Sucker for marketing…. (The Boobypack.)

I have tried just about every bra ever made. Meet my biggest mistake to date. 🙂

What’s the dumbest/most useless/funniest item I spent money on during this lifestyle journey?

This is tough. There are SO many to pick from…

I am a total SUCKER for marketing.

Fun pictures, great promises, time-saver, one-of-a-kind? I’m willing to give it a shot. I mean — what the heck! I have made some great discoveries over the years; lipsticks, shoes, stores, hotels — lots of great, fun gems uncovered because I’m a sucker for marketing.

But as you would expect, not all of my choices/investments work out… In fact a few of them REALLY didn’t work out.

And while some would argue that my biggest folly to date is probably the ‘P EZ; A Travel Urinal’… I personally think that my biggest mistake was ‘The Boobypack’.


‘The Boobypack; a fanny pack for your rack’.

But I just HAD to try it!

I am known (sadly) for using my bra as a purse. It’s a genetic thing, I’m fairly sure.

With friends, if my phone or keys go missing the common refrain, no humor injected, is ‘Bets, did you check your bra?’  Honest question.  Answer is usually…  Pat, pat, retrieve…. ‘Yes! Found it!’

So to find a bra, advertised as a sports bra, with zippered POCKETS and built with the intention of carrying stuff?!!


I had to try it. It was going to solve ALL of my problems. This is what I had been searching for!

I picked a great color.  They had friendly customer service.  Lots of promising details in pockets and support and wearability.

Then it arrived in the mail.  I pulled it out of the box.

The moment of marketing truth…

It was cute!  I loved the color.

Then I put it on and really began to investigate and test it…

The bra was made of t-shirt-like material.  It didn’t control anything, even when I was walking. Slowly. With my arms crossed.

The straps were tiny and very stretchy. NOT designed to do any real work.  It was cute. That’s it. Cute in the sports bra world isn’t really very helpful.

They had SIGNIFICANT padding in them.  I come by that quite naturally thankyouverymuch. I don’t need help.  BONUS?! Once the padding was removed the front panels became virtually see through.   That’s fun. (Not.)

The pockets are oddly shaped and didn’t hold much.

Zippers started at the BACK of the bra. To put something in the pocket near the right underarm area you had to reach your left hand alllllll the way behind your right shoulder blade and pull the zipper BACK toward your front.  I couldn’t manage the zippers by myself if the bra was on — so whatever was in the pockets was just going to have to stay there until I took the bra off.  Not helpful.

Uh… No bottom band to support and catch the girls.  So… Well… Do I need to explain more?

If I were in charge of their marketing I would be tempted to tweak a few (or ALL) of their provided details…

So?  Why didn’t I return it?  Well… Even after trying it on and assessing all of this — I was SURE it was going to hold up better than it looked.  I was sure of it.  It had pockets.  It had to work!

So I took it out for an easy run.

I had packed a back-up bra JUST IN CASE my judgement was off… I’m an optimist — with plenty of experience. 🙂

Good thing.

After about 7 miserable minutes of running ‘totally free’, I conceded defeat.  This bra was not going to work. Even with pockets. I doubled back, walking, to my car. Corrected my mistake and then went back out for a run.

Totally irritated (literally and figuratively) I left the bra on the top of the trunk of the car in the hopes that someone would steal it. Or use it as wilderness TP.  Or a bird would fly off with it.

No such luck.  I still have it.

So the Boobypack has been my top failure.

So far…

I’ll let you now how my recent investment in the ‘Undress’ works out.  ‘Change clothes in public without getting naked.’

It should be here next week. 🙂

I’m not kidding.

I told you.  I am a sucker for marketing. 🙂

(What’s the one running/fitness thing you got suckered into buying that you wish you hadn’t…?)

#suckerformarketing #freetoagoodhome

I HATE running. So, how did you learn to love running?!

Jeff and I, North Face, December 2014.  Those smiles? Genuine.

‘I HATE running. So, how did you learn to love running?!’

I get asked this question a bunch. As we near the end of January — resolutions being put to the test — I get asked with increasing urgency.

I answer their statement/question with a question.

Why do you want to love running?’

I really want to know WHY they think they have to love running specifically.

The truth is maybe they won’t love running.  It is not for everyone. And that’s OK.

The REAL issue is not running anyway.

Let’s be honest.

The key to healthy, sustainable success is to fall in love with SOME physical activity that you will consistently make time in your day to do. Something active, fun, rewarding and friend-based or solitude-giving. You may love swimming or hiking or cycling or walking or Zumba.

It does not have to be running. It just has to be something. 🙂 THAT is the secret.

Being active is what I fell in love with and what really changed my life. 

It just happens to be an activity called running. 🙂

Sometimes people really do want to know how to learn to love running specifically.

I can tell you how I got started. And we have to start with my mindset.

Run when chased.

Even then, only RUN if I didn’t stand a fighting chance.

One day about 3 years ago I realized that I would quickly and flippantly tell everyone that I hated running. Someone eventually challenged me about exactly WHY I hated it.  What specifically did I not enjoy?

