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Monthly Archives: September 2018

Paris Sans Obesity

If you have ever suffered from obesity you’ve probably had the experience of laying in bed at night thinking about all the things you would do and how different your life would be if you were not “fat”.

Yes, I said “fat”. Let’s be honest, it is the word we use in our head when we beat ourselves up emotionally for suffering from this disease. I can’t tell you how many times I laid in bed thinking “If I wasn’t fat, I would….”

These “ifs” are the stuff that dreams are made of.

The things we imagine and envision ourselves doing if our ability and mobility were not hindered by obesity. Making these dreams come true, achieving the things we dream of doing in the life we live after weight loss surgery is by far one of the biggest intrinsic motivators there is in your post-surgical life. Or as I like to refer to it, #YourBariLife.

Thanks to the generous folks at BariLife, a company that genuinely cares about the life you live after WLS; I was able to spend the last 13 days in Paris, France making several of these dreams come true.

My first day lead me to Le Jardin du Luxembourg.

I walked the entire gardens. These gardens hold over 190 statues. I saw the amazing Luxembourg Palace – constructed in 1612 by Marie de’ Medici, the window of King Henry IV and that was just the beginning of my day.

From there I walked up the hilly streets of Paris to the Pantheon; a building in the Latin Quarter of Paris. The Pantheon was originally a church dedicated to St. Genevieve but now serves as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens like Voltaire and Victor Hugo. I walked all around the Pantheon taking in an outdoor exhibit that paid homage to Simone Veil – a Holocaust concentration camp survivor who is most well-known for pushing forward the law that legalized abortion in France in 1975. She is one of only 5 women to have been buried in the Pantheon.

After that I walked the streets of Paris at night, dinned by the lights of Notre Dame and took in this amazing cathedral in the late-night hours when it was brilliantly lit. Standing at the base of Notre Dame looking up at this amazing medieval Catholic cathedral that I had read about in Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame as a young adult, left me in absolute awe.

In this one day, I climbed 24 floors and walked over 8 miles taking in the glorious sights of Paris. I never would have been able to do this back when I weighed 420 lb. and could hardly walk from my front door to where my car was parked without experiencing pain and being short of breath.

The next day I ventured out the Louvre – the world’s largest museum.

I walked around this 12th to 13th century castle constructed under the reign of Phillip II which was the resident of many Kings after him until 1682 when King Louis XIV decided to make the Palace of Versailles his home. Interesting little fact you may not have known. During his reign Napoleon renamed the historic Louvre the “Musee Napoleon”. After his fall in 1814 it once again became known as the famous Louvre. I spent several hours walking around taking in the sights of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Ancient Greek statue Winged Victory of Samothrace, Michelangelo’s Dying Slave, the infamous Greek statue Venus de Milo and the Egyptian Great Sphinx of Tanis. Standing in front of some of the most notorious pieces of art in the world is a humbling experience to say the least.

After leaving the Louvre through the gardens and taking in the Arc de Triomphe, my boyfriend and I grabbed some tasty Parisian treats to carry around with us and found a quite little bench to eat lunch on. We spent the later part of the afternoon perusing comic book stores, the Le Petite Prince store, and had one of the most miraculous dinners of our trip at a little nearby café.

A slower paced day for us, I ended up climbing about 34 floors and walking just shy of 7 miles total in the day. 8 years ago, before weight loss surgery, I doubt I would have even made it through the walking audio tour adventure at the Louvre without having to stop and rest between each exhibit point.

My third day in Paris was by far the most profound.

This was the day that made me most realize how much my life has changed since winning my battle with obesity.

This wasn’t my first time in Paris you know; I was there sightseeing once before at the age of 15 with my AP French class. The moment I most distinctly remember from that trip was when the group had to leave me behind while climbing the 300 plus steps to the top of Sacre Coeur. I met up with them later in Montmartre, feeling embarrassed and humiliated as several of my fellow classmates teased me about being too “fat” to handle the stairs.

It was a very upsetting day for me. I ended up leaving the group going back to the hotel and spending the rest of the day walking along the Seine River shopping for gifts to take home for my parents.

But this time, unhindered by obesity, I bound those 300 plus steps only taking a short break about half way through to give my boyfriends aching legs a break. Once we reached the top we took in the amazing site of the Sacre Coeur Basilica, the sacred heart of Paris and the panoramic view of the city from the summit of the butte Montmartre, the highest point in the city. After that we took our time venturing through the beautiful city of Montmartre.

