Honest advice from a friend…

My good friend and fellow trail runner, Jill Puleo (check out her YouTube chanel) gave me permission to share this recent conversation we shared on Facebook.  It’s personal from both sides of our stories, but her advice to me…?

Holy cow.

Her advice to me is too damn good to keep to myself.

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Jill (rockstar in the picture above!) and I have only met ONE time in person. Yet we have both worked to build a strong and growing friendship based initially on two simple things: Curly hair and trail running. 🙂  We met at Western States Camp 2015 waiting for the run for day two to start.

Our friendship essentially started from a three minute conversation at the start of a run.

How awesome is that!??

Here’s the Facebook conversation between Jill and I recently.

Betsy:

So the day you checked in with me?

Thank you following your gut or intuition or whatever was guiding you Jill. I had had a rough day.

Longish story as short as possible? Spencer had a run/stride analysis with a local coaching/Ultra-running/Guru that we all love and respect, Joe. Spencer loved it, gained a ton from it – and was quick to tell me that I should get one done as well. I made some comment at the time about ‘I’m not fast enough to have a stride.’ and dismissed the idea.  Spencer would bring it up every once in a while… ‘Are you going to get your stride looked at by Joe?’ and I would say something benign and dismissive like ‘I’ll think about it’ or ‘maybe’.

Well this past weekend we had a full weekend of training. I am starting to ramp up training from an extended recovery period.

Spencer says he is only going to suggest to me one more time to seriously consider getting my stride looked at and then he’ll drop the topic but do I understand that this  would be a really beneficial thing to do?

So I say yes, I’ll go see Joe. (I’ll admit I said it with the unmistakable tone of bitchy, forced, pissed-off….)

I email Joe and get an appointment.

I go.

Joe is AMAZING. SO much patience and knowledge.  And it turns out I do have a stride and it’s kind of messed up or least could be a lot more efficient and ‘healthy’. He appreciates that my goal is to be running when I’m 70 and that I want to invest time in building a ‘healthy’ stride since I’m fairly new to running. He spent over two hours with me talking about what was weak/strong and how to work to fix some of the things he saw to get me to a healthy stride.

Here’s the deal… And this is what ALL of my resistance was about… He videos you running at different speeds and from different angles. And then you get to watch in ((slow-mo)) while he shows you your legs, angles, back, feet, arms… I assume it’s fascinating and instructive had I not been totally and utterly horrified at seeing myself running on video.

I saw a woman who looked fat, lumpy, flappy, floppy — her hair looked horrible and she really, really needs a new bra. I was so heartbroken at how I looked on that video I could barely hear what Joe was telling me.

And then we go through some range of motion exercises and cues — and we run/tape again. Again…. I’m watching the videos totally transfixed with how fat and awkward and horrible I look.

In my mind I’ve thought I looked happy and solid and like maybe even just a teeny, tiny little bit like an athlete when I run. Seeing the video removed ALL postiive thoughts I had about my body while running. I think deep down I KNEW this is what would happen which is why I was defensive and avoiding it all…  I drove home choking back tears the entire way in self-pity.  I know that Spencer knows something is wrong well beyond the stride analysis thing and me ‘not being fast enough to have a stride’.  And I’d just about rather cut out my own tongue that explain that I just didn’t want to see myself on video…

Seeing myself on video running was actually far worse than I imagined.

Jill, please tell me to grow up. And that everyone hates their self on film. That I need to get over it – so I can get working on what really matters – which is a healthy stride…

I’m stuck in horrified, defensive and bitchy mode.

I want so badly to have a different body than I do… And that makes me sad. I know you will understand that because we’ve talked about body image issues before. And I KNOW that learning to love my body as it is, is a process.

I always seem to know exactly what to tell others who are struggling.

But if you would have seen the video of me running — you would understand my current horror and sadness…

Jill:

The video: YES I UNDERSTAND.

I understand so, so very much.

I am still suffering from seeing pictures of myself that my friend posted of me from her wedding in which, I look like a puffy old crow with a hooked nose and thick calves.

I am not going to tell you to grow up.

I am not going to tell you to “practice self care” (whatever the eff that means…I HATE THAT PHRASE) and I am not going to tell you that it doesn’t suck. Your body was made in a way that doesn’t please you and you fight it every day. Being flippant about that and telling you it will all go away with a journal and a cup of camomile tea is epic bullshit.

Secret?

OK here’s a big one: Although I believe in the Body Positive movement, I don’t really get some parts of it. I feel like there are many good points, but it also seems like there are a lot of excuses being floated around. You know what I mean…?

It’s those people who don’t want to feel ANYTHING uncomfortable. Well you and I both know that if you don’t feel anything uncomfortable, you are not growing. You are also not challenging yourself. I would like to sit home today and eat M&Ms. That would make me VERY comfortable. And the body positive people would say that after multiple days of doing this I should love the body that results. BUT NO. Because that is NOT FRIGGING HEALTHY.

So, my idea is this: I like to think of my body like I think of my my sister in law…I have to accept it for what it is, even like it sometimes, but I don’t have to love it.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOVE YOUR BODY.

But, I do think that you have to love what it does for you, and that’s where I choose to focus my thoughts. Or at least, I try. I know I am not a fabulous runner. I mean, I am not fast and I will never win anything. I do have this pretty amazing talent for long distances. I get more comfortable the longer I go and feel better doing it too. I think to myself that I like this about my body and I thank it for getting me this far.

BUT I DO NOT THANK IT FOR THE CELLULITE I’VE HAD SINCE I WAS 10.

I don’t care how much goddamned tea I drink I am never going to love my cellulite. I don’t know if this helps, but your body has done and will do a lot of things.

Maybe it’s a partner, a co-worker, a sister in law…

It doesn’t have to be your true romance.

BUT YOU…you, on the inside…well, you’d better love that part because inside that package is a heart and a mind and a soul and all of it is pretty spectacular.

As far as the video/photos go…you have the choice to never look at it ever again or watch it over and over. I try to think to myself: which of those options will allow me to be who I want to be once I stop watching? Like, I don’t want to be a total bitch all day, so I should probably NOT go through my high school yearbook, you know? Not without vodka, anyway.  

You don’t get an award for being OK with watching your body flop around on a treadmill and being OK with it. But, it is nice to feel good and treat others well (aka: NOT be a bitch after said viewing) so in this case: YOU ARE JUSTIFIED and welcome to not ever look at that video again.

Don’t say “I should get over this” because that diminishes your feelings. Say “I will get better at handling this” because unlike the self-help/life coach/body positive ladies, I do not believe that this feeling will go away.

I think that instead of wishing it away, ya better cozy on up…because if you want to get through it by making it ghost, you’re in for a world of shit when it comes crashing back unexpectedly.

So, think about what you like about what your body does for you and focus on that. LIKE it. APPRECIATE it. But, don’t feel like a failure if you end up giving it the side-eye most of the time. You’re allowed.

