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#TeamSlenderSeekers Contest Winner – Paying It Forward

Guest Blog by “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest Winner
Amy Smith

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The day I won the How Do You Celebrate Success RunDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon contest, it felt like it was all about me. Pandora’s phone call, congratulatory messages from friends and family, my head spinning at the idea of running 13.1 miles… but by the next day, it had turned into so much more. It became about tons of people inspired to start running, all because of what I had done. It was overwhelming and amazing.

So many people wrote asking for advice and support. I answered as many as I could, as thoroughly as I could. But I wanted to do more than just send messages, I wanted to create a bond within this group of people – friends and strangers alike – who all shared the desire to lose some weight and get moving. So I started the Team Slender Seekers group in my hometown in Ohio, and we pledged to spend 12 weeks training before running in the “Color Us United” run to benefit the United Way. It was a 2k rather than a 5k, and not timed, therefore perfect for even the most uninitiated of runners.10596251_10154557633965347_2087157673_n

10615852_10154557633970347_1509918593_nThe group grew HUGE! I expected about 10 friends to sign up, but by the end, I think we had about 50 participants. One mom trained with her two boys, and one of them showed up in a super hero cape. Another mom trained with her young daughter, and they ran in matching tutus and glittery mustache shirts. Two team members whom I had never even met volunteered to design and make team t-shirts. It made my heart so happy to see such enthusiasm. And in addition to getting healthier, we raised over $600 for the United Way to help some worthy causes.

The night before the race, my email and texts blew up. Each girl probably thought she was the only one, but so many had questions and fears. I understand the anxiety that happens before you do something you’ve never done before. “What if I can’t keep up?” “What if I can’t finish?” “What should I eat before the race?” I assured everyone that it wasn’t about keeping up or even finishing. It was about showing up and trying. Ten steps or a thousand steps, it was just about giving whatever they had to give.

Race day was beautiful. Sunny skies, not too hot. We gathered for a group photo before corralling with over a thousand other runners. People were throwing their color packets into the air and onto each other, batting beach balls through the crowd, and for a few, slightly panicking. But everything went beautifully. Each girl moved at her own pace, for the distance she was comfortable with, and I was so proud. I had one girl who had recently been very sick. She was in tremendous pain but she kept putting one foot in front of the other until she’d been all the way around the track. She felt disappointed, but to me she was the greatest victor of all, because she had every reason to stay home that day, but she didn’t. She showed up, she gave it her all. That is ALL it’s about.

10589668_10154557633975347_895813334_nAnother friend, one I’ve previously mentioned who wrote that she was terrified to try this… she finished with no problem at all. She has now lost about 50 pounds, and she looks totally amazing. She rocked a beautiful dress at her daughter’s wedding last month, all because Team Slender Seekers inspired her to start her journey.

To Pandora and the incredible sponsors who have made this contest possible: Please, please know that all of your efforts and contributions have made the biggest difference. Not just for me, but for this group of people who otherwise would have been in bed on that early weekend morning rather than outside experiencing their first run. Pounds have been lost, hearts have grown stronger, confidence has been built, and it’s only just the beginning.

10602714_10154557633960347_1107972126_nI encourage anyone who is thinking “I wish I could run” to just try it. Download a couch to 5k running program onto your smart phone or iPod and just try. You don’t need to be fast. Trust me, Pandora and I are not breaking any land speed records! Just move, faster than usual, for a couple of minutes at a time. Follow the program and I promise by the end, you’ll be able to finish a 5k too. It all starts with just 60 seconds. And if physical limitations prevent you from running, then walk a 5k. I’ve become close friends with some amazing walkers who still enjoy participating just as much as the runners. I’ve become addicted to races. There’s nothing like that camaraderie, the feeling of pushing yourself to stay ahead of those behind you while trying to catch those ahead of you, and fun finish line celebrations. Plus, I. Love. Swag. My friend Pete made me an awesome plaque to hang my medals from. I’ll probably never win a medal for being fast, but I am every bit as proud of my participation medals. Because a year ago, I was not running anywhere. Not for 60 seconds, not 5k, and certainly not a half marathon. I am proud to be a participant, even if I’m always going to be at the back of the pack.

