April started just over a week ago and now #TeamSlenderseekers is in the middle of week 4 of our 13 week couch-to-10k training schedule.
This time things have been a little different for me and I have to say it’s taken me a little bit to get caught up with the crazy deposits this has put in my emotional bank account.
Some of you may remember this, some of you might not, but around this time last year I was struggling with some very rough body image issues. I would stand in front of the mirror each morning and ascertain what was wrong with my body and tear myself apart with this overwhelming need I had to try to achieve perfection. It got so bad that eventually while in Dallas, a group of four women who shared a common concern for me took me out to dinner and we had a conversation about where I was in my journey.
One of them looked at me and in a tough love moment said to me, “You need to get over yourself and realize that this is much bigger than you.” It’s sounds harsh, but sometimes harsh is what you need to hear. “If I took a pin,” she continued, “and placed one on a map all over the country for every person whose life you have touched and then I put a pin in the map for every person whose life they have touched because you touched theirs, maybe you would start to realize that this is much bigger than you.”
I receive emails daily from Slender Seekers out there whose lives I have touched and it humbles me and makes me realize why I do what I do. I take those emotional deposits and I put them in my bank account and they pile up and I pull from them on those days I need a little extra strength to get me through.
But with this contest, with this contest winner, with this new person training under me as their coach; it has been different.
When Amy first wrote in, attached to her essay entry for the contest was a little note with a line that read “Thank you for inspiring me and so many others! You are a Warrior. This contest will change a life.”
A little bit later, after receiving the confirmation that her email and been received her message included another short note that read;
Again, thank you for this contest. Even if I don’t win, it has really inspired me this week to read the posts on your page, watch your video, look at your pictures, learn more about your victories and what drives you. It has helped me motivate myself to get to the gym when I wanted to lay on the couch. To push harder to run another minute or another two minutes. On Monday I ran 5 minutes on the treadmill before I walked. After entering the contest on Tuesday, I went and ran for 12 minutes. I felt so inspired, so much more strong and capable.
You are a truly special human being, and I hope to one day run by your side.
Each time I receive a note like this it brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. To know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I have impacted someone’s life and motivated them into a happy healthier life is the biggest emotional paycheck I could receive.
But it didn’t stop there, not with Amy. Because my “How Do YOU Celebrate Success” contest winner seems just as motivated as I am to motivate others and before I knew it a few things had happened.
First not only did Amy and I get registered for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon, but my contest inspired others to do so as well, and both Amy and myself are bringing friends along; friends who signed up on their own to join us in this adventure.
Team Slender Seekers isn’t just Amy Smith and Pandora Williams, it also includes Tammy Beaumont and Stacie Bollon, not to mention Heather Rosenberry who is joining us for the Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5k.
As we launched the #WineDineC210kPrep Virtual Event the numbers started piling in for people who were participating. Another 48 pins hit the map of lives I had touched as both mine and Amy’s friends joined up and committed to training alongside us and completing a virtual 10k with us as part of the #TeamSlenderSeekers #WineDineC210KPrep - Virtual Event Group
It is truly amazing watching my dream unfold in front of my eyes. In the last month since we announced the winner of the second “How Do YOU Celebrate Success” contest, the deposits going into my emotional bank account have been huge. It’s like I won the emotional lottery. Watching Amy start working on paying it forward to her community and seeing those pins go in a map and realizing that so far, with one contest and one winner I have touched the lives of so many other people is probably the most rewarding gift I have ever been given.
Next Amy decided that she was going to do a 2k Color Us United run on May 26th as part of her training and invite her friends to go, without my prompting her at all. She named her team “Team Slender Seekers” and without even knowing it, Amy put one of the biggest emotional deposits in my account to date. As I look at the Facebook page for that event ( Team Slender Seekers: Color Us United ) this morning, tears swell in my eyes and all I can think is “My Daddy would be so proud of me.” Thirty-three people are signed up to go participate with her and they are currently waiting for their Team Slender Seeker shirts to arrive. To each and every one of those signed up for that team, thank you for being a part of a dream of mine.
Walt Disney once said “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.”
To everyone that has gotten involved in this event, from those participating to those cheering us on, from the companies that have stood up to help Amy with photos ( Solid Rock Photos ) to the people who have helped me with travel planning–and especially to the Sponsors that have made this all possible: thank you. Thank you for believing in my dream and for being part of the group of people who have made it a reality.
