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Miles To Go – A Running Conundrum

I’ve been struggling with a big decision lately.

Six months ago I signed up for one of the biggest running challenges of my life. I decided to take on a running event that has me scheduled to run 49 miles over a four-day period.

It sounded amazing when I signed up for it. I was drawn to all the bling that I’d get for doing it. Six new medals to add to my wall for the accomplishment of running a 5k, a 10k, a Half Marathon and a Full Marathon four days back to back.

I’ve ran enough Half Marathons that they don’t scare me anymore. 

I’m pretty confident in my ability to complete them. So I set a running goal of running a Full Marathon in 2016. 2016 is a special year to me.

It’s the year that my Father would have turned 90-years-old, it’s the year that I will turn 40-years-old. My Dad was born in 1926 and I lost 260 lb. I wanted, no I still want, to run a mile for every 10 lb. that I lost.

I’m a numbers gal. The numbers all worked and made 2016 THE YEAR that I decided I wanted to run my first and only Full Marathon.

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I decided to not just take on the challenge of running a Full Marathon but decided to put three days of running in front of it and beat my body up a bit before the true big day came.

But here I am in the beginning of October, in the middle of the training program that will get me there and…

I am struggling.

My body is starting to tell me that I am overdoing it. I’ve completed 13 half marathons now. 14 if I count the first one where I walked the entire thing. Now, three years later I’m dealing with injuries that though they aren’t really caused by the running itself, are amplified by it.

I’ve got degenerative arthritis in my knees. I’m currently struggling with achilles tendonitis in my ankles.

I am seeing doctors and spending nearly 2 hours a day doing everything they tell me to so I can maintain and treat those issues so that hopefully I can push my body do what I want it to do.

Running is my therapy.

Nobody has told me not to run. Some doctors have told me to run less often and that is something that I am more than willing to do. Just as soon as I accomplish this goal of running a full marathon.

So what is the decision that I am struggling with? Because obviously I’ve already got my mind set on completing my first and only full marathon in 2016.

Here’s the thing. I have a really hard time letting go of a goal that I set for myself. Even if that goal is above and beyond what I really wanted to do in the first place.

You see, I could make this all much easier on my body. I could use the option that RunDisney has to defer my registration for the 5k, 10k, and Half Marathon portion of this event and go back to my original goal of running my first Full Marathon and not have it stacked behind three days of progressively running longer and longer distances right before I attempt to do it.

Why is that decision so hard for me to make? Truthfully, it’s hard for me because in the back of my mind there is this little voice that feels like somehow if I change my plan and alter my course and decide not to do this challenge that I signed up for I have somehow failed at achieving a goal that I set for myself.

You don’t have to tell me how wrong that little voice is.

I’m a coach, I know quite well how wrong that voice is. But that doesn’t change that it exists and that it sits there in the back of my mind taunting me and nagging me.

I’ve got that proverbial devil and angel on my shoulder right now…

The devil says…

“Hey you set this big goal and you can probably do it if you really push yourself, and just think of how great that accomplishment will feel when you are done and you managed to do something that you’re scared of right now.”

The angel says…

“Why not just stick to your original goal? Why go all bat shit crazy and make reaching that goal so much harder for yourself by making it more challenging than it needs to be?”

There is a part of me that wonders…  If I do defer the first three days of this running event and just run that original Full Marathon that I intended too, will I regret the fact that I didn’t attempt to complete the entire challenge once I cross the finish line?

I’ve never fallen short of a running goal that I have set for myself. I have never had the experience of not actually being able to complete a distance I set out to run.

Truthfully at this point I am not sure which is better for my emotional state of mind. Deciding right now to rein myself in and alter my goal to one that I know is more realistic, or to attempt to do what I set out to do and know that for the first time in my weight loss journey and running career I just might not be able to finish what I started.

This is one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.

Never let anyone tell you that once you lose your weight everything is magically fixed. The weight loss is just the beginning of your journey. There are lots of emotional and physical challenges that come up as you walk the path of weight maintenance and start to live life after weight loss. True story.


 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.

Some Days I Hate That I Don’t Feel Pretty

I’m unsure as I write if I’ll post it. I try not to put too much negative self talk out into the universe anymore.

11207285_1178583082168160_5042750784111183783_nI’ve struggled with feeling “pretty” lately.

People tell me I am pretty all the time and yet, I rarely see it unless I catch a selfie at a good angle.

My weight has been bouncing around on the scale between 159 and 165 lately. That’s awesome. 165 is my maintenance weight. Every single time I get into the 150s though this instant panic sets it for me.

