10 years.

The view from the mountaintops will never get old. It’s a magical, lovely world to LOOK at the mountains and then be able to go and climb IN the mountains. Not gonna get old. Nope. No way. Even if {sometimes} I whine and complain en route to the top – the CLIMB is always worth the view. 🙂

4th of July is a National Holiday, yet for the last decade it’s been a day of personal reflection; sometimes deep, sometimes simply grateful but always, always with a big dose of awe… 10 years ago I decided I was tired of controlling my inevitable death from Type 2 Diabetes and attendant complications. I was slowly marching to a grave. I knew it. Taking my prescribed drugs compliantly and not questioning alternatives. I was likely going to lose my feet/legs a piece at a time from our of control blood glucose and wind up crawling, not so much marching, towards that grave. I was resigned to the idea that it was my only choice.

Then July 2, 2011 I woke up and knew in my heart something was profoundly different… I woke up and decided I wanted to live. Whatever days I had left, whatever it looked like, I wanted. to. LIVE. No clue what it would look like to change my life; but game for the fight. I remember I woke up and felt this really odd feeling; iron-hot, fierce determination. I’d never felt it before. I didn’t know how in the hell I was going to make things different — I just knew I had to start flailing forward and figure it out as I went. I knew that where I was in that moment was NOT where I wanted to stay for even one more single day.

I changed everything. And still change things to keep moving toward the goal of being healthy. It turns out that there’s no real ‘finish line’ on this particular journey to health. Go figure. I started eating different, fought to get off meds, started lifting weights and moving more. I started losing weight and helping my body get more active, I got off meds. I’ve been diagnosed with and am in recovery treatment for an eating disorder. And while it’s never been linear or simple – it’s been worth it all. Countless of other great, amazing, wonderful things have graced my life since July 2011.

I stopped giving up on myself and stayed focus on ‘the next right thing’ that would help me continue to live this new-found, med-free, active life.

Life has given me ten years I never thought I would have. Endless awe and gratitude. I have been given a second chance and I don’t think I’ve wasted a single day. I’m living a life I couldn’t think big enough to even dream about. I’ve become a runner. I published a book. I’m in a job I love. I work as a health coach. I have amazing friends in the trail/ultra community. I have a 100 mile finisher buckle. Like… NONE of that was on my radar 10 years ago when I was struggling to figure out how to not die. I was in a body that couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. I was on a ton of pharmaceutical interventions. I was uncomfortable and sick and felt deeply hopeless about the mess I was in with Type 2 Diabetes. And now…. I’m not. I still have to fight for my health each and every day. Yet, I’m alive and healthy and active and deeply grateful for this life I get to live every single day.

I am very grateful for these 10 glorious years I might not have had any other way.

Meds (Take 2…)

(GOOD numbers! 5/1/21 with 500 mg Glucophage.)

I’m back on a low dose of a type 2 diabetes med.

It sucks to have to admit that the YEARS of lifestyle changes I’ve made and adhered to just weren’t enough for this stage of life.

I’ve talked for years about working so hard to get off of meds. And I have spent 8+ years backing it up with a lot of hard work to stay off meds. I had some major heartburn along with a few tears, over having landed back in the land of pharmaceuticals. I feel like a failure on some level. Yet I’m not dumb. I don’t want to die or loose limbs or suffer organ failure and I KNOW that’s the possible result if I continue to deny the situation. And throw in that I did a whole lot of damage for many years. As my friends who were there 10 years ago remind me: I was warned that if I could get off of all the meds and embrace a different lifestyle; at some point meds might still have to be re-introduced.

It appears that now is that time.

Hello again. (I’m saying that in a flat, unenthusiastic, bored-teenager tone…)

I held my own for a long time. Eight years give or take. Got off meds and stayed off meds. Then menopause hit. Perimenopause to be precise. It hit me hard, backed over me, peered out the window and ran over me again just for good measure. In doing some research I’ve learned glucose resistance is common for women during this stage. I’m metabolically messed up anyway… So… I have to be extra careful and mindful. It has been increasingly obvious that I wasn’t going to wait this out with familiar tactics and tools.

(Crappola lines and numbers. 3/27/21)

After some stalling and hand-wringing, I went to the doc to ask for help taking action before things got totally out of hand. I knew – thanks to my trusty Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) that my numbers were not great. You want that line FLAT and low as much of the time as possible. Bloodwork backed up my concern that things weren’t where I wanted them. I was doing everything I knew to do, everything that had worked up to this point. Exercising, lifting weights, sleeping, drinking lots of water, no alcohol, low carb/healthy fat foods, trying to limit stress. That line should have responded by flattening out and laying low. It stayed jagged with random big spikes.

We talked about all the options and decided we could do one of two things; let me keep doing the things I was doing and see what happened or we could introduce a little pharmaceutical assistance and see if my body appreciated the help.

It was up to me.

I opted for some help.

My body REALLY appreciates the medical assist. I need some help to get through menopause and not fall neck deep back into full-blown type 2 diabetes. Three weeks on the new med and I have good numbers and feel so much better. It was the right thing to do.

