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NKOTB Inspires my Body Confidence

So there I was dancing around the room naked in front of the mirror. For someone who struggles with body image issues after massive weight loss, being able to do that without stopping to find a flaw and pick at something you don’t like about yourself? That is quite a non-scale victory moment in and of itself. I had to stop and double-check and make sure that the blinds were drawn and that nobody could see me rocking out to one of my favorite NKTOB songs as it started playing while I was put on lotion.

I was feeling like I was a sixteen year old girl, standing in front of the mirror naked dancing around like I was on stage with the five boys that owned my heart. Yeah roll your eyes, I was indeed a first generation block head. And no, I was not using my hair brush like a microphone. It was my lotion bottle. Don’t judge.

For months I have been trying to find the extra cash to buy tickets to their upcoming concert in Charlotte, NC. (The closest venue they are playing to where I live) Even after what happened when my best friend and I went to their meet and greet. And with everything else that suddenly came up my suddenly in my life. Well, it just didn’t happen. I probably could have afforded tickets if anyone that I knew was actually as big of a fan as I am. Then I could just buy one ticket but when I’d also pay for the privilege of making someone else go with me, that’s definitely not in the post bankruptcy Pandora budget.NKOTBGroupShotWeb

Several months ago, I had the money and could have bought the tickets. But I wavered back and forth, trying to decide if I really wanted to go after my best friend got slighted and disappointed when we attended the Dallas show of their last tour with meet and greet tickets.

I danced around my room sans my clothing last night grooving to not only one, but three of their songs as they came on back to back. I realized how good I felt in that moment. I realized that I had made a mistake. I should have bought the tickets and I really shouldn’t have based my relationship with the band on how someone else felt. Even if that someone was my very best friend.

I make a point out of fighting weight bias and fighting weight stigma and since my friend felt that perhaps she had been slighted by her weight I wanted to rescue her and make her feel better. But there is something else that I have learned in the last year or two since that concert: sometimes we create that bias and stigma ourselves.

See me? I’m the walking billboard. It’s hard being the big girl in the crowd. It’s even harder being the big girl in the crowd when your now skinny friend who lacks the ability to know how not to sparkle comes up with a plan to try to get someone’s attention. While I believe that Tora was entitled to her feelings–they are real and valid and  I wish that she never had to feel them–I also came to my own conclusion that it might have had a lot more to do with us and our actions (or lack thereof and personal sensitivity to the subject) and a lot less to do with the band members.

But my question of do I go or not? Can I go after telling everyone that I was upset my friend was so disappointed and felt it was related to her size? Can I support a band that had even a small part of someone I care about feeling that way? Will she be angry at me if I do go? [ See Related Article ]

dsc_2264-1All these questions made me hesitate and second guess myself, and in the end I decided to take the money that I would have spent on the concert tickets and buy myself something really nice at the Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend event I was attending. So I bought myself the 2015 Dooney and Bourke limited edition Tinker Bell Half Marathon Weekend purse. I heart it. I heart it much.

The purse is lovely, but as I danced around my room like a teenager getting my heart rate going, I remembered something my father taught me. Sometimes you have to focus on how people treat YOU.  My experience at that meet and greet was absolutely amazing. If you had told sixteen year old me that someday I’d get to meet, hug and talk to each member of New Kids On The Block I would have signed any sort of pledge you asked me for. I’m talking obsessive-teenager-I-owned-all-the-merchandise-fan here, guys. As a young lady meeting them was one of my biggest dreams. As an adult it was still of the top 5 items on my bucket list.

Each one of them was amazing. They were kind and complementary.  Jordan Knight made my century when he rubbed the back of my head not once but twice! Donnie Wahlberg paid me the best comment I’ve ever gotten by someone who doesn’t really know me personally regarding my weight loss when he told me that he wanted to hug me but more than half of me was already gone.

And that moment when Jordan Knight crossed a crowded room to head toward the stage and made a point to walk over to where I was, give me another hug and rub the back of my head that second time, well let’s just say my heart still drops when I think about my hands on his waist and his on the back of my head. In fact, my heart just skipped a beat. Yes, that really did happen. I have it on video. I kid you not.photo-3

I’ve had a really rough few months financially. Things went downhill really fast in the beginning of the year when I was trying to juggle taking care of myself and assisting in financially taking care of about five other people. My family in Oregon. My roommate and though not nearly as much as I once had too, my mother. I’m just learning the income flow patterns of the fitness industry. I’m in the second year of a new career and I’m trying to recover from the 6 digits of debt that 3-4 years of focusing on weight loss and reconstructive surgery cost me. I just started drowning fast when trying to stand on my own two feet for the first time ever while still having so many people who need my help.

The good news. I am standing on my own two feet for the first time ever.  Even though I did have to declare bankruptcy, I haven’t fallen flat on my face, and that is a better financial me than I have been since I left home at sixteen. I can do this. I just can’t afford the little extras like getting my nails done, concert tickets, traveling for weight loss conventions and flying all over the country to run half marathons anymore. There are no more credit cards that I can use with the best of intentions to pay it back later. Shopping wasn’t really my transfer addiction. Experiencing life was. That’s how I explain it to my closest friends.