The truth that grudgingly emerged was that I had NEVER, ever actually tried running.

I then had some honest conversations with myself about how I could hate something I actually knew nothing about and had no experience with…

This was my reasoning:

I’ve been overweight my entire life.

Overweight people don’t run.

Overweight people who try to run get made fun of (brutally so. Google it if you doubt me) and they look pathetically ridiculous.

I am not just ‘overweight’, I am morbidly obese. I am fat.

Therefore… I hate running.

With a passion.

And if I tell people I hate running — they’ll assume I have tried it and I am just choosing not to run.

They’ll never, ever guess that I’m saying I hate it because I’m fat and scared and know that it is beyond any fitness level I have ever had in my entire life.  It is beyond any amount of work or fitness I can possibly even begin to imagine…


So I had few weeks of struggling with the topic and then finally had to admit to myself that I was deeply AFRAID of something I had never really bothered to try…

It’s a rough process to realize and acknowledge something really ugly, weak about yourself.

But this time I was NOT going to run from my fears. (Pun intended. Or is this irony?!) 🙂

It was time to put on my big girl panties and deal with things.  (Note: Like a lot of my female running friends, I don’t wear underwear with my running tights. ‘Big girl panties’ is just a figure of speech.) 🙂

Running for me sucked at the start.  Let’s just get that out of the way. It was physically painful. Mentally exhausting.  I was 230 pounds or so.

But I promised myself that this time I would give it a really solid effort and at least get PAST the fear to a personally informed opinion.

I pulled a beginners running plan off the internet, wore the best compression gear I could afford, made time for running each day, set mini-goals, told some friends.

I wholeheartedly, honestly tried running.

It was SLOW and painful at the start.  In an earlier blog I detailed how I literally started by running across a driveway on my daily walk.  That’s all I could handle.  I kept working to build distance and time.

I struggled.  Not gonna lie.

I would sweat so heavily – any time of year – I was drenched. My face would turn an alarming beet red and people would ask if I was OK. I would be red-faced and sweating for HOURS after working out.  My feet, legs and hips would hurt for days after an attempt. There were mean catcalls made out of car windows. My appetite went through the roof and I had to REALLY watch my food consumption to keep the scale creeping downward. I had to invest in better shoes, bras and specialty compression gear.

But the problem was…

After a few weeks of really, truly trying to run…

I kind of fell for it.

I loved the challenge. I loved feeling the accomplishment. I loved the people I was meeting who were unabashedly supportive. I loved how my blood sugars would swoop low and STAY there.  I loved how I felt a fierce sense of pride in my body and what I was asking her to do.  I loved that my body was working harder then ever and yet I knew she could do even more…

I kept trying.  And learning.  And meeting great people. And running further.

My ‘love’ for running was obviously NOT a love at first sight kind of thing.

It was a 2+ year process of stubbornly not giving up.

So the key to learning to ‘love’ running, as far as I am concerned???

Deciding I wanted something MORE than I was afraid of it AND just  NOT giving up. 🙂

There are legit physical issues that prevent people from running.  I get that.  I’m not here to ask you to do something you physically should not be doing.

But I am going to ask a much bigger question.  The question I had to ask myself.

What are you afraid of?

For me running was something I feared. That’s why I thought I hated it.

I didn’t hate running.  I was scared of being made fun of.  I was afraid I would look dumb.  I was paralyzed by where/how to even start.  I was terrified that people would pity me or mock me or be disgusted by me.

I was afraid of something I had never tried.

Once I tried it — really, truly gave it an honest effort — it began to change my life.

That first step is ALWAYS the hardest… But it was so, so worth braving it.

Running has changed my life.  And there is no doubt that it is part of what saved my life.

That is HOW I learned to love running. 🙂

#runhappy #lifeisgood

‘Maybe you just need to poop…’

Wade. Blunt, honest and supportive. And he looks great in a bow tie. 🙂

I remember calling Wade about a year into this journey when I hit a really rough patch.

I told him I had been PERFECT for weeks on end (dramatic sigh!), ate perfectly, exercised daily and I had gained weight… (whiny disbelief, verge of tears…)

Pissed off despair would be an accurate description of my emotional state.  He had seen it several times.

His job was to talk me back onto solid ground…

Wade patiently listened for a bit and then said something like;

“You’re not just doing this for today. You know that.

Your work will show up on the scale next week or the week after if you keep at it.

And maybe the weight gain is just because you need to s*&%.

And *&%$ing breathe. Just breathe Bets.”

(This is how Wade remembers the conversations as well. 🙂 )

I have the benefit of some distance, perspective and without a DOUBT, I have a certain amount of selective memory about this whole lifestyle journey I have been on.

I know that.

When I think about WHY I hung in when things got crappy (pun intended) it was largely because I had some strategies that I used to get through the rough and trying times.

