speaks Louder Than Words

Do you know what my biggest gripe about being a blogger in the WLS and Weight Loss community is? I’m a tell-it-like-it-is sort of girl, so I’m not afraid to come out and say this… I dislike the lack of support.

i_dislike_button_by_calisoldier805-d3yzvu1I’m not the only one; I talk to fellow bloggers often who say the same things. Who are disappointed by the responses that they get from within this community. I won’t call attention to people who don’t want to be named, but just as an example, last August at the OAC Convention one of my fellow bloggers received a large amount of products from one of the vendors to host a fan appreciation give away. I warned her not to be disappointed if she ran a contest and didn’t get very many entries for it. You know why? Because it had happened to me too many times. Sure enough it happened to her as well and she found it disheartening.

This is exactly why you don’t see me host fan appreciation giveaways. I hold contests to give away Half Marathon experiences because quite honestly, I don’t care if only one person enters, if that person has the desire to do something amazing in their post weight loss journey and I can help facilitate it, I won the contest myself; that’s just who I am and what I am about.

But let’s talk about a few things from a blogger perspective. As someone who strives to put information out there that helps motivate and inspire others in their weight loss journey, I have a few concepts to share with you.

images (1) “Sharing is Caring,” I’ve said this a lot. Just in case you don’t understand what I mean by that, that is my way of telling you that when your favorite bloggers, nonprofit organizations and companies post things on their blog or in social media venues like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and what not, what they are HOPING for is that you interact with them. Not only are they hoping that you will like or favorite what they do; they are hoping you will hit the share button, hit the retweet button, pass the message along and hoping you will comment. Do you know why? Because their success in these venues is dependent on how well they engage their audience. How well you respond to a post decides how much attention the social media platforms give it.

Focus on the Positive and Avoid the Drama. Have you ever noticed how if there is something people don’t like or disagree with, or someone else is kvetching about something they are upset about, it tends to get more likes and more comments than your average run of the mill status update? I see more shares of snarky eCard messages within the weight loss and WLS community than I do shares of things that we claim we care about. People are more inclined to share an eCard that says “I don’t care what you say,” than they are to share a message that says “Look at this amazing recipe for Mahogany Chicken Wings from Kosher Bariatric” – Why not keep it positive and share the stuff that people are putting out there to try to help the community rather get into a 60 comment long debate about someone else’s eating habits or exercise routine?

downloadReturn the FavorOk so let’s be straight up here, the bloggers aren’t all innocent in this either. There are certain bloggers you will see me promote on a semi regular basis. People like Nikki over at Bariatric Foodie, Shelly from The World According To Eggface, Joy from Kosher Bariatric, Kesha from Waning Woman — and there are other bloggers that you won’t see me promote at all. You know why? Because sharing is caring, and if I share for you and you don’t share for me, then I don’t have the desire to share for you constantly and feel like the affection is unreciprocated. This is just the truth. I got an email not too long ago from someone asking me to support and share the information for a fitness oriented event they were doing. I did so because that is the sort of thing I can get behind and support. But when I’m doing something and I ask for it to be shared they seem to miss it. That only happens once or twice before I notice and next time you ask me to promote something for you, I nod my head, roll my eyes and end up busy with other things. Sorry, true story folks. Nobody like being asked to do a favor by somebody that never does a favor back. I abandoned supporting organizations with causes that I actually believe in and feel passionate about for the same reason, just as I have stopped social media interactions with people for the same reason. Nobody likes to feel taken for granted or like a relationship they have built only goes one way; so return the favor and keep your friends and supporters just that; friends and supporters.

Practice Empathy rather than Apathy. The ability to mutually experience the thoughts, emotions and experiences of others goes far in this community. Just because we might not agree with what someone says, or even feel that way ourselves doesn’t mean we can’t understand it. It also doesn’t mean that our social network won’t benefit from it.  Just as an example, as a weight loss coach I believe that professionals need to have a starting point to discuss weight issues with you. While I believe that BMI is a grossly negative standard when it comes to setting the bar, I believe it one of the only realistic measurement points available right now for professionals to start with. I believe you need to look at that number alongside many others like body fat percentage, lean muscle mass calculations, bone density calculations… and often you need to look up at the person you are talking to and judge for yourself whether the numbers are an accurate assessment of their physical fitness. I also understand all sides of the equation. I empathize with the folks that hate BMI calculations and think they are a false representation when used as a standalone measure or who have come so far in their journey that they are angered by a number on a chart that says “You are still overweight.” – Trust me, I struggle with this myself.  I empathize with the professionals that say it’s one of the most accurate measurement tools we have without more financially feasible technology at our disposal. Guess what? You will see me share information on both sides of the debate. Why?  Because both sides of the debate offer relevant information to my social network.

rareshar

On the same note you might see me share information on an article about body image issues. Not because I have had the same experience (mine might have been vastly different) but because someone else might benefit from reading the information. And if someone else could benefit from it, I’ll share it.

So next time a blogger you follow holds a contest to give away a product that you use, enter the contest. Next time a blogger you read posts an article that has information pertinent to your social network or a nonprofit organization you support posts a link, share it. The next time someone posts something that you agree with or appreciate, leave a comment. Take the time to show you care and appreciate what they do. Take the time to be positive and proactive. Take the time to reciprocate the friendships you’ve built with the people who you’ve met in this community so that you stay friends. I encourage you to remember that when you take the time to do these things for others, they will take the time to do them for you, and in the end, we’ll have a much stronger, friendlier and more positive community.

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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

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.
Please take the time to visit their website and check them out!

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