Changing Eating Habits

But walking wasn’t the only way she fought her weight and pain issues. She decided to go on a self-imposed diet, cutting fried foods, sugars, heavy starches and sodas out of her daily menu. “Once I started taking all those foods out of my diet, I felt so much better,” says Isaacs who also changed her portion sizes, switching from a 9-inch dinner plate to a 7-inch salad plate.

Her husband Kenny, who has osteoarthritis in his hip and back, is on the diet and exercise bandwagon, too. In addition to eating right, he takes turns with his wife on the stationary bike he bought for her last Christmas. The two also enrolled in an Arthritis Foundation Tai Chi class.

“We encourage each other. If I’m tired one day and don’t think I can make it around the track, he says, ‘C’mon, we can do it,’” she says. “Having someone else with you really helps with the motivation.”

So far, Kenny has lost 45 pounds and Betsy has lost 80 pounds. Her goal is to lose about another 80 more, putting her below 200 pounds.

So she keeps eating right, walks a mile three times a week, takes tai chi and an aerobic swim class for arthritis three times a week, and rides a stationary bike three times each week.

She hasn’t missed a day of exercise since she started in June 2008. Even when she visited her daughter in the hospital for three months, Isaacs found a way to get in her fitness time, walking in the hospital hallways and parking lot.

“There are ways you can work it out,” she says. “I have always been overweight all my life and my weight has always been up and down like a yo-yo. I thought enough is enough. You have to hit that point that you can’t do it for others. You have to do it for yourself.”

Betsy Isaacs’ Diet

Before: three pieces of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, two biscuits and lots of butter, and a candy bar or cupcake for dessert

Now: half plate of steamed vegetables, quarter plate of baked chicken or fish, quarter plate of salad