I was FOCUSED on reversing type 2 diabetes.  No doubt.  That was the driving force. But sometimes you just need something smaller, something you can get your hands and mind around when you are overwhelmed with chasing down a REALLY big goal…

These strategies work most (but not all!) of the time to keep me focused and motivated on some level. I think they are worth suggesting JUST in case one of them happens to work for someone else…

1. Incentive/trade-offs. What would you do with that handful of cash that you did NOT spend on fast food?  Buy a new jacket, running shoes, go somewhere fun?! Knowing I was trading off McDonalds for Maui really worked for me…

2. Goals.  Once I signed up for my first race/event I was not going to waste the money by not being ready. Signing up for a race/event gives me something aspirational and fun to focus on. Then taking the additional step of telling some friends or the entire world of Facebook (depending on your bravery) ups the accountability factor.

3. Phone a friend.  A friend who has permission to be honest with you, who knows about your journey within the context of your life.  NOT to (just) whine and moan and complain. But for voiced perspective on WHY you’re fighting this battle. The right friend can remind you that you might just need to poop to solve all of your problems. 🙂

4. Look (briefly) to your past. Take stock of where you ARE and where you have BEEN. We typically do NOT see the subtle, daily, positive changes. Sometimes it’s the gentle, visual nudge you need to just to look at an old picture.  I look at this:

248231_10150320004126258_5696017_nHannah took this picture in an iris garden that was in full bloom and we had such a GREAT DAY! But I can clearly see all of the weight in my face. That red hooded sweater was my favorite and was a size 26/28.  I know I weighed 250ish.  I know I was on insulin, sticking myself 3 times a day. I KNEW then that my life would have to change or diabetes was going to win.  Yet I was so overwhelmed with the idea of where to start losing 100+ pounds that I was doing nothing and HOPING this would all just go away and I would wake up magically thin and fit…

Posted next to this…


And I can SEE the difference.

No guessing. No selective memory. 🙂

I know what I had to do to get to this point.

I’m having a great time, randomly ran into Hannah and Jeff in the middle of the forest while we were all enjoying an activity I never even knew existed 3 years ago.  Trail running?! Who knew?!

Before, during and after pictures remind me that even if I am not where I want to be, I have still made undeniable, positive progress.  Big or small.  Progress, is progress.

Incentives, goals, strategies, trusted friends.

I know that none of this is new. These are ALL old, time-tested tactics that work. But this is my gentle reminder to think about putting them to work for YOU. 🙂

So, please TELL me what incentives you have lined up, or the goals you have set or what a friend has done to keep you focused and positive.

I would really, truly LOVE to hear your stories!  Really!



‘Before’ pictures.

I was working on a project with Spencer and needed to dig up a ‘before’ picture. Trying to find one that would tell the story of my lifestyle journey. (AKA the picture that shows me at my heaviest…)

Even ‘good’ pictures from when I was my heaviest were super hard to find.



When you weigh 350+ pounds you do not willingly pose for the camera. It’s much easier to live without having to face iron-clad proof that you are or were ever really that big.

You learn to avoid the camera at all costs. If someone actually manages to get a picture of you and you have the ability, you GET RID OF IT.

You refuse to see the joy of the event or the happiness of your loved ones or the excitement in your life — all you can see is…

  • Your fat face.
  • Your fat belly.
  • You’re so obese that your arms can not physically lay at your side.
  • How soft, puffy and round everything looks.
  • How your clothes don’t fit. Fat rolls with fabric clinging to them. Seams busting open. Buttons being seriously tested.
  • How much of the picture frame you take up.

And let’s talk about how I had developed some impressive self-defense skills at avoiding pictures in the first place:

  1. Blink. Don’t have to do anything dramatic or try to run from the photographer. No one will use a picture if your eyes aren’t open.
  2. Become a photographer. Built-in reason to NOT be in pictures. I carried my camera everywhere.

So, you can see, I had trouble finding pictures from when I was at my heaviest.

Then I found some.

My mom had squirreled some away.

I literally sat on the floor cringing as I looked through them. Feeling some intense shame and embarassment.

I did not want to admit that I now had these pictures. I didn’t want anyone else to see them.

I had told Spencer I couldn’t find any pictures – which was totally true at first.

But then I found this hidden stack…

I considered telling him I still couldn’t find any.

But I can’t lie to Spencer.

AND in looking at the pictures and debating about hiding them or denying their existence…  I realized something. I realized that I needed to stop being so freaking mean to myself.

The fact is, I was morbidly obese for most of my adult life.


I can hate that fact all I want, but it doesn’t change it.

Hiding or denying the fat me doesn’t mean she never existed.

The current me needs to quit trying to beat the crap out of the former me.  How’s that for a boxing match?

It was a hurtful but necessary realization process as I sat on the floor with pictures of the fat me in my hands…

When I could finally get past my own monster-sized and wounded ego and really look at the stack of pictures in my hands, I was shocked to see something I actually loved…

These pictures tell some of my greatest stories and experiences and they showcase some of the best people of my life.

I have amazing, crazy, beautiful, loving family and friends.  We have traveled and laughed and loved through great times and tough times and really bad hair styles. We have weathered storms and wrecked havoc.

The pictures simply show that I have been spoiled with a GREAT and full life.

My days of dodging the camera are officially over.

