by Suzanne Andrews
Prevention Magazine Full Interview with Suzanne Andrews
How much did you weigh at your heaviest?
I was 186 pounds after giving birth in my 30's and since I'm only 5 foot 2", that's an uncomfortably large size. I had a background in fitness so I thought I'd just get the weight off right after giving birth. But there was one big problem, weighing that much was painful!
What made you decide to make a change in your habits?
Every step I took was excruciating. At 5’2″, I was putting a tremendous strain on my knees and hips. The simple act of walking was an arduous task. Walking places a force of 3 times your body weight on the critical joints of your body and I got bursitis in my hip which was very painful.
What did you do for exercise when you just started out?
At first I thought exercise was out of the question. I could barely see my toes; being able to touch them was a fantasy. Even having a background in fitness wasn't enough. It wasn't until I began working with a Physical Therapist as a Therapeutic Exercise Specialist that I realized exercise was the one thing I needed to do to get rid of the pain! I was so impressed with the results that I got a degree in rehab and when I'm not filming my PBS series, Functional Fitness with Suzanne Andrews®), I'm treating patients all over the country with the latest medically proven moves for specific conditions.
My favorite saying to them when they say they can't exercise because they are hurting is "one day longer is one day stronger with Functional Fitness!" (They've been cleared to workout by their doctor). Since weak abdominals can cause back pain, non movement causes arthritic joints to increase pain: stiff shoulders cause frozen shoulder, a weak butt and tight hamstrings can cause back ache. You show me a fit, strong body and I'll show a happy body. Show me a weak body and I’ll show you a sick body.
Did you know there's actually a condition/diagnoses that I treat called, "Generalized Weakness." That condition causes a host of diseases. It's not easy getting to your healthy state, but so worth it! With that being said, there wasn't anything out there for an overweight, unfit person to do.
I also have a background as an esthetician (skin care and make-up artist). While working in New York City at CBS TV, a psychology guest told me meditation could help. I was skeptical. At first I didn’t understand how a sedentary activity like meditation could help me to lose weight. It was not long before I discovered the secret—during meditation your mind is the CEO and your body the dutiful employee. Because the first step to weight loss begins in your mind. By meditating and visualizing myself at my goal weight, I designed an exercise program that a heavy person could do. I started exercising sitting down so I wouldn't hurt my hip and gradually progressed to a more challenging standing level. Little did I know I was designing the context of my PBS series. I was the first person to design exercises with modifications that included seated and standing levels - I even have walking workouts you can do seated!
What was a typical week of workouts like?
First, I would meditate (every day) for 10 minutes and visualize myself at my goal weight in an outfit that I wanted to wear right down to the color of the outfit and what I would be able to do without all that weight literally weighing me down! I would do 30 minutes of chair exercises and two to three times a week I would incorporate weights into my routine. I had health issues from a previous car accident (back and neck problems) and had to work-out out without causing further damage. I remember the day I started doing the workout standing up. I felt lighter and had more energy when I woke up that day and so I thought, why not see if I could do standing low impact moves? I kept going until what you see on the TV today, two to three fitness levels demonstrated by myself and an expert guest or two.
What did you change about your eating habits?
Weight loss is 50% diet, 50% exercise and 100% determination! I needed every ounce of determination when I decided to get some pre -packaged frozen meals to get me started losing weight. When I first saw the tiny amount, I thought I was going to starve! Yet, when I didn't die from starvation and instead just kept losing weight, I knew the food was enough to sustain me. I'm Italian, and my entire family has weight issues. We love to eat. So the biggest change about my eating habits wasn't just downsizing portions, it was downsizing the excuses and realizing that even little snacks add up.
How much do you weigh now?
Now I'm a healthy 125 lbs. It was never my goal to be an unhealthy stick. I'm a woman. I have hips and a bust. Years ago in my 20's, I was swayed by the unrealistic images you see in the media. Well, now I am the media and have the opportunity to educate women that instead of striving for an unrealistic size 2, strive for a size healthy! I remember speaking with some beauty/fashion CEO's about the unrealistic portrayal of the ideal stick thin image in my younger years in New York City. They replied "women don't relate to real women, they want a model thin women to look up to." If you read the letters I get from my viewers, you'd know they were dead wrong! I am real. I am a women and proud to be a healthy role model for real women who want to be real healthy.
How long did it take to reach your goal?
I lost 2 - 3 lbs a week.
Are you comfortable using your full name in this article for Prevention.com?
Yes. Suzanne Andrews. Founder, Functional Fitness with Suzanne Andrews, PBS TV and president of healthwiseexercise.com
How old are you?
If you put in Suzanne Andrews in the Google search engine, you'd see people actually google Suzanne Andrews age. I'm proud to reveal I'm 53 years young and owe my age to Functional Fitness!
Where do you live?
I live in Florida, but spend a lot of time travelling throughout the US teaching my evidenced based exercises to help others take back their life and be healthwise –exercise! It’s always a thrill to see how Functional Fitness helps them.
Suzanne Andrews founded Functional Fitness in 2008, the most popular fitness series for boomers and seniors broadcasting on over 159 Public Television stations throughout the US and Canada. Read Suzanne’s inspiring comeback story of how she survived a near fatal accident, From Deaths Door to Producing a National Fitness Series. Feel free to send Suzanne a message here.