That being said, be sure that you are not comparing your body to other bodies. I am pretty sure you don’t do this, but scrolling through Instagram can be incredibly defeating. All of those gorgeous bodies in front of gorgeous mountain ranges can be hard to watch…

OK that’s enough full frontal Jill for now…haha

Sending love as always

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You are never alone.

Deeply grateful for you, our friendship and your stellar, blunt, authentic advice.

Thank you Jill.

Diabetes doesn’t go on Holiday…

img_4329-jpgI had to pull out my glucose testing kit this week.

It’s been in retirement for 3 years.

I am not gonna lie.  It was a bit of a low moment.  I was sad and a little scared.

I had a sudden flash of fear that Type 2 (T2) Diabetes was back or trying really hard to creep back in. I was noticing some things…  Things that seemed disconnected, but hauntingly familiar.

Fuzzy thinking. Thirsty. Sleepy. Insatiably hungry. Irritable out of the blue/out of porportion. Craving sugar.  Feeling ‘puffy’.

Not just the normal things that happen in life, I mean, the ‘symptoms’ were out of place given what was happening in my life.

All of the sudden it dawned me WHY these were familiar…  This is the crap that happens when my blood sugars are out of whack.

I hadn’t felt these symptoms in these odd clusters in over three years…

Holy crap.

It was time to test and see what the numbers had to tell me.


I tested as soon as I put the pieces together and realized I was possibly experiencing some blood sugar issues. My post-prandial (2 hours post-meal) glucose was 111.  For me — that’s a solid, if tad-bit high, number.  But respectable.

Whew.  Little breathing room and stab of relief.

I tested a fasting number the next morning and it was 110.  Exhaling in relief.  On the high side, but arguably good.

Yesterday was 100.

I’m in a ‘safe space’ with the numbers I’m seeing and recording.

They’re not as low as I would like, nor are they as low as I can make them when I’m keeping my diet ‘tight’.

While I’m clinically in a non-diabetic range, I still felt pretty clearly this was a wake-up call.


After Mountain Lakes 100 miler back in September, I had a revelation of sorts.  The conversation in my head (and out loud to Spencer…) went sort of like this:

‘I just ran for 100 miles, for close to 30 hours and fueled that effort with about 5,000-6,000 calories of SUGAR.  And while that’s pretty typical running fuel for ‘normal’ folks, uh…  You aren’t normal.  How horribly WRONG/DUMB/STUPID/RIDICULOUS is that equation for someone like YOU??!  Can I remind you that you used to be morbidly obese, insulin-injecting, T2 for two DECADES.  HOLY CRAP BETSY.  You’re a reformed T2 diabetic and you just ran (which you can only do because you are no longer morbidly obese) eating pure, easily accessible to your blood, sugar. This.is.utterly.asinine. You can’t keep doing this.  It’s a recipe for disaster.’

So I made the decision that I needed to change some things.  Immediately.

It all has to start with my day-to-day food plan.


There’s a health condition called ‘Insulin Resistance’.  It also gets talked about as ‘Carbohydrate Intolerance’.  I’ve done a ton of research on it, and I have come to understand that I am no longer T2 Diabetic, but I am still insulin resistant.  And I always will be. I can certainly manage it, but it’s not going to go away. While it is not an entirely accurate description, I kind of think of it as being ‘allergic’ to carbs.

((Here’s the disclaimer in all of this:  I’m an experiment of one. I lost over 200 pounds, reversed type 2 and somehow fell head-over-heels in love with the endurance running world. Turns out that there aren’t a lot of people like me out there, and the ‘normal’ rules for food/nutrition/fueling just don’t ever seem to work well for me. My solutions and chosen paths are not likely to work or make sense for anyone else.))

I’m well aware that if I eat too many carbs {ANY KIND OF CARBS – YES… Even the ‘healthy ones’}  I get swinging blood sugars.  If I keep carbs {even the healthy ones…} to a minimum — my glucose stays in a horizontal and largely stable line.

‘My body hates carbs!’ — me

‘No.  Your body loves carbs.  It loves them to DEATH.’ — Deb, my sister.

So…

Good-bye to my plant based diet that I loved and enjoyed for almost three years. (Averaging 300 – 400 ish grams of carbohydrates per day with a healthy balance of grains, fruits and veggies.)

Hello again to my old friend, no-and-low carb. (Averaging 40-70 grams of total carbs per day.)

I’m tightly restricting my daily carbohydrate load. ANY carbohydrate source.  Aiming for whole, non-processed foods. And I am most especially vigilant for any of the added or hidden variations of sugars/corn syrups that were truly and absolutely my worst enemy as a T2.

I know how to do this.

I just willingly and knowingly strayed from the basics that got me ‘here’; I strayed from the food plan that helped me lose weight, become non-diabetic, learn to run…  I mean I reversed T2 Diabetes — I suddenly felt FREE and healthy enough to try new things with food, fueling, diet.  So I did!  I’m totally OK with those experiments and what they have taught me about myself and the way my body works.

I just find it humbling and interesting that I am back where it all started.

Back to the very basics of what worked when I first started this crazy journey.  Back to low carb, NO SUGAR, low glycemic indexed foods.

((For my running friends who are wondering about fueling during training and events that this dilemma now hands me…  Well. Join the crowd. Me too.  I’m lost and little bewildered with it all at this moment in time.  But I am deeply driven by the knowledge that if I want to stay healthy and running; I have to stay the course in managing this or T2 Diabetes could possibly win this whole freaking thing. I won’t, can’t let that happen.  So let the new fueling experiments begin. 🙂 )) 


This week has been a solid reminder that T2 diabetes is still chasing me 365 days a year.

It never takes a Holiday.

But, guess what?

I have NO PLANS to take a Holiday either.

How do you make someone change?

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One of the hardest questions I get about my journey in losing weight and reversing type 2 diabetes usually comes in the form of…

‘How do I talk to someone I love/know/care about that they need to lose weight?’

The basic answer, based on my personal experience, is; you really should NOT.

You can not motivate someone else to embrace big changes.

Any of the other folks I’ve talked to who have embarked on significant life changes echo my sentiments.  We all seem to agree that we were ultimately motivated by some seemingly random moment in time or collection of small happenings or a ‘critical’ incident. The decision to make the lasting hard changes was never spurred on by someone’s ‘helpful comments’.

In fact, the opposite seems to be true.  Those times people tried to talk to us about being overweight, unhealthy?  We were NOT ready to listen, resentful to the message bearer and/or defensive that someone should personally attack us about our food or weight.

Not exactly a great set-up or fertile ground for healthy conversations.

Nothing anyone ever said to me about my weight or T2 Diabetes EVER convinced me to change for the long term.

Subtle, friendly, mean, direct, scientific, jokingly.

None of it.

Sure, the times someone approached me or talked to me about my weight or health or how my body looked, I’d make short-term/panicked changes out of grief or embarrassment or blind-hope even. But I wasn’t ready to do the hard-as-hell, wholesale, gritty work needed to make a sustainable change. No one could have convinced, guilted, cajoled or begged me into doing it until I was READY.


