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Running Post RNY

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!


Transformation: Emotional Running

Four months ago, after a yearlong hiatus I decided it was time to take back my run.

Prior to my break, running had been therapeutic for me. It had been my means of emotionally escaping the world when I didn’t want to deal with whatever was going on in it.

Running had been where I found comfort when trying to deal with the grief of losing my father. It was where I found peace and serenity when my world was in chaos. I’d love to tell you that over the last 4 months I have found my love of running again.

But, that wouldn’t be honest.

The truth is, running hasn’t been the same for me; I’ve had to do a little soul-searching to figure out why.

I started running back in 2011 when my Father passed away. Back then running was amazing to me. I loved every moment I was out there. When I was running, I felt connected to my father emotionally. I felt like it was time that I spent with him, even though he wasn’t with me anymore.

It stayed that way for several years. Back then I ran three to five miles on a run. It was my hour of cardio each day. In 2013 I ran my first half marathon, and I got addicted to the bling. I learned that I loved medals. They were this neat little trophy that I got to hang on my wall and see my accomplishment. It made me feel good about myself.

In 2013 I ran four half marathons. They were spaced out between February, June, October and December. The time in between them running still held all it’s beauty and glory for me. I used my time running to escape troubled marriage. I used it as time alone to figure out the answers to life, the universe and everything. What happened next? Where was I going? What was I doing?

In 2014 I ran four half marathons. I earned my first Run Disney Coast to Coast medal doing the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in January and the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November. I ran a couple local half marathons in between just to make sure that I kept my endurance up. Running was just something fun I did for me back then.

2015 started the same. I was running for fun and for bling. I loved the medals so much that I started running local half marathons that had cool medals just to bring them home. Somewhere between May and August of 2015 I decided that I wanted to take on something bigger than a half marathon.

I decided to do the Dopey Challenge. This event required that I build up the stamina and endurance to run for 4 days in a row; A 5k on day one. A 10k on day two. A half marathon on day three. A full marathon on day 4. Training for this event and building up to that kind of distance meant I racked up some half marathons along the way. Six in fact. In 2015 I ended up running a total of 10 half marathons and in January of 2016 I completed the Dopey Challenge.

This was my best year of running. I was so proud of myself, I felt so accomplished. I never wanted to do it again, but completing a full marathon was a bucket list item of mine and it’s an experience I still look back on with smile.

I struggled with overuse injuries during my training.

I knew that running 10 half marathons in a year to reach my goal had been hard on my body. I had achilles tendonitis in both ankles. My doctors told me I should slow down and stop running as much. But, I didn’t listen. Running was how I dealt with emotions. It was one of my major coping mechanisms.

I was in the middle of some big life transitions and running was how I was dealing with it. I started running half marathons almost every other weekend. Two in January two in February, three in March, three in April, two in May.

In May of 2016 my work situation changed, and I didn’t have all the free time I once had. I was working two jobs and juggling a new relationship. My new relationship was very time demanding, and I had far less free time than I was used to working two jobs, so for a few months, I put running on the back burner.

I started running again in July, when the anniversary grief of my fathers passing rolled around and then when the relationship I was in started spiraling into epic failure, I started running to escape it again. I went right back to running two half marathons a month for September, October and November. As the relationship improved again, I backed off a little, went back to running about one half marathon a month. By the time I was done I had run 18 half marathons in 2016.

I followed the same pattern in the beginning of 2017, averaging one half marathon a month until I hit the point in May that I stopped running altogether.

I have this tendency to do everything to excess. It doesn’t really matter what it is. Work, writing, playing games, putting together puzzles, sex, drinking, eating; Whatever is making me feel good, whatever is making me happy, I want that thing in epic volumes.

This is a behavior I have been working on changing in the past year.

I’ve been focused on trying to find balance in things. To appreciate things in smaller amounts the way I learned to appreciate food in smaller amounts after my weight loss surgery. I’ve been focused on being more reflective; On looking at what I am doing and making sure that I am doing it for the right reasons.

In this last 4 months of trying to take back my run and trying to find the love of running again, I’ve noticed a few things.

I really enjoy those three to five-mile runs. I’m out there, I’m happy. The sun is hitting my skin, I am taking in mother nature and I feel that emotional connection to my father again. But, those long runs, 8 miles, 9 miles, 10 miles, 11 miles. I’m pushing myself to go the distance, wondering why I am doing it.

Additionally, those long runs take a long time. I find myself feeling guilty about the time I am spending on myself when I have so many work and career related things I should be doing.

I’ve also noticed, that when I am not using running to escape life, I don’t seem to need those long runs the way I used to. There used to be a time that when I ran six or seven miles I still felt like I had emotions to work through and the longer I was out there running the longer I had to process and work through those emotions.

Now that I am in a better place in my life, I’m finding that I just don’t need running the way I once did. This was a huge transformation in what running has been for me. But this is also the first time in the history of my running career that there is nothing I am using running to get away from.

But I still love the medals. The bling. For me, the medal is the reward part of my SMART goal setting process. It’s what I get for accomplishing my goal, putting in the training and holding myself accountable.

This had me in a little bit of a conundrum.

Typically, you only get cool medals for half marathons. Yet, I don’t want to be running a half marathon every other weekend, or even every month. But here at the end of my training for the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon Weekend, I’ve discovered something new. Virtual Runs with large-scale accumulated distances. I’m considering doing a lot more of these sort of little run challenges to keep earning those medals that I love so much and going back to only running about 4 half marathons a year.

I’ve changed. How I feel about running has changed. That’s not really a bad thing, it’s transformation. It’s where I am in my weight loss, weight maintenance and fitness journey today.

I’m not feeling that whole “I just felt like running,” need to run until whatever hurt inside me starts to go away emotional need to run. I’m not feeling that “Run Pandora, Run,” need to Forest Gump my emotions through miles and miles of running.

You’ll noticed I said “considering” though. I haven’t set anything down in stone. Part of me is also wondering if my lack of enthusiasm for those long runs has more to do with the fact that I am just getting back to those long distances and they are harder than they used to be.

I’ve also considered that I’ve been training in high heat and humidity. It’s not really running season yet. As the weather starts to change and fall comes, how I feel about running might change.

No matter what happens next in my run journey, I am happy to be running again. I’m grateful to the good folks at BariLife who put the opportunity to return to Paris and redo my dream half marathon again. Training for this half marathon has brought running back into my life and helped me start looking at how I am going to reincorporate it into my world on a regular basis.


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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