Lifestyle change can’t happen without addressing the deeper issues that stop us from reaching our health and fitness goals. Put on her first diet when she was just 4 years old, coach Suzanne struggled with a lifetime of yo-yo dieting, gaining and losing hundreds of kilos over the years. Finally, she was able to lose 78 kg and keep it off by changing her mindset around diet and weight loss. Suzanne is now an international mindset coach and an expert at transforming bodies by transforming minds. She has a Bachelor of Medical Science and a Certificate 3 & 4 in Fitness, and specialises in helping clients with over-giving, building confidence, and tackling negative patterns of behaviour. Discover Suzanne’s tips for creating lasting change, and for adding more joy and sweetness to your life—without the empty calories.
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Victoria: Welcome to our Hello Coach weight loss, special, where we are going to be talking about what’s preventing you from losing weight, as well as how to get started, shed the kilos, and keep them off. Now, whether you’re trying to lose a few COVID kilos or you want to completely transform your body, the process really starts with transforming your mindset.
The lifestyle change needed to lose weight, and most importantly, keep it off can’t happen unless we address the deeper issues playing out in our mind that are stopping us from reaching our health and fitness goals. These deeper issues are the reason why some people are successful at losing weight while others aren’t.
So what problems do people struggle with that sabotage their attempts to lose that weight? How do these issues manifest in our lives and what can we do about them? And what’s really stopping people from reaching their health and wellness goals? To help me dive deeper into these questions is our guest coach today, Suzanne. Suzanne is an expert in transforming bodies by transforming minds. She’s had great success in helping clients deal with negative patterns of behavior, shed kilos, build confidence, and really create lasting change.
In addition to her years and experience and qualifications as a coach, Suzanne has a bachelor of medical science and a certificate three and four in fitness, and, she’s personally experienced her own incredible body transformation whilst working with a mindset coach, which ultimately inspired her to become one herself.
So today I am so excited to hear about some of her own journey, as well as hearing about some of the clients that she’s helped along the way. So welcome Suzanne.
Suzanne: Thank you Victoria.
Victoria: The number one question, let’s go there: COVID kilos. In every conversation I have had of late, we are all experiencing at least… five kilos seems to be the amount… of excess weight that people have put on in this time of lockdown. So please help us on this way out and share – I’d love to know – your journey around how you transformed your own self and your own body and your own mindset.
I love the fact that then obviously inspired you to become a coach and then, love to hear some stories of your success stories of clients that you are working with and have worked with, and created your own success around. So welcome and very much looking forward to getting some tips, Suzanne.
Suzanne: The number one question I hear right now, Victoria, is how do I socially distance from my fridge? So it’s totally…
Victoria: I love that. That is awesome. I think I need to put that as a sticky note on my fridge.
Suzanne: So for myself, I have been, I was a lifelong dieter. My parents put me on my first diet when I was four to fit in the flower girl dress for my sister’s wedding. And we would all start our diet on Monday, clean out the fridge, make the best plans, do everything by the book. Until Thursday or Friday where we couldn’t stand it anymore, just give up entirely binge all weekend and start again.
And that was pretty much my life until I left home at 18 and I joined the well-known weight loss thing and I dropped 43 kilos and I thought, ‘I found the answer – it’s exercise!’ So I left medical school – I’ve got a bachelor of medical science, but I left in my fifth year and trained to be a personal trainer.
So I did cert three and four in fitness, but unfortunately, I regained all those 43 kilos, and interest, and ended up bigger than ever. And it’s disheartening. And I sure a lot of people have had ups and downs with their weight. Maybe not as big of numbers, but… so I regained the extra weight and then eventually started again and lost 60 kilos.
And I thought, ‘This is it – I found the answer. It’s, really being strict and really, tracking every single thing that I eat, and,calories, heart rate, monitor, gadgets, gizmos.’ I felt like Ariel – ‘gadgets and gizmos a plenty’. I had them all, but something happened and you can never pinpoint… it’s lots of little things.
And I regained all that plus interest. And I also had two children in that time. So after my son was born, I was over 150 kilos, the biggest I’d ever been. And I was like, I can’t do this to myself again, because those are just two examples. In the interim I’d lost and regained 20 kilos more times than I can count.