I keep thinking about the fable of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’. I was that character for oh-so-many years. For decades I would go to docs overweight, miserable, escalating health issues and totally unwilling to change. They would ask about my health habits and I would lie. To their faces. I would lie. I would plead with them to give me a magic bullet or cure me or solve the problem. The part I never voiced out loud was that I didn’t want to have to do any work. I wanted something to magically fix me and I thought that if I told them again and again that I was doing everything and I needed help – they would finally stop making me work at helping myself and they would just FIX IT.

That’s not how it works. Especially when there are some much bigger/deeper issues at the core.

Shame. SO, so much shame and wildly ineffective coping mechanisms for dealing with it. It kept me from taking action and making changes for years. I would tell docs I was doing ‘everything I could’ and leave their appointment and cruise through a drive-through to drown the shame in a value meal… I was binge eating and hiding it. I was not exercising. I was not being compliant with meds/protocols. I didn’t know how good life could be running and adventuring and being healthy — I thought the only thing that could provide that kind of comfort was food… Took a really good therapist to help me begin to untangle that mess.

Fast forward: I found health, therapy and life. It’s a long story. You can buy the book. Literally. 🙂

Now I’ve been sitting in a docs office telling her I am doing everything I can. And I need help. I became uncomfortably aware of all the times I had said those words to health professionals and NOT MEANT THEM. And I’m proud of myself for being brutally honest and upfront and battling the shame this time. This time I really genuinely meant them.

I’m on 500 mg of Glucophage. It’s a medication I know well. It’s meant to be combined with lifestyle changes. It does have some side effects; gastrointestinal ickiness. Still doing ALL the things I was doing to help myself and getting a little medical assistance to get my numbers to go/stay low.

It is working.

I am proud of myself for knowing when to ask for help. I’m proud of myself for taking the help even though I was also battling the feelings of taking a BIG ASS STUMBLING STEP BACKWARDS. I vowed when I made all of those changes almost a decade ago that I would try to do the right thing for my health moving forward. And I am keeping that promise to myself. Even with some mixed emotions about having to swallow a pill; this is in fact the very right thing for right now.

Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM)

I’ve been using a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM) for over a year now to help me keep type 2 diabetes at bay. I knew it was an amazing tool at the start, but a year of steady use and I can happily and without exaggeration say….

It is life changing.

Being able to contrast life trying to reverse type 2 diabetes 8 years ago using meds/insulin/finger-sticks/blood tests with staying healthy eating low carbohydrate and right now having a gadget to give me real-time feedback about my choices with the swipe of my phone…. More than a few times I’ve had deep, grateful moments of realizing I have instant info and can take action to make things different. Right now! HOLY SMOKES! That feedback and implementing those changes in the past would have taken MONTHS of waiting and follow-up blood tests and endless finger sticks to basically GUESS at a next best direction.

It’s a small ‘button’ I wear on the back of my arm for 2 weeks at a time. It collects data 24/7. When the two weeks are up, the app warns me – and I insert/attach a new one to the other arm… SMALL, tiny, flex-tubing inserts in my arm. DOES NOT hurt, I barely feel it or notice it at all. PROMISE.

I can instantly scan the ‘button’ with the app on my phone and get information 24/7 about what’s going on in my body.

Happy to see the entire line in the green bar… That’s my goal! STAY IN THE GREEN!

I can tell how stress, sleep, activity, food are all impacting my glucose. Hell – I can tell when I am starting to get sick or accidentally got some sugar in food.

ShingRx shot threw my body for a loop. Wasn’t just my imagination — we could SEE it….

It’s an awesome, unobtrusive ‘detective’ sitting passively on my arm and collecting data for me! It allows me to make the ‘next best choice’ and take action for my own health. Over short periods of time I can use the information it provides to figure out what works best for ME. {Obligatory reminder… This little gem of a tool is in addition to regular health care. It is NOT a replacement for regular visits and care.}

I am metabolically – pick your favorite word – deranged/damaged/fragile. I did years and years of ‘training’ my body to work and respond in a certain way. That’s the nice way to say my lifestyle and food choices did some hefty damage. Now I get to live a slightly different life than the normal person to stay my healthy best and off meds. I now have this great tool that gives me positive reinforcement and helps me answer questions in real time about me and my body and how it reacts to what I do/put in my body.

You want a concrete, personal example of what’s different for me? I aim to keep my glucose readings to stay from 80-120 mg/dL (The green stripe on the screen shot above). I work to keep it ‘between the lines’. It would be amazing if I could keep it at 80 mg/dL around the clock. But bodies, life and glucose don’t work that way. 🙂 I took insulin and meds for years. Now I don’t. I would love to never, ever have to take any of them again. So, given that Type 2 Diabetes is largely a lifestyle disease – the results rest in large part on me and my day-by-day choices and habits. I use food and activity to control my health and stay out of the diabetic range. So for me, I try to move 6 days a week with sweat and intention. I try to keep my net carbs at/below 50 grams a day. THAT seems to be the sweet spot my body works at and responds to the best. I now know all of this life-changing information because I have a year of working with a CGM. The combination mentioned above is what gives me consistently good readings. 🙂

