Friday, December 30, 2011

A New Year, A New Goal

            It's been a few weeks huh? Well, I have been feverishly working on finishing the manuscript for "Philosophy of Finishing". I am pleased to report that I am finished with the initial draft. 48000 words.  I didn't realize I knew that many. I had the idea to write it on October 12th. And now, two and a half months later, I have a whole book. Without the things I learned this year, I never would have had the courage to try it, let alone push through and finish it.
            When my workshop instructor demanded that I had in my manuscript by the end of the year, I think I may have cried a little bit. How was I supposed to come up with 150 pages or more magically? Perhaps there are little elves that come in the night to write for me, and make fabulous shoes. But that experiment of leaving the laptop on for them was a bust, it was up to me. So I had to plan a way to get it done, that meant making sure I devoted the time required to finish my goal. For the last three weeks, other than walking endlessly around Disneyland on a family vacation, I haven't exercised a lick. And the scale knows it too. But I'm not too worried. Four pounds are alot easier to take off than seventy-five.

   But seriously, as the year draws to a close, I can't help but look back on the all the great times I had in 2011.

I met my goal weight and went slightly under. After all everyone needs those few cushion pounds right? After this Christmas, I am sure glad I had them. LOL

I ran my butt off and finished two half marathons and one full marathon.

I wrote a book! (Still a little shocked at this one)

I climbed Lone Peak without dying or shredding my pants on the way down.

Probably most importantly, I changed my attitude from that of a life long quitter to that of a finisher. And in doing so gained a positive outlook on my myself and in my life.

So what does the future hold? Pretty much anything I choose. If a couch potato like me, (who's only skill was creating perfect butt indents in the recliner), can go from that to the list up above in a year, then all the doors are open.  I only have to choose which ones to walk through. Here's a few things on my to-do list

Get my book published
Don't care who or how. It might be a non-profit outfit like Amreican Fork Arts Council, or maybe Shadow Mountain of Cedar Fort publishers. As long as it gets out there, I don't really care.

Run Utah Valley Marathon
Already registered. I'm convinced marathons are kinds like child birth. After some time had passed you forget the pain of labor and training.

Finish Fat quilt
Making a quilt out of squares cut from my old fat clothes.  It get cold now without all the extra insulation

Clean my house top to bottom.
It's been hit by two tornadoes-- my kids, Lily and Autumn. I'm pretty sure my kitchen is under there somewhere. Okay, so maybe I helped make the mess to.

For longer term I want to finish a four year degree in English, climb  the tallest peaks in every county in Utah, and perhaps most ambitiously -- learn to cook.

So what's on your agenda this year? Pick a goal- any goal, make a plan and get it done. As long as you keep moving forward you'll get there eventually. Weight loss starts with one pound, a marathon starts with one mile, and a book starts with a single page.

Here's to becoming anything we want.
Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Philosophy of Finishing Book Sample

Here's a little sample from the book I'm working on called the Philosphy of Finishing.

Chapter 1 – You'll know you've hit the bottom when you hear the THUD
              Daily routine: Wake up, feed kids, entertain kids, keep kids from killing each other, put the kids to bed, put the kids back to bed 30 minutes later, and then collapse into my own bed and fade into unconsciousness. Repeat.
My life was a lot like running on a treadmill, a whole lot of effort to get absolutely nowhere.  Not that I had much experience with treadmills mind you, but you get my drift. One morning I woke up depressed and berated myself for all the things that I wasn’t. Wasn’t skinny, wasn’t accomplished, wasn’t happy. In a fit of masochism I decided it would be a good time to take on my mortal enemy, the digital scale.
 The scale and I have always had a hate/ more hate relationship. I've tried sweet talking it, I've tried yelling at it, I've even tried approaching it with cautious optimism. Power of positive thinking and all.  For the last month I had given it the silent treatment and refused to acknowledge its existence. But apparently I felt the need to punish myself, because there I was again, at 7:00 in the morning before the children were awake, naked and oh so carefully avoiding the adjacent mirror (because lets be honest, who wants to see themselves naked first thing in the morning) and ever so lightly (because it might make a difference) stepping on the scale.  While I waited for the scale to stop blinking 0.00 and pronounce judgment, I began to pray.
            “Please God. Just let it be the same as last month. I'm not asking for it be lower, just... please, let it be the same.” God was apparently out of miracles.. The scale read 216.4.  10 lbs more than last month.  I looked around just to be sure my 14 month old hadn't sneaked up behind me adding her 16 lbs to the total. Nope I was alone. So I hopped off and tried again, just in case. Maybe the scale had changed its mind, had a technical error, or something. But no, the evil scale seemed to take joy in my misery and now said 216.6.  AHHHH! I had gained 1/5 of a pound in less than a minute.
            Scenes from my future played out in my mind.  I would gain a pound every hour. Within a week none of my clothes would fit.  By the end of the month I would have to order everything from an online specialty store. In a year my husband would need to physically roll me out of the bed and onto a Jazzy scooter because I had gotten so big that my legs wouldn’t support my girth. I was going to be like that woman from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. When I died they would have to cut a hole in my house just to get me out. Then I’d have to be buried in a packing crate because surely no one would make a coffin large enough to fit me.
I back pedaled off the scale so fast that I tripped.  That’s when I heard the THUD of my life hitting rock bottom. It was so loud it even woke my husband. Well it was either that or the crash from the scale reverberating off the travertine. I imagine he ran into the bathroom expecting to find that I had slipped in the shower.  He probably did not expect to see his naked, overweight wife sprawled on the floor, trying to beat the scale into submission.
            “Betsy, what the heck are you doing?”
            “I’m fat!” I wailed
            My husband, always a man of few words, wisely said nothing and offered me a hand up. For a few minutes we stood there, him patting my back and me sobbing onto his shoulder. After I had quieted down some, Jarom grabbed a pack of tissues and herded me back into the bedroom. He sat me down on the bed and wiped the tears and snot off my face, then did the same for his shoulder.
“Now start over and tell me what’s wrong.”
  There weren’t enough hours in the day or words in the English language to describe what was wrong. At that moment, I felt like the most worthless human being on the planet. Every disappointment, every failure echoed in stereo through my head. It was too overwhelming to think about, so I tried to focus on the immediate problem of my weight.
“Somehow I gained 10 pounds this month.” I sniffled.
Jarom stared pointedly at my nightstand and the ever growing collection of pop cans, wrappers, and pizza crusts.
“To be fair, half of those are probably the kids’.” I said sheepishly. Throwing myself down onto the pillow I exclaimed, “Ugh! What is wrong with me? I was doing really well this summer. But now…” I blew a raspberry and gave the thumbs down sign.
Jarom lay down beside me. “I know what you mean.  It’s been a year and a half and we still don’t have closet doors or baseboards.”, he said referring to our recent house remodel.
“Guess we’re both great at starting…not so good at finishing.”

