Featured: Suze H
We’re excited to ring in 2017 by featuring an extremely prominent member of the Glevum community - Suze Harrison. Suze’s fun loving, enthusiastic nature is felt by us all within the gym. Suze has made some impressive strides since joining Glevum, she is the epitome of someone who works hard, who is dedicated and most of all, consistent.
So, tell us about how it all started? Have you always lead a healthy & active lifestyle?
The simple answer would be no. Before starting at Glevum I lead the complete opposite to what I would now call a “healthy” lifestyle. Over the years I paid for memberships at numerous gyms across Gloucester but could never find one that allowed me to stick with it. At the time, training, being healthy and or fit wasn’t a priority of mine.
I remember that myself and a friend would find every excuse not to go to the gym and instead would go to the pub instead! I must of been the best customer of any gym at the time because they had hundreds of pounds of me for nothing at all. As with most people, I found gyms to be boring, unsocial, intimidating and never could stick with it.
So I guess before joining us at Glevum you lead a very different lifestyle?
I was never health conscious at all. I was smoking around 5 cigarettes each days and would drink two bottles of beer every night after work… and then a lot more on the weekends.
Wow, that is just world’s apart from where you are now! I bet you can’t imagine going back to that. So what motivated you to find us and start CrossFit then?
Well, I gave up smoking on the advise of my dentist because I didn’t want my teeth to fall out, and I had also recently turned 40. I decided that I needed to get fit because that would be one thing that would stop me from going back to smoking.
I knew a normal gym wouldn’t work for me, but my friend Karen had been coming to Glevum for 6 months or so and had been raving about it! So I thought I should give it a go. If that didn’t work I would have to invest in a personal trainer, as I knew that would be the only thing that would keep me on track.
What do you remember about your first few sessions with us?
I remember thinking - “Oh my gosh, she is talking a foreign language!! Am I ever going to be able to do any of this!?”
When I first came to the gym I was worried I would be out of my depth, look out of place and that I would be the only one in the room that couldn’t do anything. I realised none of those were true after the first day and that quickly put my mind at ease after that.
I know that some movements are more technical when you first get started, it certainly motivated me seeing people in classes doing the movements so naturally and comfortably. I remember one of the coaches saying that everyone had all started somewhere which led me to think I could one day get to that point.
Being part of a class where everyone was supportive & helpful was extremely refreshing. Of course it was scary for the first few weeks but I realised everyone was much more focused on themselves for that hour than what anyone else could or couldn’t do. I remember feeling part of something special right away and that isn’t common in regular gyms. As everyone else always says, the community is a huge reason why I am still here.
That’s awesome to hear. So when did you start to enjoy the health/ fitness side of things?
The progress I saw in such a short period of time was amazing. For me I was noticing that my workout results were improving weekly, I was feeling and looking stronger and It was so different to any other gym or exercise experience I had ever had in the past.
I remember using my WODBook to track my numbers and progress and seeing little improvements each week really helped boost my confidence and believe that it was working.
Talk me through what you changed with regards to your diet because some of us might not remember you when you first walked through the doors.
After a few weeks of training and being part of the classes I decided that to get the most out of it I needed to also address my diet. I knew that I wanted to commit to training consistently as well as take a sensible approach with the food and lifestyle I was following.
To begin with I followed a calorie counting method before I then took on the Paleo approach. As the coaches suggested, looking at the quality of the foods is just as important as the volume of food we consume.
After a year of training consistently in the group classes, and eating more sensibly, I then took it up another level by adding in extra sessions through private training. This helped me be more accountable and really focus in and tidy up the little details of my training.
What does your normal week consist of now?
I now train in the 6am classes - crazy I know! I would never have dreamt of doing so this time 4 years ago!! I have adopted a Paleo based plan that I follow religiously throughout the week. However, every now and again I will have a treat but I always make sure I choose the best option I can to not go completely off the rails and detract from my goals.
In my house every Sunday is food prep day. I buy my food in advance and cook and prepare my breakfasts ahead of time ready for the week. I find that as with everyone else, I have little time in the mornings and being prepared helps me stick to it when it is easy to grab something quick if I am rushing.
Every night when I get home from work, I prepare my food for the next day to take to with me. Over the years I made a habit of always having a fall-back option of food that has been prepared and stored in the freezer just in case something comes up…. And Because I plan my food for each week, I only buy what is needed. I tend to bulk buy my meat at the start of the month and split it up in to portions that I will need before freezing. The only time that I struggle is when I haven’t not prepared or planned ahead of time.
We all know you are a social butterfly, how do you manage to juggle it all? A lot of people believe being healthy consists of leading a boring life, cutting out all the ‘fun’?!
Not at all! I have cut down a lot with the alcohol I drink but I do still love to go out, socialise and have a couple of glasses of wine! Instead of doing it every night like I used to I might only do it once or twice a week at most now however.
I still eat out at least once a week with friends but I am more wiser on the choices I make when out. For example, on Friday I went out for a meal with my family. I changed the regular fries to sweet potato, I got rid of bun with my burger and I had a fried egg and mushroom instead. Most places now can accommodate, you just have to ask.
Once every 6 weeks on a Friday myself and my girlfriends get together for a wine and cheese night, so I do treat myself to some dairy and bread on the odd occasion. I think where I have found success is to realise that this is okay once in a while and that I am able to get back to plan straight after rather than completely fall off. Before all of this, I would of said “stuff it” and eaten badly for the remainder of the weekend whereas now I know that isn’t the best decision to make.
Now that you’ve been doing it for a while, what do you find is your “why” for keeping at this?
I’m not working towards anything in particular but I like where I am now and I don’t want to go back to how I was. I remember how I was, I look at the pictures and I never want to go back to that. I feel fitter and healthier than I ever have done in my life - why would you ever want to go back!? It is my routine now, it works for me.
The great thing about the training is that there is always something to improve, get faster, or stronger with. It’s made all the difference in keeping me committed that I am still seeing progress and changes in my training still 4 years on.
There are still bits of my fitness that I would like to improve and one day master but I know I am in the for life rather than a quick fix.
Do you have any pearls of wisdom for anyone looking to get fit or lose some weight?
Firstly, I believe my success was because I never put pressure on getting to a certain weight or dress size. Instead I made point of having fun and enjoying training and trusting in the process. This meant I was never disappointed, and I wasn’t too quick to find an excuse to not go back. Because numbers on the weight scales weren’t my priority, when I did step on them (very rarely), I was always shocked to see pounds were still dropping off.
For me personally, tracking progress has been and still plays a big part in my success. It was important for me to see my improvements, I love using SugarWOD and I still like to write things down in a diary too.