Mar 312017

I am excited to announce the release of my new book, Fitter Than Ever at 40 and Beyond.

I know fitness and how the right balance of training, mindful exercise and good nutrition can transform your life. Rewrite your script of making resolutions and quitting them and start living a healthy lifestyle today. Fitter Than Ever offers an easy-to-follow activity and eating plan and is packed with Slim for Life Secrets to keep you on-track and motivated. This book will make your journey of losing weight, exercising and eating healthy fun and empowering.

The e-books are available now. A paperback print edition will be available by April 30.

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Fitter Than Ever at 40 and Beyond

Oct 312011

A soak in the hottub can feel good after a long swim

I was swimming a series of 6 200 freestyles in my Masters workout this morning and relishing the experience of feeling fit. I wasn’t out of breath, my legs didn’t feel heavy, I didn’t feel my stroke fall apart or physical pain strike at the 150. Instead, I had this incredible feeling of freedom. And power. Every stroke felt long and smooth, every push off the wall powerful, every breath like my lungs had plenty of room and more for the air. The water rushed by my body like a massage, reminding me of my sleekness, my strength, my speed. And instead of thinking “this hurts,” I thought “Wow, it feels so amazing to be in such amazing swimming shape!” And indeed, I did feel amazing and have been feeling that way a lot, as if the water is really my domain.

I wish people struggling to make time or find the motivation for workouts could jump inside my body for just one workout and experience the sheer joy I feel being a fast, efficient swimmer. You don’t have to be a swimmer to enjoy that fantastic fitness feeling. You can be in walking shape, running shape, cycling shape and more. I have been out of shape (in the water and on land) before and I know it feels like the absolute dickens to workout when you are deconditioned and your body is fighting hard against you establishing a new inertia of activity over sedentary living. You have to hang in there long enough to experience that “I’m fit” elation. The fact that I love being fit means I don’t struggle with weight and heart disease and diabetes won’t be a part of my future.

So if you’re not there yet, keep trying because it is a goal worth achieving. To elevate your fitness level to that place where you just might hear that voice of gratitude inside your head saying, “Thanks for making this all possible, for letting me live in this amazing body that can do so much more than I ever imagined.” And then you will know that fitness has become a part of your life that you will never let go. And if you are there, please share your experiences of enlightenment with other readers.

Aug 172011

If your motivation is flagging, perhaps a special event on the horizon will kick your tail into gear. Many of my SaddleBrooke clients and class participants plan to join me to walk the Everyone Runs Saguaro Physicians 5K event on November 13. It will be a morning of fun and fitness to remember. And you still have plenty of time to get in shape! The course is purported to be fairly level so the fall risk should be minimal.

Even if you don’t live in SaddleBrooke, you can plan to walk with us – the more the merrier and we always like to meet new friends. Just send me an e-mail to so I can let you know where we will meet that morning. To sign up for the event, go to Be sure to sign up for the 5K (3.1 miles) and not the half marathon or the kids fun run or you will be in for a real surprise that morning! If we have people interest in actually running, I will organize a separate group.

In preparation for this event, you should walk at least 3 days a week for 30 or more minutes. Remember when you sign up, you will sign a waiver basically saying you are fit and healthy enough to participate. So please prepare for this, OK?

Jan 042010

Susan Dawson-Cook and her children in Pinos Altos, NMA fitness article entitled “Take it Easy?” You must be thinking this is some sort of joke. No I’m completely serious. I’m not telling you to sit on the couch and watch soap operas and munch on potato chips. I’m suggesting that you don the sports wear and ease into it gently – like you slide slowly into the jacuzzi to get your skin used to the hot water.

What I see most often first of the year is the mad plunge fully clothed (that would be without even examining if the water is diving depth). So here we have Suzy exerciser who hasn’t worked out since that fateful day last January when she found herself so sore after a four hour workout, she couldn’t walk let alone sit on the john.  She’s back at it with the same fury – this time with a new outfit – running for 60 minutes, lifting the heaviest weights she can lift for an hour and then going for the elliptical burn until a waiting exerciser kicks her off.  “Nice,” she says to the astonished woman waiting. “Thanks to you, I won’t reach the five hour mark.” In another week, Suzy will (once again), hate exercise so much, she will avoid it until the first of next year, when she suddenly feels that urgent need to burn off those holiday pounds.