My husband listened patiently while I bemoaned my fat rolls for at least another half hour. I was too focused on my startling weight gain to let the truth of what I had just said sink in. A fire burned in my belly as I started thinking about the quickest way to drop 50 pounds. Upset made way for excitement. I was going to shed all these unwanted pounds…again. So what if I had done this same exact dance 20 times before, I was lost to the “starter’s high”. Like falling in love, starting a new project flooded my body with endorphins and gave me a single minded focus on the task ahead, for at least a few weeks.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Finishing Friends

This is a little mini post to recognize a couple of friends and family that are living the Philosophy of Finishing.

My workout buddy, Lori, started running a little while ago. She's now gone from running in place to finishing 5 miles. Congratulations!  She's working towards doing a half marathon with me this spring.

My mom is a craftohilic. She regularly volunteers to do big craft projects for all 4 of her children's family. She usually gets about a 1/4 of the way done on each, then  it gets boxed up for another year.  This time, she decided to make really neat advent calendars for all of us. And she delivered this them just in thime to start the month long countdown to Christmas. Overcoming paper-eating printers missing supplies, and a neurotic dog that eats everything, she perservered to complete the task she promised to do.  Way to go.

  Everything is worth finishing, from household chores, to projects, to life long dreams. What is left unfinished unravels and leaves bit and pieces all over, disrupting my peace of mind because I can't let it go.  Today I finished moving my girls into one bedroom together. What did you finish today?

Thursday, November 24, 2011


This post may be a little late for you to do something about it this year, but give this a thought for next time you know you're going to be eating a big meal.


Right now I just finished a 10 mile turkey trot. I really didn't want to, but I knew I was going to be eating yummy rolls with cinnamon honey butter, sweet potatoes and caramel sauce, and spoonbread (for those of you not from the south think creamed corn with cream cheese and cornbread stuffing baked in a big pot). A gigillion calories. so my choices were as follows:

1. Stare at yummy food longingly and be super grumpy that I didn't eat any
2. Eat lots of yummy food and then whine about how fat I was going to get (the usual choice)
3. Eat lots of yummy food and promise to run it off later. (yeah right)
4. Burn a bunch of calories first, then while my metabolism is roaring, eat lots of yummy food and not worry about the impact because I've already earned my calorie intake.

If you said #4 you've just won an evening of guilt free fun and food. Though you may still feel a little bloated, you can be confidant that it's only temporary.

