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Your Voice Can Be Someones Light in the Darkness

I should really be heading to the Gym already, I have so much to do today, but I just needed to sit down and write this first. Yesterday was a terrible, dark, and horrifying day for me…

I had been up for over 24 hours, I was in a state of panic, more than anything I wanted to go run and be able to talk to my Father and try to get my head cleared of the negative thoughts that were racing around in there. But with no sleep and in the emotional condition I was in, exercising wasn’t an option for me. I sat there missing my Father’s presence in my life both physically and spiritually and I felt myself spiraling into such a depression that I even began thinking that I needed to go see a therapist again.

There is one man whose voice means almost as much to me as my Father’s, Chris Powell, celebrity Fitness Trainer from ABC Extreme Makeover. I adore him and his amazing and beautiful wife Heidi Powell. Meeting them is one of my biggest dreams. I’ve had contact with Chris a few times now through his Facebook page. (Yes he does answer back; in fact he has answered me every single time I have written him through Facebook) I decided to drop Chris Powell a note with a link to my blog and let him know that I could really use a little pep talk if he was still listening.

ThankYouChrisPowellAfter my last contact with Chris where I asked him to come to some events I was involved in, I was actually worried that when he told me to contact his management team I might not ever hear from him again. I was literally sitting at my computer yesterday an exhausted emotional wreck, in tears and said to Heather as she was washing dishes in the kitchen, “And Chris Powell probably won’t ever answer me again because I asked him to go to that event and now it’s probably like all contact has to go through his management people and I should have never done that because he was being so good to me!”

No sooner had I finished yet another emotional outburst then I turned my head and saw a notification on Facebook that Chris Powell had responded to my post on his page.

I sat there and I read what Chris had written to me and then my panicked mind that can sometimes run away from me too fast started repeating certain parts of it in rapid succession. “I am still so proud of you.” “It is YOUR body.” But the big thing that Chris reminded me was that I shouldn’t allow those that hurt me in the past the power to hurt me right now.

I started to bawl again as soon as I finished reading Chris Powell’s response. But it wasn’t the same sort of crying I had been experiencing throughout the day, this was just relief, so much damn relief.

I was relieved I still had Chris to talk to, but most of all, I knew that the timing of that response coming in just when it did, I knew I was going to be ok and honestly, Chris writing me back at that moment, it grounded me, it helped me stop, breath, and start figuring out what to do to get past the panic.

I decided that I would write Chris the proper thank you and then step away from the computer. I went and took a long bubble bath and read several chapters in the Kelly Armstrong book I’ve been working on. I had a couple of cups of warm tea, and after a hot bath I let myself indulge in a glass of flat Diet Dr. Pepper, one of my rare guilty pleasures. I finished taking down all the Christmas decorations that I had allowed myself to leave up extra-long to enjoy this year because I spent so much time in bed recovering from my thigh lift over the holidays that I didn’t get much time to enjoy them and then I made a promise to myself that I would go to bed with a positive affirmation and wake up with one. I had some dinner and I watched the season premiere of Dallas and then the Ellen Show on DVR and by 10:30pm I was ready to head to sleep. My positive affirmation before bed was: “Thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become habits, habits become character, and character becomes destiny.” – I have accomplished more in two years than I have accomplished in most of my life. 2013 is my year. Tomorrow my thoughts will all be positive.

This morning I woke up, I decided to get a cup of coffee, get some bills scheduled and then it was time to go look in the mirror. I made a promise to myself that I’d stand there this morning looking at what I looked at yesterday and I would come up with a positive affirmation.

ChrisPowellI thought about what Chris had said to me. I stood there in my sports bra and my UA Leggings and I looked at my body and that is the moment that it came to me… Last month I had been a little blown away when I noticed a quote on the bottom of Chris Powell’s webpage that echoed verbatim what my Father had said to me when he came to me about my weight. They both wanted me have a “Happy and Healthy Life.”

This is the problem that I have had all along. When I was fixated on a goal weight of 150 and beating myself up that I could only get to 160, when I was putting my whole life on hold chasing a “Normal BMI’ of 24.82 @ 149lb and beating myself up because I have a BMI of 26.85 @ 161lb. Being upset because a waist circumference of 37 makes me “overweight” and wanting to lose 2 more inches so that I’m “Normal.”  Or most recently, looking in the mirror and seeing skin relaxation after major reconstructive surgery as some sort of leftover remnant of my past abusers.

