The only constant in my lifelong fitness journey is change. Learning to adapt has kept me on track, and staying consistent helps me achieve continued success.

By Betsy Carmack, DMD

Betsy Carmack, DMDSOMETIMES YOU HAVE to start over, relying on discipline to begin again. After a five-year hiatus, I returned to full-time professional competition in all-natural, polygraph and urine drug-tested bodybuilding with the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation. Because of the lapse, I had to earn my WNBF Pro Card, then move on to professional competitions to qualify for the world championships in November.

Life will always get in the way of your goals, but it’s important to continue your pursuit. After college, when I was working for Operation Smile as an international medical mission coordinator, my ability to train depended on travel schedules and cultural acceptance. Once, in India, a flat treadmill was all I had to train for an upcoming half-marathon. I flew back to the States and ran the race just after landing. I couldn’t walk for a couple days after, but situations like that taught me to adapt.

During each of my pregnancies, I continued to work out. I learned to listen to my body and modify exercises accordingly. I did develop a diastasis recti (splitting of the abdomi­nal muscle) after two of the deliveries, but through training and persistence was able to resolve it nonsurgically. Now I enjoy incorporating my three kids into fitness. We run, lift weights and do nighttime stretch routines. I’ve learned to formulate workout times around patient appointments and family responsibilities. I’ve also changed the way I practice, incorporating further surgical and implant training that lets me be more productive. On Sundays, I meal-prep for the week, which makes it easier to choose healthier food.

This all takes commitment, but the reward comes from overcoming the struggle. As a teenager, I fell in love with the clarity and energy that comes from fitness—and is there any doctor who couldn’t benefit from more clarity and energy? Watching my brother, a wrestler, train and diet inspired me, so I began weight training and running, which led to competitive gymnastics and cheerleading in high school and college.

Success in fitness means different things to different people. For me, setting a goal helps me stay focused and disciplined. Initially, it was simply getting on a competitive stage as an adult. Next, it was placing in the top five, then eventually the top three or winning my division. From there, it jumped to competing at a professional world championship event and placing top 10. Last year, when I returned to bodybuilding, I set a clear goal of placing in the top three at the WNBF World Championships.

Although this all takes commitment, the depth of the reward comes from overcoming the struggles of the process.

This time, I had a great coach in Cara Volpicelli (Google her), plus a team for six-days-a-week training. Being part of something bigger than myself and having teammates to support one another in fitness and life made this experience much more manageable and meaningful. We lift each other up while realizing that one’s biggest competitor is oneself. Bonus: A lot of this translates into better management of our office teams and dental practices.

Bottom line: Set goals that are meaningful and rewarding. Stay consistent. Lead with discipline but give yourself grace. Lean on workout buddies’ or teammates’ motivation. With commitment, dedication, visualization, practice and support, it’s all possible. I went from starting over to achieving my goal of third place in the Pro Masters Bikini Tall Class at the 2023 WNBF World Championships. I did it by adapting and staying consistent, not compromising. What would you like to do?

BETSY CARMACK, DMD is a surgically trained cosmetic dentist, co-owner of four practices in southern Vermont with her husband and a mother of three. She has been a competitive bodybuilder for 13 years, earning two federation Pro Cards, and is a 3rd Place Masters World Champion in all-natural bodybuilding with the WNBF.