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Life after Weight Loss

Taking Back More Than My Run

Six months ago, in the beginning of April I told you that I was breaking my silence and returning to blogging. Alongside that, in the “This is #MyBariLife” blog, I announced that thanks to the good folks over at BariLife I was going to get the opportunity to not only find my voice again, but to try to gain back something else that I had lost over the course of the last year and a half, my love of running.

Motivation is a strange thing. Different things motivate us at different times in our journey. There was a time that running was like therapy to me. It provided me an emotional connection to my father, it provided me a way to release emotions that I didn’t know how to deal with. It provided me moments of quietness and solitude that allowed me time to process my emotions and work thought them. Moments that I rarely remember to take and often underestimate the importance of.

Even on some of my worst days, I had the motivation to run.

Because any time I ran, I felt better. But, then that changed. The time, money and solitude that running provided me became the source of drama and confrontation in the relationship that I was in, and slowly, because I started associating negative things with running, I became less motivated to do it.

When BariLife came along and offered to give me a redo by allowing me to go back to Paris and gave me a second opportunity to participate in the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend event, I found that some of that motivation again.

As I said motivation is strange. It changes. This wasn’t the same motivation I once had. I wasn’t really motivated to run. I was motivated to try to find my motivation again. I was empowered by the opportunity to go on an adventure where I could try to find what I had lost.

I was inspired by the fact that I had the opportunity to travel to a different country and run a half marathon there instead of just running some local event in town.

I found inspiration and hope in the fact that I had a chance to redo an experience that hadn’t turned out quite the way I wanted it to the first time.

I felt driven and compelled by the fact that I had the opportunity to share this adventure with all of you. I was moved by the fact that sharing this adventure might help inspire others.

Motivation is a constant internal conversation with yourself.

I’ll talk about that more in my upcoming race re-cap. The little conversations you have in your head when you must convince yourself to keep going even when your body is tired and you’re struggling. Those internal conversations with yourself are literally one of your most powerful self-motivating tools.

It might be the conversation you have with yourself at mile 11 when you’ve hit a wall and you’ve got to push to finish. It might be the dialogue you have with yourself a 6am when you don’t want to be awake, you don’t really want to go for that training run and you must talk yourself into doing it and remind yourself of why your there.

The way you speak to yourself, the conversations you have with yourself during your training and during your runs, are important. These moments, where you are the only one that can say the thing you need to hear to help yourself keep pushing are the times when you must be your own biggest fan.

Those conversations my friends, that is the stuff that motivation is made of.

I have learned something through this return to running that I want to share with you. I had lost my motivation to run because it had lost so much of the positivity that it once had in my life. But, I allowed that. I allowed negativity into my head space during my runs. I decided what I was thinking about and what I was feeling. I decided what conversations I was having internally when I ran.

Motivation has two i’s in it.

I’ve learned that when it comes to running and my own personal motivation to do it, I must own those two i’s.  I must remember that this is something I want to do and that I am the one who controls my experience. Those are my i’s. I want this. I control this.

If I focus on the negative things going on in my life when I am running, then I can’t blame anyone else but me for the negative things I associate with it. But, if I focus on the positive things, remind myself that this is about me, about me living the best version of #MyBariLife possible, then it can be what it once was, a time of respite from all the negativity. A time of escape where I focus on myself and what I am going to do to continue making my life after weight loss the best that it can be.

I’ve always said, tell yourself you can’t do something, and you won’t. Tell yourself you can, believe in yourself and do everything you can to achieve your goals and you won’t be saying “I can,” you’ll be saying “I did.”

At every single Disney run event I have ever done, I’ve purchased the souvenir t-shirt that says, “I did it.” Every one of those shirts has signified that I accomplished the distance.

This time was different. Every run before this, I had the passion and the love of running already inside me when I started training. When I reached the finish line, the celebration was in the fact that I had accomplished the distance or put another half marathon on the books.

I didn’t know it yet, but this was about way more than running.

As a sexual abuse survivor (see my previous blogs in which I discuss this) , I have lived a great deal of my life telling myself that I won’t allow what others did to me to be what defines me. I’ve worked very hard to make sure that the life I live is mine and that I do not give them the power of allowing their abuse to be a determining factor in how I love and in how I experience relationships and intimacy. Some days that is harder than others.

What I realized, in the last five months as I tried to take back my love of running, was that I had to apply the same survivor mentality. I had to stop letting the last year and half define the experience for me. I had to stop letting what I had gone through influence how I experienced something that should be good, healthy and positive.

It was about how I define myself. It was about how I talk to myself internally. It was about breaking out of the victim head-space I was stuck in and living the life of a survivor again.

I thought I was going to Paris to take back my run. I thought I was on a mission to experience the joy, positivity and emotional high that running had once offered me. But this was about way more than running. I was going back to Paris to take back my control. I wasn’t just looking for my love of running again. I was looking for that part of me that refused to let negativity and past experiences control my life and define who I am. I was looking for the “You can knock me down, but I get right back up,” inside me.

I’m very happy to tell you that I found myself again. I even know the exact moment it happened. I’ll tell you about that in my race recap. But I did it. I found my internal strength. I found the “I am the author of my own story. I decide how this story ends,” in myself again.

I know that for so many out there, something similar happens. You have weight loss surgery, you change your life. You make healthy lifestyle changes that work for you. You’re happy. You’ve got life by the balls. You’re thriving. Then something happens. Life smacks you right across the face. You feel wounded. You feel beaten. Right there, in that moment, it’s hard to find the inspiration to get back up. The longer it takes you, the harder it gets.

But I’m here to tell you that just like my story, yours doesn’t end there. Each one of us has that come back in us. Sometimes it is hard to find. But it is in there. Inside of you. Just like it was inside of me. Whether your bounce back is in nutrition, fitness, or emotional wellness is irrelevant. You’re stronger than what life has handed you to deal with. You can change the end of this chapter. You can write a happier ending. You are the author of your story.

Through this opportunity I found the I in my motivation again. The “I did it!” shirt and the medals from this event, mean something even more profound to me than any other’s before. I found my run in Paris just like I wanted to. But, I found it by finding myself.

Every time I see the medals and the “I did it!” shirt, I see that accomplishment. I took back #MyBariLife and I really hope the message you hear in all of this, is that no matter where you are right now, #YourBariLife is yours to do what you want with.


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!


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!


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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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