Today my emotional bank account is full because of you. The message that I hope you get here #SlenderSeekers is that each one of us is just one small pin, but what we do when we start to pay it forward to our community no matter how small it may seem; (Because that first pin hole seems so tiny sometimes) is much bigger than you may realize. Never be afraid to pursue a dream and always have the courage to reach for the stars.
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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Dear Slender Seekers,
I’ve received a few letters from some of the #SlenderSeekers out there that heard that I got up and left the room during the Lisa Lampanelli show at the WLSFA event the other night and wanted to know why, so I wanted to take a moment to explain.
We each have different paths and different journeys, we each arrive at different places at different times. For me personally my path and my personal mission is to help those that are affected by obesity to overcome some of the emotional challenges they face along the way and find a path to wellness through transformation of not just their bodies but their minds as well.
For those of you that know me well, I am an abuse survivor. Verbal and Emotional abuse was prevalent in my world through my childhood and teenage years. I was also affected by obesity at a very young age; I remember being that little “fat kid” that got picked on as early as first grade.
Each and every one of us has to be our own advocate for our own emotional wellness; we are the ones that are the most responsible for who and what we allow to reside in our emotional head space. As such, when I find myself in a situation where something that is going on negatively impacts my emotions I have a personal responsibility to address the issue.
Likewise, I have a goal, a mission, and a path that I am currently on, and if my involvement with something goes against that path, I have a personal responsibility to decide whether or not I wish to be involved with it. I have stood up in this community and said repeatedly that I will not tolerate fat jokes, fat shaming, weight bias, weight stigma or bullying. I do not feel that there is ever a time, social environment or population in which those things are ever tolerable, justified or acceptable.
My job as a Wellness Coach is to help my clients, who are affected by obesity to recognize obstacles and barriers that are in their way and to find solutions to problematic behaviors that are hindering their endeavors in weight loss in order to help them achieve their goals. I use these same techniques in my own life when trying to achieve my goals and if my goal is to be a positive beacon of light against weight stigma, weight bias and bullying, it’s contrary for me to sit in a room where those affected by obesity are the punchline to the jokes being told.
I used to be that girl who kids walked up to and said “You’re so fat when you go to Kentucky Fried Chicken you order the size on the roof.” I used to be that woman who teenage boys rolled down the window and made animal noises at when I walked down the side-walk. These things were not funny to me then and they are not funny to me today.
I understand humor as a self-defense mechanism as well as the concept of laughing at yourself so that others can’t laugh with you. We all build walls and defend ourselves from the things that we fear and the things that hurt us. I also understand that stand-up comedy has a certain kind of “expected offensiveness” to it.
There are many of my friends, dear friends, who stayed in the room and said that by the end of the show the comedian had turned it around, brought it to a place that was personal and allowed you to understand how much she cared about and wanted to help those that struggle with her weight, and it makes my heart smile that they were able to take that positive message away from it. I’m glad that there was a positive message to be heard if you waited for it.
For me personally, jokes that target people of size are never okay. If someone posted any of those jokes singularly in the social media as a community we would be outraged and I believe that if we create this gray area where sometimes it’s okay and sometimes it’s not, we weaken our stance in the fight against weight stigma and weight bias. If we say “It’s okay in this situation, but not this one or than one, we open it up for debate, but for me there is no debate, it should never be okay. That is why I had also left the room the night before when the MC made a joke that referenced the size of someone’s belt. For me personally, with where I am in my journey, I cannot sit and laugh while those affected by obesity are used as comedy content. Obesity just isn’t a laughing matter to me.
I have stood up several times and told you that I believe if you silently sit by and allow an injustice to take place that you have aided that injustice. So to me, if I tolerate even ONE joke that is weight biased I have done a disservice to my mission.
But this is MY mission, my path, my journey, and nobody else has to walk it with me. I am not upset, angry or against the WLSFA, the people in attendance or anyone involved with the event. I found myself in a situation that made me emotionally uncomfortable, that made me feel like I was betraying who am what I am by being involved and so I did exactly what I would recommend anyone else do in that position, I removed myself from the situation and went back to doing what I had come there to do; meet and greet and socialize with my friends.
There will be a few people out there who are upset with the fact that I have chosen to write about this, but as someone very special to me reminded me before I left Tampa, I’m not the type of person that lets fear of what others think drive me; I am fearless in my fight against obesity and I will always stand up and fight for those that are affected by it. Desperately Seeking Slender has always been a “I’ll shoot straight and tell you the truth, even when the truth isn’t popular,” sort of venue. And this time, the truth is that I’m not out to be popular. I’m out to win the fight against a disease that robs people of the health, their lives and their mobility and that Slender Seekers, is no joke.
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