Until now, I haven’t been trying to meet my goals; I’ve been trying being “perfect” I actually laughed as I realized it. Chris if you are reading this the first thing that came to mind for me was “I am perfectly imperfect.” The article his wife Heidi Powell wrote on her Blog a couple of weeks ago.

I’ve had it all wrong. I’ve been trying to be perfect and normal and fit into all the little boxes that all these medical standards and scientific measurements say I should and once I fell into that mindset, I forgot that this was never about being perfect, this was about being happy and healthy, and I am all those things, and that is why I am a perfect example of weight loss success and how much a transformation like this can change your life.

So many things have been happening to me lately, I think the stress of it all made me lose sight a little bit of my goals. I’m not here to become a professional athlete, I weighed 420 lb. and had a BMI of 70.04 when I first started this journey and I had a whole lot of emotional baggage weighing me down as well. I’ve lost 260 lbs. I have a BMI today, of 26.68 and the extra skin that I once saw as remnants of my abusers has been cut off and replaced with scars that I see as my own personal battle scars. In a year or so, after the scars have faded, and finances aren’t so tight, I’ll be tattooing over them and working on expressing my weight loss journey in body art centered on their locations.

My weight loss journey first started in July of 2010 and in less than three years I have been through some of the most emotional moments in my entire life and I today, I am a stronger, healthier, happier, beautiful woman and I am exactly who and what I am supposed to be. I might have a little extra skin on my abdomen and I might never wear a bikini, but I don’t need to. What I need to do is be able to live my life to the fullest, maintain the happy, healthy, active life that I have accomplished having, and enjoy it, while sharing it with others, paying it forward and moving on to meet my goals. There isn’t any reason to look back anymore. I got rid of all of that already, what is left is MY BODY, the body that is left after I fought the battle against obesity and WON. The body left after I cut all of that past out of my life and left them behind and the body that I am going to move forward with, become a personal trainer with, and run a half marathon with.

So from today on out I make a pledge that each day when I look in the mirror I will think about not what happened yesterday and most certainly not what happened thirty-two years ago, and not even about what might happen today. Each morning when I look in the mirror and I’m putting on my make-up, I’m going to think about what I’ll be doing tomorrow to meet my goals.

I’m done seeking perfection that was never what I was after. I was desperately seeking slender, and I have accomplished that. I’m done seeking normal, normal isn’t something I want to label myself as anyways.  I’m just going to my perfectly imperfect self. (Thank you Heidi!)

That little bit of skin relaxation on my stomach and that front tooth that is a little longer than the other, and my weird little pinky toe that literally has almost no toenail at all, those things all make me, the me that I am today, the me that is left and ready to move on in the next part of my weight loss journey.

So today I’m ready to move forward, today I am going to do something I’ve been scared to do for weeks and people have been asking me to do for months. Today I am going to build a before and after Gallery of my Reconstructive Plastic Surgery Pictures.

I’m also going to go to buy this little black and star bathing suit that I have been eyeing.

I’m going to spend an hour in the gym doing no impact exercises. And I’m going to contact Chris and Heidi and see if maybe they can help me put together and exercise regime I can put myself on to help tone some of the areas of my body I would like to work on improving; upper body strength, core strength, abdominal strength. It’s time for me to give up a little bit of cardio time to start focusing on a little bit of toning. Maybe even a Yoga class.

It’s time to crack that next chapter of the CI Textbook too. I need to do some catching up, so some extra time focused on this.

I just needed to take a breath, let my mind catch up and get my perspective right. If I follow my course right now and stay focused and just give it everything I’ve got, I’ll be a CI Institute Certified Personal Trainer, New Homeowner, Half Marathon Runner by the time I see many of my readers in Phoenix Arizona August 15-18, 2013 for the OAC 2nd Annual Your Weight Matters National Convention.  Those are my three big goals this year, I can do this, and every time I look in the mirror I’m going to remind myself of that. “I can do this.”

Time to get the day started.  It’s late but I have a phone conference at 2pm, then it’s off to gym.

Chris and Heidi if you read this. Thank you both from the bottom of my heart. You have no idea how much following the two of you, and Chris’s words yesterday were the light in the tunnel during my darkness. I wish I could hug you both!  OXOOXOXOX – Pandora

This is Me Hurt and Discouraged

This is one of those pieces that you start to write and ask yourself, do I really want to share these thoughts and feelings with my readers?

LittleDSSpeopleFor me, the answer is a resounding yes, and let me explain why. I made a promise when I started this blog that I would share my journey with you, that includes the times when the journey isn’t fun or exciting and it includes times that I feel hurt and sad.