From there we made our way to the red-light district of Paris, Pigalle, to see the infamous windmill of the Moulin Rouge; birthplace of the can-can and cabaret! Being a big fan of the musical, this was a neat moment for me. I got to have a drink and a cheese platter at the infamous Le Chat Noir, thought to be the first modern cabaret and known far and wide by its iconic poster art by Theophile Steinlen.

A little pop culture trivia information for you; If you’ve ever watched old Frank Sinatra movies, Le Chat Noir is the name of the night club where Frank Sinatra and Natalie Woods rekindled their relationship in the 1958 movie Kings Go Forth.

My fellow North Carolinians might also recognize the poster from the infamous murder scene photos of Kathleen Peterson. She was murdered by her husband, Mike Peterson, a novelist who ran for mayor of Durham, NC in 2002. The Le Chat Noir poster was the framed art piece at the bottom of the blood-soaked staircase.

My trip to Paris was about finding my love of running again.

I wanted to go back to where I felt I had lost my love of the run and do it over again. I wanted to find that internal passion for running in one of the most romantic places in the world.

I didn’t realize that by the third day of this trip I would be laying in my bed recalling my teenage years of struggling with obesity and remembering the sting of the teasing and weight bias I experienced from my fellow classmates when the overweight teenage me couldn’t keep up with my peers. But that is what I did that night. I recalled a night in Paris as a young teenager where I thought to myself “If I wasn’t fat, I’d be able to do all of this and they wouldn’t tease me and pick on me.”

That day, I climbed 32 floors and walked nearly 8 miles around the city of Paris without every feeling like I had to stop or like I was missing out on something.

With this Paris adventure, I have no regrets. I have no “If I wasn’t fat” moments to look back on with disappointment. I have nothing but amazing memories of the things that I can do now that I have conquered obesity.

Thanks to the folks over at BariLife, I got the opportunity to redo another day that should have been an amazing experience for me. I got to lay in bed thinking, “Wow, I did that! I’m living the best life I can after weight loss surgery, this is #MyBariLife, and I am turning it into everything it should be.”


Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Cooper Institute Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies. Her training and coaching services are offered exclusively through GoGirl Fitness Studio.

Make #YourBariLife the best it can be.

Visit the BariLife Website for all your Protein and Vitamin Needs!


Sex Love and Obesity Part 19

In Sex Love and Obesity Part 18 I talked about the fight that Peter and I had that sent me over the edge. At this point I didn’t care if he loved me. I didn’t even care if nobody else ever loved me. It didn’t matter that I loved him anymore. It didn’t matter how much I loved him. It didn’t matter that the sex was once amazing. At that point I really didn’t care if I never had amazing sex again.

The relationship was toxic and unhealthy, and I knew I needed to get out. But pulling the trigger and getting out when part of your heart is so deeply in can be a really difficult adventure.

For the next few days I was passive. I was emotionally withdrawn. I answered questions with short answers. I was emotionally and physically distant. I didn’t hug him. I didn’t respond to “I love you,” – I went out and cut all my hair off. A tale-tale Pandora move when my insides are in chaos and I am trying to figure out how to take control of my life and emotions. A sudden and drastic change to my hair is usually a signal that something is wrong in my world. I was in a constant state of dissassociation, trying to figure out what I was going to do next.

The new haircut had led to an incident where I had gotten upset when I went out with some friends and was asked if I was a lesbian and told I looked like a dyke. Peter saw the incident as a get-out-jail-free card. I was more upset about that then I was about what had happened with us. He used the opportunity to try to console me and try to get close to me.

I wanted to get away. From him, from everyone else. I was broken, and I wanted to run away.

I’m an emotional runner, that is what I do. It’s what I’ve always done. I couldn’t piece everything together and figure out what I wanted to do with him constantly on my heels. I was in the middle of a full-blown mental breakdown and as a result, I was almost completely incapable of making any sort of decision. But I knew that I needed to get away.

The hair cut incident had me twisted up inside. I was hurt and angry. He suggested that I call a good friend of mine and discuss it with him. He figured since I was having issues feeling like I couldn’t be myself without experiencing bias in the conservative little southern town we live in, that talking to one of my gay friends could help. Perhaps he could provide some insight and help me deal with what I was feeling and experiencing.

I honestly can’t remember how the fighting started again. I was upset, emotional and dissassociating too much. I remember talking to my friend about everything that was going on. I remember telling him that I didn’t know what I was going to do next, that I didn’t know if I was staying or leaving. It was Saturday, and I distinctly remember that I already didn’t feel like I was emotionally capable of putting it all together and going to work on Monday. I really needed Peter to give me some space. I felt wounded inside and I needed time to lick those wounds and try to heal.

