Functional Fitness with Suzanne Andrews

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Why Slower Workouts Gets You Faster Weight Loss Results!

by Suzanne Andrews

I just got back from the gym (choreographing my next PBS series) and have a swollen tongue from biting it! Not literally, but figuratively. I look around and see so many people doing the exercises way too fast to be effective. Not only that, but with every forceful lightning speed lift, they are putting themselves at a huge risk for injury.  I overhear someone who has sore knees and cringe when I see what she is doing to her joints.  I see the guy with the bad back lifting way to much weight and swaying his torso and I want to say something to help but bite my tongue because some people don’t welcome unsolicited advice. At the gym, no one knows that I’m a clinician with 30 years of experience.  They don’t recognize me from my show as I wear no make-up and very baggy clothes.  I’ll be the first to admit, make-up, good lighting and clothing really makes a differenceJ.

Most exercisers feel that the key to an effective workout is to try to move the body as quickly as possible. The thinking is that more movement leads to more energy consumption, which leads to fat loss and strength gaining. The fact is, when it comes working out for strengthening muscles, increasing flexibility and losing weight, exercising at a slower pace will get you faster results.

As far as lifting weights, raising and lowering the weight slower is much more effective than fast weight training because when your muscles have to continually exert force in order to keep the weights in position, your muscles are forced to contract longer causing them to adapt by building more muscle which causes your body to tone up much more quickly.  (Ladies, don’t worry about getting big bulky muscles, you don’t have the testosterone needed for that). When your muscles are placed under enough strain to become fatigued, they send signals to the rest of your body to strengthen your muscles enough so they can avoid fatigue in the future. Lifting weights slower might look easier, but it is actually more challenging.  The beauty of training this way is that you don’t have to do countless sets either, so a 30 minute workout can be just as effective as an hour workout.  Just lift the heaviest weight that you can do correctly and safely. How do you know if you’re lifting the right amount of weight? The first rep will feel moderately easy, but by the last rep, you can barely lift it.  When the last rep becomes easy, just increase the weight and keep the repetitions the same. The end result?  A sleeker, toned appearance in 30 days.

The added benefit of increased muscle is a faster metabolism.  Since I have a thyroid disorder that slows my metabolism,(making it difficult-  to say the least- to lose weight), I’ve found this technique really works and has the added benefit of increasing your energy and making you look and feel younger.  Instead of feeling totally worn out after a super-fast paced work out, you’re left with enough energy to get through the day and your metabolism gets a jump start on weight loss – even if you’re weight loss resistant like most of us ladies over 50. Need some inspiration?  I do to and I get it in the form of letters.  Here’s one I would like to share with you.

Another plus of going slower is you’re more likely to stick with a program that doesn’t leave you feeling like you got hit by a truck!

By developing more skeletal muscles, you’ll have the strength needed to get through your day and perform activities with energy. You’ll gain improved lung capacity, a stronger heart rate, improved oxygen saturation and lower cholesterol. All of these factors, combined with the overall improvement in body tone, makes Functional Fitness exercisers feel younger.

Not only is lifting weights slower more effective, but it is also a lot safer. Lifting weights slower makes it less likely to perform movements incorrectly, which is one of the leading causes of injury.

As a rehab therapist it is expected that I, and my Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy colleagues use this technique; because insurance wants us to get the client off therapy as fast as possible using only evidenced based exercises. (Exercises that have been medically proven to work for specific conditions – this includes the order of the exercise, the speed of the exercise, how many sets and how many repetitions).   So it’s up to the therapist to get the person well enough for discharge fast.  Although this way of exercising is not commonplace at the gym or in exercise classes, it has been medically proven to get the fastest results.  One day longer really can be one day stronger with Functional Fitness!

Love and healthiest blessings,

Suzanne Andrews

Suzanne Andrews is a licensed Occupational Therapy Clinician with 30 years exercise expertise. Airing to over 49 million on Public Television, Suzanne Andrews, a licensed Occupational Therapy Clinician, (they specialize in function) creates evidenced based fitness programs for specific health conditions. Originally created in 2008 with it’s first run on WDSC TV, Functional Fitness with Suzanne Andrews broadcasts on 113 Public Television stations.

Three Life Lessons

by Suzanne Andrews

What You Must Know to Get Through the Tough Times

I wrote this when my youngest son was little. It stemmed from a patient responding to my coaxing her to exercise, "what would you know, you've probably never been sick a day in your life!"  (Nothing could be furthest from the truth). 