After a tough workout is the best time for a treat or carb because your body is burning more efficiently and able to use the carbohydrates immediately instead of storing them

So enjoy your food, choose wisely, and if you don't - then go easy on yourself.. there's always tomorrow

Monday, November 14, 2011

A look in the mirror

          My phone's alarm buzzed. 5:45 am. What nutjob set the alarm for the ungodly....oh yeah, that would be me.  This morning I am going to force myself to get out of bed and go to the 6:00 class Step and Pump at Newport Sports Club.  "A combination of barbells, free weights and aerobic step form a complete body workout". It sounded a lot better last night when I had set the alarm, this morning it just sounds...bleh.  How easy would it be to turn off the alarm and stay under the warm covers? No one would know, no one would care and I would get an extra hour's sleep that I really think I deserved. But alas, I would know. I had committed to go and by golly I was strong enough to drag my butt out of this cozy bed... in 5 more minutes.
           Braving the freezing temperatures, I got in my car and drove the 1 1/2 miles to the gym. Aside from the instructor, Becky, I was the first one to arrive.  Apparently everyone else has trouble getting up this early too.  The other ladies straggled in a few minutes after the class had started. Some of them I recognized from other fitness classes and some of them professed to be new at this whole exercise thing. Been there, done that.

        We started with a brief warmup to get blood flowing and muscles loose. Ok, I could do this, nothing too hard. Then Becky decided that we must not need our legs today, because she went into a never ending torturous squat and lunge set on the right side. I hate squats  The only thing I hate more than squats are lunges.  3 hours passed, ok so maybe not.  But it honestly felt like it.  My right leg was cooking from inside.  They aren't joking when they say "Feel the burn".  I really REALLY did not want to do the rest of this set, let alone the left side.  What were my options? Like all fitness classes there are modifications you can do if a move is too difficult.  I could lower the weight. I saw one or two ladies switching from 20 lbs down to 15. I could take a rest and march in place. Or I could go home. But did I really need to?  I had to take an honest look at my body and how I was feeling. Was I injured? No, just sore. Was I having trouble breathing? No more than anyone else during exercise. So why did I want to quit? Because it was hard, that's why. It felt uncomfortable and I just didn't want to do it.  I wanted to leave early and go back to bed.  That wasn't a good enough reason to quit anymore.  If I left I would be saying that not only do I hate squats, but that I didn't believe I could finish the hour long class. That I wasn't strong enough. No way. I had hiked for 11 hours on Lone Peak, so I knew I could do 1 measly little hour.

          With the decision to finish made, I felt a weight lift off my shoulders.  And not just because  we had put the barbell down. I knew with a certainty that I would find a way to fight through and finish this class, even if I had to go a little slower than everyone else. I was feeling pretty darned proud of myself as I picked up the weights for the next set when in the mirror I caught a flash of movement.  It was one of the newbies, packing up her step and putting away her weights. I don't know if it was exhaustion or pure emotion, but she looked utterly dejected.  I'm sure she had planned on slipping out of class without calling attention to herself. The instructor had other plans.
            "Hey where are you going? It's too early to have someplace else to be" Becky joked into the sound system headset mic.
            "This is just way too hard for me."
            "That's okay, just go a little slower, take a break and then try again." Becky encouraged.
            "No, I think I just need to work up to this on my own for awhile before I come back."
           I think everyone in the room knew she would not be back. Becky protested again but the woman just raised a hand and walked out of the classroom, out of the gym, got in her car, and drove away.  I wanted to run after her and shake her. To tell her all about how important it was to finish what you start. To tell her what I'd learned, what I tell myself everyday, You don't have to be perfect, you don't even have to do it well at first, just finish. Because when you quit something you are saying "I'm not good enough". But when you finish you build a sense of accomplishment and trust in yourself that you can hold on to when things get hard.

          But I didn't say any of those things. I finished my workout and went home and wrote this post because I could not get that woman out of my head. She probably went home and beat herself up about how she wasn't good enough. Then she probably started beating herself up about all the things that she isn't good enough, smart enough, or thin enough for.

        How arrogant of me to suppose what she is thinking, right? Maybe. I only venture a guess because I was her.  For years and years I would get stuck in that cycle of quitting and shame spirals and ice cream binge eating.  That's why I write this blog, why I have a goal to write a book. Why I face the wrath of Caleb Warnock at American Fork Art Council Writing Workshop every week. Because I know what it's like to pray that God has an exchange policy. To wish you could send yourself in for warranty work and come back better, thinner, smarter, stronger. To look in the mirror and hate what you see, not only on the outside, but everything about you.
         But I don't anymore, well most of the time. And so I'm trying to figure out a way to help others find their way back to the mirror without cringing. Hopefully I can find a way to do that without sounding like Tony  Robbins or a new Church member on a mission to convert the world, lost in their zealousy. So I write one blog, one page, one story at a time. It's hard, and sometimes I want to quit. I tell myself that nobody gives a hoot about what I've done, that nobody would want to read anything I write. Then I say, shhhh. It doesn't matter. I can only control what I put out into the world and make it my best. Makes no difference whether it's New York Times bestseller material, or something only my family will ever read. Only thing that matters is that I finish.

Monday, November 7, 2011

"Don't throw out your fat clothes"

          Hopefully you've had a little practice working on your inner dialogue.  You know, the one where you tell yourself how awesome you are, and that you can do anything.  Because if your inner voice is a positive one, it's a little easier to tune out the negative ones coming from the outside. You know that ones I'm talking about.  Some are well meaning friends and some are just mean. period.

