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Suivez-moi à Paris pour mon prochain demi-marathon

FullSizeRender25 years ago I had the opportunity to go to Paris. 

I had taken several years of French classes at the high school level and two of my favorite teachers were leading a group of their students on a 14 day educational trip to France.

Traveling internationally was something my Father dreamed of doing but other than the travel that his service in the war afforded him he never really had the opportunity to do that. Having five kids from his first marriage and a wife and new baby to take care of when he started life over at fifty sort of ensured that he always worked hard and provided for us instead.

But providing for us and making sure we had the opportunities he wanted us to have made him happy. My Father was that type of man.

So as a teenager I packed my bags, got on a plane and I went to France. I spent two weeks traveling around different parts of France and seeing different things.

I went to Versailles, a royal chateau in the Ile-de-France region of France. I went to the Louvre. I saw the Mona Lisa. I visited the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame and the Arc de Triomphe. I walked around Montmartre and took pictures at the base of Sacre Coeur. I visited the Champs-Elysées and the Musee d’Orsay. I saw Napoleon’s Tomb and I visited the Centre Pompidou. I did all things touristy and educational.

I was an overweight teenager. I struggled to keep up with the crowd. 

Everywhere we went my feet hurt and I found it hard to keep up. But the opportunity to go to France, to experience another country and to travel internationally was an opportunity that a lot of people would never get. One I should savor every moment of and grab memories that I would hang on to for the rest of my life. My Dad had taught me that. So I spent my two weeks taking in every little detail I could. Taking as many photos as possible and collecting as many memories as I could.

I’ve never had the opportunity to travel out of the county again. Travel is so expensive and when you are starting life over after weight loss in your late 30’s, jumping on a plane to travel the world just really isn’t in the cards. There is adulting to do and bills to pay.

But recently the opportunity to do just that fell in my lap. When RunDisney announced the Inaugural Paris Half Marathon in Disneyland Paris (which by the way was originally Euro Disneyland and opened in April of 1992 while I was in France) I silently rued that I wouldn’t be able to do it. RunDisney events are already so expensive, but doing one in Paris France was out of the question.

Until BariLife came along and my friends came along.

It just so happened that I had a good friend and fellow RunDisney fanatic that was going to the event to earn the first ever “Coast to Chateau” medal. The medal is a commemoration of the achievement of completing a half marathon in either Walt Disney World or Disneyland and completing the half marathon in Disneyland Paris. Jess, a friend that I am blessed to have thanks to my attendance of the OAC (Obesity Action Coalition) Conventions, offered me a place to stay if I could get myself to Paris.

But getting to Paris is no cheap feat. You’ve got outrageous airfare to get there, not to mention luggage fees, passport fees and the cost of the race registration itself. Even with Jess’s help, this opportunity wasn’t in the cards for me.

But when Derek and Guinn over at BariLife approached me about writing some guest blogs for the BariLife website a light bulb went off in my head. When I talked to Guinn about this adventure at the WLSFA event in Nashville this year I told her how much it would mean to me and how important it would be to my Father that if this was a possibility for me. Knowing it would be important to my Father made it really important to me.

A couple of months later we were solidifying plans, purchasing airline tickets, scheduling guest blogs and I was standing at the passport office turning in my passport application.

Thanks to a wonderful opportunity presented to me from BariLife in a partnership to write guest blogs for them in return for a sponsorship to the Inaugural RunDisney Disney Paris Half Marathon I am about to take my running adventures international.

It’s been a few minutes… or I should say months since the last time I wrote a blog. Since May when this all started to come together life has been a series of events that tends to keep me going for twelve to thirteen hours a day and makes finding the time to write blogs a bit more difficult.

But the guest blogs for BariLife have started and you can read the first several in the series over on their website.

paris_training_PDF copy

Pandora Goes to Paris!

Despite what life has been throwing at me I have still managed to get all of my training runs in. I am currently in week 7 of my 13 week to Paris Training Schedule and I have a 10 mile long run on the agenda next week.

When I first wrote this blog for you 7 weeks ago, I was just about to design that training schedule and promise you that…

You can be expecting to hear lots from me as I develop what will be my training program from the RunDisney Disneyland Paris Half Marathon event and document how things are going along the way. This entire adventure has me super excited and eager to share the whole thing with you.

Sometimes the daily grind of life can start to make it feel like there isn’t much new to write about. I work two jobs, workout, spend time with my partner in crime and my dog and then get up and do it all over again. But now I have an exciting new adventure to share with you and it motivates me to write more because I actually feel like I have something out of the ordinary to share with you again.

Maybe the Universe heard me talking about how ordinary life was starting to get and decided to spice it up for me. I am a firm believer in you get what you asked for in mysterious ways. The last 7 weeks of my life have been far from boring. But that is a whole different blog and one I need a few more hours to write and currently I just don’t have those sort of hours in the day.

