Guest blogger Jeff Sherman: I accidentally ran a 50K.

My friend Jeff run a 50K last December.

On accident. 


He didn’t want me to have to run alone. Seriously. That is the sole reason he decided, with less than 24 hours notice, to run a 50K.

When I tell people Jeff is like the little brother I always wanted and never had — can you see why?

You’ll read his account of his accidental 50K , but I have one of my own stories about this epic adventure to share with you first…

Jeff KNEW he had to fuel (consume calories) to be able to endure this event.  Josh and Spencer had hammered home that point perfectly. But at the first tiny taste of the Gu he had picked out the night before at the grocery store, he refused to eat his fuel.

He hated the flavor and texture.

This episode occurs like 3 miles in on a 31 mile day. 

He was flat out refusing to eat his energy gels.

I start yelling at him, begging, pleading, I even told him at one point to just plug his nose and swallow the damn stuff… He just kept looking at me (all of this is happening while we were running) and saying ‘No.’   And then would lift the Gu packet to his face and without tasting it — he would make a face and gagging sounds. 

After several frustrating miles, we eventually reached a compromise of sorts. 

We traded gel flavors.

After some serious coaxing he finally decided to try, and liked my salted caramel flavored Gu’s. I wound up with his barely-tolerable Raspberry flavored Gu’s.

I mean only TRUE friends would give up their Salted Caramel flavored Gu’s just to help someone else through a race.

Right?  🙂

Thank you Jeff for embedding and creating such happy and cherished memories into an event that I will remember with pure joy for the rest of my life.

Take it away Jeff, my accidental ultrarunning friend

Bets loves telling this story.

This was her first 50K, and I was privileged to share the experience with her.

Yes—on accident, I had the privilege to race with her! I was not supposed to run this thing. And, not to mention, I had not raced since high school, and even then, those were 5Ks!

So, in this single race, I ran my first 10K, half-marathon, marathon and ultra.

Bets told me “Jeff this is something we HAVE TO SHARE!!!”

Think of all the stories that would be in ONE race weekend report!”

I said “Ok!”

First thing: I DO NOT want to downplay how much work Bets put in on this race… her first Ultramarathon. She wants to be an ultrarunner and this 50K (~31 miles) was her golden ticket to becoming that runner. She worked her butt off for this race. Almost literally. 🙂 She. Trained. HARD!

Meanwhile, I was running maybe 2-3 times per week with her (on her short distance days) and she was putting in 5-6 days a week training for this crazy thing. She asked me to travel with her, mostly just as support from the start line, aid station, and finish line.

I was promised there would be little running involved.

“Absolutely, I am in.”


ferry boat
The great yellow ferry boat’s deck.  Spencer, Bets, Hannah, Wendie, Josh and Jeff.

The idea was that I would travel to The North Face Endurance Challenge (TNF50) in San Francisco with Betsy, Spencer, Hannah, Josh, and Wendie, as their friend. Not a runner.

Wendie and I would crew for everyone else. Basically, we would load shoes, water, Gu’s, and lube in a backpack and jog between aid stations.

Sounds like fun to me!

When we flew in to California, Josh mentions he is not feeling well.

I don’t think about the comment too much, other than Josh had planned on running with Bets. I knew she might be a little nervous about going alone.

The next day [pre-race day], we drive to San Francisco and pick up running bibs. When we get back to the house, Josh, Spencer and I go out on a “shake-out” run. About 2 miles in on this slow, flat, dry run I make a comment to Josh,

“You know, if you are too sick to run tomorrow, I think I could run with Bets.”

They both looked at me with shocked faces, and then responded with huge smiles and yelling, “F%*# Yeah!” The context for their original shocked faces is that, up to this point, I was adamant to anyone that would listen that I was not a runner. Just a friend of Betsy’s who liked being outside.

The fact that I expressed interest in the run, was a little out of left field.

