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.

Bike wreck and concussion.

The last 14 days have been a blur; mountain bike wreck, surgery to repair my broken collar bone, a substantial concussion and plenty of pain meds.

June 1, I was in Colorado to speak and participant at the Skirt Sports Ambassador retreat. The morning I was going to speak, I took advantage of a group mountain bike ride. It was an epic ride – until the very moment it wasn’t.

I lost about an hour of time and have no memory of the wreck or rescue.

One minute I was riding and laughing and hooting/hollering and the next moment I was in a hospital and being told to hold still while they performed a CT scan. I remember being wheeled back to the ER room and seeing Michelle and Jen for the first time even though they had been there for a while… I would lose that hour – and to date not a single recollection or memory of what happened has come back.

I was told I had a concussion and that the helmet I was wearing had most assuredly done a good job of keep me from much, much worse harm. I had a ‘fracture’ in the left collarbone. I had scrapped up my left leg sliding on the dirt as well as bruised my calf pretty good by colliding with what we suspect was the pedal.

The plan was to keep me drugged up/pain-free, fly home to Bend and consult with a surgeon there about the collarbone… The Boulder ER dressed me up in scrubs, a sling and then turned me loose to Michelle and Jen’s care.

Even with a broken bone and a concussion; I can pull off a selfie. I wanted a reminder of these two angels who stayed with me in this scary-painful moment. Angels with sass and humor. (Me, Jen Szabo, Michelle Sroda)

I wanted to go straight back to the Skirt Sports retreat and give my speech. And I guess I was fairly adamant… Ok. Single-minded. Annoyingly persistent. I guess when I was on the ground, being transported and early in the ER I kept making the point to everyone that I had to go give a speech. I don’t remember any of this. But that’s what they’re telling me… And it makes sense… This is a speech I had been working on for more than six months. It was about ‘belonging’, a message near and dear to my heart. Nicole DeBoom, a woman I deeply admire, had invited me to be a part of this event. I was responsible for part of the program. It was the reason I had traveled to Colorado in the first place.

I HAD TO GIVE THE DANGED SPEECH.

Jen and Michelle were fairly easy to convince to go along with my exiting-the-ER scheme. The plan was to go straight to the retreat. Speak. THEN Michelle would take me to Target to get the pain meds prescription, something to work as a bra that wouldn’t have to go over my left shoulder (TUBE TOP for the win!) and a shirt that I could button up. Easy. Straightforward plan.

And it worked. HECK YES! It worked perfectly.

I gave the speech (here is the link) on ‘Belonging’. I think I did just fine considering that in the days that followed I would begin to understand just how hard I had crashed and how beat up my body and brain really were. New aches, pains, bruises would continue to show up for the next 10 days…. But I wanted to give that speech – and I did!

I flew home from Colorado on Monday June 3rd. Within hours of landing back in Oregon I was consulting with a great orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Woodbury showed me that it was in fact a 2+cm break of my collarbone and the break would need to be surgically healed/corrected with a plate and screws. Surgery on June 7th was successful. I have the post-op on the 17th. More good news to follow I am sure – I’m healing really well! 🙂

The concussion I sustained from hitting the trail is a new beast. I grew up on a farm and have had my fair share of broken bones. I trail run so I’ve come to a few ‘complete and involuntary’ stops and felt the muscles get super cranky for a few days afterward. But the concussion is proving to be alarming and scary and slow-healing with daily reminders that this is going to be all new territory.

I know there are people in my life who know what this is all about; I am on a new, steep learning curve. I’ve told people – the concussion is by far the worst of the injuries. And I mean it. Grabbing for a word and not catching it many, many times a day. Unexpected and seemingly illogical emotional responses or non-responses. Headaches, nausea, dizziness, blurry vision, low grade anxiety, exhaustion. I’m sure there are other symptoms I’m forgetting – which, ironically, is another thing that can happen with a concussion. And yes – I have been following a concussion protocol and have PT for the concussion lined up and ready to get started next week. I am aware how serious this is and I feel like I’m doing all the right things to help my brain heal. I’ve got one brain – I intend to take care of it.

In the meantime my friends are patiently letting me re-tell (X100) stories and repeat ideas and thoughts. Because I can’t seem to remember what I’ve done or who I’ve told anything too in the last few weeks… It’s all jumbled and confused. And that patient processing time from friends is an amazing gift. In the past 5 days or so, I’ll catch myself remembering that I have already said something! And with the headaches and blurry vision no longer happening – I feel like these are all signs my brain is physically healing.

I am beyond grateful for those who were literally on the ground with me in Boulder, helped me get back home to Oregon, helped me through surgery and the awful early days of dependence and confusion. Nothing like taking the independent 50 year old and forcing her to ask for help with the smallest of daily personal tasks including putting my hair in a ponytail, helping me get dressed or letting me hold their arm while I step off a curb…

I knew it, but reminders are always welcome; I’m blessed with some amazing friends and family. And I have been treated with kindness and compassion by complete strangers which is a whole different level of gratitude…. People have been generous and caring even when I couldn’t form a sentence and they could tell that I was fighting hard to try to make sense of things.

I’m humbled. Grateful. Soaking in the love, care and kindness being abundantly scattered my way. And that helps me heal. I am healing really well. Which as a post-type 2 diabetic still stuns the crap out of me! My body really does want to be healthy and my job right now is to do all I can to help her find that footing and let her do her work.

P. S. Sometimes big, traumatic events teach us really important and basic lessons. I’ve had a bucket full of ‘a-ha!’ moments in the last two weeks…. And here’s one of my new favorites: When you offer to help someone try to be as specific as possible. I would get these wonderful text messages that would say ‘let me know if I can help’ and my concussed brain could NOT process what of the 1,000,000 undone and pressing things I could possibly ask them to help me with. Or how could I ask them to spend money or help with something mundane or personal or put their life on hold? My brain would fizzle out. Almost literally. My heart would be happy they reached out. And my brain would go blank at the stress of having to sort, prioritize and choose. I wouldn’t take them up on the offer because I was literally incapable of making a request or sorting out what I needed. However when Peggy texted me and said ‘do you want me to come over and wash your hair in the kitchen sink and then we can go for a short walk?’ I could simply say YES — OH, PLEASE! YES! And I might have literally said ‘a-ha!’ out loud. 🙂

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.

 

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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Honest advice from a friend…

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

Holy cow.

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

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

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

How awesome is that!??

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

Betsy:

So the day you checked in with me?

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

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

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

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

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

I email Joe and get an appointment.

I go.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jill:

The video: YES I UNDERSTAND.

I understand so, so very much.

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

I am not going to tell you to grow up.

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

Secret?

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

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

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

YOU DON’T HAVE TO LOVE YOUR BODY.

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

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

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

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

It doesn’t have to be your true romance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sending love as always

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

You are never alone.

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

Thank you Jill.

Diabetes doesn’t go on Holiday…

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

It’s been in retirement for 3 years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holy crap.

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


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

Whew.  Little breathing room and stab of relief.

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

Yesterday was 100.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

‘My body hates carbs!’ — me

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

So…

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

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

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

I know how to do this.

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

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

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

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


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

It never takes a Holiday.

But, guess what?

I have NO PLANS to take a Holiday either.

How do you make someone change?

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

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

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

You can not motivate someone else to embrace big changes.

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

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

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

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

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

None of it.

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


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

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

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

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

You are well aware of your situation.

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

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

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

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

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

Fat chance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not when YOU think they’re thirsty.

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