           As I started losing weight and training for a marathon, everyone and their dog seemed to have an opinion on how I was progressing and what I should do.  About half were really supportive.

"Wow, you look amazing. What are you doing? Keep it up!"

The other half ranged from semi supportive, to downright rude.  Here are some of the little tidbits I've collected from friends, family, and strangers.

"Are you crazy? You do know how long a marathon is right?"
"Aren't you gonna need knee replacements, you know cuz of the extra weight and pressure from running?"
"So.. a marathon.. that's great... Is the registration fee refundable?"
"Whatever you do, don't throw out your fat clothes. Because it will be really expensive to buy them all again when you get bigger next time."

     That last one was a personal favorite.  By the time this loved one (whom will remain nameless) said that to me, I already had some good self-confidence brewing.  So I went straight home and boxed up all my clothes that were too big now, yes even my beloved cashmere XXL sweater.

     Just because you've analyzed your past mistakes and moved past them, doesn't mean everyone else doesn't remember all your faults in 3D. It may take them some time to realize that you have changed. In the meantime, surround yourself with people who do support you and have only positive things to say about you. And when someone you love doubts you, just remember that they aren't the ones making the decisions. You are.  Only you can determine whether you quit or succeed. They just haven't been enlightened yet.

Until next time, if someone says something negative, just tell your inner cheerleader to yell louder.
 "Never give up!"

Friday, November 4, 2011

Daily Herald Article

Just wanted to share an article written for the local paper, The Daily Herald, about my story. Thanks Chris Dalley for a great piece.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


    I have a confession to make.  I hear voices in my head. If you're honest with yourself, you probably do too. I hear the voices of all my past failures, telling me I'm not good enough, that I'll never make it, that I should give up.  Do you have them too? I'd put odds that yours sounds a lot like mine probably. Does your mental bully tell you that you're not as good as so and so? Or that you are mediocre or average at best.  Well, right now I want you to tell that little voice to SHUT UP!! Ahh blessed quiet.  Oh wait, in the distance can you hear a much fainter voice saying "You can be more." Ok I want you to make friends with that little voice, it's your new best friend.

    I know someone who says he is blessed with a little inner voice that doesn't beat him down. Instead it says, "Get the hell out of my way".  His name is Caleb Warnock. He's a best selling author, professor, editor, mentor, and acts like a cattle prod for all struggling writers that are in his group. I would venture that one of the reasons he is so accomplished is that he doesn't have a voice that holds him back, but one that propels him forward.  My point is that while not all of us may be blessed with a mental voice that cheers for us, if you want to be happy and successful you need to make yourself one.

Has anyone ever seen the Stuart Smalley skits from the old Saturday night live? Where he stands in front of the mirror in the ugliest sweater ever and says "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and goshdarnit, people like me."  It's hilarious, but it's also true.  If you want to change your inner dialogue you need to first hear it from your own mouth. It sounds hokey I know.  When I tried it I felt like a total a$$. But trust me, you need to hear yourself say something positive about you and your goals.  Please do not quote Stuart.  Your own "daily affirmation" needs to be personal and something you would say.  It's a little embarrassing to admit, but I would say to myself "You are awesome. You can do anything. You never quit."  After a while it wasn't so forced. Then I could say to myself anywhere, in the middle of a run, a restaurant, or somewhere I needed strength, "I am awesome, I can do anything, I never quit."

Before every yoga practice I would tell myself "I am a fuel efficient furnace", and I will swear that this little phrase helped me to not be paranoid about every little thing I put in my mouth, or about the speed of my metabolism. The only person who should hear it is you.  So don't feel self conscious or say this is dumb.  That's the voice we are trying to silence. No one else is making you feel stupid right now, just your own doubts and insecurities. It's just you and the little angel on one shoulder, the devil on the other. Flick the devil off and start telling yourself how great you are.  I promise that after a while, you'll even start to believe it.

Monday, October 24, 2011

To carb or not to carb

      I'm not a nutritionist, so I'm not going to try to sound like I know all the science behind food and how we process it because I don't.  Instead I just want to share a few things I learned while fine tuning the foods I choose throughout the day. Today's tips are on carbs.

        I've done no carb diets, low carb diets, and eat every carb I see ( guess what happened on that one) diets. Depending on the current fad trends, carbohydrates have been unfairly cast as the bad guy.  Like most everything else in life the answer is someplace in the middle.  Carbohydrates in itself aren't evil, which ones you pick and how you eat them can be. I've said previously that carbs and fats react chemically to each other, so it is generally not a good idea to indulge in both heavily.  That said, carbohydrates serve a very important function, your body's favorite fuel.  One of the reasons Low carb diets are so successful in short term weight loss is because when the body is deprived of its favorite fuel it goes next to fats.  But a low carb diet doesn't work long term especially if you have any athletic aspirations.  Most athletes, runners, trainers, etc. will tell you that if you want to have energy, your body need to have carbs.  How much energy you use and need should determine how many carbs you eat and when. Carbs can be most efficiently used after a workout. They go to your glycogen stores as fuel for next time.

