Susan Thomas

When life gets busy, our health gets put on the backburner, longer than we intend to. While this may work short-term, the negative consequences have a drastic effect on our lives when they do appear.

Hearing Susan’s story has inspired us to do more. There’s no doubt that you will feel the same.


I had reached a point of desperation, tired of being tired and not living my life to the fullest.

Being a medical professional, I am familiar with biology and physiology. You know – what you’re supposed to eat and what you’re not supposed to eat, that sort of thing. But life gets in the way, and you don’t always do as you are supposed to do. When you are feeling down and out, not fit and have a lot going on in your life, it is easy to say, “There is no way I can fit health in.” This is where I was at.

Health sounds like a nice idea

Whenever I would see health ads or promotions, I would think “Health is fine and dandy, but it doesn’t apply to me right now. I’m living, I’m breathing, so I’m doing okay.” But I realized I couldn’t ignore taking care of myself. When you’re so focused on helping others, you end up putting yourself last. That is what was happening to me. But I realized when you don’t have any “get-up-and-go,” you’re not any good to anyone else.

I was an athlete in high school and played sports on and off, even through early adulthood. I was engaging in bad nutritional habits combined with a sedentary lifestyle. It got to the point where I knew I had to do something different because what I was doing was wrong.

I knew pills weren’t going to fix my situation. I knew from experience that when I was in shape, ate right and had an ideal body weight, I was more confident, had higher energy and the ability to cope with life stressors better.

I’ve worked with a trainer before. It worked well. It was in a large gym, which I did not like. But this time I knew that if I were to work with a trainer that I would want something more intimate. Somebody who treated me as an individual, not a 20-year-old cheerleader.


Cleaning House

I had to take two weeks off work. It wasn’t easy; I knew I would get backlash. I knew I had to take these two weeks for my health. I took the two weeks to “clean house.” Around this time, a friend of mine introduced me to Rebecca, a personal trainer at Wilmington Performance Lab. She took me by the hand to a session with her, that’s how I started training with her.

I told Rebecca, “I need somebody who will treat me as an individual but will still push me to my personal limit.”

I trained with Rebecca 3 times a week amongst other things. When I went back to work, I carved out time on my calendar with a buffer side on either side of my appointment. I said, “That’s it, I’m out of the office. This is my lunch time. These two days of the week.”

My biggest obstacle was making the commitment to carve the time out to meet with Rebecca. There have been situations where I would think that it would be easier if I didn’t go; however, I’ve managed to work around that by putting it down on my calendar and letting everyone know that I will not be available during that time. I developed the confidence to say, “I’m getting ready to go to an appointment. I can talk to you until up to 4 o’clock, or it can wait until after 5.” At first, it was nerve racking saying that to people above me or my peers — but since it works, I don’t feel bad about doing it.


A night and day difference

I tried taking skills training at work on how to build resilience, but none of that stuff was working for me. Since I’ve been on an exercising program, I’ve developed my resilience. My confidence is way back up. I am more of the person that I have been in the past. The attributes that had led me to be successful in other areas of my life are starting to come back.

My mental clarity and ability to cope with things are the biggest difference now. I can handle more at once even better. I am not always at odds with myself anymore.


Doing more in less time

Overall, I am more productive at work now. When I’m there, I’m there. When I get home from working out– it may be 5:30 or 6 o’clock–I can take a breath. If anything was hanging over my head, I can go back and get it done. Before, there was a lot of procrastination. Now, I just do it.

I think I am a lot more productive now. Procrastination would affect everything from critical thinking, writing, to making phone calls that would hold difficult conversations. I would lack the confidence to do it so I would put it off. Feeling more confident now, I simply do what has to be done immediately. I tell myself “Let’s just get prepared, and do it.” Once it’s over you feel better because you’ve done it – it’s like a domino effect. Any time you do something well, you get that positive reinforcement.


Being unhealthy can be costly

I‘ve reduced and come off some of the medications I was using — medications that helped manage the symptoms I was having –  symptoms that were a result of living an unhealthy lifestyle. Regarding cost, I realized there is a cost that comes with being unhealthy. So, if cost is a barrier to adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can look at the things you don’t have to have any more if you were healthy — even if you do have to pay for a trainer.


Susan Nutrition

How I make nutrition work for my lifestyle

Fortunately, my husband is the cook at my house. My problem is making sure that I eat breakfast and small healthy meals throughout the day. I would have to think hard and plan about having those foods ready and available. Creating routines that allow me to eat healthy has been vital to my progress.

I apply this to any situation I am in, including when I travel. I notice if I don’t eat right then my blood sugar gets out of whack. I get irritable, and I can’t concentrate.

I’m simple and have to have food on the go. Bagged salads are great. Costco has a great variety to help me stick to this, along with keeping good food in the house. When all else fails, I’ll make an omelet out of veggies or keep boiled eggs on hand, instead of reaching out for a pizza. Nuts and trail mix are also good alternatives to reaching for potato chips, which occasionally I still do. When I see results, I realize it’s working.


My new goals

My goal is to get back to the slim body I used to have and keep my new habits. I’d love to keep my energy levels here, and work a few more years. Before I started working with Rebecca all I could think was, “How can I retire?”  I would think, “I don’t feel like working every day.” Now, when my boss asks me about retirement, I realize I’m not ready! When I do get to that point when I want to cut back, I want to continue having the energy to do all of my favorite activities– and of course, prevent illnesses that occur when your body is not optimal.

I’ve realized this time of my life is for me. I want to spend my time for me.

My daughter is getting married next year in May, that’s exciting! I want to have the energy and the money to support her in that.

Honestly, if it weren’t a friend saying, “Come on!” it would’ve been hard for me to make that one vital step. When you’re feeling low, it’s hard to reach out. If you’re feeling the same as I did, I encourage you to start paying more attention to your health.

Desperation is a terrible place; taking charge of my life has been so rewarding for both my body and spirit!


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