Buford resident Betsy Weiss, age 49 and mom of two active boys, shares her fitness journey and what keeps her motivated.
Interview by Angela Veugeler
Betsy Weiss, Age 49
Physician’s Assistant in Women’s Health
Mom of two active boys
Tell us a little bit about your fitness journey?
Almost six years ago I decided I wanted to change. I wanted to get healthier and feel better. I was about to turn 44 and I wanted to get back to a healthier and more active lifestyle. I’ve always been active and would have considered myself a healthy person. Two babies later, and with a busy work schedule, I had gained a lot more weight and been too inactive for where I should be. So, I decided to make some changes. I started off slow. I started with spinning. Being a Physician Assistant in women’s health, I always tell my patients it’s a circle. You exercise and you feel better. And when you feel better, you want to do better. You want to eat better, you want to exercise and have more energy. Working in the medical field, I knew I would have to certainly cut my calories and I cut a lot of calories. It’s never easy. Within nine months I lost the majority of my weight, about 60 pounds. Over the rest of the year, I lost a total of 80 pounds.
How do you fit in workouts and what does a typical week look like as far as working out?
I have a full-time job and two young children. I am up every day by 4:15 a.m. to go put in two hours at the gym. I believe (for me) cardio and weight training are equally important. I warm up with light cardio, and either an hour spin or some combination of rowing, biking or running, and then do an hour of weight training. l do at least one trail race a month and an endurance workout each weekend. I don’t advocate this to everyone, but I rarely take a day off. Not saying that’s a good thing, but it’s what I do. Everyone has to find what works for them. It might be four days a week or two days.
Isn’t it incredibly hard to get up that early every day?
Some mornings I don’t want to get up. Then I think, if you don’t get up today, it will be harder to get up tomorrow. There are going to be hard days, but those hard days I think to myself, “If I get through this, all it does is make me stronger. The hard days are what make you better.”
What do you do to stay motivated?
Initially my motivation was sort of selfish. I wanted to be better, to be healthier. I wanted to look better and feel more confident. When you feel that way you want to continue to be the person you’ve created. I like the way I feel and I like the way I look. I love working out, running and biking. It also helps me keep my sanity with a super busy life. It gives me my “me time” and helps me get ready for my day.
Also, I truly believe and hope that my kids see how hard I work in life to create change and better myself. That it inspires and instills in them to work hard and know they have the power to make change. I like to set goals, so I keep setting goals for myself. At first it was get back into running, do my first race. The goals eventually got bigger and bigger. I was going to Orange Theory 5-6 days a week. I got back into running, added the races. I felt really good about myself. As women, we want to do what makes us feel better, what gives us more confidence. A half marathon was my first big race. Then I started getting into trail running which I really love. Next was the sprint triathlon at Lake Lanier. Now I’ve done two of them and made big improvements. In total I’ve done four half marathons, two triathlons and over one hundred road and trail races plus my first Spartan race. I always set 3-4 goals from a fitness perspective every year, it helps me stay focused.
You have had some injuries and setbacks in your journey to stay fit. How do you handle those?
I tore my hamstring a couple of years ago. I was in pain and knew I had to do something different. I took time off from running but really got into biking. Biking is a fabulous way to get into shape without putting a lot of stress on your body. I also had a torn ACL 30 years ago and was always fine until I tore my meniscus in April 2022. When that happened my running really suffered because I was having some pain in the knee and my stability was pretty much gone. I decided to have my ACL repaired this past November. I was scared. I knew I needed to accept I was going to make some changes. I found it’s not focusing on what I can’t do, it’s focusing on what I can do. I can lift upper body weights, do core strengthening, an AssaultBike (also called an AirBike, you can work out your legs but also get a really good arm workout and cardio). It sucks and it’s hard, but I got some cardio in every day. I’ve had to get creative. I have gotten through four weeks; it will be at three to four months before I can jog and bike.
What accomplishment are you most proud of as far as health and fitness? Competing in the Spartan Race was one of my biggest accomplishments.
Do you have any advice for readers looking to get fit and make some lifestyle changes?
Just get moving. I don’t care if it’s 10 minutes a day today, and 12 minutes tomorrow, just keep building. Start with something you like to do. If you like to walk, walk. If you like to dance, do a Zumba class. As far as diet, I believe in moderation. If you deprive yourself and it’s too hard to keep up with, you won’t keep up with it. Life is about sustaining. Know what your triggers are. If you know you are going to have a super busy day and come home exhausted, plan out what you are going to eat so you don’t eat the bad things. Health and fitness aren’t accidental, it takes work and planning. You have to really watch your simple carbs, focus on your lean protein, and more vegetables. Especially for women as we get older, have to watch what we are eating and drinking. Alcohol can be one of the biggest problems as far as losing weight. You have to watch your portion sizes.
Also, anytime any of us are going to do something new or that we haven’t done in a while it is scary and it can do one of two things. It can either hold us back and then we never do it. Or, we can push through the fear and then when we finally do it, it feels absolutely amazing. We have to decide what feeling we ultimately want. I don’t like to think I can’t do something. I try to refrain failure. The definition of failure to me isn’t doing something and not doing it well, it is not doing something and never knowing if you can or can’t do it. The only failure to me is not trying. I may never be the fastest or the strongest but there are two keys to me: persistency and consistency. If you are consistent, you will get better. And if you are persistent and you keep doing it, you will get better.
What inspires you?
All of the amazing women I’ve met on my journey. They inspire me to be better and never doubt myself. Also, my sister with MS that is in a wheelchair. When I’m tired or complaining or something is hard, a good friend of mine says, “It’s not that you HAVE to do it, it’s that you GET to do it.”
Do you have any goals for the future?
I want to do another Spartan, the longer one. Before I can do that, I knew I needed to get better and get my knee better. I decided I was going to sacrifice today to be better tomorrow. I have bad days and I will get down and feel cruddy, but I just have to push through it and tomorrow will be a better day.
I have worked in women’s health for 15 years now. I’ve been seeing some of these patients for 15 years. They have been with me through my beginning, my pregnancies, up to this point in my life. I have so many patients that have said I have inspired them and there is nothing that makes me prouder. I love the fact that I can share with other women who are struggling from personal experience. This takes work. I have had a journey. I have lost weight and I have sacrificed. I have told myself this is what I want and I’m willing to sacrifice. My favorite quote when I am afraid of doing something or doubt myself is this one by Teddy Roosevelt:
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly” — Theodore Roosevelt