I’ve learned a good lessons out of this. Lessons are experiences points I accumulate. Learning them allows me to make better decisions next time.  Next time I know what not to do in order to ensure that I get a more positive outcome.

Last night’s lesson was a special one. Last night I remembered that even in times when I feel like the struggle is too hard and road ahead is too long. There are five men out there whose voices can make me stop what I am doing while they are signing. Listening to their music motivates me and gives me a sense of self and a sense of strength that though it is inside of me I can’t always dial into.

IMG00014When I was a lonely, overweight and sad teenager they helped inspire me to dance around and pretend that someday a boy like them would love me. [ See Related Article ] When I was a 30 something adult suffering from morbid obesity at 420lb. they helped inspire me to move. My first form of exercise was slowly walking around my neighborhood listening to their reunion album The Block. Now that I am approaching my forties as a healthier me who struggles with body image issues, they are the musical source that touches me deep enough that I can spend twenty minutes in front of the mirror dancing around naked without once stopping to find some excess skin I don’t like and tugging on it to see if it tightens up an area of my body that I am insecure about.  I can waste hours of my day off doing this to myself if I allow it. True story.

I’m not perfect. I don’t always make the right decisions. I should have bought the tickets instead of the Tinker Bell purse. But live and learn. Maybe next time instead of wishing I had bought nose bleed tickets I’ll be making better financial decisions and buying a front row bar seat so I can remind those 5 men who I am. I’ll see if I can get Jordan Knight to rub my head again and who knows, throw my bra onstage or something. Dream big. I am not lying. I would do this. I’d likely do many things that someone out there somewhere is likely to disprove of.  Freebie List. You understand.

Today however,  I’m a little pouty. So I’ll allow myself to pout for a moment. I can’t afford $200 for decent tickets for two. OK. I’m done. Now instead of pouting  I’ll throw on a NKOTB play list that includes all my favorites songs. I’m talking from the days of Jones Beach 1988 all the way to The Remix. I will enjoy knowing that I’ve had the opportunity to meet them and that nothing has changed in my relationship with them in the last twenty-seven years. They still touch my heart and some other parts of me, with their music.

And… Jordan Knight rubbed my head. Twice! Plus long after the concert is over I will have that gorgeous Tinker Bell Bag around my neck. So there is that.

It’s all about appreciating the experiences you’ve had, being grateful for what you’ve got and finding the joy in the lesson that life is teaching you.

And now, I’m going to go dance around naked to “Block Party” which is the song that inspired my fitness career.

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Ten Things to Do When You’ve Got the Body Image Blues

20140511_172453B“I wish you could see yourself through my eyes.”

That’s what someone said to me the other night while I was out and comparing myself to each and every woman in the room and felt like I didn’t measure up. Did you know that often times those mirror shot selfies you see me take are because it helps me see myself a little thinner when I look at a picture of my reflection instead of my reflection itself? Tricks of the body image trade right there folks.  There is a ton of them you don’t see me post, like the ones featured in this article, because I saw some flaw in myself I didn’t want to share with the world.

When I was a teenager I used to babysit for a couple that for one reason or another in my mind were the paradigm of what life should be like. When I imagined myself in my forties they were what I envisioned life would be like. She was beautiful, not exceptionally thin; she had curves and long curly blond hair which is what to this day I still find most attractive when looking at other women.

In their home above their bed there was a photo of her that was taken on her thirty-eighth birthday. Her husband Chris had it taken by a friend of theirs that was a photographer because he knew that she was struggling with the fact that she was getting close to forty and he wanted her to see how beautiful she was and let her know that no matter where they went in life, that time of their lives was a moment he felt she was more beautiful than ever and was how he would always see her.

She was nude in the photo, positioned just right to cover anything that would be crass and allow for the portrait to be artistic, and when the print had come in, he had it framed and hung it above their bed. The first time I babysat for them and saw the photo Diane had told me the story behind and Chris, the type of guy that makes a joke out of everything said “When the print came in I framed it and hung it right away, that way every day when she gets ready she knows how beautiful she is and that way, every day when I get ready, I get to see her naked.”

20140511_172453I’ve always wanted someone to love me like that.  I’ve always wanted someone to want me like that. I always thought when I lost weight that sort of thing would come easy. I always thought that if I lost weight people would be hitting on me constantly, flirting with me all the time, and that someone would want me with sort that kind of sexual hunger.

I’ve struggled with body image issues a lot after my weight loss. I’ve gone through four rounds of serious reconstructive plastic surgery as well as one small procedure and two not so evasive procedures in an effort to get my body to a place where I’m happy with it. After all of that, to this day, setbacks in this area are an easy pitfall for me. I have to tread very carefully.

Let me share a little secret with you Slender Seekers, not feeling loved, and always feeling like I wasn’t good enough were the very issues that drove me to wanting someone to want me. Then when that didn’t work, and those I wanted to want me like that threw me away, those emotions lead me to relationships with food instead of human beings.