I do pay out of pocket for this sucker. Insurance companies don’t want to pay for prevention. (Yes… I’m sitting here cussing about that like I do on the regular…) Yet I am lucky that I can find some creative ways to make it work because a year into using this device I KNOW I can take smart, educated, fast choices for my own best long-term health. I would encourage anyone who knows that they have a pre-diabetes/diabetes diagnosis or one they suspect a diagnosis is looming around the bend to think about asking your Doc to prescribe one of these. This could be the tool that helps you avoid that specific and dangerous footpath and puts you back on a health track. If you’re pondering it, wondering about it all – please reach out! I’m happy to talk about any/all of it. I was a skeptic. I wasn’t sure it could help me. I thought it would be a pain in the ass or wouldn’t be accurate or would hurt 24/7…. But a year into using it I have too much hard evidence that this thing is helping me make sustainable, healthy changes that work specifically (and maybe only!) for ME. It’s not a mass-market diet or silver bullet or cure-all; but it’s one hell of a tool to help you find your best long-term health.

Special thanks to Dr. Mark Cucuzzella and Christina van Hilst, DNP with the West Virginia University Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Health for the help and guidance in this whole year-long process. If you are interested in using this technology reach out to their center at 304-596-5038.

FLASH! (Not a news flash… Hot flash.)

Menopause. Perimenopause. ‘The change.’

Call it whatever you want, it’s the end to a woman’s reproductive years. And it’s a years-long process of the ovaries shutting down hormone production.

And some strange shit starts happening to your body.

You suffer in silence for a while because you aren’t really sure what’s going on and nothing is overtly or consistently alarming. A couple of sleepless nights, gaining weight in strange places – like, oh … say your arm pits and brief hot flashes.

Suddenly you blurt out to a friend (sorry Pat!) that you’re leaving sweaty ass-prints on chairs because of hot flashes that are NOT the flu and you can’t sleep and you feel like maybe you’re losing your mind. She has the good graces to softly laugh with you, hug you and welcome you to menopause. She assures you it’s normal and that it will go away some day…

You’re dumb-struck because that never occurred to you…

When I started reaching out for support and solutions, other women came out of the woodwork, as strong tribes of women often do, to share their stories of entering and thriving in perimenopause (literally; surrounding menopause) and menopause. They talk about how they manage moodiness, insomnia, weight gain, hot flashes … oh the hot flashes. They commiserate, share things that work, things not to waste your money or time on and tell you their hacks for surviving work-week hot flashes. They laugh with you as you suddenly throw off your coat and go stand outside in the snow, sweating. I’m grateful for being welcomed into this sisterhood with candor and humor and patience.

Emotions about the change can be all over the place as each woman grapples with what this changes means for her life. And for the record; that’s on top of the emotions or exacerbated by the out of whack emotions related to menopause. Some rejoice at not having periods. Some struggle with the idea that this marks ‘old age’. Some feel off-kilter because they spent decades getting used to a rhythm with their periods and now it’s luck-o-the-draw and ‘surprise!’ when periods change or stop showing up or show up for months on end and won’t go away… Every women I’ve talked to has a different array of emotions – but they absolutely have some sort of emotions around this change in their life. We have a visible, tangible ‘shift’ to a new phase of life happening within our bodies. Honestly, it’s hard not to have some emotions around it.

Here’s the list of fun (normal) stuff we get to contend with as our body starts a phenomenal hormonal shift with estrogen in decline … some women get hit by all of this and more, some only experience one or two symptoms.

  • Irregular periods
  • Hot flashes, night sweats
  • Vaginal dryness, change in sex drive
  • Sleep disturbances, insomnia
  • Mood swings, depression, anxiety

{Click here for some good information and resources.}

The average age for entering into menopause is 50 years old. And you can have symptoms for years before, during and after. You’re considered in menopause when you’ve gone a full year without having a period. But even then; these are just rough guidelines according to my doc who said ‘each woman is very different’. The one thing we all seem to have in common is that it seems to arrive in big-ass hurry one day and then it’s not in any hurry to move along.

So me personally? My body is physically adjusting to the decline in estrogen by going on a sleep-strike.

My worst symptom by far is insomnia.

Yeah, I’m having the typical hot flashes. They arrived in January. First I thought I was battling the flu or a whacky thermostat at work or I’d over done the cross-training by shoveling snow for three days straight. Nope. Just good ol’ fashioned hot flashes. They’re annoying and wake me up at night drenched in sweat with my covers kicked clear across the room. As some one who works out regularly – the feeling of a hot flash is uncomfortable with my face and torso suddenly becoming hot, sweaty, flush – but the feeling of being a sweaty mess all the time? I’m used to that. 🙂

For me, the sleeplessness is the worst. Not being able to go to sleep or stay asleep is a new kind of torture for me. I have bragged in the past (karma anyone?) that sleeping was my super power. I could sleep anytime, anywhere … Slept through a fire alarm at a hotel. Can sleep on planes. I typically get into bed and don’t even have time to read a chapter – I’m out like a light.