  • I was 350-400 pounds, grocery shopping.  Yet again embarking on another diet I’d found in some magazine or had been told about by a friend who was miraculously and easily shedding weight. I was loading up my grocery cart for a successful start to a new diet.  I had ‘light’ everything — including ice cream and ‘diet’ cookies. Everything in the cart was ‘on the diet’. This skinny, older man stopped me in the pasta aisle, looking in my cart and then looked me square in the eye and said loudly ‘You really don’t need all that ice cream and junk food.’  I remember leaving the fully loaded cart in the middle of the aisle and going home — totally mortified.
  • I had an aunt tell me ‘You don’t think drinking diet soda is all it will take to make you thin do you?’ (I was about 13 and remembered thinking that I did, in fact, think diet soda was at least one of the answers that was going to save me. I mean it wasn’t sugar soda and Weight Watcher’s said it was Ok…)
  • I had multiple friends in a variety of ways tell me that the reason I was single was because guys don’t date ‘fat chicks’ and if I could just lose weight I would find that elusive happiness and find the right guy.
  • ‘Do you really need to eat that?’, ‘Aren’t you on a diet?’, ‘Should you be eating that?’.
  • Another relative gave me the ‘we care about you and you’re killing yourself and you won’t be around to see your nephews grow up’ ultimatum.

These comments and interactions may have meant to inspire, enlighten, encourage, scare or spur me into action, but they were by and large (pun intended) destructive and hurtful no matter how the message was delivered or who said it.

When you’re fat/unhealthy/overweight/out of shape; YOU DO NOT NEED SOMEONE TO TELL YOU ANY OF THAT.

You already know it… In all it’s painful and degrading glory.

You are well aware of your situation.

Someone telling you this obvious truth doesn’t make you instantly go… ‘Wow.  Geez.  I didn’t know that.  I should do something about that.  I am so glad they said something!’

It makes you feel deep shame. It pisses you off. Wounds you.

It beats you down because you know you’ve tried so, so many different things and none of them seemed to work and you really, truly do not know what else to do…

You’re humiliated.  You can’t hide the problem of being overweight or obese.  Hell, you publicly WEAR your problem for the whole world to see every minute of every day.

In no way did anyone’s ‘helpful’ comments ever give me the power and energy to embark on the changes that I ultimately would have to make.

Fat chance.

From everything I’ve read about the paradigm of change; telling someone they have a problem doesn’t usually help them move into action to resolve the problem. The trigger for real, lasting change usually comes from a seemingly innocuous, yet life-defining moment, a health scare, turning of the years or some other very personal ‘bottom moment’.

The moment when inspiration for change strikes and STICKS is very personal and pretty darn hard to explain.

If you are that person who is still insisting that someone in your life really needs to make a change, needs to lose weight, needs to get healthy.  You care deeply, are afraid for their health and you genuinely  want to help. You just.need.to.do.something…

The list below are the traits I sought out for my ‘team’ when I was finally ready to face the truth, do the work and make a change.  In hindsight, these are the things my friends had been slowly and quietly doing over the years to try to get me to a healthier place. These are THEIR tricks…

{Actions speak far more loudly than words ever will.}

  • Listen.  Listen for open doors or pleas for help or blatant defensiveness or fear.  Then, and only when they open the door and invite you in, do you have permission to engage in the conversation about how you can help them.  Don’t answer questions that have NOT been asked. Don’t offer advice that has NOT been asked for.
  • Set an example. Sign up for a 5K and invite them to join you to train for it and walk or run it. Move your normal meeting spots to a walk or coffee shop instead of a bakery or fast food lunch. Find subtle, genuine ways to shift the patterns of your friendship away from food and toward conversation, activity.
  • Be ready to embrace their change WITHOUT JUDGEMENT.  There are all kinds of programs that people lean on/cling to/buy into when they are ready to commit to losing weight and changing their lifestyle. Programs and options we may or may not agree with or understand. BUT if someone wants to lose weight, learn new eating habits and get moving — GET OUT OF THEIR WAY!  If someone is simply jazzed that they have found something to be excited about — be excited with them!  If they’re willing to own it, work it and make it part of their life; who are we to judge?!  Our job is to unequivocally support them.

‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can not make it drink.’

The horse will drink when it’s good and thirsty.

Not when YOU think they’re thirsty.

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My pants are getting tight…

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These were my old 26/28 or 5X pants.  In this picture I’m about 170ish pounds and a size 10-12 L/XL.  Just for reference.

I have gained some weight since early August.

No it’s not muscle, not fluid retention.  (Nice try.)

It’s plain, ol’, legit weight gain.

I have to own it for what it is…

I’m trying not to panic. I’m trying to remember this is ALL part of the process, the adventure.  Life.

But the idea and process of gaining weight – even a little –  terrifies me given my history.

My brain – multiple times a day – chimes in with something along the lines of…

‘One pound?  Might as well be 200 pounds Bets!  You’re gaining weight. Slipperrrryyyy slope. This might just be the time you can’t stop it…’

I KNOW that gain/loss are normal parts of this whole process.  And will remain consistent, persistent company for the rest of my life.

I have been rallying with…

‘This is about being healthy. Fit. And being healthy and fit for a lifetime. You know what to do, you’ll get it done. You’re worth the work.  ‘

This is more than a single pound.  Yet, I’m not entirely sure exactly how much weight — since I don’t rely on the scale anymore.  I am working to use ‘environmental cues’ so that I do NOT get caught in that ‘weighing myself 5 times a day’ craziness that has plagued me in the past.

One day about 4 weeks ago I noticed that my pants were fitting tight.  I felt a tickle of panic.

The past 3 weeks it has been noticing new things daily… My rain coat, race shirts, work shirts are all snug.  I’ve spent the past 10 days or so trying NOT to panic. And trying to figure out exactly what to do about it all.

Weight loss, maintenance, fitness. Not a single one of those is linear or given or constant. You gotta keep working at it.

Every.single.day.

I know this.  Yet I haven’t been paying it the attention it deserves or demands.

Training for and running the 100 miler was extraordinary. I’m hooked. I am already eyeing the next one. 🙂  The reality for me is that between tapering, resting an irritated achilles, ample recovery from the actual 100 miler, a post-race infection…  I’ve actually had about 6 weeks of very, very low activity.  And let’s throw into that mix that I never reigned in my eating.  I was eating like I was still running 100 mile weeks.  Plant-based, healthy, BUT TOO MANY CALORIES.  So while the ‘tight pants predicament’ is disappointing and slightly frustrating and panic-inducing – it is in NO WAY an actual surprise.  I have been eating more and moving less for weeks. And that equation is exactly how I got to be 400 pounds and Type 2 diabetic in the first place…

I need to focus on eating whole, nutrient-rich foods, in appropriate serving sizes and get back to moving more.

That simple.

And that freaking HARD.

It’s hard to get things back on track.  Being off track is so ‘easy’ and fun.  Until it’s not.  And then it’s just daunting, hard, tireless work.

