My Journey to Optimal Health: A Death-Defying Story
Suzanne Andrews, founder of Functional Fitness, PBS TV
As I sit here and reflect on my journey to optimal health, I can't help but think about how one decision can change the course of our lives forever. My personal experience with a life-threatening illness and a series of injuries has been a defining factor in my passion for helping others reach their best health...
A Fateful Night
It was a typical night, and my mother had just finished her waitress job. As a single parent of five, she often struggled to make ends meet, and taking a cab home was a luxury she couldn't afford. However, when I told her I wasn't feeling well, she made the decision to take a cab home to check on me. Little did we know that her decision would save my life.
Photo: Suzanne Andrews on far right with her mom and siblings.
When she arrived home, she found me motionless, pain seared through me with an intensity that felt like a sharp toothed creature eating me inside. Rushed to the hospital, the doctors diagnosed me with a ruptured appendix and a severe infection, giving me only a 50% chance of surviving surgery. I awoke from surgery with tubes up my nose and in my stomach and a fever of 106. I was given last rites and placed in the terminally ill wing. My mother never left my side, and for thirty dubious days, I teetered on the edge of death.
The Struggle of Being Different
After my brush with death, I returned to school but found it hard to fit in with the "cool" kids. I skipped three grades in high school, and books became my cherished companions. However, being different came with a price. I was constantly bullied and even beat up. I turned to exercise to soothe my depression and found that it helped, but I also learned that true health begins in the mind. I discovered that motivation is essential, and helping others find that motivation is what drives me today.
My journey to optimal health was not without its setbacks. While working as a rehab clinician, I tore my shoulders while saving a patient from getting crushed against a table while her power wheelchair ran amok. Scheduled to film the arthritis water therapy for PBS TV, I had to recover as I couldn't lift my arms. After surgery, I rehabbed myself with functional fitness yoga, dynamic stretching, arm conditioning exercises, and the arthritis water therapy moves.
But my injuries didn't stop there. I later suffered back and neck injuries from a car accident and gave birth via emergency c-section. After giving birth, I learned that I have Hashimoto's disease, which makes it easy to gain weight and hard to lose. I had an excess 60 pounds to lose, and I tried many other programs before I created Functional Fitness, but they were way too hard and took too long to see results.
A Holistic Approach to Health
Through my journey to optimal health, I developed a holistic approach to health and wellness. I believe that true health goes beyond just physical exercise and diet. It's about finding balance in all areas of life, including mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. I believe in the power of functional fitness because I've seen thousands of clients transform their bodies from weak to strong: making them capable of performing daily tasks with ease. Functional fitness exercises can range from bodyweight movements to using weights and resistance bands. The difference with my Functional Fitness movements are that they are all evidenced based movements proven to work. And since I was the first person to design fitness programs with modifications, you can count on all of our workouts demonstrated by health professionals showing you a version you can do and progress to the next level as you get fitter, stronger and more functional!
Nutrition is another critical component of optimal health. Eating a well-balanced diet that's rich in whole foods, fruits, and vegetables is essential. I also believe in the power of supplements that have fact based research behind them, such as omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics, and vitamin D, and am always researching the latest medical studies to see what really works so I can tell you about it in my Healthwise Exercise blog.
A positive mindset is crucial for achieving optimal health. It's about changing your mindset from a negative one to a positive one. It's about believing in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals. I encourage my clients to practice mindfulness, meditation, and gratitude to cultivate a positive mindset.
Self-care is often overlooked but essential for optimal health. It's about taking time for yourself to recharge and rejuvenate. Self-care can include activities such as taking a relaxing bath, reading a book, getting a massage or doing something just for you.
Your health is the most important aspect of your life. Every moment, every dollar, and every effort you put into in your health, you will get back tenfold!
Healthwise Exercise, producers of Functional Fitness with Suzanne Andrews on PBS TV, is dedicated to the well-being of older adults who want to stay young and strong by helping them maintain a healthy and independent lifestyle with fitness after 50 at-home workouts. The focus on evidence-based functional fitness at home workouts is important as it ensures that the exercises are safe and effective. By addressing issues like joint pain, balance, weight loss after 50, bladder control, osteoporosis, COPD, and more, Healthwise Exercise provides functional fitness over 50 DVDs and Online fitness programs for older adults who want to lead strong, independent lives well into their later years.
I would like to extend a heart-felt thank you for your supporting a woman-owned business!