I remember my friend talking to Peter. Trying to explain to him that he needed to give me space and time to myself. I remember him telling Peter that if there was any chance of me staying he was going to have to give me some time to heal and that if he kept pushing me and engaging me he wasn’t going to like the end result.

I remember Peter leaving the house for a while and me deciding that co-existing in the house with him wasn’t going to work. I decided that I needed some real physical distance to sort through everything. I was going to get on a plan and go to Dallas to visit my family there.

I called my best friend to let her know that I was going to be coming to her place. She is like a sister to me, we’ve been friends for nearly fifteen years. She probably knows me better than anyone in the entire world. She heard the panic, confusion and discombobulation in my voice and she was concerned. But what alarmed her most, was my complete inability to make any sort of decision. “Pandora I’ve never heard you like this. You are usually so independent, when you make your mind up about something that is it. Once you decide that you are going to do something, you do it. I have never seen you so full of self-doubt and incapable of making a decision. I’m very worried about you.”

She was right, this was way out of character for me. But she had also never seen me in the midst of struggling with my Dissociative Identity Disorder. This was something I had flawlessly controlled the entire time we had been friends thanks to my time in therapy.

That’s where I really remember things getting hostile again. When Peter came home, I told him that I was going to go to Dallas he pointed out that I didn’t have the money and couldn’t afford to go. He was right, I didn’t have the money to go. But I was waiting on a phone call from my Godfather to see if he would buy me a plane ticket.

The hours that passed as I tried to get my Godfather on the phone and ask for a plane ticket were full of emotional turmoil. With as toxic as things were my family worried about me leaving my things and my dog with him to get on a plane. This probably wasn’t really a valid concern, but my mind was so frazzled at the time that I couldn’t but rational thoughts together. I kept calling my friends and family gathering their opinions on every decision I tried to make, because I doubted myself so much.

I changed my plan. I decided I was going to drive to my Aunt’s house in Virginia and take my dog with me. My Aunt wasn’t a big fan of his. He worried if I went there, her influence would solidify the end of our relationship. He feared he wouldn’t be able to fix it and convince me to stay the way he had always been able to before. To convince me not to go, he told me that he had been having conversations with my Aunt for weeks. Seeking her help and guidance in dealing with me. He told me unflattering things she had said about me.

This broke my brain even more. I have a terrible relationship with my real family. The family I have now, my Godfather and his sister (my Aunt) are the people I have chosen to call family. They are the people I trust in a world that has taught me to trust nobody repeatedly. Him telling me she had said these horrible things about me drove a wedge in that trust. He had stolen something very important to me; someone I thought I knew I could trust.

Even though now, I believe her, and I know that she’s never had anything but my best interests at heart, the damage he did that day by placing that little shred of doubt in my mind has changed that relationship in ways it hasn’t recovered from. In that moment, my already damaged, defensive and panicked mind didn’t know who or what to believe. So, I looked for another option to remove myself from the situation.

The fighting continued and just kept escalating.

My Godfather offered to put me up in a hotel to get one of us out of the house. Motel 6 is always pet friendly, so I could take the dog with me. I was packing a bag to leave when Peter suggested that maybe he should go to the hotel instead. Leave me at home, where I was comfortable, had access to all my “coping mechanisms.” Meaning I could drink and smoke pot. Such a noble man. However, the concept appealed to me. I just wanted physical distance.

Since Peter had been out of work for nearly two months at his point, this meant my family paying for the hotel. When we went to get him a room he wanted a hotel at the beach instead of the slightly cheaper motel 6 in town. He said he didn’t want to be in an area of town where there were drugs and hookers. My Godfather refused, “I’m not paying for a beach stay holiday weekend for your boyfriend. I’m trying to avoid you ending up in a mental hospital.”

We went in circles, we fought, and my grasp on my mental state got worse and worse. I lost time, I lost track of conversations, I couldn’t make any choices, I was in a state of emotional paralysis; I didn’t know what to do. I kept calling my friends and family for help and advice.

As your reading this, you might be inclined to chalk my lack of memory up to the fact that I was drinking or smoking pot. But I wasn’t. I had woken up that morning with the intention of going somewhere else. Knowing I would need to drive myself somewhere, I wasn’t under the influence of anything. I was dissassociating. Which was making it hard for me to keep track of conversations and even harder for me to make decisions. When someone with Dissociative Identify Disorder is in a non cooperative dissociative state, there is an internal struggle for control. Different parts of my brain wanted different things. So the plan kept changing depending on which part of my brain was in the driver’s seat.