Here’s my plan for the next 21 days to get my habits back on track…

Accountability communicating regularly with a handful of friends who get my goals, my compulsions, my excuses, my food/fitness levels and history.

Tracking.  Write everything down. Not just what I think looks good, appropriate or healthy.  All.the.foods. Write them all down.  (True confession. I used to lie in my own food journals. Especially at Weight Watchers when they used to review the journals at your weigh-in. I would lie BIG TIME, then we would all act SHOCKED when I had a weight gain, because my food journal was perfect… Please tell me I’m not the only one who has done that…)  Tracking makes me more mindful and intentional.

Apples. If I am hungry and cruising in the kitchen/pantry for food during non-meal times, the rule is I can eat an apple. And if an apple doesn’t sounds good?  THEN I AM NOT TRULY HUNGRY.  Time for a gut check. Or a glass of water.

Check my thinking. I really did think I was ‘cured’ of my compulsive thinking and behaviors about and around food.  Uh… Yeah… No.  No way. That stuff might take a hiatus, you might have some tight control over it a while and you can even ignore it for short periods of time. But it never goes away. I’m working through this with a dear friend and mentor who battles eating compulsions as well,  she reminds me to take things minute by minute, NOT even day by day.  A day is a BIG, HUGE CHUNK of time when you’re managing food!  She will gently and then not-so-gently remind me that I need to focus on what I can do in the next 5 minutes to help myself…  Maybe 30 minutes, maybe an hour.  But thinking in small, manageable ‘bites’ of time.  Be mindful.  Breathe.  And we agreed that I need to only eat when I can really think about what I’m eating and doing and limit all distractions.  (No more eating in the car,  while walking across campus, mindlessly at the computer or standing at my desk…)

Routine. I will get back to running soon, which will help body and soul. 🙂  But there are other things that work well that have fallen by the wayside.  Packing snacks and lunches.  Keeping easy to eat, healthy items, visible and up front in the pantry and fridge.  Using a part of my weekend to roast veggies and get things ready for a successful week.  Making my health a priority, not an after thought.

No hoarding or hiding.  This one is hard to admit. I was SO, so, so good at hoarding and hiding – ninja level for decades. And I have found myself recently hiding food. It was subtle and I was trying to justify it to myself as ‘I’ll need food after a run/work, so I’ll just keep it in the car.’  I’m really hiding it from Spencer, my roommate.  I don’t want him, or ANYONE, to know the quantity of what it is that I’m actually eating. He would never judge or comment. He just wouldn’t.  BUT I am fully aware that what I’m doing is eating way too much of something that is best in small quantities or probably best not being in my daily diet at all; and I don’t want to get ‘caught’. When I’m hiding food and worried about what someone is thinking, I KNOW I have a problem.  The other giveaway about hoarding/hiding was this week I realized I’m keeping things hidden in three different areas in my office, so that if I open one cupboard, any given person only sees about 1/3 of the total stash I have squirreled away. Granted — this is all plant-based, healthy stuff.  I’m not hoarding snickers bars. 🙂  But none-the-less, it’s stupid and self-defeating and self-sabatoging. It’s the behavior, not the food that is the core issue. I’m the only loser in this game.  I stopped it for over four years and yet in the past four weeks I can see it slightly, quietly, trying to creep back in.   I’ve talked to my accountability team. Have taken everything out of my car.  At work on Monday — I’ll consolidate all of the food in one spot.

I’m using the time between now and the end of the year to get this train back on her tracks.

…Running back in the mix, plant-based foods at the core, sugar GONE, walks with friends instead of food, apples front and center in the fridge, kicking meditation up a notch, spending time with friends who are working toward the same goals…

What do you do to get things back on track?!  

I would love to hear other helpful tips…

 

Ditching the b*&ch. (Finding joy.)

We’ve been home from Transrockies (TRR) for 3 weeks. I’m still thinking about the incredible experience, missing my new friends and wishing I could just live in a tent and run all day, every day.  I told Kevin Houda, the event organizer, he ruined reality for me. 🙂

This is what I put in my journal as if I was writing it all down for my friend Wendie.  She was hiking in Yosemite at the same time I was in Colorado and I wanted to share all of this with her. So you’re really reading my note to one of my dearest friends.


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This would be the day that I found joy.  Right after finding a Yeti.  A cheerleading Yeti named Fitzy.

If we’re being honest, I know I have been a grumpy bitch when it comes to running for the past year and a half.  NOT overt, at least most of the time.  And not usually aimed at anyone but MYSELF. But I would so easily and quickly go to the negative if something went wrong, or less than perfect, instead of going to my normal optimistic/positive frame of mind.  I really hope no one on the outside noticed this personality shift, but I am afraid they did.

Well, I ditched that nasty bitch on the trails today on stage 3 of Transrockies.

I have just had, for the 3rd day in a row, the best day running.  Ever.  This just keeps getting BETTER.  I have enjoyed each and every step of each and every run so far.

I’ll set this up for you a bit, in the same way all seemed to click into place for me…

You know I have been working for two+ years to get to the point that I could endure and enjoy six days of running.

This event is 120 miles, 20,000 foot of vertical climb. At significant altitude. (Which, for inquiring minds, does make it kind of hard to breathe when you train at sea level.)

I’m in a tent village of 550 trail runners from around the world, by a perfect/picturesque lake, at Novo Guides/Camp Hale Colorado. Every single person here, from runner to volunteer is 100% supportive of, engaged with and part of the trail and ultra world.  So — I’m surrounded by people who get me and my desire to run really long distances for fun and they want to do the same.

I.  Am.  In.  Heaven. 

Back track a few weeks.  I had that training week from hell.  By design.  I had to do a big volume week to get ready for the 100 miler.  So it was close to 100 mile week – which I have never done. I know that I allowed the fatigue and negative energy from that week of hard physical and mental work to cascade down about six weeks…  To where I finally had a full-on meltdown and told Spencer I never wanted to run again.  I think I also said things like I was selling all of my shoes, never wearing a running shirt again and un-friending anyone who posts about running on Facebook.  It was pretty epic. Totally ridiculous NOW of course, but in that moment – I FELT IT.  Joyless, exhausting and scary as hell.  I felt apathetic.

And apathy, as you know, scares me more than ANYTHING.

So here’s where I have to be really honest with myself.  If I back track a year or so, I have been caught in a low-grade, persistent comparison trap.  ‘She’s thinner’, ‘they’re faster’, ‘he climbs better than I do’, I didn’t hit my pace, I barely finished that run, they logged more miles than I did this week and we’re doing the same race. Oh how I wish I could grab that time back from that grumpy-comparing-bitch that I was. I drove myself crazy.  I drove Spencer crazy. I probably drove you crazy. I’m pretty sure there are some people who I have met in the past 18 months or so who think that this comparing, self-denigrating, self-loathing is my permanent disposition.  It’s not…  REALLY! I’m a pretty happy, optimistic person at my core.