       If you are an elite athlete you will probably carboload pastas and breads both before and after a race or extreme workout.  Here's a hint... you are probably not an elite athlete.  Your body probably doesn't need to completely refuel.  Figure out what you've burned and how many calories you "earned" (remember your budget) and use that as a guide of how much you should have.  I made this mistake when I first started running. First I was finishing the HCG protocol and having no carbs, but then decided "I'm a runner, I need lots of carbs."  BZZZZ wrong again Betsy. Just because I was running didn't mean my body had magically changed into a metabolic wonder.  I still had to abide by my calorie budget and fit in the carbohydrates and the calories they contained.

   I found what really works for me for energy and weight management is the 50/25/25 diet. That's where 50% of your calories come from carbs, 25% from protein, and 25% from fat.  Does that sound like too much math?  It's not really that bad once you figure out a few things.  One gram of carbs is 4 cal. One gram of Protein is 4 cal. One gram of fat is 9 calories. So if I had a daily budget of 1800 calories, then 50% of those should come from carbs or 900 calories. 900 divided by 4 is 225. So I should have 225 grams of carbohydrates a day.  If you are not exercising you might need less, or if you are training really hard you might need more.  Let your weight and your energy level be your guide.

   As far as which carbs to eat, that's up to you. As always I recommend moderation. I like whole grains, but sometimes I want sugar.  Sugary snack are often packed with fat. So when I have these treats, they are usually small and under 100 calories.  Try to pick the better option if it's available; long grain rice, whole wheat, black beans.  But if you are having dinner somewhere that has a white roll and that's it, (Texas Roadhouse, yumm) then no big deal.  The biggest thing is to accurately chart how many calories you spent and stay on budget and you'll be fine.

   A word of caution about water weight. Water weight is not fat.  Carbohydrates can have the effect of making your body retain water.  Double edged sword. Means if you suddenly cut carbs you can lose 5 lbs or more of water weight very quickly, like 2 or 3 days. But is that really meaningful weight loss?  No it was just water, and water is not fat so we didn't get any skinnier. The other side of the coin is that when eating carbs for enregy we sometimes get the water storage that goes along with it.  Don't flip out if you are up a pound or 2 after a heavy carb meal or day.  It's just water, not fat, so you didn't really get bigger. Just calm down and drink lots of water and the water weight will take care of itself.

Here are a few hints:

  • A lot of carbs at once is usually hard to process unless you are storing energy after a long owrkout (3 hours or so long)
  • For energy before a workout try a small snack of simple carbs (fruit or chocolate) for a quick burst of energy
  • If you have been without carbs for a while from dieting, ease back into them slowly. Reintroduce them one at a time so your body can readjust how it burns fuel
  • Think if you really need them. Do you really need that big stack of crackers mushed up in your chili? Or are you just used to doing so? Does it taste better with em or can you live without.
  • In moderation, one roll is sufficient 
  • If you have a lot of carbs in one meal, go low in the next

Thanks for reading. I've had a lot of fun this week. Now that I have a few posts under my belt I realize I better post less often or else I will run out of stuff to talk about. So until next time stick to your plan. Dont' give up, You're worth it! 


Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Plan Part 3 - A Balanced Budget

Make sure you read The Plan Part 1 & 2 first!

       My friends and family would giggle uncontrollably at the thought of me in an apron cooking a healthy meal, with lean proteins and veggies. Let's just say I've almost mastered making Ramen.  So changing my lifestyle to include fresh healthy organic meals cooked from raw was just not gonna happen.  Don't get me wrong, if that's something you enjoy and have the time and money to spend on it, go right ahead.  I just knew that wasn't a change I could stick to and live with.  So I needed to figure out a way to eat that fit with my lifestyle and didn't make fat. Sounds impossible right? Nope, all it takes is a little common sense and a little balance.

       The first thing you need to know is that like most of us, your body lives on a budget.  Your body works super hard every day to earn caloric credit. Everything it does, even sleeping, earns you "spending money". You are spending your calories with everything you put in your mouth.  So think about it for a minute.  Are you spending calories faster than your body can earn them?  I did and that's why I got fat. Repeatedly. (Also how i racked up credit card debt, but that's a whole different blog)

      You basically have three choices on how to run your budget based on your goal

Gain: If you run your budget like the government does, you take on weight like the nation takes on debt.  Now you probably won't hit the 14 trillion mark, but your caloric spending will inflate your fat. Gaining weight and debt  is the simple result of spending more calories than you've earned.  Our nation's solution is to increase revenue (taxes), or slash the budget. For you that translates into Move more or Eat less.  Or both.

Lose:  Hopefully, if you are in debt, any extra money you earn is going to pay down your creditors. Same principle to lose weight. If you are losing weight that means you are continually earning more calories than you are spending.  That surplus of caloric credit gets applied to your debt, your fat stores. Just like with money this is generally a slow and steady process that is reliable.  As opposed to a lump sum payoff, or crash diet.