Try a run this week, and let us know how it goes. Every one of us is a member of Team Slender Seekers. We’re all in this together, you are NEVER alone. Good luck!


 Note from Pandora: I want to take a moment to send Amy a very warm thank you. As I have posted before, the last couple of months have been very difficult for me dealing with the anniversary grief of my Father’s death and sometimes we don’t see all the lives we are able to touch by an action we take until someone else points it out. It’s very easy to get down on ourselves when we think we aren’t doing something well enough. When I read this story and realized the impact this contest has had on so many people thanks to Amy having the “Pay it Forward” type attitude that I do it literally brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Any for making this coaches day!

I’d also like to take a moment to thank our sponsors, without whom none of this would be possible.  Ameriwell BariatricsCelebrate VitaminsKay’s NaturalsWellese and BariMelts thank for being the sponsors of a contest that helps people celebrate their weight loss success and allows us the opportunity to help us motivate others.

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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.

Check out the Second “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest

Team Slender Seekers Sponsors:

Bariatrics_Banner_Ad

AmeriWell Bariatrics
Like AmeriWell Bariatrics on Facebook ]

logo

WELLESSE
Like WELLESSE on Facebook ]

Celebratecmyk

Celebrate Vitamins
Like Celebrate Vitamins on Facebook ]

Kay's Logo

Kay’s Naturals
Like Kay's Naturals on Facebook ]

BariMelts Logo

BariMelts
Like BariMelts on Facebook ]

Please support our sponsors!

Coming Out of the Dark – When Life Derails Training

I wish I was perfect.

10467772_680115812117141_1972508978_nI’ve striven for perfection ever since I was a little girl and got very discouraged when I couldn’t do something that stood up to those high standards. I’ll never forget the first time I brought home a report card with a B on it; I sat in the car crying hysterically because I hadn’t gotten straight A’s. I was in the third grade.

I wish I was clairvoyant. I wish I knew what was going to happen weeks, months and years in advance so that I could know going into any commitments that I make whether or not I could perform them to the best of my ability.

I wish I had a magic wand that could instantly fix anything that wasn’t quite the way it was supposed to be and that could suddenly repair any mistake I made.

But I have none of those things, what I do have is the ability to say “I really messed up,” and hope that anyone involved can forgive me. This is after all a growing and learning process and while most people don’t realize it, I am new at all of this.

What is all of this you ask? Being thin, being healthy, being fit, having a life that involves people outside of my protective little bubble, being social, having a full-time job that takes me out of the house, and, learning to deal with my emotions in ways that are not disadvantageous to my weight loss journey.

For as long as I can remember I was the chubby girl who stayed at home and played on the computer. After my high school sweet heart most of my romantic and social interactions were in online and chat mediums where I could hide my weight, feelings and emotions behind a screen and text.

So what did I do that I am so regretful for? I dropped the ball and I failed to live up to promises I made to sponsors, my contest winner and to you, my readers.

I think whenever we make a mistake so grand that we feel an overwhelming remorse, we instantly have this need to explain ourselves. Why did this happen? For me the answer is very easy:  I took on too much during a time of year that is already an emotional storm for me.

You may have noticed that there was no “Father’s Day’ post from me this year. Because as Father’s Day rolled around I was so overwhelmed with grief that I didn’t even know how to begin talking about it. Professionally I refer to this as “Anniversary Grief”; it’s this overwhelming sense of loss, sadness and depression that hit me during the time of year that my Father passed away. I’m the sort of person that associates moments in my life with dates and songs, this works against me during a time of year where an entire month is filled with dates that bring this anniversary grief forward in my mind.

This is now the third year that I have experienced this intense sensation of loss and sadness that starts in mid-June at Father’s Day, leads into the 4th of July (My Father passed away early morning of the 5th and the night of the 4th was the night we said good-bye) and then haunts me all through July until we get it his birthday on July 20th. And even still here into the beginning of August I find myself struggling to come out of the dark silence that these emotions evoke in me.