Insomnia reached a critical point this past week for me. With 20+ days of three hours or so of sleep each night. I had tried every remedy thrown my direction. Nothing, not even Benadryl which usually knocks me out flat, worked. Most of that sleep was in 40-50 minute blocks. I was losing my mind, crying, frustrated, anxious, hungry, exhausted, disoriented. I was absolutely falling apart.

The tipping point that forced me to call my doc? Got to Master’s swim class, swam 50 meters crying IN my googles the entire time. Gave up. Got out of the pool, crying, and went back to work to tell them I was sending myself home sick. I cried from 11:45 am until about 7 PM that evening for no reasons other than I was utterly exhausted. When I called my doc with my request for help in finding sleep and my suspicion that I was entering menopause; she got me in within a week. Her words were ‘you don’t have to suffer, we can treat the symptoms.’ We parsed out all the options, especially given my background with type 2 diabetes (remember insulin is a hormone…) and I chose to start Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). I started with an estrogen patch and progesterone pills on Monday and slept for 5 hours that night. It was heaven. And the sleep seems to be getting a tiny bit better with each passing day.

I’m glad I made the choice I did. I’m starting to feel human again. And I haven’t cried in a week. 🙂

We don’t seem to typically talk about menopause. Or I wasn’t paying attention until I urgently needed the information. I’ll concede that might be the case. My mom is gone – so I can’t ask her any of the burning questions about what it might be like for the genetic women in my family, but I also know that my family didn’t always openly talk about periods or ‘private’ stuff. I remember trying to tell my granny Dolly that I’d gotten my period when I was a teenager and she made a grimace and shushed me … and I never mentioned it again. So there’s that. That might be why I felt blind-sided and ill-prepared and then scrambled to get answers about what in the hell was happening…

Most of the women I have talked in the past few weeks mention suffering through the process ‘because what else are you going to do’ and suffering alone just waiting for the symptoms to go away ‘because no one I know talks about menopause’.

And I just don’t think we should be alone in this common life-shift that all women are going to experience. I don’t want to be alone. Do you?

I think that most of us would welcome the company and support during this time of big changes. Even if all we can do is laugh with each other about how ridiculous it all seems as we suddenly combust into a sweaty mess. If you have any good advice or stories or questions — hit me up. I might even be able to get back to you at 2AM when I’m wide-awake… 🙂

Five – oh!

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PC Rita V at Waldo 100K — we were all volunteering. 🙂

I turn 50 tomorrow.

I’m excited for this next decade.

I’m healthy and active and living a pretty fantastic life. Which wasn’t true even 10 short years ago. A lot has changed and I am ready to enter a new decade as healthy and active as I have ever been!

I remember when I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes — and my numbers were shockingly bad — the off-hand comment from the Doctor was ‘you won’t make it to 50 if you don’t change your ways.’ I know it was a randomly selected number chosen to simply scare me into action. It didn’t work for about 8 years. In your 30’s – 50 seems a long, long ways away.  (It isn’t. 🙂 )

Yet, I will admit that number stuck in my head and has been a sort of ‘destination’ for a the last 7 years or so as I worked to get healthy.

So, yeah – there is some pretty nifty satisfaction in reaching 50 years old and being in good health.

Healthy. Happy. Non-diabetic. Living a life I could never have imagined had I stayed 400 pounds and dependent on insulin.  Assuming I’d made it this far the realities are that if I was still Type 2 Diabetic, I would likely be missing digits or limbs or be dealing with failing kidneys or far, far worse….

Flip to the other side of the potential coin? I will admit that there is some wistfulness as I wonder what life could have been like had I heeded that warning in my 30’s and bought myself another whole decade of this healthier version of my life.

Yet, that’s not my story.

I have no regrets.

I’ve learned and loved and lived the best I could once I decided I was going to change things. The saying ‘when you know better, do better’ resonates deeply with me.  Regret is a wasted emotion. I eventually learned better and I’m doing better.

So tomorrow is a day to celebrate simply being alive.  I’m going for a bike ride with my friend Cat, we should hit the halfway point up by Mt. Bachelor/Elk Lake for an open water swim with Spencer sometime before noon.  Then Cat and I will bike back home.  Hopefully gathering some Bend-area folks for a guacamole-only dinner. 🙂    My sappy/mushy point of view on this celebration/journey/adventure; bike 50, swim and leave the last 50 years of the old me in the lake, walk out with the new me ready to live the next 50 with gusto and then bike 50 home.

That’s the plan. 🙂

I wonder what the next 50 years will hold in store for me? What I’ll get to do? How I’ll choose to embrace each of the remaining days I get?

I’m honestly just glad to be alive, to give it a go and see where life takes me in this next decade or two or five.

#lifeisgood

 

Changes/comparisons.

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A new town, new apartment, new job….

These are such kick ass times to take inventory. I get caught up in comparing. Old life/new life. Fat Betsy/healthy Betsy. How can I not? It’s such a stark reminder.

I just moved to Bend, Oregon from the other side of the Cascades. Changed jobs after 14 years. Started a new professional adventure that – while only 4 days in – is something I can tell is going to be wildly fantastic and is aligning ALL the parts of my life. Moved from a house to an apartment. Working to build a new base and network of friends. ALL kinds of changes!  All good and all wanted, yet still big, scary and unsettling.