So I think in excess, in my lifetime, I’ve lost and regained over 500 kilos. And I just knew there had to be something else. So I was like, I’m a relatively smart person, pretty successful in other areas of my life, why can’t I get this weight thing under control? So I started looking into mindset stuff, cause I was like, what’s driving me to eat in the first place?
Like I know what to do. I just don’t do it. And I think that’s a lot of the COVID thing right now. People they know what to do, but they just don’t do it consistently. So I started working with my own mindset coach and, I’m not saying it happened overnight – ‘Abracadabra. It was magical!’ – it was a process.
But over the ensuing three years, I released – and say released and not lost, I think that’s a powerful thing because when we lose weight, we’re going to find it again… I’m 78 kilograms and have kept that – this would be the sixth year now, or actually be the, uh, anyway, a number of years now. It’s yeah, it’s totally been a process, but it’s been worth it.
Victoria: Gosh, thank you so much for sharing that powerful story that gives me shivers. I’d love to understand, obviously, you are exceptionally trained in this space, so you have science behind this and you then have training as a coach to use the power of the mind to also then release kilos.
I’d love just to backtrack. If you wouldn’t mind your own personal journey before we get into clients, because. I mean, this is one of beautiful things that I love with our coaches on Hello Coach, and Suzanne, you capture the essence of the special ingredients of our coaches on the platform.
And I just want to call that out just for a moment, because you have had direct, frontline experience of the pain and challenges of personally facing a very deeply personal journey of yo-yo dieting. And the fact that you even shared that your first initial experience was the pressure and the molding of expectations that dieting is normal from the age of four… I can only imagine the systemic impact that it obviously has had that you’ve experienced in your adult life of how then that has transpired. I just wanted to deviate for a moment in your, in your own personal journey – and yes, this also relates to how you’ve supported clients –how much of our triggers hold our weight within our bodies?
Now I know mindset is incredibly important that I – and no I did not get into weight loss, not my area – but I know that when people are struggling with a few extra kilos, there’s a few triggers underneath that. I’d love to unpack that.
I’d love to explore a little bit more of the deeper underbelly of our motivation, Suzanne, if you’re up for it, of some of our drivers and triggers that help us hold onto weight. And in my basic experience, before I refer coaches onto someone like yourself, I’ve heard that from clients over the years, that there is… one of their drivers towards emotional eating is that they are deeply lacking joy and sweetness in their life.
And they’re looking for food, sugar. Whatever it is as a comfort response to help distract from the feelings that they’ve got, that they’re trying to suppress through emotional eating. And I know mindset is incredibly powerful to help you become strong and overcome emotional eating, but in your experience of dealing with clients, I’m curious to understand how much of that is a theme of clients who when you can help them isolate and dig deeper into potentially finding greater joy and sweetness in their life, as opposed to going for the fridge that were clearly not social distancing from?
How the impact of… when we can harness and explore that and unpack that for an individual to dig deep – and I will say hands out right now, we are in a situation where we need to dig deep – into the well of joy to really find those moments of gratitude, in an hour in that I call a pivot.
You’re on the cliff of making a decision and you can go either way, you can open the fridge and you can have that ice cream, or you can have those chocolate cookies or you can have social distance and have the tools and the mindset to then say, stop. What am I wanting to avoid emotionally?
And I’d love to hear your own journey. Around what you have equipped yourself with as part of your resilience and your tools, as well as some of your success stories with your clients. And is that a common theme that really impacts people’s weight gain?
Suzanne: Totally. So there’s, heaps there.
Victoria: I know,
Suzanne: Lots of ways I go with it.
Victoria: Lots of questions.
Suzanne: The first thing I think is really a perspective shift for people, is realizing that there is two separate issues there. Issue one is the emotional eating, or the overeating, or the binge eating. Everybody calls it something different, but issue one is the eating and issue two is the weight, and we tend to focus on issue two. We go on a diet to eat less. We go to the gym to eat more, move more. We’re like, I’m going to drink more water. We’re looking at the outcome rather than the cause. So if this was a plant, I love that. I often use a lot of, plant analogies.
Victoria: Yeah, go for it.