For the last seven weeks it has taken nearly all of the emotional strength I have to get up in the morning, go to work, smile for my members and clients and make it through the day without tears and sadness seeping in.  I miss my Father so much that it is overwhelming and as I realize that I’m starting to forget the sound of his voice or the sound of his laugh I find my heart breaking even more. They say time makes things better, but this just keeps getting harder for me.

I’ve struggled with the question of “Would he be proud of me?” And though I look around me and I see all the wonderful things I do that would make him proud, it is hard for me not to focus on the few aspects of my life that he wouldn’t be so proud of and it’s hard for me not to beat myself up over them emotionally.

Sometimes life just doesn’t help either. These last couple months haven’t been easy for me at all. While trying to keep up on a full-time job where I’ve got 30-35 hours a week on the clock and another 6-12 hours a week off of the clock when I’m teaching classes, doing one on one weight loss and wellness coaching and doing special VIP session with my clients and trying to squeeze in my own 1-2 hour work hours each day I’ve had a lot of other things sort of thrown in the pool of Pandora Must Do’s.

I struggled so much from Father’s Day to July 5th but I tried to keep myself distracted with as much work as I possibly could. The weekend of the 4th of July, I isolated myself from just about everyone in my world as I slipped into some very dark emotional places. I tried to distract myself, with my Half Marathon Training, The Launch of the #20Week2WineDine Virtual Challenge and when not one single soul signed up for a challenge where I offered a $100 cash prize to the participant that had the best pace time improvement, I found myself discouraged and feeling defeated and unappreciated.

I tried to continue to focus on my passion of helping others lose weight and tried to ignore that lack of participation and apathy I once again saw in the online bariatric community and I focused on getting ready for the 10k run that I was doing on July 12th. This was my second 10K this summer and my last chance to get a better pace time to submit to run Disney for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon my How Do You Celebrate Success Contest Winner and I are doing in the beginning of November.

924450_735630803149282_1711825532_nJust a couple of days before my race I got the news that the owner of the condo I was renting from, my roommate, had sold the condo in a quick sale and that I needed to be out of the place by the following weekend; The weekend of my Father’s birthday.  So I ran my 10K came home and started packing, and continued to try to keep up with my busy work schedule. I had support groups to speak at, a healthy food picnic party to host at work, and I continued to do the one thing that somehow made me feel supported–Keeping the gym open late so my clients and I could exercise together while watching Extreme Weight Loss and live tweeting with Chris Powell and Heidi Powell, because let’s be honest, when my world gets really dark, the Powell’s always seem to be there to pull me back into the light.

I tried to deal with the resentment I felt towards my friends here in NC who were also busy dealing with a last-minute move for not realizing how much help I needed getting through that day. This is the third year that I have dealt with this anniversary grief. The first year I got Manny, a puppy I am sure my Dad brought me so that I didn’t feel so alone. The second year I was in Dallas and I spent the morning working out with my Mentor Bobby Whisnand, surrounded by very best friend in the whole world ( Tora), my niece and nephew and spent the evening with my very dear friend Keesha who drove out to see me just to make sure I was distracted. This year I just felt alone, very alone. I took the time to get a new Tattoo that served as a tribute to my Father as well as a reminder to me never to forget how far I have come and the next day, I went and spoke at a local bariatric support group.

Things got really exciting on the 23rd of July when suddenly the gym I work for was accosted with Toxic Fumes from an oil based apoxy paint that they were using in the storefront next to ours and the next 10 days were an amazingly high stress situation for me as I tried to deal with upset members while my bosses were out-of-town, train a new front desk employee, and suffered from a constant migraine headache from the fumes and started to prepare myself for Thursday morning; when I would teach Metabolic Circuit training for the first time and fought my own self-doubt and self-worth as to whether or not I was good enough of a coach to be teaching that class while my boss and all the other trainers in the gym where out-of-town and of course all of this is going on while I am in the middle of trying to study for a test that terrifies me more than spiders.