However, when it comes to running this past year/year and a half, I have to admit that I got caught by the throat in this horrible cycle of comparing and beating myself up.

So today… Today I willingly, forcefully, ditched that grumpy, nasty piece of work in a creek as I ran. She made a big splash when she landed. I totally took her by surprise. 🙂

I was running and just sorta started piecing it all together and realized what I had allowed to happen. Realized that this was my chance, my choice, to grab my happy, joyful self BACK.

The creek was cold and swift and beautiful and was the ideal place to let that ugliness quickly and quietly wash away without contaminating anyone else in the process.

I am so happy with that choice and that moment. Goose-bumps, ear-to-ear grin and profound relief. 🙂  I felt free and light and happy and could only think over and over and over again…

‘I FOUND MY JOY AGAIN!  Man.  I missed her! I missed her so, so much!’


I started running for the joy of it all four(ish) years ago to lose weight, gain health and to be part of a community that embraced the lifestyle I was chasing.

I started trail running specifically because…

  • There’s no judgement in trail running.  If you have feet, shoes and desire to learn; SOMEONE is going to be eager to convert you to our dirty side of the world. 🙂
  • You do what works for you.  Period.  I mean, you have to figure it out  – but no one cares what or how you go about it.  It takes ALL kinds. 🙂
  • And you can NOT tell a trail runner by looking at them. There’s a ‘type’ that the elites MIGHT look like, but usually a trail runner is identified solely by their HEART.  It’s what is INSIDE their chest and brain that sets them apart and makes them who they are.

Trail running and the ultra world seem to be full of people working to heal themselves, find themselves, grow, change — those are JUST the kind of people I want to be around.

I ran 24ish miles on Tuesday. Then climbed Hope Pass Wednesday.  Stage 3, Thursday, my legs felt good when I woke up; no aches and pains.  None! And even better?  My MIND was excited to see what the trail was going to be like,  who I would meet on the trails and what I would learn. Today was about legging out another 25 miles in the best fashion I could with some hills and rolling terrain.  No time requirement, no judgement and no real plan other than I would give my best and practice what I have spent the past few years learning. I met GREAT people. I took a pictures.  I just ran, with no Garmin beeping at me, no real plan, no expectations…

I just ran.

And I ran straight toward the joy I used to have in my early days of running.

She welcomed me back like a grateful, forgiving and long-lost friend.


The night before we started to run TRR, Spencer gave me his coaching brief. It usually goes something like this…

‘DO not stop and pick up rocks. No selfies. Limit the conversation – if you can talk while you’re running/hiking, you aren’t working hard enough. Eat often and plenty. Stick to the plan.’

So when he said…

‘Bets, I want you to just breathe, listen and do not respond to what I’m going to say…  This week is going to change your life if you let it.

And then he proceeded to tell me to meet people (ALL the people!), pick up heart rocks, take pictures, talk to volunteers, and just work to enjoy each and every step of the journey…

I listened.

With my whole heart, I listened.

Stage 3 felt life-changing, healing, like a reunion of the happiest kind.

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THESE women know joy.  Michelle and Andi.  Happy, strong, brave, trail sisters. 🙂

WHY can’t I take my own advice?

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Wendie and Betsy 2016

 

I weigh the same today as I did last year.

And it’s the same as the year before.

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SAME race 2015, with Spencer

This is 2+ years of stable weight for me.  Ups and downs, but year over year – I am staying almost the same. 🙂

And THAT is a big deal in my world.  A world that was dominated by very consistent weight gains my ENTIRE life.  Mixed-in with radical, unsustainable, starvation-style, short-lived weight losses. Such a life-long, nasty, horrible, depressing cycle.

Until 5 years ago.

I enlisted the help of Wade, Hannah, Liz, Deb and Anneke to be my accountability team and help me get control of my life before Type 2 diabetes and obesity killed me. I carefully tracked my weight loss over the 3 years I was losing and checked in with them all weekly.  But I have only been tracking my ‘stable’ weight for the last year and a half. This was in part prompted by Spencer asking me why I was paralyzed with fear at a ‘small’ weight gain.  I was in total meltdown, convinced I had gained 15 pounds or more overnight.  When we really investigated it and broke it down; it was about a 3 pound weight gain.  It felt MUCH BIGGER. But the truth was that I hadn’t tracked my weight consistently so I had NOTHING factual to go on. So the past 18 months or so I have documented my weight along with my workouts in my Garmin database.   Now I can only argue with graphs and facts.  Not my faulty and anxious memory.

I weigh 172.8 pounds today.

The part no one told me about this whole journey was that every little dip, dive, gain on that scale (Which is ENTIRELY NORMAL) often escalates into emotional drama and fear and over-reaction. I am ashamed to admit how many times I have stepped on the scale multiple times within a single day seeking reassurance or in some way hoping that stupid little machine would banish my fears…

Holy crap has the scale/my weight/a NUMBER had me in a chokehold.

This morning it was in graph form for me to see.  No arguing with anything.  I weigh the same as I did last year.  I told Spencer that my weight is now 2 years stable.  And his response ‘so what does that make you think about…?’

Good question. 🙂

I thought about ALL of the wasted time, drama, energy, self-loathing that have gone into the last few years where I was SURE every single food choice had the ability to catapult me backwards or derail my efforts. Let alone when I let the daily number on the scale dictate my mood for the day…

But this mornings weight and graph were pretty solid proof that I can actually manage my weight with food and activity. I’m doing the right things over the long haul, even if I don’t get the day to day stuff just right. 🙂

This morning’s realization and conversation also got me thinking…  Had I been open-minded at the start of this whole thing and could have listened to and absorbed some grounded advice — what information would have been helpful?

I really wish I could have told myself a few things when I started this whole crazy journey…

Told myself and BELIEVED it…

1. Your weight fluctuates.  Daily. It can go up or down during training.  If you have your period.  If you eat too much salt.  The rotation of the earth. 🙂 Sometimes it’s really legit gain because you ate too many calories because your friend Wendie makes this insane guacamole that you can not stop eating.  But you have to understand that your weight isn’t stable in the day to day. Not gonna happen. Quit even thinking it’s possible. And you know what?  It isn’t meant to be. You thought you got to a number and stayed there with just a little effort?  That this whole bodyweight thing was simple math and cut and dried?  Uh…  HELL NO.

2. Take measurements.  I really WISH I had known how big my hips or belly or thighs were at my largest.  I didn’t take measurements because — hell — who really wants to know that they have a 75” waist?  You will wish you had those body measurements for reference and reassurance in the process. At any point when you’re feeling ‘fat’, stalled or just wondering how far your journey has taken you — you can pull out a tape measure and be assured, well beyond the confines of a stupid scale, that you were NOT gaining anything but muscle or fitness.