I worked hard to make the changes to my lifestyle a few years ago and I’ve worked just as hard to make these recent changes. I knew that a move could up-end a whole lot of those carefully structured ‘good habits’ if I wasn’t paying attention.  PERFECT time for old habits to slip back in, especially when loneliness lurks and self-confidence gets pushed around because of all the changes.

Even welcome changes can open the door to mental mischief if we’re not paying attention.

So I was hyper-alert to eating, timing, prioritizing those things that I needed to do in this new location to get right into the routine that keeps me healthy. I put a plan in place.  I made finding a pool, getting out on my bike, finding some trails my top priority.  Even more than the normal ‘adult’ stuff we’re supposed to focus on in a move, like address changes, unpacking boxes and finding a couch. I also forced at-home/cooked meals and not making brew-pubs/restaurants the focal point of gathering and meetings.

Here’s the list of ‘I can not believe this is my life!’ moments from the past 10 days:

I’ve officially used the shower at the gym more than I’ve used the one at my new apartment.  The locker room is super welcoming and friendly. I felt HORRIBLE intimidation going the first time, but it very quickly went away.  This pool (JUNIPER) is amazeballs. 🙂

I didn’t have to transfer prescriptions and find a pharmacy that takes Sharp’s containers. Or find a place at work to stash insulin and needles. Or explain why I’m ‘shooting up’ in the bathroom 2X a day. Or why I have finger-prick blood all over my desk and papers…

I am using my meetings with new colleagues to make them walking meetings. I can walk and talk at the same time. 🙂 I’ve looked for walking paths around my office. Not candy stores, bakeries, ice cream shops or fast food options.  That one BLEW my mind when about 3 days in on the new job, I realized I hadn’t brought lunch and didn’t even know where to go because I had NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION to food stuff.

I’m finding new coffee shops and places to eat and buy groceries and not having to battle the old food-related locations that were so much a part of my 400-pound life. Coffee for the sake of coffee/views/friendly barista/welcoming customers and work spaces. I don’t even know where the Taco Bell or McDonalds are. I’m going to keep it that way.

I found a gym. I have a new favorite trail. I’ve gotten some good bike time in. I haven’t even bothered to look for a new doctor because I only need well-patient care.

I’m meeting new people because I’m on hikes and group rides. Not because we’re in a diabetic counseling workshop.

There’s more. Lots more. Big and little. This just highlights for me how different life is now that I am focused on health. No longer having to worry about weight limits, fitting in a chair, or walking a block and being exhausted.

I LOVE Bend, my apartment, my new job, the sunshine!

I’m also still very much in love with what focusing on my health has given me each and every day since I started this lifestyle journey years ago.

Reminders and comparisons.

 

Ultras/Binge Eating Disorder

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I know this topic is likely to be too obscure for some folks. I’m really writing this for my ultra running friends. Hoping to start a conversation or get their help in making some connections or get your thinking on this topic…


For me, ultras and Binge Eating Disorder (BED) are inextricably and pretty wickedly connected. From the first ‘Holy shit, could this really be what’s happening?’ moment to the ‘Wow. Makes sense even though I detest the idea…’ moment it took me about 6 months to puzzle it out.

The information I can find about Eating Disorders are mainly about Anorexia or Bulimia. Like this great read from Trail Runner Magazine which covers a whole lot of valuable ground. Yet, I can not find anything about the ties between ultras/endurance and BED specifically. I can’t be the only one dealing with this. When you mesh the Google ‘percentage of U. S. population…’ stats of ultras at .5% and BED at 3%, statistically, I still don’t think I can be alone in this mess.

What forced the issue? An acute episode of BED rearing its ugly head along with a planned off-season/down-time from running. (My blog about it is here…)

Running was no longer there to hide behind.

It’s absence made things brutally and undeniably clear.

I was hiking one day and was gobsmacked with the realization that I was using running to hide/feed the BED. It was this nasty, covert, and destructive cycle that I couldn’t really see because I was so deeply in it. I wasn’t running from something or even too something.  I was running FOR something.  And not for something good or worthwhile or sustainable.

I stopped in my tracks.

Sat my butt down on the side of the trail and wrote some notes on my phone while a newt cruised by to see what I was doing.

This felt BIG.


Here’s what I wrote on my phone: “I love long runs and hate tapering. I run long (5+ hours) and I have ‘permission’ to eat anything and everything in any quantities I want.  When I taper, food gets restricted, weight creeps up. I run long, eat how I want and basically don’t get ‘caught’ bingeing because the huge volume of food I’m eating is ‘acceptable’. Tapering unleashes sneaky-ass behaviors that I thought I’d banished once and for all. Including lying about food.’

BED brain thinks about food as an acceptable/necessary/urgent replacement for something missing or to fill an emotional need.  This has NOTHING to do with hunger.  Not.a.single.thing. For me food can take the place of damn near every emotion on the spectrum.  I’m just as likely to eat that emotion in the form of trail mix as I am to actually feel and experience it. No amount of cajoling/shaming/lecturing can fix it.  I’ve often said ‘pizza was never mean to me…’   When you have THAT kind of relationship with food you need professional help.