Balance:  Once your debt is paid off and your fat stores are diminished, you can run a balanced budget.  Fiscally you would then try to save your money for a rainy day.  Your body can do that very short term..  Suppose you know you are going to a party tomorrow.  You might want to eat less today to save your caloric spending for tomorrow.  However, in the long term if you are continually "saving" your calories in a high enough amount your body will go into starvation mode and lower your metabolism, causing you to earn less calories even though your doing the same thing.  So for the most part you want to spend around the same amount you earn.

   The first step in any budget is to figure out what your cash flow situation is.  How many calories are you earning just by being alive? That's you Base Metabolic Rate or BMR  I suggest using this calculator to figure it out   Super easy. Then you add in how much you earn through activity. There are countless apps and website that can calculate that for you.  I like My Fitness Pal personally, but there are plenty of choices. Add that to your BMR and voila you have your daily income.  It's wise to note that this is an estimate yours may vary up or down. You can adjust it based on your body's reactions to your plan.

    Now that you know your income, figure out how much to spend. Most experts agree that the healthiest and safest weight loss is an average of 1-2 lbs a week.  A pound is 3500 calories. So to lose 1 lb a week you need to be spending 500 calories less than your income for the day.  You can do that but cutting your food intake or upping your exercise.  I recommend doing both at once so you are not overtaxing your body or starving.  It's worthy to note that for women, most doctors don't recommend dipping under a 1200 calorie diet.
   What you spend your calories on is up to you. Play with it, experiment.  Your body is unique, remember? See how you react to carbs, dairy, or fats.  Everyone will process them differently.  General guide is fats and carbs do not mix.  So if you are eating a high carb meal like pasta, limit the sauce.  Bread? Use less butter.

   The rest is all common sense and simple math.  Spend wisely. If you have budgeted 200 calories for a snack you can either have one cookie or an apple, granola, and yogurt parfait.  Do you want to fill you tummy or satisfy your craving?  On some days you will really want that cookie even though it means less food. Go for it!   As long as you have budgeted correctly, your diet won't suffer.  One of two things will happen. You will either be completely satisfied with the yummiest cookie ever, or, you will quickly learn that most of the time eating junk is not worth the calories they cost. No wrong answer.

   I personally learned that I liked eating more lower calorie small meals throughout the day as opposed to the few days I tried spending my whole caloric income on, let's just say hypothetically, a bin of Ben and Jerry's Pumpkin cheesecake. (I won't lie, at the time it was totally worth  it.)  As long as you are happy, and balance your daily budget, you will stick to it and be successful no matter what foods you choose.  
On Monday's blog I will give some helpful hints and common pitfalls in choosing which foods to eat.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Plan Part 2 - Be Happy

   If you haven't done so already, read The Plan Part 1.

   Discovering that I had never had a weight loss problem, but instead had a weight gain problem, was a turning point in both my attitude and my behavior.  I had mastered the art of weight loss and proved that I could lose weight again.  This time I would figure out how NOT to gain weight. If only I could do that, then I was sure the remaining pounds would fall into place, or more accurately off my butt.

   So I went to the library, the bookstore, the internet and my doctor.  Anywhere that might have "reliable" information. (please, for your own sanity, do not Google weight loss). What I found was not a surprise, because I had been hearing it all my life.

  Eat less, Move more

    There's no way around it people. If you do not want to gain weight you need to use the fuel, (calories) you consume.   And how does your body use fuel? By moving.  Unused fuel turns to fat. So what you take in, you have to expend out.

  There were many misteps along the way. I'm sure I will use them as Blog Fodder in later posts. Long story short after much trial and error I learned a beautiful and simple truth. The only way change your life is if you not only enjoy the results from your change (ie weight loss, toned body, better mood), but enjoy the act of changing in itself. (ie healthier foods, exercise) 

  Why is it that most people know they need to live healthier but don't?  Because it's no fun! If you gag  on tofu everyday and kill yourself working out at the gym, do you think you are likely to continue that lifestyle indefinitely? Hell no! That's why diets are miserable too. Because you are trying to do too much to achieve max results.  And let's be honest, not many people really like living in the extremes. Working out 3 hours a day, eating totally vegan or raw. No way.  The exception being if you like it. That's the key.  If you love the way working out for 3 hours feels, Go for it! If you feel like you've been run over afterwords? Don't do it!

   Here's the secret. You have to find a way to be healthier that makes you happy. When you are happy all sorts of wonderful magical things happen.  Most of the chemical reactions I can't explain, but when you are unhappy or stressed you release more cortisol, which makes you fat.  When you're happy you get all those wonderful endorphins that for me at least, made it so I could stop taking the antidepressants I had been on for 14 years.