I have some stories left to create and a life to live. 🙂  NO matter what I look like.

My mom has been gone almost 5 years and in that squirreled away stack of pictures there were a lot of her smiling mug greeting me.

I will share with you the other ‘learning’ that occurred as I sat on the floor looking for a ‘before’ picture…

My mom never shied away from the camera.  Was she perfectly thin and thrilled with her body. No.

Did she love her life and everyone in it?  YES.

That’s all I see when I look at those pictures of her.

Her hands that held each of us when we desperately needed her and those same hands that were her best utensil in the kitchen. Her blue, kind eyes that were ALWAYS smiling. The smirk that meant she was about to dish out some fantastic pun.

I absolutely see her wheelchair and painfully crooked feet and legs. But I see them with the understanding and pride that they NEVER stopped her from living her life and loving her people.

I see the fierce and pure joy she had for being alive to be a part of her husband, daughters and grandkids lives. The hugs and laughs and jokes and purely happy times.  That’s WHAT I see.

That’s ALL I see.

Don’t shy away from the camera because you don’t like how you look today.

It’s short-sighted. And selfish.

Pictures help tell the story of your life. And your role in the life of others.

No matter how you look today — it IS part of your story. OWN IT.

Those who love you will look at snapshots in the future and see you with their eyes, but most importantly they will see you with their heart.


(The crap in the middle.)

Wendie, Bets. June 2014, Timothy Lake/Mt. Hood 50 Miler.  We were crewing for Josh as he ran 50 miles. 🙂

My friend Wendie and I were having coffee last week. Chattering excitedly about the EPIC plans all of our friends have for 2015.

And getting pedicures. 🙂

I asked her for some honest feedback on this whole adventure of blogging.

‘You have been writing about the fun stuff, the happiness, the A-Z success, the highlights.

You really need to talk about the ugly, hard stuff, the sad stuff, the things that make people quit and give up.

People need to know they are not alone.

They need to know about the crap in the middle.’

She said I should consider talk about the stuff NO ONE WANTS to really talk about…  Not even just the embarrassing stuff, which usually makes for at least a great story or laugh at some point.

She said to tackle the DAILY GRIND. The things that easily erode away confidence. Or stop you in your tracks if you have to battle it too many times. The things that fatigue you or plant nagging self-doubt.

Steep learning curves when all you want is SOMETHING to be familiar and NOT so damned hard…

You with me?

The stuff that sucks.

This is the stuff that I battled intently, intensely and consistently this time around.

This is also the exact listing of where I was derailed in EVERY past attempt I made on a ‘diet’ or exercise regime.

This is the crap that was in the middle of my journey…

  1. I was NOT going to talk about my fat rolls and bulk and weight and the problems they were causing when I tried to exercise, with anyone. Chafing, motion control, infections, back strains. I suffered in embarrassed and humiliated silence for a VERY long time. Shame. Deep shame.
  2. Life felt unfair. Going to bed hungry, feeling overwhelmed and alone. Usually a little pissed off that ‘normal people’ could eat whatever they wanted. Meanwhile I was a freaking air fern that could gain weight by SMELLING cookies baking.
  3. Type 2 Diabetes. TRYING to get off of insulin. Having to add more back in. Endless finger sticks. Lows that made me an unbearable, cranky, bratty turd. Trying to eat the right thing at the right time and not be over calories for the day.
  4. Being so sore from exercising that I literally thought something was broken or ruined.
  5. Going to social events and choosing NOT to eat what everyone else was eating. And then trying HARD not to look awkward or sad or out of sorts.
  6. Chronic food pushers/saboteurs.
  7. Not seeing results. Restricting calories and the scale not moving for days and weeks. Walking further and not finding it any easier. Doing the same things as my friends and they were having success. Me…? Not at all…
  8. Wanting to quit. Feeling overwhelmed. Knowing there was NO END IN SIGHT. Ever. These habits had to be ‘for life’.
  9. Food was spot on. Measured and counted everything. Exercised every single day. Drank water. Good blood sugars.  I did everything I was supposed to be doing.  Scale said I was UP.  *Insert scream of rage/despair here*.
  10. Scale dictating my mood and my feelings of success. I would become a thundercloud of despair because I was up half or a full pound on any given day.
  11. Revert to comfortable habits when the rest of life was out of control. Cheat on my OWN rules. And then face frustration or panic because I KNEW this was not behavior that would lead me anywhere but BACKWARD…

I know I am NOT alone in my listing  of ‘sucky’ things…  I’ve talked to too many people.

Please… Tell me what’s missing from my list that is on your list?  What is the crap in the middle of your journey?

And once we know what were facing and struggling against…  How do we fight back and WIN?

I have to be honest and admit that I still struggle with most of these on some level. I am not an expert. BUT, I am an extrovert, with some sass and a few personal experiences that I am not too embarrassed to share.  So I will share. 🙂

I promised Wendie that we would get conversations started about battling the crap in the middle.

Stay tuned.