Bets, Wendie, and my Mother (not on the trip) did not share the exact, instantaneous, enthusiasm of the guys.

“You have never run a 10K race before, let alone a f@#$ing 50K on trails!” – anonymous

Josh did end up being too sick to run… and the teaching began. Between Josh and Spencer, I “learned” how to run an ultramarathon at the dining room table in our rented Yellow Ferry Boat.

I have never listened to anyone so intensely before in my life. I learned how to eat a Gu (NASTY- snot textured sugar packet), when to take a salt-tab, when to eat an Imodium (extremely important to keep the Gu in), how much water to drink, how to run downhill.

I listened to every single word.

Still today, I proudly quote Josh Gum before starting a long run.

Race day arrived.

We woke up early, covered our feet in this nasty paste lube and sent Spencer off on the 50 miler. Meanwhile, Bets, Hannah, and I, had an hour to sit around and process the ridiculousness of what was about to happen. I remember saying (several times),

“wait… this is going to take how long?!!”

Oh god.

In my head, I know I can do this. Bets and Josh keep telling me this is about mental toughness.

That is 99% true, if you have trained for your race!!!

If I can leave you with anything from this blog?   Train for races. Whether you train with a coach or from a variety of online sources, it makes a difference.

Trust me.

Happy jeff

This picture was from Bets and I at the “start” of the race, when I had run my first 10K (6.2 miles). No biggie.

This is fun.

We were having so much fun! Stomachs weren’t upset, we had climbed less than 1,000’ in elevation, laughing the entire way.

Life was good.

Then came mile 16ish.

Both of us may have fallen just a little behind on fuel and we had some upset stomachs.

[Short preface: Bets told me I could go this far into detail in the story.]

This is a nice way to say that we left some dignity in the bushes along the course. Apparently, pride stays in the rental van when nature calls during ultrarunning.

The trails were a slippery, muddy mess from the rain storm the day before, so people were really not paying attention to our bathroom trail side-excursions… Well, except for one poor gentlemen who followed Bets off the trail, thinking that was the course. I didn’t know what to say, so I just yelled,

“NO!!! She’s pooping!”

Let’s just say Bets was not impressed with me announcing that fact to a squadron of runners.

Then came mile 26.

This is the point where a normal marathon stops!

We still had 6 more miles – with hills – to go.

Here was my attitude at the time when Betsy asked for a selfie…

Not happy jeff

This part of the race hurt.

It hurt really bad. Every muscle ached. I was sure this was what death felt like.

She was smiling, but holy crap this was HARD!

I know at some point I laid down by a porta-potty and asked Bets if she could,

“just leave me here to die.”

After a few choice words were thrown at me, I picked myself up and onward we limped.

The trail was absolutely beautiful… In hindsight. We could see down onto the Golden Gate Bridge, out towards the water on one side and beautiful valleys on the other.

All we could talk about… Pizza and beer. Bets talked about pizza and I talked about how I could taste the beer. No more disgusting watered down sugar packets. This was our conversation for the last 6 miles. Pizza and beer.

We came across the finish line happy for the picture, but it was really time to be done.

We finished a few seconds past the 8 hour mark.


Looking back, it’s hard to think about how tough the run really was, because I keep thinking about how much fun I had running with a great friend.

We kept each other mentally strong and now have some really great stories to tell.

I would go back in a heartbeat, but NOT for a 50 miler. 🙂

Wishing Bets the best in the 2015 TNF50 MILER!!

Guest Blog: Wade, Boston Marathon and running happy.

He was FLYING down the hill. Smiling big time. As he should. The work paid off and he was enjoying the race.

Wade ran the Boston Marathon this past weekend.

He had a great race!

Wade ran a 2:44 marathon (world record is around 2:03ish)  with a 6:16 pace (that’s minutes per mile.).  Uh… That’s fast.  Just for the record.

Congrats to my friend on an amazing accomplishment, a race well run and more importantly a race run happy. 🙂

Run with it Wade… 🙂

Treadmills and the quest for happiness.