Running gave me the ability to ignore/continue/not-fight with my BED all in the name of ‘recovery from ultras/training’.  I wasn’t running for the love of running.  I was very much running to manage my weight since I binge, but I don’t purge…  I was very much running to make the occasional huge volume of food I was eating not look out of whack.

I was running to hide my eating disorder.  Even when I didn’t know that what I had was an eating disorder.

Eff.

I was ready to face all of this and not ignore it or hide it anymore. Scared shitless, but ready. I needed help beyond caring and concerned friends. After muscling my way through the post-acute phase of intense blues / shame / depression / anxiety / hopelessness / panic that lasts for several days after a binging episode…

I got into therapy.


My brand new therapist immediately, like first 20 minutes of first session, said running was an issue. I immediately told her she was dead wrong. Not politely.  I was rude and defiant. Defiance is my go to when I’m ashamed and someone’s getting close to the reason for the shame or embarrassment.

I flat out denied the connection. I lost 200 pounds, reversed Type 2 Diabetes. Running had SAVED me. Who the hell was this woman to say running was part of the current problem? Was she not listening to me? ….

The therapist quickly said we could agree to disagree about the role of running in my eating disorder. We would focus on other things. {Smart ploy…} That lasted two sessions.  I began to honestly assess what I was doing and why. Journaling impulses, noting emotions and starting to make tentative connections between feelings and food.

Damn if she wasn’t right…

Writing everything down it was impossible to ignore the connection. Running sat smack in the middle of the BED pile. It was about 2 sessions in where I had to concede she had a point.

More than a point. Ultra running was the 500 pound gorilla in the room.

I hadn’t replaced food with running.  I had used running to hide, enable and deny my BED. A crucial distinction. I hadn’t let go of ONE thing and grasped tightly onto something new.  I hadn’t given up anything at all.  I’d just masked what in the hell was really going on.

I think the college students I worked with would call that a HOT MESS.

Ultras and BED are married up in epically dysfunctional fashion for me.

As long as I ran long, I could pretend that eating 3,000+ calories at a single time after a long run was ‘normal recovery’.  Eating whatever I wanted for the week of a 60+ mile week was acceptable. I basically kept signing up for races to make sure I still had high mileage weeks and really full training schedules so that my bingeing wouldn’t be detected or life would seem ‘normal’ because of the training load and my food intake.

Eff.

So what now?  Great question. I have some tentative answers.

  • Awareness is a huge part of the battle. Talking about it. Knowing that my ultra friends support me when I get ‘wonky’ about food or food discussions.
  • Not running ultras or being lured in by Ultrasignup for a while is my main strategy for staying focused.  I needed a break from running.  I’m using this downtime in all the best ways possible. And NOT viewing it as punishment.
  • Rebuilding my running from the ground up when the time comes to hit the trails again. Slowly, carefully. Knowing food is fuel and that’s the only place it will hold in my running.

I didn’t take on this whole lifestyle change to give up when things got hard.

I will be running again, soon, for all the right reasons.

 

 

 

ISO: Running mojo…

08_14_16_trrt_317-zf-7509-90007-1-001-012In search of mojo.

My running mojo specifically.

I’ve got other kinds of joy, inspiration, drive. In spades. Life is good. 🙂 But my running mojo seems to be on an extended hiatus…

I’m missing her.

Time to admit that I am {temporarily} burned out on running.


I’m kind of an all-or-nothing girl at times. My history would indicate a preferred path of eradication, not moderation. 🙂 And this time I wanted to do things different. I want to find some solid, middle ground around being active even if it doesn’t include running.

You know — maybe be ‘adult’ about it and find a non-running path for now and not over-react. 🙂

And since I want to be that sassy, feisty, fit 90-year-old who still runs and whoops your ass in the gym, this really does take a LONG-range view, not a knee-jerk reaction or sinking into apathy.

The thought of setting running to the side scares me shitless because at my core there is something I deeply love about it. The beautiful reality is that I truly do love it enough to NOT handle it carelessly like I might other things at other times in my life.

I needed a plan.

My current ‘healthy path’ plan…? Get fit and re-energized around being active. Period.  I do not have a single race booked for the year and I do not plan to run an ultra this year. I do plan to swim and bike and lift weights and go to social/cardio classes with friends and run some shorter/fun races/adventures. Oh – maybe do some snowshoeing or rock climbing or hiking or skiing.

ALL THE THINGS. 🙂

I want to be in good enough shape to just go and do ALL the things at any time.

Those are my goals this year.

They feel damn good and exciting.


I know exactly when and where my mojo went missing. Fall of 2016 I ran Mountain Lakes 100. 18 months ago. Training for a 100 miler is intense to say the least. I finished the race fueled by solid training and a dose of stark {and appropriate} terror. I now know I am strong and brave and capable of some pretty fantastic and amazing things.

Eighteen months later I FINALLY realize that Mountain Lakes 100 gave me this incredible gift of believing in myself.

But the event that gave me incredible confidence, also kind of broke my running mojo.