Everyday is a new day. You have to start over every single day. No matter how effing hard it is, you fight through it and you start fresh the next day.    — Wendie

Out kicking it on a run… Don’t remember when or where. But we were moving. And sweating And smiling. Who cares about the details? 🙂

Telephone poles.

Running my first 5K in 2013.

  ‘HOW did you learn how to run?’

This past week a woman I have met a few times confronted me for details.

She wants to run a Disney Half Marathon and has never run before. She LOVES Disney and is using that for motivation to get started on some lifestyle changes.

She asked me how to get started running.

I said the generic, supportive things like ‘take the training slow’, ‘get good shoes’, ‘look on-line for one of the Disney training plans’ and ‘you can do this!’

She listened and then said…

‘Yes… Betsy. I GET that it will take a while to learn to run any distance, and that I can’t give up… BUT HOW DID YOU ACTUALLY START RUNNING?’  (She was speaking in all caps at this point. 🙂 )

I had to really think back to what it was like when I took those first awkward, shuffling steps…

It started with driveways and telephone poles. 

I had been walking with focus and intent for several months and was working on walking faster and longer distances. I’d walked several 10K’s at that point.

I live in the farm country. From our farm to the stop sign is 2.43 miles round trip.  Five houses on the road, one annoying dog, some railroad tracks.  The roads are usually empty.

When I finally decided I wanted to learn how to run, I picked a short distance and gave it a shot. I planned to jog between two telephone poles on our road.

I made it across the width of our neighbors driveway.

That’s it.

Those telephone poles suddenly seemed MILES and miles apart.

I jogged the driveway and then I walked to the stop sign. And when I got back to our neighbors driveway I forced myself to jog back across.

The next few days and weeks I forced myself to add a few running steps each day.

By the next month I was struggling, but I was jogging between those freaking telephone poles.

I had a huge grin on my face.

I was not discouraged. And that’s probably the question I get asked the most when I tell this story.  “Man, you must have been so discouraged to have such slow progress…’

That question really offended me at first.

I had moments of wondering what in the hell I was doing. For sure. No doubt.

Do NOT forget that I wanted, was working very hard to create, a whole new lifestyle. And I was being chased by diabetes. I was in a very real race for MY LIFE.  You could say I was motivated.

The fact that it took me a month to hit my initial goal of jogging between telephone poles?  I saw it as victory that I didn’t give up, NOT discouraged with the time it took to get to that goal.

I just wanted to jog between those two stupid telephone poles and be able to say I did it. And I eventually nailed my goal. 🙂

But then I didn’t stop with the telephone poles. I kept looking for new landmarks.

I remember the first time I ran all the way to the stop sign.

And then the time I ran to the stop sign and BACK.

I just kept picking landmarks and made a game out of pushing myself to get there as fast and best I could.

Those first physical steps were really, truly that small.

That is how I started running. 🙂

And for the record? I still play the landmark game when I’m pushing to something new, or I am tired or struggling…  Just get to that bend in the road, that tree, that rock in the road, just one more step… 

It works every time. 🙂

Starting the 13.1 of the Pacific Crest Endurance Duathlon June 2014. Getting love and encouragement from my friend Wendie as I head out. 🙂

Fake belly button.

I have 10 pounds of loose skin along for this run.

‘Did you have loose skin after you lost weight?!’

When you weigh a lot (392 pounds) and lose a lot of weight (230 pounds), you wind up with excess skin.

In my case, it was almost all belly skin.

Skin is elastic, but NOT that elastic. Especially when it was stretched out for 20+ years.

Turns out that loose skin is actually a big problem and not just because of how it looks.

My belly flap of skin hung to the top of my thighs.

Loose skin develops its own inertia which means I had to become an expert in compression gear if I wanted to do anything other than stand upright or walk casually. 🙂  Tanks, shorts, girdles, ace bandages, Spanx. You name it.  It was a daily task to figure out how to stay active and keep the loose skin from hurting me.

I was developing arthritis in my spine from the skin pulling on my lower back.

I had chronic infections and abrasions on the loose skin of my belly.

I wore size 16 pants JUST to accommodate the extra skin. (Day after surgery I was in a size 12, even with 18 pounds of swelling, drains and wearing the surgical girdle.)

I tried every potion, cream, gizmo I could in hopes that the skin would magically shrink back.

FINALLY my sister drug me to a cosmetic surgeon. He gently told me NOTHING would make the skin retract.  The only cure was removal. The surgery was a tough one.

It was not covered by insurance even though I had documented back issues and chronic skin issues. (Insurance wound up covering part of it when the surgeon uncovered 3 significant abdominal hernias DURING surgery.)

I talked to my family and friends to make sure they were supportive. I saved every penny. Talked to other patients who had done the surgery.

Asked Spencer to help me get as fit as possible. I kept being told fitness was tied to good healing and a quicker recovery.

On 11/20/13 I had a procedure called a ‘Full Body Lift’.

It was an 8 hour surgery. I have a 360 degree scar that goes around my waist at the ‘bikini’ line.  They also rebuilt the abdominal wall as part of the surgery.

They removed just shy of 10 pounds of excess skin.

