Backroads With Betsy: Just Do It

My personal training philosophies

By Betsy Huelskamp

Editors Note: We dont normally run long articles on because I believe peoples attention spans are shorter when reading online. However, Im making an exception with Betsys latest column. It is very educational and informative, something I subscribe to in my life and something I think every person should at least be aware of if they arent already.

Even though I write a column about motorcycles and women, the most common question I am asked by people is how to lose weight and what the fastest and easiest way to achieve that goal is.

I have been a personal fitness trainer for 20 years. I worked as a member of ski patrol for 10 years, and I studied Kung Fu San Su for nearly 10 years, achieving black belt status. There has never been a time in my life when being healthy wasnt at the top of my list. My father was a coach and an athletic director when I was growing up. He recently asked me how many minutes it took me to run a mile these days. I laughed and said, “It#8217;s been about 30 years since anyone timed me, Pa.” He replied, “Six minutes, sweetheart. You should be able to run a mile in six minutes.”

It#39;s great to have a dad who appreciates being healthy and staying fit.

My 76-year-old dad thinks his 47-year-old daughter needs to be running the mile in six minutes. I love that! In addition to working with people on a daily basis to help them achieve their lifetime fitness goals, I study and read every piece of literature that comes out on new diets, fads and theories, and fitness regimes that continue to get more refined. Gimmicks call out to us via late night infomercials selling products claiming to rid you of all of your problems with just one pill, one drink, one lotion or magic potion.

The bottom line is that America has an eating disorder. Very few people would say they are completely satisfied with their own bodies. If Britney is too fat, and Angelina is too skinny, that doesnt leave a lot of room for error. When someone comes to me for help with fitness, only one thing matters. How does that person see him or herself? Whats their self-image?

My dad appreciates my love of motorcycling so much, he#39;s willing to ride on the back of my bike with me. Here we are riding on Main Street in Sturgis.

Most of us look in the mirror first thing in the morning. Its also the last thing we do before we get into bed at night. Do you like what you see? And beyond what you see, how do you feel? If you dont like what you see or how you feel, what are you waiting for to make it better? Who are you waiting for to change or fix those areas of concern?

There are many things we cannot control in this lifetime. But one thing that is absolutely within our ability to control is our own body, mind and spirit. Nobody else has control of that, and we cannot blame anyone else for that. You, yourself, created what you see in the mirror. This is your work. It is the culmination of every single choice you have made your entire life. If they were bad choices and the result is not one you desire, start making better choices. It#8217;s that simple.

Changing what you see in the mirror means changing what created it. You have to change your life. No one can help you decide what bad choices you are making in your life. A bad choice is one that is not bringing you the results you wish to have in your life. Only you know what those are, and only you can come to those conclusions.

No one can determine what your desired weight should be. It should be when you feel great. As a trainer, my job is to help someone realize his or her greatest potential. I seek to provide my clients with all of the tools and information available to help them achieve and maintain that goal. My desire is to help people find their own motivation. To help them find ways they can enjoy making their goal within reach.

Here I am with my patrol pal, Juan Quintero.

Lifetime Changes
If you want a change that will last a lifetime, then dont think of the change as a diet. Diet implies a temporary uncomfortable challenge that you simply must endure. The way to look and feel better is to take responsibility for the outcome of your every action every day for the rest of your life. That means to quit looking outside of your self for answers and solutions. That means adopting a healthy way of living and choosing what promotes longevity, vitality and the quality of life you desire.

How you feel determines how you think, sleep, play, and interact with those around you. If you are overweight, underweight, out of shape, and without muscle mass, you do not feel as good as you could feel. If you eat fast food, frozen food, canned food, or processed food, you do not feel as good as you could feel. If you smoke, drink or do drugs, prescription or otherwise, you do not feel as good as you could feel. You can operate at whatever level of living you choose to. What will it take for you to want to be your personal best? And wanting it is just the beginning.

There are hundreds of choices and temptations awaiting you every day. We are a busy, lazy minded nation. We look for nutrition in convenient places. Well, guess what? Optimal health is not convenient. It requires thought, desire, and effort. Its not going to be easy. In fact, it requires hard work and dedication, but I can guarantee you this: The closer you get to your goal, the better you will feel, and the more motivation you will have. And what could be more important than how you feel on a daily basis? How you feel is going to determine how every moment of your life is going to play out.

So how much extra weight is too much to carry around on a daily basis? If you need help realizing what a disservice you are doing to yourself, try this simple test. Carry around a 5-pound weight in your purse or backpack. Now try a 10-pound weight. Some of you are carrying 25 or 50 extra pounds everywhere you go. Try carrying a bag of dog food around for half a day, and see how you feel. Wouldnt it be great to stop carrying that around, forever? Your body is your tool, and your machine. It is your transportation, and it is your gift.