Fair trade off if you ask me.

MONTHS of hindsight needed to arrive at this conclusion. But honestly? Temporarily busted mojo VS. BELIEVE, and know in your heart, you can do unimaginable things?

Fair trade off.

A trade off I will make again, again and again.img_4329-jpg


I spent the last year attempting two 100 mile races. (Zion and Rio Del Lago) Was not able to finish either. Dropped out at 75 and 76 miles. We can talk about training, weather, fueling, terrain, mental state, race conditions – even the reasons I was facing when I made those decisions such as blistered feet/asthma/cramping… These are huge beasts of a race. A ton of things can go wrong. Correction. A ton of things will go wrong. Your training is about learning what to do and how to adapt when those things go wrong.

All things considered I believe that the main reason I did not finish either race in 2017 came down to one simple fact: My heart was not in it.  My mojo was gone.

People who run these huge distances will tell you that there is a whole bunch of training, some luck and a slew of other factors that account for being able to accomplish these races. Some of the more mature and experienced ultrarunners will also tell you, when you dig deeper in conversation with them, that the magic ingredient they have witnessed time and again is; heart.  Not legs, not training, not shoes or gear. All important.  But often the magic is heart, desire, deep longing to get out there and test themselves at any cost.

My heart just wasn’t in it this past year.

I spent all of last year pretending REALLY HARD and trying to blindly convince myself that if I simply hung in/put in the training/went through the motions – my mojo would return. My heart would be in it.  I never gave up on trying to chase these suckers down. I stayed in the routine of activity. I ran my workouts. I worked on fitness and mental toughness. I set and chased goals. I learned a ton. Even though my heart wasn’t entirely in it I stayed with the habit.

I never gave up.

I just never gave it my whole heart.

I own and understand that distinction.


Basically since last November I finally realized my running mojo had taken a hike. Not sad. Not scared. Just curious when it might come back. Can I do something to get it back? What to do until it comes back.

I remember early in this fitness journey. I was talking to Spencer and he was brand-new as my running coach. I remember him asking me what I was so afraid of. I didn’t realize I was telegraphing fear, was a little taken aback at being directly called out. I eventually told him I was afraid I would wake-up one morning and my love and desire for running would be gone. That would be DISASTER.  It would mean I would instantly, certainly, gain all of the weight back and become type 2 diabetic again. Over night. Catastrophically. Of everything that could happen that’s what I was most afraid of.

I was so busy all these years to keep it in a careful, tight choke-hold so it couldn’t wander away, I didn’t realize I was killing it…

One morning last Fall I woke up and realized she really was good and gone. Until last week, I kept going through the motions of lacing up my shoes and going for a run, hoping she would re-appear. No luck so far. But I slowly realized my desire to stay firmly planted in my new healthy life was alive and kicking and didn’t care that running was out of the mix for the moment.  I wanted to move, stay connected and keep getting fit and strong; even if I wasn’t running.  So that very thing I feared deeply happened.  But the story I told myself about how that fear would result in total disaster did NOT happen.

Fascinating.  Liberating.  A lesson to remember about the stories we tell ourselves. About the stories we choose to believe.

So I’m not going to chase my mojo down right now. I’ll let my running mojo return when she’s good and ready. I’ll wait patiently, filling my time with a ton of other activities, learning some new skills (swimming!) and testing new boundaries.

And I’ll welcome her back with open arms.

And this time around I won’t put her in a stranglehold.

It’ll be a partnership and a friendship and the weight of my world won’t be solely on her shoulders.

What do you do when your mojo takes a hike?

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Just START!

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Spencer and I started this business, Novo Veritas, over 2 years ago.

I love it.  All of the work and hours and challenges and success.  More and more every day. It’s a hell of a ride, an intense privilege to work with our clients and we’re currently taking this business in directions neither of us ever dreamed possible…

My personal favorite part of the whole business adventure?  The privilege and honor of being invited into someone’s life at a time where their hearts and minds are more than likely vulnerable, ashamed, determined, brave, scared, fierce, focused and much more.  They invite us in.  Trust us with their stories, their history, their fears and deepest hopes.

And then sometimes, if it all works out just right, they even allow us to join their team.

Most of the people we get to work with approach us for one of two basic reasons…

  1. Tell me how to get started.
  2. Be on my team.
  3. (A close 3rd place would be….)  Hold me accountable.

In the past few weeks a handful of people have reached out to me asking how to get started – and how to build their own teams.  The following is a list I created about a year ago and pulled from one of my previous blogs.  And it’s still the advice I give, still what I believe in my heart.

AND it also happens to be the advice I wish I could have listened to when I got started on this journey to change my life.

 

Here’s what I wish I had been told.  And in the cases where I was told; I wish I could have embraced and BELIEVED it…

1. Your weight fluctuates.  Daily. It will go up or down during training.  If you have your period.  If you eat too much salt.  You smelled a cake being baked. The rotation of the earth. 🙂 Sometimes it’s really legit gain because you simply ate too many calories over a period of time. 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 90” 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, discouraged 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. And if you can’t believe yourself, then trust that 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.  They’re points of feedback and learning.  And this whole ‘get healthy’ thing 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 shit up as you go.