I had over a thousand stitches in my abdominal wall, which now has 4 vertical ‘pleats’. I had internal stitches the circumference of my hip line and then the incision was glued externally.  I had stitches in my newly crafted belly button. They repaired 3 hernias.

The doc said I was healing from ‘massive tissue trauma and disruption.’

I used the word OUCH a lot. Often paired with a cuss word. 🙂

They cut the skin at the pelvic/hip line and all the skin covering my ribs and upper belly, waist and back basically got pulled down – tight. I am REALLY simplifying it, but you get the idea.

I lost my belly button – which I find highly amusing.  I told the doc I didn’t care if I had a belly button, he said I needed one or I would look like a ‘Who’ from ‘Whoville’. 🙂

He built me a fake belly button.

It’s an innie. 🙂

My hips and the incision line are STILL totally numb well over a year later. I am told the feeling may never return.

I had 3 drains on the incision line for several weeks. Yup. It was as UNCOMFORTABLE and hard to manage, as you would imagine. It was a great day when those suckers got pulled out.

About 18 hours post surgery. You can see the drains. I was up right after surgery and walking. I was hunched forward, which was my posture for about 6 weeks. As miserable as I was, I was already asking when I would be allowed to run. 🙂 (Photo credit Jill Kelleher, best nurse ever!)

I have to be honest.  In the early phases of healing from this surgery I was SURE I had made a horrible, terrible mistake… It was simply a brutal experience. No other way to explain it. Pain like I had never had to deal with. Right after surgery I may or may not have texted a few friends asking them to come kill me…  Maybe.  I’m glad none of them listened.

Thankfully, my regrets didn’t last too long…

I had a flawless recovery. A few minor infections – but nothing major.  The doc kept telling me it was because I had a healthy diet, perfectly controlled blood sugar and had taken the time to get in shape for the surgery.

This surgery has a high complication rate and is known for difficult, prolonged healing because of the 360 degree incision.

I avoided all of the major complications. 🙂

It was worth it.

All of it.

One of my goals from this surgery?  To be able to throw on a sports bra and shorts and just go RUN…

I could not even begin to imagine that kind of FREEDOM!!!   NOT having all this excess skin? Not having to worry about compression gear and infections and chafing and a belly flap of skin beating me to death? Just throwing on basic gear and going for a RUN?!?

This summer my friends Wendie and Josh invited me to go to Bend to run. Wendie KNEW I had this silly, but heart-felt goal of literally running in just my sports bra…

So we went to run a fabulous stretch of trail to Tumelo Falls.  (Wendie picked this spot, 2+ hours from home so we would NOT run into anyone we knew.)

I finally got brave and hot and sweaty enough about 45 minutes in on the run to FINALLY get rid of my shirt… I may have cried.  Just a little. 🙂

It was an incredible feeling to run with nothing but the basics.  Just because I FINALLY could.

HELL of a trail run! We did try to convince Josh to run in just a sports bra.  🙂

To say that this surgery changed my life is an understatement.

Nowadays?  I and my fake belly button are free to just grab my favorite running clothes and a pair of shoes and GO run… Anytime. Anywhere.

Dream come true. 🙂

#runhappy #lifeisgood #novoveritas

Sports bras and coffee: A supportive friendship. (Guest blog, Taryn)

Taryn and Bets. Friendship started over a cup of coffee. There have been MANY cups of coffee between then and now. 🙂

Taryn is a registered dietitian, athlete, sports bra expert 🙂 and friend.  Grab a cup of coffee and meet my friend Taryn…

As Betsy has alluded to in a previous blog post (Bra runs amok), we originally met through her fear of asking her running coach, Spencer, advice on buying a sports bra after multiple bra-related mishaps.

Call it fate, call it whatever you want, but if sports bras are what originally brought us together then I am forever indebted to those innocuous little pieces of clothing that are so much more than bits of dry-fit fabric and elastic. {Insert little cheer for sports bras HERE! Guys, sorry you don’t quite understand.}

So, after that introduction, let me share a little bit of our story…

After being introduced to Betsy via Spencer over email, and many, MANY emails and personal details later (overshare on the internet to a stranger? Nah), we agreed to meet for coffee.

Betsy shared her story to lose weight and reverse Type 2 Diabetes, which was instantly intriguing to me. I should also mention, I’m a Registered Dietitian with a specialty in sports nutrition. In my few years of practicing as a dietitian, I’d heard a few stories here and there of people who had lost large amounts of weight but never actually met someone who did it solely through healthy lifestyle changes: EAT LESS (or more, high quality, nutrient dense foods ☺), MOVE MORE.

I soon realized, this woman is freakin’ AWESOME and hilarious. And by “soon” I mean about 5 minutes after taking my first sip of coffee with her. I just had to learn more about her journey! I think the feeling was mutual though, as we both saw there was more to be gained by this introduction than just sports bras…

So she began to tell me about her quest to revamp her lifestyle (which she was already deep into at this point) and her new idea to run an ultra. Had I ever heard of such a thing? Why yes, I had in fact just run an ultra ☺.