Today I feel hurt and sad and discouraged. I feel like this journey is teaching me who my real friends are, who really cares about me, and who really supports me. It’s funny my friend just posted a picture on Facebook as I am working on publishing this entry that said “You don’t lose friends, you just find out who your real ones are.” ( Thank you Claire you remind me so much of my Daddy )

Now let me start by saying that I realized there are lots of facets to my emotions and my feelings right now. First let’s talk about my life here in Portland. There are a lot of people in my life, people who I interact with on a regular basis that call themselves my friends and have no problem asking me to do something for them, or inviting me to do something with them. But you know what, when things start happening for me and I ask for help and support in the mere form of a COMMENT on a page that it is REALLY important to me, they can’t be bothered to help me. If you look at the page that I’ve publicly asked for support on, you’ll see the same people who have been supporting me for years in real life. My best friends Debby, Ashli and Heather, Debby’s husband Colin, and that.. is it.

Scale-165b

You have no idea how heart wrenching that is to me. You don’t see my family on there, you don’t see my friends on there, you don’t see local friends that I have done things for, supported, tried to help with their own endeavors on there commenting.

Now there are a few people in my life, like my “Second Father” as I call him, Tom, who is in his 70’s and just isn’t part of the social media world, and my Aunt Beverly who isn’t really computer proficient. Those people I understand, but the rest of them. No I’m sorry I don’t.

Frankly, the next time someone from my everyday life here in Portland asks me to do something for them or with them that could not bother to support me when I BEGGED for it. I’m going to say “I’m really busy right now but thank you for inviting me.” so when you get that response from me, you’ll know why.  That’s my approach, I’m not one to pick a fight or get into a big dramatic thing with you over it, I’m just the type to go away and give you back the same emotional vacancy sign you just handed me with your clear display of lack of support. Now if you feel that you fit into this box, then really, maybe you should ask yourself why you decided that something that I asked of you, something that was extremely important and exciting to me, meant so little to you, that you couldn’t be bothered to add a quick comment to a page that I asked you to.

Now that’s, the real world. But there are other spins on this too, and once again, I’m going to be honest about my feelings. But really, my online world isn’t that much different. There are people who read my blog on a regular basis, who have seen something in me from the beginning and support me. I love you guys, you are the very reason my blog exists.

529967_355878714449811_2000093436_aBlogging really isn’t my thing. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it’s not like I set out to be a blogger. I set out to share my story with others that were battling the same issues and that sort of made me a blogger. It’s not my dream though. I’m not after a 10,000 reader following or a blog that makes money with advertisements. I don’t make anything off my blog, the couple of sponsors I have are people who believe in me and what I am doing. NWFitness and PaceSetter, and their sponsorship isn’t in the form of cash, it’s in product. PaceSetter gives me running shoes and socks and tips on how to improve my running. NWFitness is trying to get as much of the equipment as they can for my start-up business as a personal trainer that I am lunching this year. And these sponsors weren’t even ones I found, they are sponsors my friends found for me, because they took the initiative to start looking for people to help me get started. It’s not my blog that I am focused on, my blog is my way of communicating my story to others, what I am out to do is help other people on their weight loss journey by teaching them that exercise can be fun, and to help the weight loss surgery community discover the benefits of exercise on an emotional level, as an emotional outlet, stress reliever, and, a damn good option in the battle of cross over addictions. Exercise has helped me so much, becoming a trainer and helping others find that is extremely important to me.

NWFitness125Every event I go to, everything I do right now comes out of my own pocket and of course the time that I am investing in it takes away from my normal job. But I believe in the WLS Community and I want to be a part of t, and those few people whose lives I touch and help with what I do, usually give me more motivation than I need to go on.

But I won’t lie to you, I won’t sugar coat stuff and paint it with pretty colors to make people like me. I’ve been that big girl who was invisible to the world for so long that if you decide you don’t like me because of what I have to say, that’s ok, I can live with that.

But seriously folks, I don’t think you understand how disheartening it is to ask your community to do something for you and pretty much get ignored. I don’t pretend to be one of those people who has a following of 5000 or even 500, but I have a couple hundred of followers on the social media networks and you know what. EIGHT of them, took the time to post a comment on this page when I literally begged. And really… I wouldn’t think asking people to go to a page and encourage a famous fitness guru to get involved in our community and come to our events would be such a hard thing for my friends in this community to do. But apparently it is, and I’m not going to lie folks, it’s hurt my feelings.
DSS-PostLogo3bFor the first time, I honestly am second guessing my involvement in this community. For the first time, I am wondering if I want to continue pressing forward to build a fitness career focused on the WLS community specifically. For the first time, I’m starting to think that maybe I should just be focusing on building my new career in general and not so much on just the WLS community, even though I am extremely passionate about it and care about the people within it.