My son is in college now, but the message is timeless and it can help you get through tough times...

The teacher who influenced me the most didn't produce a scholarly curriculum or carry out formal daily lesson plans. Even though he often wishes to, he is unable to assist me with my day to day operations. Yet, he motivates me day after day to reach beyond what I thought I was capable of and surpass it. Every new day, he continues to teach, to inspire and to influence my life in a way I never thought was humanly possible. He weighs a mere 68 lbs and proudly stands 4 feet 3 inches tall. He is my son, the child that several doctors predicted I would not be able to conceive.

Lesson One: A Ray of Light From Darkness

At the age of 10, I was placed in the terminally ill section of the children's hospital.  At the age of 20, I again overcame odds and beat a severe infection in my right ovary that affected my reproductive system. At the age of 24, my left ovary was removed and for the third time, emergency surgery saved my life. However, there would be one more emergency surgery and this one would bring great joy. My son's triumphant arrival by C-section on a memorable day in spring taught me to believe in the unexpected and to never give up hope.

Lesson Two: Appreciate the Little Things

To this very day, I marvel at my son's accomplishments and realize how important it is to praise not only his efforts, but also other people who come across my path in life. My son has taught me that the simplest joys in life; laughing, listening and loving are the best gifts we can give and receive. As he continues to discover life's daily events with sheer fascination, I feel privileged to have the opportunity to reflect on his newly acquired knowledge and see the sparkle in his beautiful innocent eyes. Each fresh new moment I spend with him offers the most enriching learning experience I have ever had. He's taught me to believe that I can be a compassionate mother, a loving wife, an inquisitive student of life and a better person who has the ability to make wise choices.

Lesson Three: Choose Healthcare, Not Sick Care

One of those choices is keeping off those extra sixty pounds that once wore on me like a backpack full of rocks adding stress to every joint in my oversized body. Now I'm not talking about being a size 2, I'm talking about being a size healthy. My dear son made me realize that "love thyself' is not just a cliché. By getting in shape, you are essentially saying to all those that love you, "I love myself enough to take care of my health and I want to be around a long time to share my life with you." When we commit to love our body, we make wholesome choices and feel free to discover the restorative powers of good health. From the moment you realize you love yourself enough - a paradise lost is regained. Those seeds of wholeness - given to you at creation are within you. When you are discouraged, just look at your creation, your little miracle, and know the motivation to make healthcare a priority is within you!

Keep those letters coming as you motivate me!

Healthiest Blessings,

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.

Stress Buster Weight Loss Techniques

by Suzanne Andrews

Try These Stress Buster Weight Loss Techniques!

When I tell people I lost 60 pounds, they ask, “How did you do it?”   Dieting and exercising weren’t the most important tool that got the results I wanted.” There wasn’t a potion, pill or get fit scheme that worked either. Believe me, I tried them all. 

Without learning how to be confident, especially when life got stressful, I would never have lost the weight and kept it off for 19 years now and counting. 

Since stress raises your blood sugar as much as a candy bar, reaching for a cupcake or glazed doughnut when you’re stressed means you're really getting a double whammy of sugar! Sure, that's what your body wants when you're overloaded with responsibilities, but all that sugar will keep you gaining weight, because excess sugar turns to body fat.

So what do you do when the little stress devil on your shoulder is pushing your hand into the cookie jar?


Take a deep smile breath and invite the angel on your other shoulder to guide you to better choices. Practicing smile breaths helps eliminate comfort food cravings and enhances mood. 

To Do: Breathe in through your nose for two counts as you expand your belly, smile and slowly release your smile as you exhale through your mouth.  Feel the tension disappear from your body as feel good hormones are released into your body!


Practice yoga. Not the kind that makes your body yell, 'hey, what are you doing to me, I'm not designed to bend like that!' Here’s a beginner yoga pose that’s been proven to increase confidence.

To Do: Stand with your feet a little hip width apart, reach your hands up as shown. Incorporate three smile breaths while doing the pose and you have instant stress release.

Focus on your accomplishments and recall this feeling of confidence every time you feel stressed. Your mind is the CEO of your health. Treat your health like a job:  treat it poorly and your body will fire you. Treat it well and your body will reward you. 

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.