And so began what might be called the second phase of our journey together…learning to fuel for exercise, specifically long duration exercise.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me: “What do you do for fueling during your long runs?” (we’re talking like 2+ hours here)

Betsy: * blank stare * (she might have been speechless for maybe the first time in our entire relationship 😉

When I suggested that she should try fueling during her runs, I could almost read her thoughts: “why the F would I EAT something while running?!?!?!” To put it mildly, at this point, Betsy was still very much in the “diabetic carb-phobic, use exercise for weight loss” phase.

If she wanted to run an ultra, and not just grudgingly finish, but enjoy the experience (a HUGE factor in sticking with any form of exercise: enjoyment!!!), fueling during her longer runs would be a necessity. Bonking + being hangry = a bad combo, and best avoided.

Fast-forward countless more coffee dates (and maybe a few carb-tantrums…) later, I have been fortunate to witness a small part of Betsy’s mindset transformation from carb-fearful to understanding the role of proper portion size of high-quality carbohydrates (think fruits, vegetables and whole grains: brown rice, quinoa, etc) in her everyday life, during exercise, and for post-exercise recovery.

If you ask me, meeting over sports bras took down a lot of the barriers that are sometimes initially there in the beginnings of a friendship when you’re thinking: “Can I tell this person this story? What will they think of me?…” I mean, let’s be real, how many of your friends can you openly and honestly share stories about gut issues while running and pooping in the woods with no shame? (Note: if you’re a runner, that doesn’t apply to you). That might have happened on maybe our third or fourth coffee date… Just go right ahead and smash those barriers.

When I think about it, I’ve only known Betsy for about a year and a half but it feels like so much more. Not only have I gained a lifetime friend that we can be authentically open and honest with each other, but it’s a supportive friendship at that.

Get the pun? 😉

Trail run at Peavy last March. Taryn KNOWS the trails. Her mind is a map. I would still be running in circles trying to find the Bonzai trail had she not been there. 🙂

Miles. (Wade, Guest blogger)

Wade and Betsy

Meet Wade!  Not sure how much of an introduction he really needs.  His post perfectly describes the strength and fabric of our friendship.

He is one of the people who has been with me through this entire journey.  He knew me at my heaviest.  He was the very first person I told when I decided that I was going to get started saving my own life…

I could not have done this without him.  You’ll see that for yourself.

It’s all yours Wade…


“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

~ Lao Tzu

January 27, 2013 at 12:12am (EST)

Betsy: “Think about something… HOW would you even begin to go about the permitting processes for a NAKED 5K? Logistical nightmare.”

That is approximately the 3,700th Facebook message between Betsy and I. She sent it to me, it was the first message in the conversation that day… Nudity, logistics, running… Somehow it is a perfect representation of our relationship.

We’ve known each other since late 2007. Since that time we have amassed over 4,000 Facebook messages, an unknowable number of text messages, and hours on the phone.

September 17, 2009 at 1:16am (EDT)

Betsy: “We have 142 friends in common. I didn’t know I had 142 friends. I just noticed that little factoid on FB. 142 is a lot.”

142 is a lot, it’s 46 friends fewer than we have in common now, and it’s also 92 less than pounds lost on this journey…

Think about the last substantial road trip you shared with friends, you learned something about each other. You saw the good, the bad, the ugly, and the hilarious. And at the end, hopefully you are better for it. AND there is always more to the road trip than gets reported when you are showing off photos…

Betsy’s journey so far has covered many miles but what six years of Facebook messages revealed is that it really did begin with the first step…

Monday, May 24, 2010 at 4:52pm (EDT)

I’m gonna lose 25 pounds. When I do – I’m buying this (a Tiffany Bracelet). And I’m not telling ANYONE but you. Not my dad. Not my sister. And I don’t want you checking in on me. Just wanted someone to kinda/sorta hold me accountable… I want the bracelet.

There may have been little steps before this one, but this was the one, the shot across the bow. When Betsy brings up Tiffany you know it’s serious. It was followed a few days later by an email and subsequent message that she was joining Weight Watchers. While the bulk of the message was the how, the important part was this:

Monday, May 31, 2010 at 11:51pm (EDT)

Weight Watchers starts tomorrow. (Actually – I’ve been doing it most of the weekend, just because I’m that ready to get going.) Attaching the link — so you can see the basics of the program… All good stuff. And yes — I’m that much of a brat that I need to pay someone to tell me the things I already know. Snacks packed for tomorrow. Lunch packed too. I’m gonna do it this time Wade. I really, really want to. I really, really intend to. Wish me luck…

And then a week later this:

Monday, June 7 at 12:10pm (EDT)

Betsy: Weight watchers not working… This is what other folks have used and been successful on. What do you think?

Wade: I think you need to give it more than a week…

Betsy: Walking to a full sweat each day. And I’ve gained 8 pounds in 8 days. Am I just doomed to be fat??? This is so discouraging.

I’ve never done anything like what Betsy has done, many of us haven’t, and god willing won’t have to. I can’t fully understand what it takes to make that kind of a lifestyle change (this is just eating and exercising, just wait until you find out what losing that much weight does with your skin…).