3.  Worry is wasted energy.  Spend time looking for solutions and opportunities.

4. And for the love of ALL THAT IS HOLY quit beating yourself up. YOU, who you are at the very CORE of your being, has nothing to do with the number on a scale or the packaging of your body. NOTHING.  Please, oh please, just believe me on this one.  I’m in tears writing this.  I am crying for you and for myself too. Because I know you won’t believe me, you can’t fathom what I’m trying to tell you… This is the last thing you can possibly wrap your mind around when you’ve battled your weight your entire life and a number is staring you in the face — a number you hate.  A number so large you didn’t know the scale went that high. I know that feeling of panicked desperation and hopelessness as well as I know the sound of my own heart beating. Text me, call me, reach out to me and I will spend the rest of my life relentlessly reminding you of your value to our world. I’m a way better judge of your value than a stupid mechanical piece of crap you bought at Costco.

5. Don’t pick a number for a goal.  (See 1.) Don’t pick a clothing size either. That’s really just another number. Pick a feeling, activity, ability, destination.  You want to climb stairs and not be gulping for air?  You want to feel solidly OK with how you feel in your birthday or bathing suit? 🙂  You want to be able to hike, run, walk, move better….  PICK something that isn’t a transient, essentially meaningless, number.

6. Know that the BIG picture is worth all the little steps, mis-steps, concerns, questions, sacrifices. It’s hard work. It’s worth it.  And this is in NO WAY linear.  No way.  There is nothing direct, logical or straight about this path you are on.  And you’re going to be making stuff up as you go.

7. Do NOT let that scale dictate your mood to the world.  It’s up a bit?  DO SOMETHING about it.  Don’t be a bitch. Or walk around like someone ran over your dog. Or have a short fuse with loved ones.  Or start secluding yourself from the people you love because you feel you don’t ‘deserve’ their love or you’re deeply embarrassed. Stop allowing that stupid, effing, scale to affect your mood.

8. Please, please, please love on yourself.  And believe in yourself.  YOU will do this.  And you can’t see the day, but it’s coming; you will be healthy and happy. Your weight should not be allowed to dictate ANY of that.  You have so much to offer the world.  You’re an aunt.  A sister.  A friend.  A daughter.  A momma. A lot of really, really remarkable things that no one else in the whole entire world can possibly be! We were only given ONE of you. One. Do what you can each day to help yourself get healthy so you can be around and enjoy the life in front of you.  Be around for US.

9.  This isn’t a short-term investment.  You will look at something daily and judge it as not moving, plateaued (favorite Weight Watchers scapegoat phrase right there…) failing.  But if you can just HANG ON and look at this from the 3,000 foot view, look at this from a 365-day investment — you will see growth.  YOU WILL.  Really!  Keep at it.  You didn’t gain the weight over night.  You will not lose it overnight. Trite and irritating – but TRUE.

10. One of my favorite songs of all times is ‘Live Like You Were Dying’ by Tim McGraw.  You’re living this weight loss journey with a lot of fear.  Fear of going backwards.  Fear of judgement.  Fear of FAILURE…  What if…?  Holy smokes.  The fear you have embraced and live with could choke an elephant. What if you could just enjoy the journey for what it was and live each day like you are trying to be your very best? Living like you’re dying doesn’t mean you live with no consequences for your choices.  It means you accept each day, each moment for what it is and keep moving toward the goal you want to reach…


Even though I was intellectually aware of all of this,  I sure as hell did not understand it.  Couldn’t figure out how to apply it to my situation.  None of it.  I know that until very recently I simply wasn’t ready to hear it,  understand it.

Today prompted a lot of thinking.

This time I really am listening. 🙂

I hope that anyone else who might need to hear this is listening as well…

 

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Docking the boat.

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I walked miles.  Each day.

End of an amazing, epic adventure!

As I sit in the airport waiting for the flight home — I still feel the rocking motion of the boat.  I’m told this is a phenomenon called ‘Jimmy Legs’. 🙂

I’m soaking in the memories of the experience and the bittersweet feelings of saying goodbyes with new friends.

Yet I am finally headed home.

Such a wonderful mix of feelings…


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I spent a LOT of time in my bathing suit. 🙂  I was either ‘sweating (walking) or swimming.’ most of the time on days that we were at sea.

I spent a lot of time sitting by the pool (saltwater pool!) working on this blog. I was slathered in sun screen since I skimped on ‘solar cream’ on day one and seriously sunburned my rear-end…

Lesson quickly learned. 🙂

This whole experience?

An incredible gift.

We’ll start with the short version

I stayed active. Made the best food choices I could given the situation. I’m thrilled I was entrusted with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity from my university. I met some incredible friends.  I’m so happy to be headed home.

Win, win, win!

The longer version?

I came on this cruise intent on doing the best job I could for OSU and also to work on testing my lifestyle in a new environment.

You’ll recall that I shared in my previous blog that I was worried about gaining weight, getting lazy and going bezerk with the unlimited food.

I really wound up learning/re-learning some critical life lessons.

I realized about three days in that there was a massive amount of accumulated life wisdom on this boat regarding health, wellness, business, adventure, relationships….  So I shut up. Listened intentionally. Observed. And tried to ask some good questions when I had someone’s ears.

Here’s my top ‘lesson’ list straight from my journal:

Age is simply number.  There were 55 year olds who are marching steadily toward the grave with an attitude of having given up.  There were 85 year olds kicking up their heels, laughing, having the time of their lives with each of the days they have left. Age is only a number.

Size matters. European food portions were served on this ship. Not American super-sized versions of portions.  There was a dazzling array of foods — at seemingly all hours.  Elegant and intentional presentations. Food and the dining experience was treated with respect and care.

Size REALLY matters.  Again, this is a European ship. Smaller towels, smaller showers, smaller chairs.  It is built for a non-obese/normal weight population.  A large (pardon the sad pun) portion of the inhabitants of this ship were overweight or obese. They struggled with some of the accommodations.  Watching their struggles served as a good reminder for me. The old me, 392 pounds, wouldn’t have fit in my shower stall in my room. Likely wouldn’t have been able to use the commode that was wedged into a tight corner.  I couldn’t have sat in the dining room chairs, worn the luxury robes provided and would not have been able to share a stairwell with anyone. That’s just naming a few of the reminders I saw that put my old and new lives in perspective.

Friends. Friends are where you make them and where you take them.

Accountability. I found new friends on the boat who quickly and happily agreed to being accountability partners. Meeting for walks/stretching/running, grabbing extra ice waters and focusing on great conversations; not on food. I shared my goals and ideas — they shared theirs!

Kindness knows no language.

Listen.  Two ears, one mouth.  I listened a lot on this ship.  Heard incredible stories of strength and determination and heartbreak.  I consciously tried to make sure I walked away from a conversation having listened more than I talked.  I mean, I know I talk. A lot. And I recognize that it’s a bad habit. This ship was good practice for me to re-learn the value of listening.

Drink water.  The older runners on board make plenty of water a daily habit.  Sparkling eyes, great skin, general good health. They were laughing at me when I finally strung together all of their advice and told them the only thing I could find in common with all of them was that they wouldn’t give-up, had worked to make sure running stayed a habit in their lives and they drank plenty of water. Everything else they suggested/lectured me about was a wildly mixed bag of contradictory advice.

