|Employee Wellness director has passion for fitness
by Susan L. Johnson
I have to admit, I’ve never really had a weight problem. Part of that
is being blessed with skinny genes; the other is a passion for physical
fitness that began in childhood. I grew up in the country and spent my
days hiking through the woods, biking miles of country roads and just
being an active kid with lots of room to run.
Johnson performs weight training at the MUSC Wellness Center.
As a teenager, I became involved in more organized activities such as
cheerleading, track and competitive horse riding. It wasn’t until my
freshman year in college after gaining 5-10 pounds from too much pizza
and beer that I actually had to work at losing weight. That
experience sparked an interest in health promotion; I wanted to teach
others how to overcome challenges and barriers to a healthy and
physically active lifestyle. I am very fortunate in my current position
to have this opportunity to raise awareness about health and provide
motivation to enhance the quality of life for the MUSC community.
My 5 tips
- Plan ahead. What is the number one reason
people give for not exercising? Not enough time. I suggest planning
workouts and meals ahead of time to avoid the inevitable excuses such
as “I’m too tired” or “I don’t have time to cook so I’ll just hit the
drive-through.” As a single, working mom I can tell you that if
it’s not on my schedule, it doesn’t get done, so make exercise and
eating healthy a priority every day.
- Mindfulness of thoughts. The mind and body are
very closely connected and much of what we do is determined by what we
think. I can’t recall where I heard the phrase “What You Think About
You Bring About,” but I believe it to be true and try to focus my
thoughts on positive health behaviors.
- Portion control. I believe that moderation
gives us freedom. What I mean by that is if we don’t go overboard on
any one thing—we can pretty much eat what we want. The key is how much
and how often. If you love Krispy Kreme doughnuts—allow yourself to
indulge, but limit how much (one donut) and how often (every other
Wednesday). When eating out, try ordering half plates, appetizer
portions or share an entree. If it’s in front of us and it tastes good,
we will usually eat it, and end up eating too much. So eat less and
- Move more. Another phrase that is one to live
by is “A body in motion stays in motion, a body at rest stays at rest”
(or a rolling stone gathers no moss—or fat). I’ve read somewhere
that skinny people can’t sit still. Even if they are sitting they are
fidgeting, tapping their feet, and ultimately burning calories. It can
be so tempting to crash on the couch with the remote after dinner, but
once that happens it’s very difficult to get back up. Consider this—the
average person burns about 75 calories per hour sitting on the couch,
versus 120 playing with the dog, 210 loading the dishwasher, or 150
going for a walk.
My current workout routine is based on two activities that I
enjoy—running and weight training. I am fortunate to have a membership
at the MUSC Wellness Center and enjoy daily runs on the indoor track. I
find that the floor is great for reducing risk for injury and joint
pain, and I can’t use bad weather as an excuse. I try to run between
three and five miles, five days a week with a longer six-to-nine mile
run on weekends when I can fit it in. If I’m planning to do a race, my
training changes to allow for more frequent, longer runs. I usually try
to do my weight training after running, and because of time constraints
will break up my workouts into a split routine, doing upper and lower
body workouts on alternating days.
- Manage stress. Okay, so there is no way to
avoid stress, it’s a part of life. Unfortunately, the most common
“stress-relievers” are not usually healthy. Recognizing our habits and
behaviors is the first step in changing them. The second step is
finding a healthier substitution that can still serve as a coping
mechanism for stress.
Friday, Jan. 14,