We all have demons that we deal with. We all have a past that we cope with. Very few of us are free from “issues” some of us just deal with them in healthier ways than others.  That is one of key’s to keeping the weight off. You have to recognize the real issues and address them before they lead you to unhealthy behaviors.

I own my body image issues every day. I know they are there, and almost every day I have to chase off that little voice inside me that taunts me with negative thoughts. I have to remind myself that I am loved, that I do good things, that I am a good person, that I help people, that I have accomplished some amazing goals. I have to stand in front of the mirror and combat those negative thoughts with positive affirmations so that I don’t let myself drag me down into those dark crevices of insecurity.

For those of you who have days like me; Day where my body image issues start to really wear on me, I have an arsenal of things I do to make myself feel better and I’m going to share some of them with you.


 

  1. Do something for yourself that makes you feel pretty. – Whether it’s a manicure and pedicure, a haircut, getting your eyebrows shaped or even a spa day at home with a mud mask and some cucumbers or that recipe for an all-natural hair conditioner, take them time to do something that makes you feel pretty.

  2. Step away from the pain. – Whatever the source, whether it’s the mirror or the scale or someone who tends to fuel your emotions; walk away.  If you’re having one of those days where you’re spending time standing in front of the mirror analyzing every little thing wrong with your body, go spend that time doing something else rather than fueling the negative emotions that you’re experiencing. Spending more time in front of the mirror or the scale isn’t going to help, nothing is going to suddenly change and make you feel better, so go find something to do that might.

  3. Recall where you came from. – Sometimes this means going back and looking at a picture of myself before I lost the weight, sometimes it’s going back and looking at photos of before my reconstructive surgeries. Sometimes it’s going back and looking at my old run times. But it helps me appreciate where I am and what I have a lot more when I go back and remind myself where I was. Sometimes I’ll snap a new photo and put together a new before and after photo to really send that message home.

  4. Think about who you are. – What do you do? What are you passionate about? What do you love? What motivates you? Think about these things and give yourself self some credit for who you are. When we think about it, most of us want to be loved for who we are, not what we look like.

  5. Work on a project. – Surely there is something you’ve wanted to do? Refocus on something you’ve been wanting, Clean off the patio to make room for some summer sunbathing, put together a scrapbook, bust out the knitting needles and get started on a new scarf with your favorite colors in it. Work on something that you’ve wanted to do for yourself and haven’t gotten around too yet.

  6. Get Moving – Whether you walk, jog, run, swim, bike, movement and momentum motivates us. Do something that moves your body and just enjoy the motion of going forward. It’s amazing how just moving in a forward direction instead of standing still and wallowing in an unpleasant place can help get you back on track.

  7. Do that thing you want someone else to do for you. – If you’re anything like me you’ve got a list of things you wish a certain someone would think about doing for you. Whether you wish they’d bring home a dozen roses or you wish they’d find a photographer to take a half-naked picture of you to hang in the bedroom, stop waiting on them and do it for yourself.

  8. Make a Bucket List, Wish List or To Do List – Don’t stand in front of the mirror making a mental list of everything you wish you could fix about yourself. Instead, go make a real list of all the things you want to do now that you’ve lost weight. Make a wish list of things you’d buy for yourself today if you had an extra $50-$100 lying around.  Make a “to do” list of things you really want to get done around the house. If you’re going to make lists, make them ones that are going to be fun and productive not depressing and self-sabotaging.  You’ll have a go to list of things that just might help improve your mood next time you end up in a bad emotional space as a bonus.

  9. Get Outdoors – I’m not sure what it is about being outside, but whenever I am having a rough day being outdoors helps. Even if I’m stuck at home waiting on the repair man to come fix the air conditioner. Making a cup of hot tea or a glass of lemonade and spending some time sitting on the deck just seems to make things better. Even a quick drive to the market for some fresh lemons with the windows down seems to help improve my state of mind.

  10. Pay it Forward – Guess what, you’re probably not the only one you know that struggles with body image issues or gets self-conscious.  If you’re having a rough day someone else might be too, so why not spend a little time helping someone else get through their rough day. Find a song that lifts you up that you can post on Facebook, pick a flower and give it to someone to remind them that they are beautiful. The things I do for others always helps me feel better.


 

Of course I wouldn’t be a very good Weight Loss or Wellness Coach if I didn’t remind you that exercise is a great stress relief, very rarely do I still feel out of shape and overweight after a good workout and even  if I do, the workout has made me feel like I am working on my goals about it.

So many women suffer from body image issues. It’s not just those of us that are effective by obesity or lost massive amounts of weight or had huge weight loss transformations, its women in general; you’d be shocked at some of the beautiful women you know who have struggled with their body image from years. I think it’s important to know that you are not alone in this struggle.

For those of you that have friends like I do, that care about what you are going through and really wish that you could see yourself through their eyes, do yourself a favor, give them a package of post it notes and a pen and ask them to write down some things about how they see you. Stick those notes on the sides of your mirror and remind yourself when you are looking into it to not to be your own worst enemy or your own worst critic. Use them as a reminder to be kind to yourself and to treat yourself the way you want others to treat you. You deserve it.

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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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