The one thing these messages show is that it is not easy.

Just as with any journey there are bumps in the road (or concrete barriers). But if you manage to crawl (yes crawl) over them then you can get to this:

November 16, 2010 at 4:37pm (EST)

So — I’ve been dropping down on my insulin and the most HAPPY, exciting thing has happened… I’m not as hungry. I’ve lost about 2 pounds. Which I know isn’t a big deal – but the decrease in appetite is HUGE NEWS. My doc gave me the approval to try to get my numbers of insulin waaaaay down and after a bit of a mixed-result start — I think it’s going to work. Less insulin = less hungry = less Betsy… 🙂

And then you get to this:

August 2, 2011 at 12:22am (EDT) … (YES we have odd message times)

Diet this time is odd…I’m solidly happy and committed.

I’m walking 2 miles a day.

It took over a year to go from almost a meltdown when the latest diet didn’t work, to being solidly happy, committed and walking 2 miles a day. 2 miles is a far cry from a 50k, but it’s a hell of a lot better than a burger, fries, and large coke at the drive through on the way home.

There are a lot more steps and milestones in our years of conversation, like when Betsy decided to sign up for a 5k, and then discovered good running shoes. Or when she said she actually enjoyed vegetables.

What I think this shows (I really don’t know much, but this is a blog so I must be right) is that Betsy’s blog posts cover up some of the details. It takes seeing the day-in-day-out conversations to realize just how much work this really takes.

So whether you’re setting out to lose weight, get in shape, or just eat healthier, remember that at one point our fitness freak, Betsy Hartley, was melting down because she gained weight on Weight Watchers.

For the record she stuck with it and it worked, but it was not always rainbows and trail runs…

The journey of a thousand miles may begin with the first step, but, if you don’t keep walking you’re not going to make it very far.

Pacific Crest Endurance Triathlon (Wade) and Duathlon (Betsy). 2014. We signed up a year ahead – and spent the year being training partners at a distance. Wade in DC, Bets in OR. Friendship and support knows no bounds. 🙂

Can’t is NOT a word.

Liz and I on her wedding day! I’m between 280-320 pounds. Liz was marrying the man of her dreams. SUCH a happy day!  I still love this picture.

“I can’t eat that.  It’s not on my diet.”

I have a resolution for you to consider.

It’s simple.  (...I did not say easy…)

It does NOT require you to hit the gym, stop eating your favorite food or make sweeping lifestyle changes. (Unless that’s what you have in mind. 🙂 )

It has to do with how you to talk about your life, your choices.


When I was FIRST starting on this journey, I would find myself in any situation that involved food and immediately feel the need to proactively defend myself/my choices.  “I can’t eat that.  It’s not on my diet.”

That provokes ALL kinds of responses from people; most re-enforce the negative response I just put out there…

‘I couldn’t do your diet’,  ‘Just one bite won’t hurt’, I even got one ‘Ugh. Your LIFE sucks.’

I had a critical mental shift early on this journey, thanks to a conversation with my friend, Liz.  She’s my life-long, cheerleader, butt-kick-when-I-need-it kind of best friend.  Everyone should be lucky enough to have a Liz.

I was telling Liz about some experiences I had had and that people weren’t as supportive of what I was doing as I had hoped. She said…

‘You chose this. You KNOW you can do it.  You don’t have to ask for permission. You don’t have to defend what you choose to do to anyone.’

Fast forward about two months from that early conversation; She was right. Dodging social invitations or avoiding ALL of my friends wasn’t sustainable. Relying on other people to support or be OK with what I was doing was NOT the answer either.

This was all me. My fight, my life, my choices. And when I really got to thinking about it…?  The core issue was actually pretty simple:

I needed to start by changing my language.

If I changed how I talked about my choices (food, diabetes, exercise, ALL of it!), maybe I could set people up to respond more positively to what I was trying to do…?

So I tested it out. I started saying…

“I choose not to eat that right now, but thank you.”

Funny.  Nobody really seemed to argue with me when I said it was my choice…

I mean they might argue, but they seemed less likely to argue than when I was proclaiming unhappy absolutes. Most folks will instinctively or intellectually argue against a restriction. Life just shouldn’t be about restrictions and cant’s and not-getting to’s.

But when you alert folks that this is a choice. I CHOOSE… I get to and want to… People usually respond accordingly. I found that they overwhelmingly responded with support when I stated things in the positive.

Talking in the positive does some amazing things to your thinking as well. I have better resolve. A better attitude. I am more persistent and stubborn.  ALL of that continues to get stronger when I changed the way I was talking about my choices.

With cementing lifestyle changes –  it’s really our brain we have to convince and keep babysitting. 🙂

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

And if Henry Ford isn’t a credible enough source for you…

Can’t is NOT a word.’ – Hannah O’Leary 

Don’t take my word for it; try it out!

It’s a subtle and simple resolution that takes some practice. TAKE charge of your words. Make them positive and strong. People will respond by supporting you.

And best of all?  Your brain will follow. 🙂

Bets and Liz.  LOVE YOU LIZ!