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. 🙂


Swimming. (Dragging baggage into the pool…)

Wade and I, 2014 Pacific Crest. He did the Triathalon. I did the Duathlon. WHY?  Because I chickened out of the Tri AFTER Wade signed up.  Three words:  Open. Water. Swim.

‘I can’t swim.’

One day about 18 months ago I was telling my dad that my friends Joe and Josh did Ironman events.  I admire the hell out of those two and I admitted that I was kinda-sorta wanting to do an Ironman too…

I was telling my dad that I wanted to do one, but it would never happen because I just can’t swim. I have never been able to do more than dog paddle and float.

My dad waited about 3 days. Then we had this conversation (and yes – it was one-sided)…

Bets. I’ve been thinking about something you said.

It’s total bullshit.

You can learn to swim just like you learned to run and bike and control diabetes and lose weight.

Quit saying you can’t and *&^%ing figure out a way to learn how.

All righty then…

Being called out by my dad started me on a stop-n-go journey.

My friend Drew gave me the name of a well respected swim coach.

I didn’t call for 3 months.

Finally called and took things no further.

Then purposefully forgot about it all and figured — HEY, I’d called a swim coach. That was at least ONE step in the right direction… Right?

Spencer and I gave our Novo Veritas presentation this past March.  After the presentation a guy walked up to chat.

He said…

‘I’m Troy.  You may not remember, but you called me about being your swim coach, a long time ago…  You ready to start lessons?’


Truth?  I’m SCARED of the water.

Mostly I’m scared of trying to breath and having water nearby.  Like ANYWHERE near my face.

I finally told Troy about this near-phobia I have with water as a way of lamely explaining why I had never followed through the first time I contacted him about lessons.

He assured me he would be able to help me learn to swim.

The part I didn’t tell him?  I have body image issues; big time. To say that I am not thrilled about being in a swimsuit in front of ,oh — ANY OTHER HUMAN BEING — is a bit of an understatement. And then there’s this whole NEW learning curve that involves using my body for something athletic (did I mention this has to be done in a swimsuit?) and someone was going to be watching me…

Let’s just say I knew full well that I would be dragging a ton of baggage with me into the pool.

I called Troy. We set up a time to get swim lessons started.  I was ridiculously nervous for DAYS before the first lesson.

We’re on swim lesson #11 right now.

And LORD is this man a patient coach and teacher.

I get frustrated with myself when I don’t learn things instantly or see profound progress.  I’m battling consistently present fear.  Some of my  good friends can tell you, I’m a peach when I’m embarrassed, scared or frustrated with myself.  Just trust me — if you don’t know me very well — Troy really is approaching sainthood to have hung in with me this long. 🙂

For weeks I was literally having panic attacks/hyperventilating on the freestyle swim.  EVEN though I can literally put my feet on the bottom of the pool at any given moment, anywhere in the lap pool.

While I’m still battling some fear about breathing/water…

Even I have to admit that it is getting much better.

I’m actually gaining some confidence in the water.

I told Troy after the 4th or 5th lesson ‘I think the life guards are finally looking a little more relaxed when I’m in the pool.’ 🙂

Friday’s lesson was a really good one for me mentally.

Troy and I had a good conversation during my lesson when I arrived at the end of a lap still struggling with breathing and gasping for air…

You just have to get comfortable with the learning…

Yes.  This is about learning. Not just about swimming.  Huh.  I felt like a lightbulb finally clicked ON!

While I have to figure out how to stay calm and remember ALL of the things I’m supposed to be doing to move in the water, Troy’s main point was that I need to simply appreciate the process of learning something new.

Get comfortable – once again – with the bumps and bruises and non-linear flow and FUN of LEARNING.

Give myself a small measure of grace for simply facing my fears and really trying to learn to swim.

Give myself some forgiveness for getting one thing right even if I get 5 things wrong.

Give myself a dose of patience for learning a new skill, while keeping up my other training.

Laugh at and WITH myself as I learn.

Troy has been trying to help me enjoy the process ALL along. I was too blind to the mechanics of a totally new sport and my avid fear of the water to see what he has REALLY been trying to teach me until this past week.

So after talking to Troy I spent the weekend thinking about a few things.  Namely that I really want to focus on embracing and LOVING the process of learning.

