ALPINE — Betsy Schow, a 31-year-old stay-at-home mom of two, didn't set out to write a book, get it published, be interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, and fly to New York and appear on the Today Show with Savannah Guthrie.
All she wanted, and I quote, was to "lose a few pounds so I could look in the mirror and not cringe."
But never underestimate momentum.
One day, there Betsy was, standing in her bathroom, staring in disbelief at the bathroom scale she'd just slipped off and broken – yes, she finally broke the scale – and less than a year later, there she was, 75 pounds lighter and sitting down to write about what the heck happened.
Her story, "Finished Being Fat," isn't so much about losing weight as it is about the importance of finishing things.
"I was addicted to starting," Betsy writes, "but once that initial high faded and things got hard or boring, I would quit and start something else to get my next fix."
But not this time. For whatever reason – and she gives her husband Jarom tons of credit – this time Betsy Schow, perennial slacker, didn't slack. She persevered. For the first time in her life, she broke through the wall of procrastination and doubt and discovered the delicious ecstasy that comes with crossing a finish line.
Along the way she discovered that it's not being thin that matters, it's doing what you said you were going to do, whatever that might be, and throwing off that deal-killing inner voice that keeps screaming "Not so fast."
As she recounts in her book, it was this "finishing" mindset that got Betsy through the 13.1 miles of a half-marathon, the 26.2 miles of a full marathon, to the top of 11,253-foot Lone Peak, and from a size 16 to a size 6 – tangible accomplishments she never could have imagined when she viewed life through what she calls her "fat goggles."
But it's the book itself that's the star exhibit.
All her life, she had this affection for writing, an innate love for sitting down and spelling out her thoughts. But only to a point, and a short point at that.
"I had lots of abortive attempts," says Betsy. "I'd have that starter's high, but then it would get hard and scary and I'd hear that negative voice and I'd say I can't do it. The wall would get so tall that when I woke up in the morning all I could see was what a big failure I was."
But all that was before her pre-finisher's epiphany.
A slimmed-down, self-confident Betsy, fresh off her marathons and ascent of Lone Peak, enrolled in a writer's conference, came back home, sat down at her keyboard, and wrote about her experience of losing 75 pounds and learning how to finish. She completed her project in five weeks.
Within another three weeks she'd sold her 50,000-word manuscript, full of humor, wit and reality, to Cedar Fort Publishing.
"Finished Being Fat" went on the market this past Jan. 8 and, in fortuitous timing, the Cedar Fort p.r. department received a mass email about that same time from a writer at the Wall Street Journal who was seeking a couple to interview that had battled the challenge of one spouse fighting the battle of the bulge.
Cedar Fort called Betsy and Betsy called Elizabeth Bernstein, who wrote an article titled "Put a Stop to 'Do I Look Fat?'" that ran in the Jan. 22 edition of the WSJ.
That article caught the eye of the producers at NBC's Today Show, who contacted Betsy and Jarom at their home in Alpine and soon had them on an airplane bound for New York.1 comment on this story
Nothing like a little free publicity on national TV to virtually sell out the first printing of 2,700 books. ("Finished Being Fat" is available at local bookstores and online).
"I didn't set out to change my life, I just wanted to lose 50 pounds," says Betsy, "All this happened by accident, really."
A happy accident. Her next book is well underway, she reports, along with any number of otherprojects. They all might not wind up on the Today Show, but she'll tell you this. They will wind up.