Suzanne: The root is the emotional eating, like what’s happening under there. And the fruit is the weight. So the fruit is a result of the eating. So if we only ever focus on eating less and moving more and not actually addressing what’s driving the eating in the first place, we’re only ever going to get, um, excess fruit. Short-term results, excess fruit, and the fruit may even look a bit wonky and it’s not the shape that we want and we don’t harvest because they’re like, I’ve just got to try harder. I’ve just got to do more. I deprive, I rely on willpower. We’re exhausted and we’re trying even more. So it’s like, first off, being really kind to ourselves, which sounds like a platitude.
And a lot of us are really hard on ourselves, but even looking at the things like language, because in when you were just talking a moment ago, you said gratitude. Now I will share this for me. I have a lot of issues with the word gratitude. And I know I’m a mindset coach, I could work on that, or I could just change the word.
Because whenever I’m like, I should be grateful. Like, I should be grateful I’ve got a great education. I should be grateful I’m not sick. I should be grateful. I just feel like a small child being told ‘You should be grateful, there are starving children overseas’. And that just brings up a lot of my triggering.
So instead I can appreciate. And I don’t have any resistance and I don’t have to overcome with that. I can appreciate. And in the moment you can appreciate the tiniest little thing rather than, like, ‘you should be grateful for’. Or like when I tried gratitude practices each day, I’d write the same three things and I didn’t feel it.
I really needed to feel it inside with appreciation. I can appreciate that my children’s slept in this morning. So I actually got a bit extra rest so when you notice that a word triggers you. Same as I said earlier, weight loss, as soon as I think ‘loss’ I need to find it.
Like, I challenge anyone to think of anything besides weight that they want to lose. If you lose your wallet or your keys or your phone, you can feel it in your body instantly, you’ve gut clenches. Your mouth goes dry. Where is it? I’m going to have to cancel the bank. I’m going to have to do all this. So we have a lot of subconscious programming that loss is bad.
So even though consciously, we want to lose weight, our subconscious is, like, over 95% of ourselves. There’s a lot. It’s a lot of push-pull there. So it’s noticing things that trigger us and what is a way that we can reframe it without having to do a lot of work. And sometimes it’s simply just a term.
Victoria: I’d love to explore, to give our listeners an understanding of some examples of triggers.
Suzanne: Totally. There’s so many.
Victoria: I know, could you think just for today’s conversation, we could narrow them down to maybe the top three or top four triggers.
Suzanne: So the top three, I would say for emotional eating is the end of the day. Like you’ve just put your kids to bed, or you’ve just turned off the computer. Those who are working from home. And you’re just like, ‘I’ve given everything all day to everyone else. And now I’m done. I have nothing left in the tank’ and we’re not conscious of this, but then we eat.
So the biggest trigger for people is late-night eating, and then they think that they need to work on their late-night eating. But my invitation is if you’ve given all day to kids, to your workmates, to your family, and at the moment with COVID, everyone’s emotions are heightened and we’re all giving to others and we’re not giving to self.
Eating is a way of receiving – not necessarily a healthy one. So my invitation would be how could you receive during the day, even in little ways. Dance to a song you like, take a few moments, have a cup of tea, sit outside. Like, can you mind? I haven’t got time for that, but those tiny pockets of time that take five minutes or less, if you gave yourself three or four of those during the day, how much that reduces the nighttime eating…
And then you’re not wasting time. You’re investing time, because then you’re not staying up late eating stuff. And then waking unrefreshed the next day, because you stayed up all night eating sugar. So the biggest three would be nighttime eating… they would be, after either a disagreement or if you’ve snapped at your children or something you’re not proud of.
Like, you’re kind of really busy and you’re concentrating, especially those of us who are doing home learning right now. Mom, could you just wait? And then you’re like, you know, so you lose your cool and you go and eat because you feel really bad. Because maybe growing up you were taught that, when you have tears, people give you food.
If you fell over and your leg was bleeding, you wouldn’t put food on it. You would put a band-aid, but somehow we’ve linked that, this upset thing is handled with food. So it’s like noticing that, not necessarily stopping it and not beating yourself up, if you continue to do it, I still do it to this day.
Sometimes, especially right now, it’s like wow, what is happening here? And being really… observation is power, judgment is weakness.
Victoria: To be mindful.
Suzanne: To be mindful of, ‘Oh, this is coming up. I wonder why this is?’ Instead of seeing it as you’re broken and you need to be fixed and you haven’t done enough work yet to be going, this is past conditioning. These are past things that I’m playing out. What is it? A sign of where I’m not looking after myself.