The other day as I was getting ready to set out for my #20Week2WineDine Training Run I suddenly realized; holy cow it is August 5th and not only have I really dropped the ball and not gotten any blogs writing to fulfill my sponsorship obligations for the entire month of July, but I also missed the deadline for submitting my time to RunDisney for the event, which means I will be placed in the last corral of the race. While it’s not the end of the world, it is disappointing to me. I went to great lengths to run two 10k’s before the deadline with every intent to submit it and HOPE that I got into a corral that was a little further up and I completely brain farted it.

It’s been a bad month for me and in trying to take care of myself and find a light to follow out of the darkness; I neglected to do some things that were very important to me. It’s amazing how emotions like sadness, depression, loneliness, anxiety can become so overwhelming and it’s shocking to me how these emotions sneak up on me during this time of year and how without a strong support system in place to help me, I tend to be overwhelmed by them.

I wish I could rewind a few days and submit that pace time. I wish I could go back and set a reminder on my phone so that I wouldn’t have forgotten in the midst of my fast paced life. I wish I could go back and write the blogs that I was committed to writing (Which I will, they just won’t be published in a time frame that they should have been.)

I wish I was perfect. I wish I didn’t make mistakes like this. I wish the grief that I feel this time of year didn’t have such an emotionally crippling effect on me. But I am not perfect, I am just Pandora. I’m not free from fault or fumbles. Usually I say that I am myself unapologetically. I never apologize for being who I am, but this time, that’s not the case, this time I am truly remorseful that part of who I am and part of what I struggle with has caused me not only to let down some people who are very important to me, but also caused me to let down myself. This hasn’t been a pretty seven weeks for me, I slipped into some behaviors I wasn’t proud of and I let the emotional distress of my grief get me off track.

10598627_592504027533361_1464304025_nThe last seven weeks I’ve felt like I am constantly falling and then standing back up and trying to right myself again. For those that it has affected, my Contest Winner, My Sponsors, my friends and family, my readers, I apologize for the fact that I am not yet skilled in a coping mechanism that helps me handle this better. What I can promise you is that I’m standing up and I am working on maintaining my balance now so that I don’t have to spend all my time picking myself back up and dusting myself off.

Each and every one of you is more important to me than I can say. Everyone involved with #TeamSlenderSeekers has a very special place in my heart; unfortunately this year I’ve learned that it seems to sit next to this very special place that is left vacant by the loss of my Father, and the grief that causes me is still something I don’t have the tools in my toolbox to deal with. It’s something I’ll be working on.

I always say that weight loss is a journey. Despite what we think when we are struggling with obesity, our problems don’t all go away once we shed the extra weight, and learning how to deal with those problems without falling back into unhealthy behaviors is sometimes harder than we expect.

I’m not perfect, I’m not clairvoyant and I don’t have a magic wand, but what I do have is the earnest desire to live the happy and healthy life that my Father wanted for me; and to help others along their journey by sharing the things I have learned, the tools I have gathered and the education I have sought along with my own first hand experiences.

I have always found that it is in the darkest moments of my life that the brightest bulbs go off for me. And though this period of darkness has lasted longer than others, I feel that in it now I have found a newer and stronger me. I am determined to run this race and to do it in my personal goal of under three hours.

Now it’s time for me to get back on track and to make sure that Amy and I own this Half Marathon!

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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.

Check out the Second “How do YOU Celebrate Success” Contest

Team Slender Seekers Sponsors:

Bariatrics_Banner_Ad

AmeriWell Bariatrics
Like AmeriWell Bariatrics on Facebook ]

logo

WELLESSE
Like WELLESSE on Facebook ]

Celebratecmyk

Celebrate Vitamins
Like Celebrate Vitamins on Facebook ]

Kay's Logo

Kay’s Naturals
Like Kay's Naturals on Facebook ]

BariMelts Logo

BariMelts
Like BariMelts on Facebook ]

Please support our sponsors!

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Author of Desperately Seeking Slender

Jaime "Pandora" Williams

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