Currently I am getting ready to attend the #YWM2016 National Convention in Washington DC in a couple of weeks, spending my day working two jobs, walking the dog in between, training for Paris and writing for BariLife. All in all, even with everything that is going on, other than my time in a check stand to make extra money, I am still doing things I love throughout most of my day.

If you are attending the #YWM2016 National Convention there are a few places you can expect to find me if you want to get your fit on with me. I will be attending the morning walk on Saturday morning and running a 5k as part of my Paris training schedule and as a way to celebrate my birthday. I heard that Jeff Newell over at has a few birthday celebration medals to give out to people who come out to celebrate with us. So if you like bling join me out there with the walk/run organizers Saturday morning at 6:30am and wish me a happy birthday by getting your fit on with us and take home a medal as a souvenir.

You can also find me doing the Guided Fitness Coaching in the Gaylord National Gym exercise session at 5:30pm on Saturday night.

Make sure you stop by the BariLife booth at the convention. Say hello and tell them that you are following Pandora to Paris! I am sure you will find me hanging out there as well.

But if I don’t see you in Washington DC, you’ll find me here writing when I can and sharing life after weight loss with you.

Until next time. Be good to yourself. Follow your dreams and go get your fit on.


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.

Please Support My Sponsor! Visit the BariLife Website for all your Post Operative WLS Protein and Vitamin Needs!

A Marathon of Half Marathons

image1I have my clients keep “Celebrations and Confessions” journals. This is a journal where they write down some of the things that they feel that they need to confess as they go through their weight loss journeys. It’s a safe place that they can get it out, let it go and move on without beating themselves up to much over it and in the process of doing so, cause themselves to fall into the vicious cycle of feeding feelings and emotional eating.  It is also a place where they write down the things that they are proud of and the things that they want to celebrate in their journeys. 

Sometimes the only way someone else knows we want them to acknowledge and celebrate an accomplishment with us is if we make the effort to make them aware of what the accomplishment is.

Today I have a really BIG accomplishment I would like to share with you all and ask you all to celebrate with me.

IMG_5869Three weeks ago I ran the Star Wars The Dark Side half marathon with my partner-in-crime Jeff Newell. It was Jeff’s first timed and chipped half marathon and that was a really big accomplishment for him and that is what the majority of my focus was on. 

But it was a really special accomplishment for me as well. It was my 26th half marathon.

26 half marathons. A full marathon is 26.2 miles. I know this real well because I just ran my first full marathon last January when I took on the Dopey Challenge and managed not to die after 4 days of getting up early and running far too many miles each day. So 26 half marathons is quite literally a marathon of half marathons. That is quite a feat.

Pandora420lbIf you had told 420 pound me who could hardly stand in the kitchen and cook a meal without experiencing foot and back pain that just 6 years in the future I would be celebrating an accomplishment like this I would have wondered what sort of drugs you had been taking and why you weren’t sharing it, because obviously that was some pretty good stuff.

I look back at photos of that girl and I scarcely recognize her or the lifestyle that I was living back then. 

I think back to that moment that my Dad came to me and told me that he would love me no matter what, but that I was digging a grave with a fork and a spoon and that he was worried I wouldn’t live a happy and healthy life.

I started running as a coping mechanism of dealing with the loss and grief that I experienced when my Dad passed away. Running has been my way of staying emotionally connected to him even though he can’t be here with me anymore. When I run I talk to him, I share what is going on in my life with him and I always know that he is listening to me.

26 is just a number. But it is a number that has held a lot of symbolism for me in my life and in my weight loss journey. My father was born in 1926. It has always been one of my favorite years. When I had lost 260 lb. I got 26 stars tattooed on my back – one for every 10 lb. I had lost. The number 26 has great significance to me. 

13173693_10206671781488519_7014395854559789663_nI looked up my split times for this latest half marathon the other night and my fastest mile was mile 11 – my dreaded mile. Mile 11-12 is usually the one I struggle on the most. But in this last event I ran that mile in 10:01— Who ever would have thought this girl would be running a 10 minute mile. That astounds me.  I remember a day only 6 years ago that I couldn’t even walk a 30 minute mile.

I am amazed each day at the difference in my life the moment I started living it outside the confines of obesity. For the first time in my life I am experiencing life, love and happiness without having to try to change myself or who I am to feel like I earned it. I am just being me and enjoying every moment.  

Since Star Wars I have run the Myrtle Beach Diva and the Tinker Bell Half Marathon and now have 28 Half Marathons on the books and I am currently trying to decide what my next goal is going to be,

But for today, I am Nashville bound to speak and teach an exercise session at this years the WLSFA ( Weight Loss Surgery Foundation of America ) Annual Meet and Greet. — Now if only I can find the time to go to the Johnny Cash Museum while I am there.

Until next time, remember that celebrating your wins against obesity and sharing your story and giving yourself credit for your  successes can be very important part of your weight loss journey.

See you all in Nashville. Yeehaw!


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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BariLife has decided to send me back to Paris to represent the WLS Community as I attempt to find my love of running again.
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