Eating Habits
So, lett begin with eating simply. Buy the book “Fit For Life” by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond, and read it cover to cover. Make it your second bible. My take on diet is discovering the pleasure of simplicity. This book will cover the reasons behind everything I suggest in an in-depth way. If it grew in Gods garden, then eat it in its purest form. If man made it, cooked it, froze it, canned it, added anything, or manipulated it in anyway, then dont eat it. Eat fresh fruit and vegetables, and clean protein. Drink water, freshly squeezed juices, or plain herbal tea. Eliminate all dairy and complex carbohydrates. And dont try to pretend that you dont know the difference between a good carb and a bad carb. But if you really dont, start with anything made from flour and water. Mixed together that makes glue. How can you flush a system that is glued shut? And dairy does to the mucus membranes what carbs do to the intestines. Dont clog the system. And if that sounds too boring, remember these great words that I believe came from Oprah Winfrey. “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels!”

My sister, Kathy, and me in Sturgis a few years ago.

Before I share my pleasure of simplicity eating plan, keep this in mind. Changing your diet dramatically can be somewhat of a shock to your system. I always recommend consulting your doctor before undergoing any life-changing eating plan such as mine. Bring your book, or tell your doctor about “Fit For Life.” Harvey Diamond wrote the original book decades ago, and has written many other nutritional books, and updated his material. Most doctors should be aware of this most fundamental life plan.

Morning until noon: I eat only fresh fruit and freshly squeezed juice. Dont eat or drink food that has been canned or frozen. Food combining is important for digestion. Always eat or drink your fruit separately, and give it half an hour before eating or drinking anything else. Bottled juice from the store is mostly sugar and has no nutritional value whatsoever. Even pure juice, which has been pasteurized and sitting on a shelf for days, has little nutritional value left. Juice should be consumed immediately upon juicing it. I recommend buying a juicer. I have one and squeeze oranges every morning from the orange tree in my yard.

If that is not up your alley, try the juice bar, or eat your fruit plain. Smoothies at the juice bar made from frozen berries and sherbet don’t count. I blend my freshly squeezed orange juice with fresh bananas and Dr. Schulze’s Superfood. Superfood is a vitamin and mineral green powder. It is loaded with natural protein, is 50 calories a serving, and zero fat. Beware of protein powders high in calories, fat, carbs, and sodium or cholesterol. I highly recommend Dr.Schulze’s products found online at his American Botanical Pharmacy accessed through, phone 800.HERB.DOC.

Noon until six: I eat all the fresh vegetables I can eat. Sometimes I slightly steam them. I never eat anything fried. I never use butter, margarine, cheese, or silly sauce. I allow myself to eat non-fat dressings, non-fat dip, non-fat cooking spray, and non-fat plain yogurt. Non-fat plain yogurt is one healthy exception to the dairy rule. I make use of vinegars (apple cider is best, but I prefer balsamic), fresh lemon and lime juice, garlic, soy sauce, and seasonings. Pure maple syrup is the best natural sweetener.

The book will tell you to try not to use any condiments with toxic, artificial ingredients. Of course this is the best idea. I do use Splenda, and non-fat dressings. Toxic ingredients are harder for your body to eliminate. What is not eliminated is stored somewhere in the body while it is trying to figure out what to do with it. Eventually, it becomes a mass, a tumor, or disease. The cleaner your diet is going in, the cleaner it stays on the inside. Plain potatoes, plain sweet potatoes, squash, yams, lentils and beans are great fill-ups. If I feel the need to add protein during the day, I eat egg whites, tofu, or raw unsalted nuts. Nuts and avocadoes are high in calories and fat, so I keep my portions small.

For dinner: I eat even more vegetables, as many as I can eat. Isn’t this exciting? OK, I do add meat sometimes, as much chicken, turkey or fish as feel I’d like. No skin, no fat, no secret sauce, cream cheese or anything else. Condiments I allow myself to eat are catsup, mustard, BBQ sauce, hot sauce, lemon or wine — not to drink, but to cook with. With condiments, I use anything that is non-fat. Non-fat dips and sour cream are still high in calories though. Keep them minimal. I make my own dressing with non-fat yogurt, lots of fresh lemon or lime juice, a little bit of soy, and a little bit of pure maple syrup. Experiment with healthy alternatives to the condiments loaded with toxins. Just lemon and seasonings is the best way to go.

Become a label reader and learn to quit justifying your bad decisions. Don’t fry your meat. Bake or grill it. I like the George Foreman grill. What’s this? You don’t have a George Forman grill? It’s small and easy. It cooks your skinless meat quickly from both sides, and the fat or grease runs off into a container that can be poured directly where it belongs. In the garbage. I don’t eat beef, but if you feel the need to have a steak or pork tenderloin, keep it to just twice a week.

Snacks: if you feel like your dying between meals, have a piece of fruit. But wait an hour after dinner before you eat fruit for digestive reasons, and a half hour after fruit before anything else. Fruit ferments your other foods. Keep it separate.