Blowing a snot rocket on the boat deck is a) not acceptable or appreciated and b) super tricky with cross winds. 🙂

Rest.  I got great advice from a guy named George on day 12 of this adventure.  He had my number as far as my cheerleader/extrovert/go-go-go personality.  He said ‘Take ‘me’ time for you. Rest, recharge your emotional self.  Not just your body. Or you’ll crash.’  And MAN WAS HE RIGHT!  That sounds crazy given that I was on a luxury cruise ship in the middle of the ocean.  And resting and relaxing is like ninja-expert-professional level sport.  BUT I hadn’t been resting or relaxing for me…  So I took a day and slept in.  Hard.  Woke up after about 14 hours of sleep.  Ate a good food.  Worked on this blog.  Just kind of ‘hid’ and took care of myself all day long. Even extroverts need some quiet time now and again.

Routine.  Routines are powerful.  I spent time thinking about whether the routines I have created were being used for good/health or comfort/excuses/control. 🙂  Shaking up my routine has helped me evaluate those elements that I want to embrace and those that perhaps weren’t serving me best after all.

Be present. So hard for me to remember. But I had plenty of time to practice breathing and enjoying only what was in front of me.

This time on a ship was good for me to realize I can stay active and make smart food choices.  It did NOT look at all like the activity and food that would be my ’norm’ back home, and it honestly took me about 8-10 days to be OK with that.

I kept portions under control. I took stairs. I drank water. I mostly stayed away from the desserts (Fresh sorbets… Man. They were amazing!). I kept the focus on people and good conversations instead of food. By the time we docked, I knew every nook and cranny of that 1/13th of a mile track on the top of the ship. 🙂

I am reminded that I really do have the best of both worlds.

I loved this trip, new friends, the countries, the Panama Canal crossing, the fire-testing of my lifestyle in a totally new environment.

And yet I am thrilled and excited to be heading home to my family, friends, healthy foods, trails.

My uterus is NOT falling out…

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I am a bit cranky right now.

I am down with a mean little sinus infection.  I am choosing to listen to my body and giving it good food, solid sleep and some quality healing time.  (And there’s also the fact that my coach ‘strongly suggested’ it was the smart thing to do.)

But I haven’t run in days. And the ritual of getting ready, running, the feeling of accomplishment that comes from a solid training run… Well.  I miss it.

I’m was in a conversation with a woman at work today about the fact that I was not running.

‘Good to take a break and let your body heal. You know running is hard on your knees and back and I just read that too much running is really bad for your ‘girl parts’.’

Ok. Huh. Girl parts.

The conversation could have gone several different ways at that point.

If I were getting in my regular training time and not feeling icky-sick and exercise-deprived, I would have laughed and said something like…

‘I wear a good sports bra and I’m not using my uterus anyway.  I am more worried about being attacked by a cougar while I’m out running trails.’

But as I said, I am not getting in my regular training runs.

I’m publicly admitting that I am a little cranky.

Ok. I’m grumpy. Maybe even a little more than grumpy.

So I wound up being pretty blunt and pointing out that Type 2 Diabetes and those extra 220 pounds I had been carrying around for close to 20 years had been trying really, really hard to KILL me.

So when you think about all of that?  My love for running and the possibility of my uterus falling out is the least of my worries…


But this whole exchange caught my attention.  And leads me to a bigger question…

And my size-11 feet are kicking right up against the base of a pretty big soapbox…

Why can’t women support, promote, encourage other women? 

Why can’t we enthusiastically support other peoples loves and lives?

Why can’t we just support what other people say they love and want to do without placing our fears and judgement and unsolicited opinions on THEIR dreams?

Seriously.

And I’m guilty of this crappy dream-dousing behavior too.

GUILTY as hell.

This whole ‘girl parts’ conversation made me aware of the potentially fantastic shift that could occur if I were to choose carefully about how I react and comment when people invite me into their conversations about what they cherish and value and love…  What if I just declared myself ‘on their team’ no matter what that team might be?

SO I’m going to pay attention to it for the next few weeks and see if I can’t make a new habit out of supporting — without hesitation or placing my own judgements/concerns/jealousies — on what THEY are excited about.

I’ll give my little social experiment the rest of this Lenten season.  I’ll be intentional, supportive and endeavor to learn why they feel so passionately.

Not sure this will save my uterus from falling out the next time I get to go for a run, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. 🙂

(My sister says I should have named this blog, “I’m ovary being sick.”)

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Supporting someones dreams and hopes. Wendie was giving me some last minute ‘GO KICK ASS’ words of encouragement. 🙂  (Wendie, Pac Crest)

 

What if I just give up..?

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First 10 K, 4 years ago.  The work was just beginning.

I look back on some of my early journal entries from this lifestyle make-over and wonder how in the hell I made it to today.

Honestly.

Why didn’t I just quit?  

It was brutally hard at times.

I get the ‘How did you not give up?’  question perhaps more than any other single question.

I don’t have a good answer.


 

I mean, I had quit every other time I tried to lose weight and start exercising.

I am really succeeding for the first time.

Check out these journal entries…

1/10/2012: ‘I tried step aerobics class.  I didn’t understand the routines and can’t physically keep up. Stood behind my ‘step’ and marched in place for 45 minutes. Drenched in sweat, red-faced and couldn’t breathe from working so hard. It was humiliating. I walked out to my car crying. I feel ashamed and embarrassed.’

The very next day…

1/11/2012: ‘Today is the first day of circuit weights. I’m 5 hours post-lifting and I am so sore I can’t lift my arms. I could only do about 1/5 of the workout. Maybe less. I can’t bend, my fat belly is yet AGAIN in the way. Everyone in there has been doing this for years and I’m intimidated to hell and back.’

HOW and why did I keep going?

Why didn’t I just go back to my old, comfortable, easy ways?

My journal posts those kind of sad, too-honest, desperate entries, then the following weeks I’m only documenting glucose readings, weight, noting that my appetite is through the roof.

There is curiously nothing else about the aerobics,  weights classes, walking or learning to run.

Nothing.


When I do get asked how I kept going when things were tough, I usually answer with something basic, but true:

I wanted my life to be different.

I was tired of being sick and tired and I was ready to do the work.

Those sound like platitudes or motivational quotes. Those were really, truly how I FELT.  Fiercely, totally, with my whole heart. I was NOT giving up this time no matter how hard it got.

I knew there was a different life that could be mine.

I had promised myself I would do what I had to do this time around to get healthy, get fit – create a whole new ‘lifestyle‘. This time around was NOT yet another a one-fix wonder, a silver bullet, a starvation plan.  I – the chronically impatient – KNEW I had to be patient this time around because I was trying to exchange prescription drugs for food and exercise.

I HAD to invest the time and effort to build something I could keep and do for the rest of my life.

