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As a child, the adults in her life taught her that food was a medicine, one she used to sooth the abuse she suffered in her childhood and later on in her romantic relationships. She has battled an emotional food addiction as well as chronic health issues as a result of her weight.
But Susan's love for her children, her family, the new love in her life, her faith, and, quite importantly, her love for herself--all helped her turn her health around. Her results are astonishing, and she has been able to help many others along the way.
I strongly recommend this read. In this day's highly sedentary and food-driven culture, our health often gets put on the bottom shelf. Look at Susan's photos from then and now. Read about how she has struggled and battled and bled and bruised in order to feel good again, in order to be there for her children--not only physically, but mentally as well, Whether you are struggling with weight issues or not, this is a true story that will move you. Read on for photos and and an author interview full of helpful insight.
Interview with Susan R. Anderson
What is a typical day of eating for you?
Eating breakfast helps jump-start your metabolism and provides energy for the morning hours. A well-rounded breakfast should include grains, fruits and dairy, as well as protein.
I eat a high protein whole grain diet. For breakfast I usually eat fiber-rich cereal with 2% milk, or whole grain oatmeal with a boiled egg.
For lunch I usually eat a colorful salad with lots of veggies and a lot of bean varieties such as chick peas and black beans with lean chicken or turkey, and balsamic dressing.
I am a mini-snacker. I have several small snacks in between my main 3 meals. It’s important to keep the metabolism revved all day, and having at least 3 snacks does the trick. It also keeps extreme hunger between lunch and dinner at bay.
A small cup of plain Greek yogurt with fruit, a palm-sized portion of natural almonds, string cheese and an apple, natural peanut butter or hummus and celery sticks are some examples of my mid-day munchies.
On the dinner plate, I focus on dividing my plate almost equally between lean protein, grains, and vegetables. For dinner I’ll have some form of grilled protein such as tilapia, steak or chicken, a quick veggie stir fry over a small portion of brown rice, or a grilled hamburger on a whole grain bun with a small green salad.
You are a mom. You are an author. You work full-time and you carve out a workout schedule. Do you have any advice for people who are too busy to eat well?
Whether you're overworked or just plain overstressed, time is valuable to all of us. When making a lifestyle change, it can easily seem overwhelming to include new habits like exercise and healthy eating into your jam-packed days. Weekly meal prep is invaluable to those who are always on the run.
Plan time each week, perhaps on a Sunday afternoon, to prepare foods for the rest of the week. Take a few hours to shop and plan your meals for the upcoming week. Cut your fruits and veggies and store them in Ziploc bags as pre-portioned snacks or to make cooking quick and easy during the week. Then all you’ll need to do during the week is throw your prepared foods in the oven or on the stove for a few minutes for a healthy, home-cooked meal.
Some doubt the existence of binge eating disorder. What do you say to those who think food addiction is simply a lack of willpower?
Trust me on this: food addiction is real. People like me who have suffered under its domination for years will tell you the same thing. Although food addiction has been largely rejected by many, there is overwhelming scientific evidence to support it. It is possible to get addicted to food. The activity that occurs with sugar cravings is the same that occurs with cocaine cravings. It isn't simply imagination. It is real.
My father was addicted to gambling, both my sister and mother were addicted to cigarettes and alcohol. My drug of choice happened to be in the form of food.
The pleasure centers of our brain are activated when we eat or do anything that feels good, which is why people get addicted to lots of things like gambling, sex, and video games, to name a few--not just drugs. In fact, some people are addicted to food, regardless of what's in it. It's not the sugar, salt, or fat. It's the chewing and swallowing of any food that they are addicted to.
This is why overeating is the trickiest of the addictions to recover from. With drugs, we can lock the beast out, but with food, we let it back in every day.
Could you give any advice to those who completely lack the motivation to change poor eating habits? You have to want to get healthy in order to get healthy. How can we kick ourselves into wanting it if we are struggling with motivation?
I have been asked this question many times. There is only one answer that I can give, which is a completely simple and very honest one. You have to WANT to CHANGE. You have to want it more than your cravings, you have to want it more than personal distractions, and you have to be determined to do a complete mind shift in terms of what we eat and our daily activities as it relates to our health and weight loss. It is actually very easy to stay motivated once you program yourself for it! Thinking and acting from a new mindset will create changes in your body. Here are a few tips to jump off the junk food wagon:
· Try drinking lemon water in the mornings and whenever you feel like eating junk food. This speeds up the metabolism.
