[Client Spotlight] Susi de Leeuw: Badass vegan fitness nut and creator of consistency
Meet Susi, the vegan powerhouse! She’s been working with me as an online client for 3 months. I wanted to share her health and fitness story (which is just beginning!) because I know you’ll be inspired to start - or maintain - your own.
Susi has some excellent wisdom to share when it comes to tackling tough challenges, taking control of your own health, making fitness a priority, and creating habits that can be maintained consistently.
She’s overcome some pretty major surprise health issues in recent years, and a severe car accident that left her with lifelong physical issues we need to consider when training.
When we first started working together, here’s what she wrote about her goals:
“I really really really want to get into the habit of making consistent healthy food choices even when I am pooped from work and feel like flopping on the couch and eating veggies and hummus or chips and salsa/guac. It is important to me because I want to grow old in a healthy state of mind/body/spirit.
I haven't found anyone who understands vegan eating who has also coached me for fitness. So I try to adjust the plans that are given. It doesn't work, it's not sustainable, so I give up. And go buy some yummy chips.”
And her #1 priority?
“CONSISTENCY with fitness and healthy eating. Finding a program that I can make a habit so it's sustainable.”
So, 3 months in, I’d like to highlight Susi’s impressive commitment to her fitness and nutrition. In the scheme of things, 3 months isn’t a very long time. But she’s made some amazing changes already, and I’m excited to see what’s in store for her in the coming months!
Susi (and Sir Magnus) having some fun posing for a friend while building a shed.
What was easy for you as you got started with coaching?
The easiest part for me were the exercises because I have been a gym rat on and off for 30 years. So I was familiar with a lot of the moves.
As you were getting started, what were some challenges you faced?
My greatest challenge was getting into a routine, which is why I signed up with Karina.
What are some of the day-to-day changes/adjustments you had to make (and continue to make) to maintain and improve your fitness?
The adjustment I had to make was mostly mental and it went hand in hand with my challenge - getting into a routine. My schedule is such that I work 4 10-hour days, so working out before I go to work wasn't feasible, and getting to the gym after work felt like it was going to be a challenge because I am typically exhausted from the work day. Also, the gym is typically slammed then so it's hard to get on equipment. In addition, my schedule is Tuesday to Friday one week, then Wednesday to Saturday the next. Then back to Tuesday to Friday and so on. I needed to figure out which days I was going to go, and make that mental shift to just do it. No excuses.
We started with gym days being three days a week, and now I am up to four. I have scheduled my time so I go Saturday to Tuesday to the gym - no matter what. Some weeks that means going after work, but because I know I have to go it doesn't feel like a challenge anymore. I also learned that the gym is pretty quiet Saturday evenings so it's nice to go there as there is a lot of equipment available!
What does health mean to you? Why is good health important to you?
When I was younger, good health used to mean going to the gym to look good physically. Then life threw a few curveballs that left me unable to exercise for the better part of three years. I had gained weight and was physically weak. The asthma that I did my best to pretend wasn't really there, ramped up. It was a physical and mental blow.
Once I got the go ahead to workout again I realized that looking good and what the scale said was no longer my goal. (Yet another mind shift - does this only happen when you are middle aged?!) I am 47 years old and want to ensure that as I age I have strong muscles and bones. I want to eat whole foods that support my physical goals and also keep this machine functioning optimally.
How has fitness and nutrition coaching helped you to reach your goals?
ACCOUNTABILITY! I know Karina is going to be checking in so I make sure I get things done! This has helped me with the short term goal of getting into a routine. (My long term goal is continued consistency with my health and going to the gym.)
Karina listens to what your challenges are and works with you to come up with a plan. She also understands what it means to have areas (back and hips for me) that are weak from injury or trauma. The workouts I have been provided are personalized to take that into consideration, which allows me to get strong without compromising my back or hips.
And a bonus...although I had 'let go' of looking good physically, the consistency has paid off in that not only am I stronger than ever, but I am also seeing definition I hadn't seen in years!! Yay!
In your experience, what are the main benefits of online coaching (versus in-person coaching)?
The main benefits of online coaching is that I was able to connect with a vegan personal trainer even though she lives in another part of the province. (The vegan part was very important to me as I also follow a vegan diet and needed to work with someone who 'get's it'.)
Also, there is more flexibility with online coaching because it's not another appointment I have to schedule and drive to - we meet up via Skype so I can schedule it when I know I am home. I love the apps that Karina uses as it allows me to touch base with her when I have questions, get new workout programs (which has videos illustrating the moves) and record my food diary.
OK seriously. Look at those plant-powered guns! Is consistency paying off or what?!
What’s your secret superpower?
Consistency. Karina sent me a brilliant article about consistency and how important it is even on days when you feel like you can't lift half the weight you normally do. When I am tired and don't feel like going to the gym, I repeat my mantra 'consistency' and it gets me there. I may not feel strong that day, but as long as I go I know I am on the right path. I also like to joke I am a purple ninja faerie princess...so consistency ensures that I maintain the strength needed to go along with that title too.
Want your own vegan personal trainer? Wanna level-up your health and fitness, and show the world what plant-based athleticism is all about? Check out my fitness and nutrition coaching programs.
Download Karina's 350-item vegan grocery list!
Need inspiration for healthy plant-based eating? Need to spice up your daily meal routine? Download your free vegan grocery list! With more than 350 healthy items (some of which might be new to you), you'll be a vegan nutrition superhero in no time.