I LOVED learning how to run. I LOVED learning how to control blood sugars successfully and how to ride a bike and how to do a sit up.  I struggled in the moment and I certainly hated parts of those processes, but the deep sense of accomplishment you get when you really understand and learn a new skill is something I seem to have forgotten all about.

I told Troy from the very start of our lessons that I had big goals…

  • I want to do an Ironman.
  • I want swimming in my ‘tool kit’ for cross-training.
  • I want to be able to throw swimming in for cardio should I sustain a running or biking injury.

And yet what I told Troy I wanted MOST from learning to swim?

I really want to be one of those sassy and funny 90-year old ladies rocking the swim cap, confident in her swimsuit and kicking everyone’s ass in a slow, soothing, methodical, lap-fest that last for hours.

What fear are you working to conquer?


18 events in 2012. Most were walking events, and I was beginning to experiment a little with running. My first trail event. A 45 mile bike ride. 🙂 I knew NOTHING about being coached or running or tapering.

I’m getting close to a big race.

One of the final parts of getting ready for a race is called tapering.  (Those who have tapered are groaning in sympathy right now…)

You train, work hard, plan, focus, learn, grow for months…


You back things off for the week or so before the race.  (It only feels like a month or two… #tapertantrum)

OK.  That’s not true.

I haven’t shut it all down.

I’m still doing core work, running a little, stretching. And I am still trying to learn to swim… But my coach, Spencer, has me on a seriously scaled back running plan from what I would normally be doing if we were in an active training period.  (Uh… Appetite does NOT scale back accordingly just for the record.  It seems to have missed the tapering memo.)

In the past the tapering period has been a quasi-nightmare for me.  I spent the ‘down time’ convinced that I was gaining weight and losing ALL of my fitness and knew there was no-way-in-hell I would be ready for race day when I spent the days leading up being ‘lazy’…

I mean, you take the girl who fought for more than two years to learn to love to run and worked hard to make exercising an iron-clad lifestyle habit and you ask her to stop

Stop the routines I worked so hard to develop.  Stop working hard every time I put on my running shoes.  Stop being focused on food intake and energy outputs for a short period of time. Stop doing the thing that I know was almost single-handedly responsible for my ability to get off of insulin and reverse Type 2 Diabetes?


I’ve heard people describe the tapering period as ‘vacation’. No way.  For someone STILL trying to cement all of these notions, habits and practices into my head and life, it was more than a little daunting and scary.

Stopping and scaling things way back just seems wrong.

So tapering normally meant I was cranky and testy and started questioning all of my training and driving my friends and coach crazy with questions laced with self-doubt…

‘How’s the taper going? Have you killed anyone yet?’  — text from a friend

Yeah.  I was a peach while tapering.

So why taper if it drives me so nuts?  First, my coach says so.  Second, I’ve done it enough times now that I KNOW it works and that it’s an important part of the training process.

Quite simply? Tapering pays off on race day.

I understand now that what you’re really doing during the taper is bottling up energy and letting your body and mind repair and rest so that you can be totally ready to RUN your heart out.

When I was tapering for the North Face 50K back in November/December, I realized what a mental battle tapering really was for me. I took really good notes on the process and captured my thoughts and feelings along the way. I noted multiple times that I was feeling sincere anxiety at the inactivity.  I feared that I would enjoy the break from running so totally and completely that I would just decide I was never, ever going to run again.  I talked a LOT about being afraid of gaining weight and thought about how I would manage food if exercise was totally taken out of the equation. I thought maybe I would forget how to run.  I was worried that by sitting ‘idle’ all of my fitness was slipping away.

My brain was taking up the slack for the decreased physical activity.  And not in a good way.

Then race day came.  I ran well. Felt great.  Loved every minute of it. KNEW the morning of the race, before I ever got near the start line; tapering had worked exactly as it should have.

I finished the race and still wanted to run again. I was eager to get back to training. My weight is ALWAYS going to fluctuate. My fitness for race day was perfectly intact and ready to go to work.

So this time around I focused on NOT allowing that mental chess game to begin. I’ve focused on just enjoying it as part of the whole training process.