· Try avoiding going past junk food areas in supermarkets; it may tempt you to get into unhealthy eating habits again.
· Plan meals ahead; it will make you less likely to pick up fast food and it means you can tailor your shopping list to fit. That way you know exactly what you're buying.
· Read the label. Things that you never thought were high in carbs, fat and calories would surprise you!
· Toss it. Get rid of all the current junk food in your house. Sounds drastic and it is. This was my first step, and it helped me tremendously.
· When you want to mindlessly snack on something unhealthy, remind yourself why you are in this fight in the first place. Remember your goals. Then grab an apple!
What are some of your favorite ways to get a great workout?
I love exercises that are fun and will keep me engaged. Local YMCAs frequently offer dance classes that are fun, and it’s always great to learn a new skill. I love Zumba. It is a high impact, intense, and super-fun way to burn TONS of calories in 30 minutes! I encourage anyone, whether they can dance or not, to channel their inner Beyoncé and move that booty!
At what point did you decide you wanted to write a book to share your story and help others?
I was inspired to write my story about seven years ago, ironically when I was just beginning my journey. I promised God that if He would give me the endurance, strength, and mental capacity to finish this journey to save my life, I would tell anyone who would listen my story and how I did it. I have a deep passion and connect very personally to people who struggle with food addiction, severe obesity, and depression. I am them. I can relate to the struggle, the mental anguish, health issues, and physical pain of obesity. I also know what it feels like to be on the other end of that spectrum when your mind and body are free from the weight that holds down the spirit. Digging Deep for Change is a personal love letter to those that long for inspiration and encouragement. I am no different from you, if I can change my life, you most certainly can too.
Have you heard from anyone you have helped along the way?
Yes! I am pleased when I receive emails and messages from women and men who have read Digging Deep for Change and how they have renewed their journey to healthier living. My latest email was from a brave and dynamic woman who had given up on herself before she was led to read my book. She has since lost forty pounds, and is on her way to achieving not only her weight loss goals but her personal goals as well. I am very humbled and even more excited for those who are beginning to experience the kind of freedom that I have. My prayer is that everyone who reads DDFC will experience that kind of epiphany.
How have the changes you've made in your lifestyle affected your family and people close to you?
It’s fantastic to see the domino effect that my journey has had on those who are close to me. My nieces, who were both over 100 pounds overweight, have been inspired take their health more seriously, as well as my college-aged daughter, who has now lost over 50 pounds by following my diet and exercise regime while away at school. My husband takes the prize for most diligent and determined though. After undergoing hip surgery, he became determined to lose weight and began working out with me. He cut the sugar and empty calories from his diet. To date, he has gone down 4 pant sizes, and has gained tons of energy that he didn’t have prior. I like to call him my prized pupil!
Do you have another book in the works?
Not yet. I have toyed with the idea of writing another book, but right now I am focusing on promoting DDFC and getting this very important topic in the forefront. Many people deal with the external issue of obesity without realizing that the issues that are underlying have little to do with what is consumed, but rather what is consuming us internally. It’s a subject that needs to be talked about, and I am working now to do just that via public speaking appearances via media outlets.
Any closing comments for others who are Digging Deep for Change?
As I chronicled in my book, the road to a healthier body and mind will not be a cakewalk. I won’t lie--if you are truly committed and serious about a losing a significant amount of weight, the journey you will go on will not be an easy one, but the rewards are incredibly gratifying if you stick in there.
We sometimes cheat ourselves out of our victories because we give up when things become challenging. We give up on the goals and dreams and just settle for the here and now. This translates into any area of our lives. On a journey of personal transformation of body as well as mind, you must be a visionary. You have to decide that you will look beyond what you see and how you feel now, and look ahead to where you will be. This can be difficult because of our “microwave mentality." We want results right now. We want to pop a magic pill and wake up to our new selves.
I encourage everyone struggling with weight loss to look beyond your current condition.
Motivate yourself. Don’t give up because there is no one to workout with or cheer you on to victory. There won’t always be a constant cheering section. Be a team of one. Be determined to beat the odds, because you absolutely can.
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