Victoria: Self-care can often be one of the last things that we focus on. And it’s not celebrated. It’s had negative labels over the years and it’s so important to be able to fill up our bucket throughout the day. And I love the examples that you’ve shared around taking time out every, couple of hours to go for a walk around the block or sit outside and even just have the sun on your face for 15 minutes, with a cup of tea, do a guided meditation.
Something that positively fillls up your life force and your bucket that prevents you from then seeking and craving the nighttime destructive behaviors, which often come when you’ve got through the day and you’re incredibly depleted. So, therefore, you’re going for that quick fix. Whereas from what you’re talking through, is if we could take out small snippets throughout the day that fueled our soul that helps our serotonin, that helps balance our feelings and nervous system that it can help so much to, then, not get into that self-saboteur patterns that’s when the weight comes on, that’s from that sheer action of emotional eating.
That is the number one thing that equips yourself… it’s almost a daily ritual of a plan for the day that you need, that is a deal breaker, to help you stay on track to then avoid that late-night behaviour, that just completely annihilates the work that you could have been doing during the day.
And I say this without judgment, right? At the end of the day, where we’re bouncing around solutions and strategies to help people avoid that emotional eating. And I, wanted to unpack the drivers. So it helps build an understanding and joining the dots so people can relate who are listening to your story to go, ‘Oh my Gosh. I do that’.
I either plough through the day give and give – and this is applicable to men and women –where we have such incredible output right now, given where we’ve journeyed as a society over the last couple of years, that it’s, we have an opportunity to turn it completely on its head because… and I say, I’ve said this to clients over 20 years, that if you don’t put yourself at the top of the food chain, there is nothing left for you to give and support throughout the rest of the day. And you’re not able to put your best self forward. So I love those examples of social distancing away from the fridge.
I think that absolutely sums up our conversation as a takeaway right now. There, the plant analogy, that whatever you are also fueling your foundation. Ultimately you’re going to bear fruit, but is it the right fruit that you want to bear? I know it’s an analogy, to show kindness and compassion to ourselves in this time, as well to be able to change the rules.
And sometimes this is. An everyday process where you need to get out of bed and go, ‘Right, what do I have in my day? What can I change? What is within my capacity to change?’ Rather than just being a slave to your diary and giving yourself permission to shift some things in the day to create some space for yourself alone, without colleagues, without children, without partners, just to carve out some sacred time. Just for you to be still…
Victoria: …and connect without the distractions, and being aware of those triggers. So they’re amazing insights. I love those. I’ve taken some notes.
Suzanne: Can I just add on something to that?
Victoria: Yes, please.
Suzanne: So the primary goal, isn’t weight loss. It’s behaviour change.
Because to succeed at weight loss, you must change into the type of person who weighs less. is about the roots and the fruits analogy. If you do that, the results will follow. And often when I tell people to take little rests during the day, a little time for themselves, there is a lot of resistance to that.
And I know, because I’ve been through it firsthand, and I’ve been through it with the clients. A lot of guilt, a lot of shame comes up. I can’t do that. Like, what will my children do? And when I first started on this journey, it was pre-COVID. I remember going to the gym and putting my children in the creche and their little sad faces were at the glass crying.
I felt terrible. Like, I know what it’s like. Cause you know, putting yourself first is scary for many of us, but over time, and it wasn’t that long of a time, it wasn’t long until they were saying ‘Mummy needs to go to the gym’.
Because they knew how much happier I was. And was things um, one of my children is anemic, so we have to treat her with stuff and she never wanted to take her supplements.
When I started taking supplements, she’s there with a hand out going, ‘I want them too.’ So sometimes, you know, have lost along the way like modelling the behaviour for others. At first, it may feel harder than maybe some kickback, but, like when I do my daily meditation during the day now, ’cause we’ve been in lockdown for quite some time, my children are invited we call it our ‘recharge time’.
They can join in, like I put a guided meditation on or they can just play the iPad or whatever. And it’s about half and half. But it’s teaching them skills too, because I think the real warriors right now, this COVID stuff is our children. Um, you know what they’re doing and it’s like encouraging them because we don’t… we do what we see our parents do. So I saw my parents forever start Monday, give up by Friday, binge all weekend and start again. And, like, creating the whole new world was a whole process, and, and by putting ourselves first, it’s like, it shines a light for others to do the same and the initial kickback or the initial resistance falls away a lot more rapidly than we would think.