Betsy has an expression… “run happy”.

I can’t tell you how many signs I saw during Boston that had that expression on them… at least two (signs get a little hard to read when you are concentrating on not bouncing off the guy next to you and squinting through the rain, I’m sure there were more…)…  (I did see one from a Wellesley College girl about using her tongue…)

Anyways… I always tell Bets “I don’t run happy, I run hard”.  And that second part was especially true at Boston. I ran my legs off. But something else has occurred to me in the days since the race, and Betsy’s blog about ‘Force’ really cemented it for me.

In the lead up to, and since the race, people have asked how I trained, if it hurt (duh) and why I do it? All of the usual questions that Betsy has already outlined. Apparently we runners have a third eye on our foreheads… Do yourselves a favor and go read Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. Don’t read the reviews, just read the damn book. Then you will know why we run; to catch dinner.

One of the conversation themes has centered around the tough winter that the East coast has had, and training through it. Specifically (and this is a topic amongst both runners and non-runners), do you run inside?

NO!!! NO &$^#^#&#&&!!!!! WAY!!!!

For the record I ran ONE TIME on a dreadmill training for Boston. I never get blisters, and I got a blister. It was the most miserable five miles I have run in a long time.

So as I thought more about the race, and about Betsy’s blog on the connotations of “force(d)”, I also thought about why I submit my body to the stupidity that is a marathon. And, revelation here, it’s because running is fun and it makes me happy. Long cold snowy training runs are fun! (I don’t run on treadmills, because they suck, and it’s not fun.) I run because its enjoyable, I like it, I am happy when I run.

The exercise is a benefit, and don’t get me wrong, its an important part of the overall experience, but I wouldn’t run just for the exercise, exercise isn’t fun, its work. Running is FUN! Granted there are days where you have to embrace the suck. Hell there are weeks where you have to embrace the suck. There are days when you HAVE to go run in the cold, and the wind, and the dark, and it will not be entirely enjoyable. BUT it will beat running on a treadmill in that hot stuffy gym (treadmills are right next to Dementors in my book).

But at the end of it all, you get to run through some town, on some race, with a bunch of kids holding their hands out for a high five as you cruise (or trot, or hobble) by, and you will get to give them a high five. Their joy will give you joy. When you are at mile 22, and you are starting to hurt, you see your friends, and your mom cheering you on and you get to give them high fives (and not run into the fence) and they take awesome pictures to account for the craziness. And at mile 26.2 you will stop, and it will hurt like little else you have experienced. And you know what?! IT.IS.FUCKING.AWESOME!!!

Mile 23.5. Family and friends screaming and cheering like maniacs. 🙂  Photo Credit to Thomas Griffin.

As Betsy said in her last blog, no one is forcing her to do this, she, and I, and Hannah, and every other person who sticks with running, or swimming, or under water basket weaving does it not because someone is making them, but because they find some joy in it, however twisted that joy may be.

“Training is what makes you into the athlete.  The ‘event’ is the celebration, the party!  You have done the WORK, put in the hours and learned a lot about yourself during training. The event is where you put it all together and see it in action!” ~ Betsy Hartley

If you aren’t a runner, its OK we understand… (But we really think you should buy some running shoes and give it an honest 3 months worth of effort… you will thank us at the end).

But understand that this is our sanity, and it’s fun. If you think it sucks then don’t do it. Life is too short to be miserable.

Go find something you enjoy, and kick ass at it.

Just so long as there is a party at the end.

Run Happy, Run Hard!

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. 🙂

‘Do you know Betsy Hartley?’ — Guest Blog

I can talk Jeff into almost anything. And I know it. Even when it involves handing my phone to a homeless person and convincing Jeff to jump off of a wall for the sake of a picture. 🙂

Meet Jeff Sherman.

Jeff is my friend, work colleague and a trusted running partner.