So how can you keep from being another first-of-the-year-exercise casualty? Here’s a few suggestions…

1 – go for progressive overload. Based on what you have been doing recently, gradually (yes, I said gradually) increase intensity and duration of your workout. That means if you have been doing nothing, you might want to start with an easy 20 or 30 minutes of cardio.  After this feels comfortable (usually 2 to 4 weeks depending on age, health and physical condition), you can begin increasing intensity or duration. I recommend  changing one variable at a time.

2 – Choose something you like. If its fun, you’ll keep doing it, right? What I love most is swimming, dance classes and other outdoor activities, like throwing snowballs at my children. 

3 – Measure your progress. Keep a log of how much time you are accumulating doing cardio activity and strength training or log miles of running or swimming.  See if you can walk, run, or swim that mile a bit faster and keep track of your times. If events keep you motivated, raise money for a charity or organization you care about through your participation in a walking or running event.

4 – Find an exercise buddy or trainer to keep you accountable.  Workout with someone else or hire a trainer to keep you motivated so you will strive to do your best. You are less likely to skip a workout if you have an appointment with a trainer or a friend is depending on you to show up.

5 – Look at the big picture.  Doing regular exercise (even if its 30 minutes) most days of the week will do much more for you than extreme exercise over the course of a few days.

Good luck! I hope you find 2010 your fittest year ever.

Dec 302009
Photo of Susan swimming

Photo by Chris Mooney

One factor that often inhibits progress in both the diet and the exercise departments  is what I’ll call the “identity crisis.” Maybe you have been overweight most of your life or were the last kid picked in gym class. Perhaps after  years of seeing yourself as “fat” and/or “unathletic,” you have convinced yourself you can’t be anything else. If truth be known, I was the last kid picked in gym class. Through a great deal of discipline and practice, I was able to transform myself into the athletic person I always wanted to be. If you’re not happy with your fitness level or weight, I’m asking you to take that step today to see yourself as someone entirely new.

Before you can make this happen in your own life, you have to decide who you want to be and start identifying with that. For example, I swim with a U.S. Masters swimming team 3 days a week and often compete on a state and national level. So I see myself as a swimmer and I have cool swimsuits and a team warm-up suit and a team cap and all my favorite swimming gear that reminds me and others that I’m a swimmer.

I also identify myself as a fitness professional, since I teach many classes and work one-on-one with clients every week. Because I work in fitness, I also believe it is important for me to be a role model for health and fitness. So that inspires me to eat and drink less at parties, because I don’t want to let down the people who look up to me anymore than I want to disappoint myself.  At last night’s party, even some of the other people pushed the sweet plates away once they learned my profession.

I also identify myself as writer,  parent, and wife. It isn’t difficult for me to play any of my roles any more because I have become accustomed to them after years and years of “living” this lifestyle.

So here’s my suggestion. Try to follow the same principles in your own life. Embrace as part of your identity what you want to become. Instead of telling everyone else you’re unathletic, say “I’ve taken up tennis lessons and I’m already getting more of my serves in bounds.” Whenever you get ready to leave the house, take a look in the mirror at your tennis skirted physique and say  to yourself “I’m a tennis player.” And when you have extra money, instead of buying junk food at the mall, splurge on a new racket or a new tennis skirt or pair of shoes. Before you know it, playing tennis will be part of your day and even fun as you improve your skills and meet other players.

You can follow the same principles with weight loss. Lose the “I’ve always been fat” mantra that is sure to leave you gaining rather than losing weight and say instead (after you have really started changing your diet)  ”I’m eating lots of fruits and vegetables. I know this is so much better for my body than junk food and foods packed with preservatives.”  After a few weeks, healthy eating will be part of your lifestyle and “good” foods will start to appeal to you more than the “not-so-good” foods. 

So let’s all search our souls as we embark on 2010 and start seeing ourselves as the best we can be instead of who we have been.