   So go try everything. The best exercise is the one you enjoy. Finding an exercise that burns alot of calories but you hate to do is counter-productive because if you hate it, you won't do it.  Then you'll be burning 0 calories.  So forget about maximizing the calories burned for a minute and find something that gets you moving that you like! For me it's running and Zumba.  I have no coordination, but a love for music and it gets me moving.  It makes me want to exercise. Gasp! I never thought I'd want to exercise. But I like spending time doing things that make me happy.

   Follow the logic? Need to spend time exercising ----> Find exercise you enjoy ----> Doing things you enjoy makes you happy-----> So now exercising makes you happy.

Never thought you'd be saying that huh?

Next time we will look at the other half of the equation, what to eat.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Plan Part 1

      So today I wanted to talk specifically about how I lost my weight. I needed to get the pounds off fairly quickly so that I could look good during the holidays.  On impulse, I bought some homeopathic HCG drops.  Then I went home and downloaded the free ebook, Pounds and Inches by Dr. Simeons. The first 2 days of "loading" sounded like heaven.  Who wouldn't like eating whatever they wanted in mass quantities? It was the next three weeks that sounded scary. 500 calories a day. That's it. I could eat that much before brushing my teeth in the morning! But the drops promised 1-2 lbs a day average loss.  For that, I could survive 3 weeks of hell.
     I'm not going to get into the specifics of the HCG protocol at this time. Maybe at a later post I will go into depth about HCG diet and various other methods available. From the end of October to mid November I religiously followed the rules and never cheated once.  I lost somewhere in the neighborhood of 21 lbs.  But now it was time for maintenance.  I could either be happy with the 21 lbs and start the stabilty diet, where you slowly up your calorie intake and no carbs for 3 more weeks. But with Thanksgiving coming up I knew I would blow that.  Or I could go back and do round 2 of the HCG drops.  So I planned very carefully so that my 2 loading days fell on Thanksgiving. Stuffing my face with food didn't taste as good as I remembered it. Then came another 3 weeks of starving and no exercise.  The first time wasn't too bad, the second time was hell.  I wasn't really dropping the weight like the first time.  I had no energy and I was super crabby.
    It was almost the end of the second round and Christmas was in two weeks.   11 more pounds had come off for a grand total of 32 lbs. in less than two months.  I remember thinking, not bad, but I still want to lose at least another 30 lbs.  I had to change my plan. There's no way I could do the HCG diet again. It was getting less effective and harder to stay on it.  I hadn't cheated yet, but it was only a matter of time when only eating 2 apples, zucchini and lean turkey everyday ad naseum. But I wasn't ready to call it quits yet either. So I started researching other weight loss method to try.  One friend had had great success with cleanses, another heartily endorsed Slim Quick.
   All at once the cold hard truth smacked me in the face.  If I resorted to methods so outside my normal routine to lose the weight, didn't that mean when the diet was finished and I went back to my regular life that the weight would either creep or jump back on? Isn't that exactly what had happened umpteen times before? Did I really want to be riding this rolling coaster and putting my body and my family through hell again in another year or two? The answer was a resounding NO! There had to be a way to keep the weight off without dieting several times a year, or putting more harmful drugs and chemicals in my body.  The solution was painfully obvious, but that didn't mean I was excited to hear it.

  Stop dieting.

      I didn't need to find a way to lose weight, I had proven over the years that I knew lots of ways to get the fat off. It's always the gaining it back that's the problem.  If I wanted the weight to stay off for good I had to change my routine into something that wouldn't keep making me fat. But it couldn't be for just a week, or month, or however long it took to get the other 40 pounds off. I had to find a new way to live.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The How: Fast, Cheap, or Lasting

     So hopefully now you have the What I'm going to do.  Now you need to figure out the How I'm going to do it..  Do some research, make a plan, and write it out.  Take a look at your natural resources and see what you have in abundance.  Do you have lots of time available to you, or maybe some excess cash. Do you have a support system in place, (you have me at least!), or do you need to create or find one? Here's a good rule of thumb to decide how best to approach your goal. There's fast,  there's cheap,  and there's lasting. You can combine 2 out of the three, but very rarely can you have all three at once.  You can do it  fast  and cheap, but it won't last. (crash diets, cleanses, etc)  You can do it fast and lasting, but it won't be cheap. (Surgery, professional trainer, etc) Or you can do it cheap and lasting, but it won't be fast. (eat less, move more, healthy life changes) 
    Last year when I decided that I needed to lose weight, I hadn't yet discovered my  Philosphy of Finishing. We will get in to that in a later post.  I wasn't thinking long term, I was thinking "I can't be fat for one more day!".  I didn't care how the weight came off, just that it came off. I was so blinded by desperation that I couldn't see the big picture and didn't make a plan. I went for cheap and fast.  I wanted to be skinny and wanted it now.  I hadn't put a lot of thought into maintaining and so I had set myself up for success that could't last. I have repeated this cycle dozens of times over the years
. Get fired up-----> Lose Weight -------> Stop diet and go back to life-------> Gain Weight back------> Get depressed------> Get fired up-------> and around and around for 15 years. 