Victoria: We often create change, unfortunately, or fortunately, being human beings, either through pleasure or pain. And either one of those need to be in an extreme state for us to consider that it is time to make a shift if you are okay. I’d love to ask you a question around some of your own journey, what was some of the pivotal moments or the critical moments where you hit a point where you though ‘That’s it. I need to make a shift.’ And there was something different that was going on for you in that moment, that motivated you enough to commit? And I know that I’d love to explore this in our next podcast that I know we’re going to do around, really ,what’s stopping us losing weight or releasing weight?
I love that word. But just as we finish up this conversation, because it does lead into our next podcast. I’d love to hear from you. What was your greatest epiphany that you knew that you needed to create a shift?
Suzanne: It’s funny. You should say that because I have had many and I think like I’m an avid reader of before and after stories and in every before and after story, there’s always like that moment. So before I go into it, I just want to encourage people, like, you don’t have to hit rock bottom to make a change.
And sometimes when you hit that rock bottom, it’s it motivates you to start, but it’s the sustaining that, you know, so for me, the biggest one was when I was… so my second child was born by an elective cesarean, um, because I’d had a, uh, emergency the first time. And when, after they put the spinal block in and I’m waiting, you know, outside, if you’ve had surgery, you have that little room, the anaesthesia bit before you go into the main room, and I overheard them talking about how they were going to lift the hefer from one table to the other and like inguinal hernias all around if they drop me and I’m just there and I’m like, ‘Oh my goodness, like, what happens if I get dropped to the ground? Like me, the baby, all this sort of stuff?’
And I was like in that moment. So here I am about to birth. My child should be this lovely moment. Like it’s never like the movies, it wasn’t in my experience. And I’m freaking out about how much I weigh, but I also knew like what, why this moment was so pivotal was, it was like, I can’t diet again, by this stage, I’d already lost 40 kilos or 43 kilos, 60 kilos, and many other times of 20 or so.
And I was like, I need to make a change. But I can’t do that to myself. Again, physically, mentally, emotionally, there has to be some other way.
Victoria: I would love to take this conversation into our next podcast, because I know that there’s a wealth of information and knowledge and wisdom that I would love to extract from you, so thank you for being brave and sharing some of your own personal story, because I know that so many people can relate to the challenges and the realities of releasing weight. Not that it, it can’t be easy. There’s actually a formula. And if you follow the formula, you will actually create the results and it’s sticking to the formula. And part of that is a deep commitment. It’s being aligned with the upside of the reward of what can be created in your life, in the release of that weight, and then how that it can create a deeper sense of purpose and joy and motivation in your world and being ready to be able to start to unpack that.
So thank you so much for sharing the insights that we’ve got today. And just to summarize, we’ve got the sticky note. Social distancing from the fridge, being mindful of your mindset in the moments that when you do feel the urge to go to the fridge, to be able to stop and reflect and pause, and also ask yourself a really powerful question, which is what am I actually trying to suppress with food?
What’s the emotion that I’m really wanting to avoid by throwing food down my throat. I know I’m being quite graphic in that sense, but this is what food has the ability to do of being able to disconnect us from our emotions. And that’s where a lot of the time, the opportunity sets to unpack
Suzanne: And what am I truly hungry for? And how can I give that to myself in a small way?
Because right now, as I say, a lot of us can’t do what we truly want because of restrictions or whatever, but we can make a micro-moment rather than the beach holiday or whatever. And that’s where the power is.
Victoria: You’ve made a really, really important point that I’d love to finish up on, which is. control and be empowered with the decisions that we can right now, rather than looking at what we can’t do. And again, that’s the mindset piece, which I’d love to explore next session. So, I’ve got a bunch of notes. Thank you so much for sharing some of these and if you are listening to this podcast and you would love to connect with Suzanne, please go to hello-coach.com and you’ll be able to find Suzanne as well as transcript from our podcast today. And please subscribe. We have got a wealth of podcast conversations that we are doing in the background now and releasing.
And we’d also love to hear from you as well with topics that you’d like to cover in our podcast with our coaches. So thank you again for being a part of the conversation today. And I do look forward to picking up part two with you very shortly.
Suzanne: Thank you, Victoria.
Victoria: Thanks, Suzanne.