7. Do NOT let that scale dictate your mood to the world.  So you can’t not weigh…  I get that, but we should keep working on that. 🙂   So you step on the scale and 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 restricting food because you don’t ‘deserve’ to eat. 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.  Reach out. You may not have great control over how you feel, but you can ALWAYS choose how you act and react.

8. Please, please, please love on yourself.  And believe in yourself.  Hang tightly to HOPE. Hope is powerful stuff. 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.

9.  This isn’t a short-term investment.  Trust the process. Life-time commitment. You will look at something daily and judge it as not moving, plateaued, failing.  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 is ‘Live Like You Were Dying’ by Tim McGraw.  If you are like me you’re living this weight loss journey with a lot of fear.  Fear of going backwards.  Fear of judgement.  Fear of FAILURE…  The ‘what if’s’ can paralyze you…  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…  (And for back-up… See this video by Brene Brown.)

Trust the process.

Keep moving forward.

Love on yourself.

Happy trails. 🙂

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Wearing my underwear backwards.

08_13_16_trrT_0506-ZF-7509-90007-1-001-014When I was 250+ pounds I used to wear my underwear backwards.

I had a pretty funny flash back to this forgotten and semi-embarrassing fact this morning running with my friend Carlea.


Last year I bought some running tights on super-sale from some obscure running site.  I do this periodically.  I get wonky, weird, off-season, running clothes bargains.  Once in a great while I find something amazing!  It’s all super cheap and a fun, daring, fashion-themed shopping-game of adventure.

This time around it was colorful running tights super cheap.

I show up to meet my friend Carlea at the Saddle for a run.  I wore the screaming-hot-pink tights today for the first time.  They… uh… were built weird. But they were really cute!  I told Carlea I figured I would get used to how they fit as we ran. (Always a bad idea.  Running clothes/shoes really shouldn’t need a break-in period… But in the face of cute/fun clothes; I always forget this ‘trail rule’.)

How weird was the fit? There was a ton of extra fabric in the front/crotch area and they were what we will politely call ‘plunging low rise’ in the back.  So I kept fidgeting with the stupid tights trying to keep them up over my butt.

We finally stopped about 3 miles in while I tried to figure out how to remedy the situation and keep running without flashing everyone in the forest. Carlea and I got to laughing — fairly sure I had to have the tights on backwards.  We checked.  Nope.  But, they sure seemed to be built backwards.

‘I think I figured out why they were on sale’.– Me.  Every time.

We got things sorted out and PG-rated for the rest of the run.  I got to chuckling.  I finally told Carlea that these tights were reminding me of a habit I had when I was obese.  I had kind of forgotten about it.

I have always loved the idea of having matching bra/panties. I just do. When I was obese and desperately wanted to feel good about how I looked and wanted to feel attractive – this duo always did the trick.  Cute undies was a near-daily goal.  When I was wearing a size 26/28 the options were limited.  Or ridiculous. Or really, seriously functional; steel belted bras with really wide straps, scratchy/ugly lace and cotton granny panties.

I finally, after years of searching and failed attempts, found a bra and undies set that matched and FIT and was cute.  I was so freaking excited!  I wore them all day at a conference, felt like a million bucks and was thinking I needed to go out and buy the dang undies in every color they made.  As I got undressed at the end of the day…

I discovered that I had in fact worn the underwear backwards all day.

They fit perfectly, totally ass-backwards.

Huh.

Why had they fit so well you might be wondering?  Well….  I was close to 400 pounds.  And I was built very much like an apple with all my weight in my belly.  With a really flat butt.  My belly was significantly larger than my butt.  So undies are typically cut to cover your bum and lay flat on your belly – right?  They didn’t work for me and my apple-shape.

But wearing them backwards worked for my body…

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Disney with the family.  And yes… I am about 99% sure I have my underwear on backwards in this picture. 🙂

So for about 10 years I pretty much always wore my underwear – cute or otherwise – backwards.  A problem accidentally and creatively semi-solved. I never admitted it to anyone, never advertised it.  But wasn’t proud of it by any stretch.

I was just too fat and misshapen to wear underwear normally…

So I adapted to what worked for me at that time.


So today Carlea and I were laughing over yet another clothing failure I snagged from a clearance rack.

I have lost weight and had the full-body lift surgery to remove 10 pounds of excess skin from my belly/waist.  While I am still built a little funny at my waist with some skin scarring and bumpy surgical ‘seams’ at the sides of my hips — I now have a pretty typical ‘runners’ butt and fairly flat belly.

NOW I can totally wear matching bras/undies if I want to – without having to wear them backwards. 🙂  (I just have to remember to pack them in my gym bag. 🙂 )

Turns out that even putting my underwear on can serve a daily reminder of how my healthy lifestyle now is so different than my Type 2 diabetic/obese days.

Carlea and I both had a really good laugh as I shared this story with her.

I managed to get back to my car and not accidentally show my bum off on the trail.

Today anyway. 🙂

*Screaming-hot-pink running tights are now free to a good home.

 

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