He started running with me simply because he didn’t like that I was running alone in the dark, early morning.  He doesn’t consider himself a runner. (He is.)  The first run or two (or 10) were a true testament of our friendship.  Let’s just say that he wasn’t a big fan of running and he found ways to express his opinion using creative language. 🙂

We have run together a ton this past year. Jeff has patiently taken the time to teach me a few important life skills. Among the most useful skills for running?  Snot rockets and spitting WITH the wind. (There is at least one other thing you should do WITH the wind as well…)  🙂

He’s like the brother I never had and have ALWAYS wanted.  He tells me the truth, even when I really don’t want to hear it. He always helps me out and only sometimes does it include a lecture.

He is also one of a very small handful of people who knew me at my heaviest and who RUNS with me now. He has seen the transformation over the years. He knew me as a full-blown diabetic. He knows how hard I have worked – first to manage the disease and then finally to reverse it. He’s heard the questions I get asked, the comments that get made. He has seen me when I am struggling to learn something new. And he has been there at more than a few finish lines/special life moments where I was on top of the WORLD!

Take it away Jeff…

When Betsy said, “would you write a blog?” My first comment was sarcastic…

‘My thoughts already work like a blog— words in disarray with pictures. PERFECT!’

The truth is—this is harder than it looks, but I am so proud of Betsy for putting her journey out to the world. So, of course I am so excited to contribute.

And, it’s a blog—so obviously the grammar is not perfect and my ideas are not based on research! I love this.

For context, a few points about our friendship, because I hear all the time, “You know Betsy Hartley?:

  1. I do know Betsy! She began working in higher education when I began as a true freshman in College (2005).
  2. She can (and will) talk me into anything. See #3.
  3. I did not like running when I began RUNNING with Betsy. We have been running together for a year.
  4. She is my inspiration for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and a positive outlook on life.

Betsy and I (and the friends/family around us) are genuinely happy people. We know that everyone has baggage and crap, but I am specifically going to write about the things we do to keep the positivity flowing:

  1. Smile and laugh. A lot.

Smiling is easy (flex those cheeks… 🙂 ) and laughter is CONTAGIOUS. Notice the picture below? We laugh all the time.

So much so that we are avoided by one particular person at the gym who can’t stand happy people. (If I was typing on my iPhone I would add a shrugging emoji icon).

No matter where we have been in our life journeys, fitness, other struggles, etc. The smiles are the genuine.

Smile more. Just try it. 🙂

2009. Genuine smiles and happy times.

2. Be awesome and find the awesome in others

Betsy is awesome for MANY reasons. But, I think the most central awesomeness component, is that she genuinely cares about people.

I will give an example: newcomers in the gym generally feel overwhelmed, especially if they are alone (see point 4), she will be the person who goes out of her way to introduce herself, smile, and learn the person’s name.

An upcoming blog from Betsy will have more about her journey in the gym.

It costs nothing to be nice to people.

  1. Try to avoid comparing your journey with someone else’s.  (Or, in Betsy language: eat your own damn elephant).

Once I realized I would never be a six foot tall Men’s Health Magazine Cover model, it made working out more fun. And, there is a whole lot less pressure.

“Comparison is the thief of joy” –Betsy Hartley

  1. Find an activity AND PEOPLE you like – get moving!

Honestly, being active with friends is the most fun for me.

Like I said before, Betsy is my motivation to stay active, and she keeps me accountable. Find friends like that.

Also, if you are newer to fitness: I have found the buddy system makes me more relaxed in the gym, feel safer trail-running (especially in the dark-ass mornings that Betsy runs), and provide a supportive environment to ask the tough questions about life in general.

Hopefully, this short little extroverted ramble was helpful for someone.

In closing: smile more, sit less, encourage others, and find great people to be active with!

Happy Holidays!

Hannah, Bets and Jeff. All smiles.

Ignore the shortcut.