One thing that I know right now is that for the last 6 months I have written letters to my Hero Chris Powell that were answered. He was listening to my voice, I had gotten his attention.

So many things were happening for me, and when I was Honored with the Ms. Fabulous 2012 title I thought, OK  here is my big shot to make a go at this and actually write Chris Powell and ASK him to come to some of these events and recognize this community. I thought it was really a good shot to work on fighting the misconception that weight loss surgery is the easy way out, and of course, help promote fitness in the WLS community because that is what I am all about.

DSS-PostLogo4bI feel right now, like I sort of wasted my one big opportunity. I feel like I should have waited to ask Chris Powell to do something. I feel like instead of asking him to support a community that can’t take the time to show him that they WANT to be supported I should have just kept that little open line of communication with him to myself and held on to it until there was something I wanted for just me, not the entire community. I know that sounds selfish, so be it, that’s the truth about how I feel right now. I feel like I’ve really pushed to get his attention, his wife’s attention, and his management teams attention, and I asked for something big, and got a pretty positive response. But, even when this community could SEE that positive response ( I mean you can see his responses to my letters on my website and obviously on the post on his Facebook page that I asked for support on. ) only EIGHT people who are not 5-10 year-long friends of mine could be bothered to support me. It hurts my feelings a lot because there are so many people in this community that I thought really cared about me and respected me, and when I see that they can’t take 5 minutes to make a comment, or share a post for me it just really hurts my feelings.

I pay close attention. Especially to those that sure has heck don’t mind it when I do that for them. I’m very good at hitting the like button, commenting, sharing, retweeting, replying, and let me just tell you honestly guys, the lack of support I feel here, it’s not encouraging.

Now I will be the first to admit my own issues and own my own stuff. Is my reaction to this warranted?  Is how hurt I feel right now justified? I’m 100% positive that I am even more sensitive to the lack of support I feel from the WLS community because of the lack of support I get from my own Family. But you know, I’ve been honest about the lack of support from my Family and my poor relationship with them. I’ve been very honest about my “chosen family” and about how I very much see the WLS community as part of my family. And the fact that I didn’t get the support I thought I would from my WLS Family really broke my heart.

I’m going to be taking a few days to lick my wounds and re-evaluate what I am doing, how I am doing it and whether I need to go into a different direction.

My best friend Ashli arrives for a week-long visit on Wednesday and you won’t see any blogs, or social media presence from me while she is here. I’m going to take some time to consider where I am going to focus my energies and spend quality time with the women that have supported me for years.

DSS-PostLogo5I feel like my dream is unreachable now. I realize that after what I asked Chris Powell to do and how hard I tried to show him that the weight loss surgery needed him, he’ll likely never respond to me again now. The fact that I probably lost the ear of my biggest hero by asking him to get involved with this community rather than just get involved with me and potentially blew any chance I ever had of meeting the one person whose words of praise mean as much to me as my Father’s is just crushing to me.

Right now, my instant reaction is to withdraw, to go focus on my education and my life and not worry so much about blogging, Facebook and Twitter or being friends with people who don’t really care about something that meant so much to me. But I know that reaction comes from a place of hurt and emotional response and I won’t make any decisions until the smoke alarm stops sounding and I have time to really analyze all the emotions involved in what I am feeling.

For those of you that did support me, and did comment. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for taking the time. I will never ever forget the eight of you that tried to help me, and as always it’s an action I will pay forward somehow, someday, someway.

My blog has gone silence once before when my Father passed away. I felt like I needed time to grieve and heal before I could move forward. This time it won’t be as long but I feel like a dream of mine died with this part of my journey and I need some time to get over that.

People often ask me what I do when something happens that hurts me or discourages me. This is it, I step back, reevaluate and re-approach, I’ll see you all in a week or so when I have my head back on straight and the hurt is a little less new and raw.

Related Links:

Chris Powell answers my letter. Please help make my dream come true.
My spin on WLS Advocacy – What I am doing to help
A Letter to Chris Powell
Chris Powell Responds to my Letter

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Author: Pandora Williams

Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

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