What I remember next is sitting at the kitchen table, sobbing so hard I couldn’t breathe, my hands were shaking, my legs were trembling. I had only been this upset, this emotionally twisted up inside one other time in my entire adult life. During an argument with my Mother where she lied to me and told me my Father had a heart attack and hung up on me when I tried to disengage from the argument. I wouldn’t give her the confrontation she was seeking. “I’m not going to argue with you like this. You are acting like a child. When you’re ready to act like an adult and have a conversation instead of an argument, you can call me back.” I had hung up the phone after that.

Typical of how my mother and I argued, even over long distances, she kept trying to call back. After the phone had rung a dozen times with me picking it up and hanging up, I worried she was going to wake up my sleeping husband. I finally answered, “I’m not going to do this right now.” “Well, your father just had a heart attack. How about that,” she informed me, before hanging up.  The power was in her court now. I called back to try to check on my father, she hung up. I tried to call back a dozen times, she kept hanging up on me, just like I had done to her. Retaliation. She finally called back a few minutes later, wanting to fight some more, wanting to re-engage, rolling right back into the conversation. “Where is Dad? Is he okay?” I asked in a state of panic. That was all that mattered to me. “Your Dad is just fine, I just wanted to get your attention.”

That was the last time my Mother and I ever fought like that; At least until I was back in a house with her and her sister when my father was passing away. My husband had woken up and had seen me in the same state I was in that now; sitting there, trembling, sobbing, unable to cope. He had taken the phone away from me and told my Mother very clearly that he wouldn’t allow that sort of fighting to take place in his house. That maybe this had been normal for us my entire life, but it wasn’t going to be normal anymore.

I grew up dealing with this sort of arguing. This was the sort of thing that made me run away from home as teenager. This was the sort of thing I had been fighting to get away from my entire life. This was exactly why I had told Peter if the arguing and fighting didn’t end I was going to have to leave. Because, since this is the sort of verbal and emotional abuse I went through with my mother as a child, it is literally the one thing I can’t do in a relationship.

I was talking to my friend on the phone, trying unsuccessfully to calm down. Peter kept interceding in the conversation. My brain couldn’t function. Everything was on overdrive. More than anything I needed him to leave me alone. I needed him to stop talking to me and let the panic and chaos that was going on in my mind settle.

I don’t recall what was said, what triggered it; I was literally in the middle of an emotional breakdown. All I remember is holding my head in my hands and sobbing. Suddenly, my friend hung up on me. He called Peter’s cell phone instead and from the other side of the phone I heard “If you don’t leave her alone. If you don’t stop engaging her, I will get in my car, I will drive there, and I will kick your f*$#@&! ass.”

Peter left the house. My friend told me very clearly “Pandora you need to leave, this isn’t healthy, you need to get out of the house.” I told him that I didn’t know where to go. “What about Clark? You’ve maintained a friendship, right?” I nodded my head even though he couldn’t see it over the phone. “Yes, maybe. I can call Clark and ask.” Superman.

I didn’t really have to call and ask. I already knew what he would say.

When Clark answered the phone all he heard was my sobbing and trying to breathe. “Are you okay?” Somehow, I managed a “No,” through all the tears. He asked me what I needed. I told him I needed a place for the dog and I to go. He asked me if I was okay to drive. I told him I didn’t have a choice. “Alright, call me when you get on the road. It will be okay. You’re going to be okay. It’s about a three-and-a-half-hour drive. But I’ll be waiting up for you.”

I called my friend back and let him know that I was heading to Clark’s house. He gently and patiently walked me through packing up what I needed. “Pandora, stop worrying about things you don’t need. Grab your clothes, get the dog, Clark will have anything important at his place. I need you to get in the car and drive away.”

I’m not sure how I managed that drive. I talked to my friend, Clark, my Godfather and my Aunt during the entire four-hour adventure. When I finally got to Clark’s it was nearly 4am. I knocked on the door, an overnight bag in one hand, my dog in his kennel in the other. He opened the door, waited until I had sat down my things and then wrapped his arms around me and hugged me while I cried.

Stay tuned for Sex Love and Obesity Part 20 – When Anger Turns To FearDSSPostSig

Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is an ISSA Certified Personal Trainer and Cooper Institute Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies. Her training and coaching services are offered exclusively through GoGirl Fitness Studio.
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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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