When I think about it, even before I committed to trying to change my lifestyle — I was often hungry, sore and defeated because I was fat, sick and totally out of shape.  I mean, I was taking 3 shots a day, handfuls of prescription meds and I was carrying anywhere from 100-220 pounds of extra weight most of my adult life.  That takes a substantial amount of WORK.

So really the whole ‘hungry, tired and sore’ thing hadn’t changed.  It was no longer a valid excuse for me to be using.

I think my brain and my heart recognized the equation of wanting to fight for healthy and that needing to find a long-term, permanent solution was the only way to make this work.

The little fire in my soul that was SCREAMING ‘things can be so, so, so different for you if you would just work at it!’ was what I was choosing to listen to this time around… I could finally hear it loud and clear.

The biggest of the mysteries for me that remains in this whole adventure is why that little voice — smothered for so, so long —  was finally what I was choosing to listen to, what I was focused on…


My journals intrigue me.

They confirm that I’m crappy at journaling. They’re frustratingly incomplete.

By my 2013 journal they’re full of race bibs, happy benchmarks and lots of running related notes.

I’m not sure when that switch occurred.

Personal details about that critical interlude are just simply missing from my journals entirely.

I wish I would have taken better notes or written more descriptions so that I could tell people ‘THIS is what I felt, how I did it, why I kept going…’  But I don’t have any of that information collected. And do not remember most of those details.  Perhaps I blocked them out because things were that hard OR more likely — they felt profound enough at the time I figured I would never forget and I didn’t bother to write them down…

I’ll be writing stuff down a little more carefully from now on. 🙂


 

I would hazard a pretty good guess that the reason I kept going was that my motivation – the reason driving all the changes – was so, so different than any other time in my life.

This lifestyle change was not a reaction to someone’s opinion of what I should weigh/eat/do.

This was entirely about finding health and life.

This had nothing to with a number on the scale or a size of dress.  And EVERYTHING to do with getting free from Type 2 Diabetes before it was too late.

This time I was carefully and systematically searching for the things I would needed to make this a lasting lifestyle.

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This is how I feel about life. 🙂  No words needed.

Remember the moment…


 

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Wendie snapped this pic about two seconds after I clicked ‘YES, I really, really, REALLY want to register for the Mountain Lakes 100 miler!’  This captures the moment, the feelings perfectly.

‘Write a note to yourself while you are so excited. In those rare, fleeting or dark moments when you aren’t excited, you’re exhausted or you feel scared or unsure about what you have just signed up to do, you can look back and read the words, your very own words, and remember this moment…  

Remember the ‘why’.’Peg Herring 

Peg is my mentor and friend who at the same time also said…

‘I do not understand what you have chosen to do. Not at all. But you need to know that I support you 100%.  You can do anything you set out to do.’

So, here’s the note I wrote to myself. 🙂



 

Bets,

You just signed up for the Mountain Lakes 100 mile race.

Now you get to spend the next eight months training for it! Then on September 24th you get to freaking toe the line!

You are wholeheartedly, bone-deep, excited!  Giddy even. You spent the week walking around grinning ear-to-ear. You have gone to bed each night happy and very much at peace with the decision to embark on this wild adventure.

Josh Gum planted the idea in your head to run a 100 miler about three years ago. He introduced you to the idea of ultras and endurance sports. (‘You don’t have to go fast, you just can’t give up…’) The idea that you might be able to run 100 miles, you, Bets, – the former morbidly obese girl, Type 2 Diabetic, the girl who swore she hated running – this idea, has become an obsession, a deep-seated desire.

Since the day the seed was planted, you have been wondering, dreaming, becoming focused on the idea that maybe, just maybe, you might have it in your heart and soul (and legs) to actually run something obnoxiously, audaciously, fantastically long; like a 100 miler.

The last three years you have been dedicated to learning the art and sport of running. And while you’re just barely getting started, that hasn’t stopped you from totally falling in love with trail running in the process.  Falling in love with all of it.  The people, the sport, the experiences, the miles, the challenge.

Every single thing about trail running appeals to you, speaks to you, heals and nourishes and strengthens your soul.

You have also learned that this life adventure with trail running is not just about running.

This whole process of getting ready for and tackling a 100 miler is really about wondering if you have the fortitude and ability to take a really big, scary goal and then TACKLE it, own it, beat it…

This is about putting your hard-fought lifestyle changes to the test.

This is about getting stronger.  Brain and body.

This is about really LIVING your life.


You spent your 20’s and into your early 40’s as a 392 pound, morbidly obese, Type 2 diabetic.

You were ALWAYS saying to yourself;  I…

‘… can’t run.’

‘… can’t do that.’

‘… am too fat to do that.’

‘… am pretty sure that would hurt…’

‘…am too old.’

Here’s the kicker…

How can you really hate/deny/be fearful of something you have never done?

Be honest with yourself Bets. You had never gone running.  You weren’t eating healthy. You weren’t being active. You weren’t doing anything long enough to form an actual, honest-to-goodness opinion of your own.

You were just accepting the passive opinions about your abilities and limitations based on ASSumptions. (We all know what word features prominently in ASSumption.)

Well…

You are done assuming.


This effort will require you to give your very best on every, single, possible level. It will test everything you think you are made of. And you have been told/warned/not-so-gently-reminded by people you love, trust and respect that this is going to test things you never knew were going to be tested, never dreamed you would encounter.

This will change you.

‘It’s going to be an experience that will change you in ways that will surprise you.’  — Josh Gum

You are ready for that testing.

Not just on race day, but you are ready for the testing that you know occurs every step of the way during the training process too.

Gaining new distances, building your core/back, learning to fuel, endless practice running down hills, even more endless practice with speed work, running uphills, power hiking.

You want to hit that start line for Mountain Lakes KNOWING that you kept putting in your best effort every single time you put on your running shoes.

If you commit 100% to the training, on race day you can put all of that together and enjoy the magic that happens when hard work and a heartfelt goal start racing in the same direction.

You did not just sign up for this on a whim.

You have been tenacious, intentional and consistent in working up to a fitness level where you feel wholeheartedly ready to train for and do your first 100 miler. You spoke with Spencer at length about what you wanted to do more than two years ago.

With guidance from both Spencer and Josh, you decided you had the perfect race in your sights and you picked Mountain Lakes for your first 100 miler.

You know you can do this.

Spencer says you are ready to train to run 100 miler.

Team Gum (Josh and Wendie) have said they know you are up to the task and will support you 100%.

That’s all the validation you wanted or needed to eagerly hit the ‘sign me up now!’ button.

Now go throw your heart and feet onto the trails and get training for this sucker.



 

So when and if the times get dark or scary or daunting, I will look back on this note and remember what I was thinking and feeling.

I will also be reminded that this is not just about running.

It has never, ever been entirely about running.

This whole, amazing adventure is about something much, much bigger. It’s about owning and chasing down a dream. It’s about believing in myself. It’s about intentionally choosing to push into new, scary territory. It’s about living life to the fullest each and every single day.