I’ve started to gain more muscle again. People have started to notice. They ask me if I’ve lost weight and tell me I look great. I thank them even though my heart palpitates with fear.

You might be asking why I would be afraid to lose more weight right?

For me to achieve a “normal” body weight on a BMI scale I would have to get under 150 lb. According to a BMI chart my “ideal body weight” is somewhere between 127 -156, So really I shouldn’t be afraid of losing a few more pounds. Not that I adhere to the standards of a BMI chart. I’m from the BMI Is Bullshit Club truthfully.

My ideal body weight has to be ideal for ME.  But those are the statistics. Those are the magic numbers provided to me and I really should not be afraid to be somewhere in these numbers. Yet the idea  of being anywhere in those ranges really does sort of terrify me.

I’ll tell you why.

Last night I sat on the couch and as I put my leg up to rest on something I looked down and noticed this area behind the back of my right knee. It was that area right behind that amazing calf muscle that training for and running eleven half marathons earned me. It was a patch of loose skin. Not quite the trophy I was after.

I’ve already had four major reconstructive plastic surgeries after massive weight loss. I even had two little procedures after that to try to fix my right arm. That damn little crease in it STILL drives me insane. That was the ONE thing I wanted fixed more than anything during my last round of reconstructive surgery. It didn’t work.

I look amazing compared to my before and after photos both from a weight loss perspective and from a reconstructive plastic surgery perspective.

But I still look in the mirror each day and see spots that my body hasn’t been reconstructed that bother me. Nobody else notices them, unless I point them out. Just me.

Most days I reason myself into accepting my flaws and strive to accept the perfectly imperfect me.

Some days it’s harder than others.

I hate that noticing a new area on my body that is now affected by excess skin deters me from wanting to lose anymore weight.

I hate that the terror of making anything on my body looser after putting myself in bankruptcy to get where I am today is a legitimate fear of mine.

I’m disturbed that at 5am on my day off when I could be sleeping in, this is what keeps me awake.

I’m disappointed in myself that I can’t see what others see when they look at me.

I get resentful when someone says to me “You don’t look like you weigh 165 pounds.” – I realize it’s an attempt at a compliment. But really, implying that I don’t look like I weigh as much as I do is something that I have heard my whole life. “You don’t look like you weigh 420 pounds!” – I just want to look at them and say, Gee, thanks, I’m glad I wear my weight so well.

I’m perplexed by the fact that when I see a number lower than 165 on the scale — without even realizing I am doing it — sometimes I start to self sabotage any further weight loss.

Yeah, those two pieces of pizza last night that made me feel like I was overdosing on carbohydrates and fats and sent me into a food coma is a good example.

Yes, even I make some really bad food decisions when my head isn’t in the game.

I’d consult with a plastic surgeon about getting the areas of my body I am still not happy with fixed if I didn’t know that the price tag on doing so would be way beyond anything I will ever be able to afford again. True story.

I detest the fact that when it comes to our own mental well-being after weight loss surgery, everything is considered cosmetic and has a five digit price tag attached to it.

But most of all, I just hate that I don’t feel pretty.

I wish I had some magic mirror that showed me what everyone sees when they look at me rather than what I perceive as my own reflection. I’d make a million dollars and be able to afford all the reconstructive surgery I wanted if I found a way to make that product.

Sometimes I just have to take a deep breath and remind myself that this too shall pass.

Some days I just have to take a few of those positive emotion moments that I have stored in my emotional savings account, withdraw them and remind myself of all the things I am proud of.

Sometimes I have to think of all the things that make me feel good and tell myself that it’s okay.

Some days I just need to work on that positive self talk with a little more determination than normal, remind myself that my feelings are valid and that the long list of things about myself that I am proud of make me beautiful on the inside and that is all that really matters.

My father used to tell me that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. That’s awesome, I wish I had the beholder’s eyes.

But since I don’t have their eyes or a magic mirror that reflects what everyone else sees back to me, I’m just going to have to go back to sleep and hope that when I wake up my head  is in a better place than it did at 5am this morning.

Maybe I’ll do something crazy and sleep well into the afternoon, waste the entire day away and then get up and spend a little “me time” by taking a bubble bath and reading a book. Maybe I’ll take a bike ride to the gym and spend a little time sweating in the sauna.

Whatever I do with my Sunday off, it’s going to be something that makes me feel good so that I can attempt to wash this negativity off my skin. I just don’t like the smell of it, it’s far from my signature scent of positivity.


Pandora Williams author of Desperately Seeking Slender is a  Cooper Approved Wellness Coach Trained in Weight Management Strategies, a Motivational Speaker and Exercise Instructor at a women’s only fitness facility in Wilmington North Carolina.


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Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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