This week we are high-fiving FiTONIC’s Athlete Spotlight: Sue Spencer! Right before her 60th birthday Sue started weight training. She lost over 75 pounds and then took up Olympic Weightlifting! Wow! We were so so amazed and inspired by her incredible journey and the words of wisdom she shares in this interview. We especially love when she says, “You don’t have to look like the stereotype of an athlete to be one”. We couldn’t agree more!
What is your fave way to train (running, yoga, CrossFit, weightlifting, dancing…)?
How did that become your thing?
I started at the gym 6 years ago planning on getting healthy and to get rid of the large amount of extra weight I was carrying.
I had no real plan other than to go every morning on my way to work. It was 18 months before my 60th birthday. I had simply decided to say yes to opportunities in life.
I had no intention of working with a personal trainer. I had the tour and commented that I couldn’t use certain machines because of my knees. The manager showing me around said he had a guy for that… so I said ok to that opportunity and worked with someone who did gait analysis and facial release. Fixed me up in 6 sessions and I had a few left over so they introduced me to a personal trainer who was available at 6 am in the mornings.
I started working with my trainer Paul Marlow (aka Tall Paul), doing strength training, I lost between 75 and 100 pounds over the course of about a year and discovered that I was really strong.
At that time Paul suggested I needed a new goal and I chose Olympic Weightlifting because that was the lifting sport that was part of the World Masters Games in New Zealand in April of 2017.
I had no idea how much hard it was to actually do Olympic lifting and he was happy to help me if that is what I wanted to do. So we started.
I fell in love with the discipline and feeling of accomplishment as I was able to lift heavier weights. I competed for the first time at 62 and got Provincial (like state) records in my age and weight class.
I made it to the World Masters Games in 2017 and continue to compete. I have Canadian Records in my age and weight class and am entering a new age class 65-69 this spring. 6 years later I am still training with the same person although we have moved to a different gym.
How has training physically changed you mentally or emotionally?
I have discovered an inner and outer strength that I didn’t know I possessed. I had never competed in the sport before and was surprised at how competitive I actually am.
The focus that I use in the gym when I am training has spilled over into other areas of my life.
When you do Olympic lifts they are pretty technical and you need to put your full attention to what you are doing. When I leave the gym I have a sense of calm because I have just spent an hour blocking out any other thoughts.
I have also discovered that I am an inspiration to others who have seen the changes in me and the dedication that I have to my all-round health. That is a gift that I didn’t expect and it has allowed me to start working with women who are not so different from me that just need to believe they are not too old and it is not too late to get started. You don’t have to look like the stereotype of an athlete to be one.
What is still hard for you about your training, fitness or nutrition?
Nutrition is always a bit of a challenge for me. I am Celiac and also sensitive to a number of foods. My aim is always to eat the foods that make me feel my best inside and out. Sometimes I am more diligent than at others at making that happen.
What is the mantra in your head that you hear most often when you train?
Every day is a new opportunity to improve.
What do you love most about your body?
I love the strength that I feel both internally and externally. I love how the muscles in my shoulders and arms are so much more defined now and how strong my legs are.
If you have worked with a coach, what’s the most important lesson you learned from that person?
Be patient with yourself, repetition with the correct form will give you success. Treat every lift as your best effort. Also that it is just so important to just ‘Do You’.
What is your fave nutrition tip?
My fave nutrition tip would be- find the way of eating that suits your body, that makes you feel the best. There is always someone who thinks their way is the best way and you really need to use common sense and listen to what your body is telling you.
If you could tell only one thing to every woman who is struggling in her fitness journey, what would that be?
You really truly can achieve what you set your mind to if you want it enough. I am an example of that! It does take hard work for sure, but the whole body benefits are so worth it. By focusing on your physical health you change your emotional health as well. What you do in the gym or whatever fitness you choose spills over into all areas of your life in a positive way.
What goal are you going to crush next??
Well, 2019 has some big goals for me. Canadian Masters, Pan American Masters and World Masters Weightlifting are in my sights. I am in a position to work with women who have spent most of their lives worrying about everyone but themselves and I am planning on helping them make positive changes
BIG thank you to Sue for being our FiTONIC’s Athlete Spotlight!
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Do you know someone who should be featured on our FiTONIC’s Athlete Spotlight? Check out more information here!