AUSTIN (KXAN) — Is there a band or singer your dad and mom listened to when you had been rising up who influenced your music decisions? For Austinite Vanda Taupradist, it was Stevie Surprise.
The icon influenced greater than Vanda’s music playlist, it sparked a Hold Austin Bizarre vibe that took her world wide. She competed in Denmark’s Air Guitar championships, carried out in two music movies — one in London and the opposite in Vienna — whereas carrying her signature panda go well with.
“My life could be so considerably totally different if I by no means turned Vanda the Panda,” stated an lively, bright-eyed Vanda. She describes herself as all the time able to stay life to the fullest.
The origins of Vanda the Panda began throughout her faculty days on the College of Texas at Austin. She would go round campus and Austin carrying her panda go well with. It was her outfit for the summer time of 2011, the 12 months Stevie Surprise headlined the Austin Metropolis Limits Music Pageant.
“I’m going to put on this panda go well with,” Vanda stated. “Stevie Surprise goes to really feel my panda power. I do know he received’t be capable of see me, however I do know he might be feeling my panda power.”
That scorching summer time day, Vanda the Panda went to the competition and the very first thing she did was sit proper in entrance of the stage the place the singer would carry out 10 hours later. No snack or restroom breaks, Vanda camped out. Again then the competition was held in September, and you know the way Texas summers don’t actually finish till mid-October.
“It was so scorching,” she recalled. “All my buddies had been like ‘You’re going to die’ and I stated ‘No! I’m not going to die! I’m going to put on this panda go well with!”
Pageant employees helped her keep hydrated by giving her water all through the day.
“He ended up taking part in probably the most superb present,” Vanda stated. I might by no means think about I might be there within the entrance row.”
That dedication, the choice to commit and endure the Texas warmth to see the famous person she listened to and cherished rising up, additionally rescued Vanda from a trajectory of well being points.
Six years in the past, Vanda weighed 325 kilos. At 24 years outdated, she gave in to the concept of not dwelling a wholesome life-style. This meant not going to shops to buy garments, and bringing a seatbelt extension when she traveled by airplane. She was additionally snug realizing she would develop hypertension or diabetes.
Vanda maintained that very same mindset when she came upon about her father’s prognosis. He was given six months to stay after docs found he had stage 4 colon most cancers.
“He was simply the kind of man to by no means go to the physician,” she defined.
Vanda remembers the day she heard the information when she went again dwelling to go to her dad and mom in Houston. She was heartbroken however then realized how a lot she took her well being without any consideration.
“My dad is about to cross away. I would like to point out him that I really like and respect all of the assist he gave to me,” Vanda stated as she held again tears. “I do know it was actually laborious for him to see me be so unhealthy.”
Vanda returned to Austin from that journey decided and used health as a prescription for well being. She labored out with two private trainers twice a day — at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. She labored out 5 to 6 occasions per week, gave up alcohol, unhealthy meals, she joined a dance studio, she would journey to a gymnasium in northwest Austin, after which headed south for boot camp.
Her dad’s most cancers battle was her largest motivator, however bittersweet on the similar time.
“I’m working towards my dad having the ability to cross away peacefully,” she stated. “I wanted him to have that consolation and to know that he might be okay being gone and realizing that I can deal with my mother and be there for my household.”
In about eight months, Vanda misplaced 100 kilos. Her dad bought to see Vanda’s wholesome transformation. He lived a few extra years after his prognosis.
“I bear in mind having the ability to go one final spherical with him. It was very nice,” Vanda teared up as she shared the time her dad requested her to do one thing she actually didn’t need to do. “I bear in mind coming dwelling one weekend and he was like ‘You need to go for a run?’ He was a really stoic man however I might see it meant a lot to him for me to be like, ‘Yeah, let’s go on a run.’”
Operating was by no means her ardour, however it was for her dad, a marathon runner. He ran 5 miles a day whereas going by way of chemotherapy. Vanda says for her dad it was by no means concerning the operating tempo, it was about being sluggish, regular and ending.
Vanda carries on that mentality. She and her boyfriend not too long ago certified to compete within the World Sequence of Health also called Hyrox. It’s an intense health competitors that made its debut in Austin in Might. It includes operating, pushing and pulling weight sleds and a collection of different exercises. Vanda was shocked she positioned third in her age division and he or she’s shifting on to compete within the U.S. championships subsequent week.
“I used to be getting lapped by folks, I used to be simply doing my very own factor, I simply needed to complete and really feel good,” she stated. “Later, somebody stated ‘I believe somebody was calling your title since you positioned.’ And I stated ‘No, they should have been calling one thing like Amanda.’”
Vanda is hard as nails. She pushed a 175-pound sled and pulled a 110-pound sled with out breaking her personal blinged out, bedazzled nails. She doesn’t plan to chop them when she competes in nationals as a result of that is how she trains, and the way she competes.
“I could also be sluggish as a panda, however I’m going to complete it it doesn’t matter what,” she stated decidedly. Vanda plans to get pleasure from each second of her competitors, doing her greatest and smiling towards the end line.
Essentially the most difficult half for Vanda might be operating, however it’s her dad’s reminiscence that may maintain her going. Each time she runs her dad’s teaching reappears reminding her about her posture, and the right way to management her respiration.
“My dad was such an inspiration rising up and a match, disciplined man,” stated Vanda. “He cherished the truth that I used to be lively taking part in sports activities rising up, tennis, soccer, golf, all the identical sports activities he preferred to do.”
Earlier than going to UT, Vanda had a nasty knee damage that required surgical procedure, however rehab didn’t go so effectively, and that sparked the burden achieve. Immediately she’s an athlete, an authorized Lagree teacher and enthusiastic about sharing her story.
“I hope that anybody who thinks that they’re at that time of too far gone will see my story and say if she will be able to do it, I can do it,” Vanda stated.
Vanda, isn’t she pretty?
Jose Torres is a morning information producer with KXAN. His weblog will carry tales of hope and dedication from others who’ve fought by way of their very own well being struggles and life challenges. He appears to be like ahead to sharing these conversations in future blogs.