If you think this sounds extreme, it is. But eat if you are hungry. Just eat healthy instead of toxic. If you adopt healthier eating habits, you’re merely going to miss the crap you’ve become addicted to. Giving up anything that you do habitually leaves a void. You can expect to feel desires and temptations often in the beginning, but hopefully less and less as you begin to realize the benefits and see the results. Accept setbacks, be happy with progress, and continue to move toward a better tomorrow.

The pace at which you see change is completely in your hands. Realize that the weight you are currently maintaining is the cause of how much you consume on a daily basis, in addition to how much you burn off in a day through exercise. The more you want to lose, the less you get to eat, or the more you need to exercise, or preferably both. At many intervals on your journey you will reach plateaus where you seem to stop losing weight or seeing change. Then it’s time to step up the program, eat less, and exercise more. It is at these intervals where people sometimes get discouraged. They feel that they are eating a lot less than they used to and working out, yet they still they have a ways to go. That’s right. Getting heavy is a lot easier than getting fit. Losing three to five pounds a week is a lot. You wouldn’t want to lose it much faster than that. And at that pace, it could take awhile to reach, and more importantly, maintain your goal.

Eating less and working out more can feel like torture for those who have allowed themselves to be lazy for years. Remember, this is not a temporary diet plan. This is your happy, new life, and you know what? It will be, if you want it to be.

I remember my mother giving up smoking the day she was told she had cancer, which scared us all to death. I don’t want to lose my mother and best friend. Why must we wait until we are scared straight before making changes that we already knew would be best for us? No one can make you want what is best for you. It’s a personal choice. I watch people every day try to justify to me how a pork rind could be a protein, or a French fry could be a vegetable. I accidentally walked up behind a woman I’d been training for years as she was being served nachos and a margarita. She looked like a 13-year-old kid whose mother had just caught her in a lie. As she struggled to explain herself to me, my response was to explain back that she was not disappointing me. I don’t carry around her extra weight every day. She does. I get paid to keep training her. 

Ultimately, you hurt yourself with your own destructive behavior. But most of us will defend our own bad behavior. We’ll argue about it, hide it, ignore it, lie about it, and anguish over it. Anything but change it. I personally am addicted to Starbucks, Diet Coke, Smooth Move tea, and Excedrin PM. We all have our demons, and have to deal with the toxic, negative results they produce.

Move your ass! It doesn’t matter if you walk, run, skate, bike, swim, ski, or have lots of sex — whatever makes you happy! Join a gym, do yoga, marshal arts, try Pilates, or invest in exercise equipment for your home. If you are forcing yourself to do something you do not enjoy, chances are you won’t do it for long. I personally love going to the gym, doing isometric exercises, lifting weights, and roller-skating.

I have the best training buddy in my dog Ute, and he is waiting to help me with my workout every morning. We walk, run, skate, lunge and sniff our way around the hills and trails near my home. Lately, I’ve been riding my bike 10 miles every day. I need to change things up from time to time to keep it interesting, but I love being outdoors. I love the fresh air and the sunshine. I love seeing new faces every day, and there is a lot of wildlife, horses and dogs along my route. I see things that make me smile on that mountain path every day, and the Ute man makes me laugh out loud a lot. He brings a lot of joy to each morning. It’s a great way to start the day. But I always push myself. 

Posing with my best workout buddy, my Siberian Husky Ute.

If I am not feeling my workout, I know it’s time to step it up. When I am lifting or doing exercises, I do it until it burns. Push yourself past your point of comfort. If you want to be comfortable, sit down on the couch, and turn on the TV. If you want to change your body, start moving. Hire a trainer if you need motivation. Buy a video and follow the pace. Go to classes at the gym. Do something that pushes you beyond your level of comfort. Anything. Do it. Just do it.

The following motivational message is something I cut off of the back of a notebook for school kids years ago. It sits in front of my computer as my daily reminder.

For those who seek that higher level of play, these are the no rules:
No drug rules my body. I am an athlete.
No limitation rules my effort. I am a competitor.
No prejudice rules my judgment. I will form my own opinions.
No pressure from others rules my actions. I will make my own decisions.
No attitude rules my reason. I will learn from my mistakes.
No rules challenge my spirit. I will overcome obstacles. I will excel. I have the potential for greatness.

You have the potential to be whatever you choose to be. Just do it. 

One of my favorite places to be: on my motorcycle riding on Main Street in Sturgis.

To see more of Betsy, visit her Web site at

1 thought on Backroads With Betsy: Just Do It

  1. Sitting here recovering from a broken wrist and going through your archives. I really enjoyed hearing your fitness philosophies. Makes a lot of sense especially about the water and flour. So I am printing out your advice and will try to use it.

    I like to keep fit, love rollerblading, biking and swimming. But the broken wrist is a drag for working out. And yes I did it on a motorcycle. I pulled over to take a photo and lost it in the some muddy gravel.

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