This is a local event.  LOTS of friends running it. It’s the ground, trails, mountains that I have fallen in love with.  It’s where I practice.  When Spencer and I talked about goals at the beginning of this year I told him that for this race, I not only wanted to do well, I wanted to enjoy every piece of the process.  Taper included.

Race day arrives in 5 days…  I will get to see my friends and people I only see at races and I will meet new friends.  I’ll lace up my Brooks and pin on my number and slip on my hydration pack. AND I will know that all the training I did is about to be turned loose and tested and used. 🙂

And the dreaded taper is officially OVER…

And I’ll run. 🙂


Baby steps.

Liz. 22 years of friendship and adventures.  More to come. Ditto, my friend.

I was eavesdropping on a conversation Friday between two women encouraging each other to be more active. They kept gently reminding each other not to get overwhelmed with the big picture; ‘start small’ they kept telling each other. They were casting around for ideas on how exactly to start with something they could do now, maintain, enjoy and build on…

They got rolling with some great ideas…

I really enjoyed their conversation. And TOTALLY had to fight the urge to just jump in uninvited! 🙂

Think about watching a child learning to walk….

They crawl. They pull themselves up on things so they can stand, assisted. Then they attempt to let go… Halting, uncertain, determined focus.  Throw in a few temper tantrums. Plenty of falling down and getting back up. Countless failed attempts.

BUT, they will NOT give up.

Then ONE step finally leads to two and… before you know it… they’re off and running with abandon. 🙂

Liz, one of my best friends, sent me this note, when I asked her for some feedback on my blog.

“You told me you got started with more exercise just by parking far away at work.

I think that’s a fantastic tip/story for your readers. Where did you get the idea? How many more steps did you get in?

You’ve come a long way from getting your exercise by walking to your car.

Show your readers just how slow you started.

Baby steps.” — Liz

Three and half years ago I was taking lots of baby steps.

They genuinely felt like HUGE, monster steps to me! But they were actually just the right/bite-sized pieces needed to get to the much bigger goal.

I was down to 285 pounds from a high of 392.  I was taking 3 shots a day.  Handfuls of pills.  Walking in from my car to my desk took genuine effort. To change all of that; I knew I had to take ALL of that stuff and break it down into small, tiny, manageable, must-not-panic-and-quit pieces. It was the only way I was ever going to get started with building a healthy lifestyle and being active.

So what were some of the first and small steps I took towards moving more?

  • I parked farther away from my office.  Grocery store.  Mall.  I no longer took the closest parking spots.
  • I took the stairs EVEN when if it meant I showed up to a meeting with a sweaty head, red face and gasping for air.  (I carried baby wipes and a bandana in my bag.  No excuses.)
  • I wore a pedometer every day and tried to hit 5,000 steps. Then 10,000. Then 15,000.
  • I put on workout clothes and went for walks on purpose at least 3 days a week ON TOP of the 10,000 steps.
  • I picked meeting spots that were as far away from my office as possible so I was required to walk.  Given that I tend to cut timing close — it meant it was always a ‘brisk’ walk. 🙂
  • I turned lunches/coffee meetings into walking meetings with willing and understanding coworkers.

Baby steps.  Adding on a just a little at a time.

I often get asked how long my first run was – what was ‘my starting mileage’. I ALWAYS start by explaining that I walked for years.  Literally.  I walked.  A lot.  I walked faster, walked farther — I worked on walking before I ever tried to run a step.  And when I ran?  I wanted to be able to run between telephone poles.  I made it across a driveway.  My starting mileage was FEET.  And I was PROUD OF THAT!  (Still am to be honest!)

I abso-freaking-lutely walked a TON before I ever, ever tried to run.

Baby steps is what this whole adventure is really about. 🙂

What baby steps did you take when you were teaching yourself to make exercise a habit?!

Liz’s wedding to Andy! SUCH a happy and fun day!

Telephone poles.

Running my first 5K in 2013.

  ‘HOW did you learn how to run?’

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

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

She asked me how to get started running.

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

She listened and then said…

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

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

It started with driveways and telephone poles. 

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

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

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

I made it across the width of our neighbors driveway.

That’s it.

Those telephone poles suddenly seemed MILES and miles apart.

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

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

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

I had a huge grin on my face.

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

That question really offended me at first.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those first physical steps were really, truly that small.

That is how I started running. 🙂

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

It works every time. 🙂

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