Out for a run. On trails. Typical these days. Gratefully, thankfully, will-not-take-it-for-granted typical. 🙂

Meet Josh and Wendie Gum!

We met three years ago. These two were the first people I met that had lost weight the exact same way I was approaching it. They had made sweeping changes.  They embraced and were loving their healthy lifestyle. It was like MAGIC to find these two! I felt profound relief, an overwhelming rush of gratitude. Dumb luck or fate? Who cares!? I had JUST stumbled into a new set of friends who GOT what I was trying to do! They had information, ideas, energy, passion and were 100% supportive.

As I got to know them I realized not only had they adopted the lifestyle I was chasing, BUT they also happened to be optimistic, compassionate, generous, fabulous human beings on top of it all…

I asked Josh if he would write about the journey he and Wendie have been on. Please read on to learn more about the dynamic duo I am blessed to call friends.

My way is not the shortcut, and the journey has been worth every bit the effort. – Josh Gum

It seems that from nearly every angle you’ll be told there are easier ways, you can take a pill, or follow a specific diet, and in a few short weeks you’ll have lost all that unwanted fat! Well that sounds simple.. why wouldn’t you jump right on board and get started?! I did. I did this many times, and failed to reach my ultimate goal every single time. Before I figured out what works for me, I failed at every shortcut that I could find.. and I regained my initial weight plus interest.

One of the most laughable shortcuts I ever took was a pill that supposedly bound to the fat in the food you eat, and helped to “pass it through” your body before it could be stored on your body. Some point after having taken the pill, at a moments notice I would need to be no less than 25 yards from the nearest bathroom. Sounds ridiculous? It was. I took a shortcut once that was a “cookie diet”.. that’s no joke. You buy this product with some prepackaged cookies, and you eat them for nearly every meal. These were not cheap cookies, either. I remember they left me satisfied for maybe a week or two.. but after the novelty wore off, they started to taste horrible and ultimately I added another tick on the failure scoreboard.

While a lot of people find success with Weight Watchers, it still turned out to be somewhat of a shortcut for me. I got very good at calculating points, and eating much less food than I should, because the type of food I wanted to eat would account for a bulk of my daily allowance. I sabotaged my day before it was even half over. Over time, one thing would lead to another and I found myself grazing through the candy bowls in the office, or picking up fast food on my way home after work.

Thorough my twenties I was quite successful at eliminating as much physical activity as I could on a daily basis. I’d guess that my weight didn’t climb as fast as it could have because of the weekend hikes that my wife, Wendie, and I would take at Silver Falls State Park. Despite our efforts, as the years went by, my pants crept up past size 42. Sometime near the end of 2009, the highest weight I remember seeing on the scale was 325lbs. At a routine appointment with my doctor, I remember him telling me, again, that I need to take my health and weight seriously. He was ready to diagnose me as hypertensive and to put me on blood pressure medicine. I was told, point blank, that this is not a diagnosis that he wants to put on my records and that it would follow me around forever. I had been living with chronic pain for several years, I had a back surgery to repair a bulging lumbar disc, and I was battling with depression related to it all. My twenties were kicking my ass, and for all the wrong reasons.

There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. – Beverly Sills

On my Thirtieth birthday, I stated to my wife that I was going to make a change and that my thirties were going to be the time that I finally became healthy. Three months passed, and a I finally took the hardest step.. the first one. Wendie joined in, and this time we were going to ignore every shortcut that had lead to failure in the past. This time we were going old-school; we were going to eat healthy foods and exercise on a daily basis. A super simple concept, and yet, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Over the past five years, I’ve maintained a weight loss of 110lbs, and Wendie has lost 80lbs! With our new lease on life, and our remodeled fitness we’ve been training for and completing many athletic goals that neither of us would have ever dreamt of otherwise.

For weight loss, shortcuts tend to set people up for failure and dependency on a particular regimen or product. Long term success in managing my weight was the result of educating myself on what a healthy diet is, and the hard work of consistently making the right choices.