By Collage Video | | Functional Fitness, goals, Healthy, story, Suzanne Andrews, Weekly Blog | Read more

Tips to Keep Going

by Suzanne Andrews

I Start Working Out, but keep Stopping and Re-Starting – Any Tips to Keep Going? 

Staying or getting in shape isn’t always easy.  Whether you’re beginning or beginning again, here’s an inspiring behind the scenes story filming my last DVD, to help you keep going when the going gets tough!

Scary turbulent plane ride, brutal weather, computer crashes, my series producer, Glenn Poyer, recounts the harrowing behind the scenes events filming Arthritis Relief Walking Workout… 

When Suzanne Andrews read Amazon’s Vine Voice five star review (by Deborah Broadhurst) of Arthritis Walking Workout, tears of joy streamed down her face, as it was the realization of a dream 10 years in the making – “one that had been diverted many times,” says Suzanne, who consulted with several doctors during the six month writing and research process that goes into each and every Suzanne Andrews Functional Fitness DVDs. “There were two, maybe three times that this walking program never got made.”

As happy and motivating Suzanne Andrews seems in Arthritis Walking Workout, you’d never suspect the founder of Functional Fitness on Public Television just completed one of the most harrowing projects of her career.  Sure, Arthritis Walking Workout, based on medically proven movements to ease arthritis pain, was shot at the most beautiful gardens in North America, the Butchart Gardens, with an exquisite plethora of flowers in the background, giving the viewer the image of serenity. But getting there was just the beginning of harrowing moves you don’t see on the DVD.

Before we were about to leave, Suzanne had a major accident while preventing a patient from literally getting crushed to death. The patient was OK but the 400 pound impact tore Suzanne’s rotator cuffs, leaving her with 0 function.  She couldn’t even lift her arms, dress, or wash her hair so how was she going to film a fitness video? After emergency surgery, she did three hours of therapy a day in excruciating pain.  It took one year to go from not being able to lift her arm at all to regaining 99% function.

During recovery, Suzanne interviewed many doctors for the project.  Because all the doctors mentioned reducing stress retards arthritis symptoms, Suzanne travelled 4000 air turbulent miles to add a stress releasing atmosphere to the workouts. A trip that should have lasted seven hours turned into twenty five harrowing hours!

Arriving just hours before the hair and make-up call time of 4 AM, the crew awoke sleep deprived to an atypical bitter cold rainy day for summer weather. Graham Bell, Public Relations director at the gardens, came to the rescue by providing umbrellas to protect the specialized light weight professional cameras that took three years of savings.   Suzanne Andrews, who is susceptible to the cold due to a thryoid disorder, kept moving - even in between takes - to stay warm. After continuous takes of three (8) hour days to film the two workouts (imagine exercising for 8 hours straight!) and six months of editing,  the finished editions went to our presenting Public Television Station to receive frame by frame scrutiny from the program director and the station engineer. Suzanne anxiously awaited their constructive critique. After one particularly long day of treating rehab patients, Suzanne opened up her email and began shaking.  The episodes were rejected. People were in the background and the station would not accept the film that way. After the initial shock, a serious problem solving session ensued and after another 4 weeks of specialized editing, the people in the background vanished.

The workouts were finally ready to be sent for DVD mastering and the unthinkable happened – the external hard drive with the entire edited workouts crashed.  All that hard work - gone! What to do? Were the raw clips on another hard drive? A huge sigh of relief.  All the raw clips were on another hard drive. The editing process began once again. The end result? A high production broadcast quality DVD featuring two walk workouts in the most beautiful garden in North America.

To say we are thrilled to introduce Arthritis Relief Walking Workout is an understatement. Getting a 5 star review makes us want to do the happy dance!

Have you gone through a tough time in your life?  How did you get through it?  Leave a comment and together, we can help each other get in the best shape ever!

Suzanne Andrews is a licensed Occupational Therapy Clinician with 30 years exercise expertise. Airing to over 49 million on Public Television, Suzanne Andrews, a licensed Occupational Therapy Clinician, (they specialize in function) creates evidenced based fitness programs for specific health conditions. Originally created in 2008 with it’s first run on WDSC TV, Functional Fitness with Suzanne Andrews broadcasts on 113 Public Television stations.

By Collage Video | | fitness, Functional Fitness, goals, Motivation, story, Suzanne Andrews, Weekly Blog | Read more

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