   I want you to break the circle and make a plan that's a straight line more like this
 Get Fired up------>Lose Weight-----> Change outlook on life -----> Develop Healthy Lifestyle -------> Tone up and find your ideal weight-------> Maintain and continue your new healthier lifestyle.

   Think about which two you want to choose: cheap and fast, fast and lasting, or cheap and lasting.

Next time I'll go into my orginal plan, my revised plan, and  my suggested apporach to weight loss

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Who do you want to be today? You!

     One size fits all isn't a good idea for clothing and it's an even worse idea for goals. If you pick your goal based on someone else's achievements or ideals, the end result will probably not be what you had hoped for.  Let me give you an example.  When I started to lose weight I was thinking, "Hmmm. My sister in law and I are about the same height, so if she can be that little and skinny so can I.".  BZZZZ  Wrong answer.  As I started to lose the weight I realized how completely ridiculous this was.   She has a very slight and petite frame, while I, on the otherhand, have very wide shoulders and at least a medium frame.  If I were to starve myself and become skin and bones, even my bones would be bigger than she is.  I had fallen into the precarious trap of trying to be like someone else instead of trying to become a better me.
      Each of you is amazing, fabulous, and completely unique.  No one else has a body exactly like you, so why should you try to force it to behave like someone else's? Your individual composition of body type, metabolism, and genetic predispositions means you will lose weight differently than any other person on the planet. You and I could eat the same exact foods, do the exact same exercises, and we will still always have different results.  So once you let go of any lingering desire to look exactly like that guy/girl at the gym that's amazingly toned and fit, then you can start to find and work towards your body's version of healthy and fit.

     Now you're ready to find your goal. To do this you, need to seriously evaluate what you really want and who you are doing the work for.  The answer to the first part will vary, but the second part should always be yourself. Try asking yourself this list of questions.

  • What do I want to do?
  • Why do I want to do it?
  • Is there anything that could prevent me from achieving my goal?
  • Is this a long term goal or a short term goal?
  • How am I going to achieve this goal?
  • If something gets in my way, am I willing to keep going until I finish?

    You should ask yourself these questions anytime you want to accomplish something. Whether it be a broad goal like becoming a healthier person, or a short specific goal like getting the house clean today. You might not know all the answers yet, and that's ok. The How is always tricky. But it is absolutely essential that you can answer the first and last questions. Because if you can, you'll now know 2 things. First, where you are headed. And second, that you will without a doubt figure out a way to get there.

Monday, October 17, 2011


    Hello. My name is Betsy Schow and I'm an FFP, a former fat person. Yes you've read correctly, former. One year ago today I decided I was finished with being fat.
     On October 17 2010, I begrudgingly stepped on the bathroom torture device, otherwise known as a scale. After the dust had settled and the little 0.00 had stopped blinking, it betrayed me by saying 216.8. The lies, the horror! I checked behind me to make sure my daughter hadn't inadvertently stepped on the scale. Nope just me. Must be one of those freak miscalculations. I would step off and try again. You see, over the last four months I had been exercising at the gym, and mostly avoiding sweets. Last month when I weighed myself the scale read 205.  All that work couldn't have disappeared in just one month right? If you believed the gremlin  that lives inside my scale, it did. A second, third, and fourth weigh in all revealed the same exact results, I had gained 10 lbs. in one month!

    Such a drastic change demanded an equally drastic plan of action.  My doctor had been warning me for years that I was obese and at very real risk of becoming diabetic. I'd never really believed him until that moment.  My parents are type 2 diabetics, my husband is type 1 1/2. If I could gain 10 lbs. in one month, it could happen again, and again, until I became too big to get out of bed. Looking back now, I realize that I was probably overreacting a little bit, but I'm grateful I did. That was not going to be me. My life was not going to be filled with needles, insulin and mumus. I was going to change my life and my unhealthy attitude towards food.

    And I did. Not in a week. Not in a month. But in a year. Like I said earlier, today marks the one year anniversary of going from fat to fit.  This year I lost 72 lbs. Went from 44% body fat to19%.  From being winded running to catch the mailman, to finishing a marathon.  But more important than numbers or percentages, I learned to like myself. I learned what amazing capabilities each and every person has hidden inside.  And all it takes to unearth this untapped well of potential was a little hope, faith, and finally listening to my mother's advice "Finish what you start."

     This blog is intended to help others like me who have tried and failed one too many times. Who are ready to say I'm finished with being fat. Everyone say it with me now, "I am finished quitting on myself."  I hope by sharing my story and some of the mistakes I've made and tricks I've learned, that I can help you finish your own goals.

    Fair warning: I'm not perfect, as anyone who knows me will gladly attest. I'm not a doctor, trainer, model, athlete, or superskinny.  I'm not advocating any particular lifestyle or diet plan.  As always, check with your doctor before beginning any exercise or diet plan. I'm just a sometimes frustrated mother of two that wants to share my thoughts and listen to yours.


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