Finding the time and the motivation to start an exercise program can be difficult. The number one reason that most people give for not exercising is that they can’t find the time.
The key to finding time and staying with a fitness program is to find something fun and the incentive to keep doing it.
For Hawaiian Paradise Park resident, Suzanne Swanson, the motivation came from giving birth to her third child and the trouble associated with losing the weight.
“I didn’t start exercising seriously until I had trouble losing the weight after my third pregnancy,” Swanson said. “I began by taking aerobics, but after my fourth child was born I joined a gym.”
The stay at home mom also decided to home school all of her children which resulted in her having trouble making it to the gym on a regular basis.
“I could only get to the gym twice per week and I knew I needed an additional workout, so I began running on the weekends,” she said.
The decision to supplement her workouts with running was made 13 years ago and Swanson is now a regular fixture jogging around Hilo Bay or close to her home in HPP.
Swanson grew up 90 miles north of New York City in the town of Kingston and moved to Oregon at age 19 where she met her husband. The couple then decided to come to Hilo in 1993 to raise a family.
“I didn’t play any sports while in high school, instead I was a band person” Swanson said.
With age and a total of five pregnancies Swanson realized that she needed to find the time to do regular exercise in order to maintain a healthy weight and lower her risk of a variety of ailments.
“I stayed at home for 18 years to raise and home school my children, and then last September I went back to work as a full time receptionist/bookkeeper for Ohana Counseling Services in Hilo,” she said.
Since that time Swanson has participated in a variety of community runs and can now boast of breaking 30 minutes for a 5K (3.1-mile) race. In January she participated in the Hilo to Volcano relay race (31-miles) with two other women and the team crossed the finish line under six hours.
“I have to do what works for my schedule, which changes periodically,” she said. “When the kids were on the swim team I would swim laps three days a week. I went through a biking phase before and I did the bike portion of the sprint triathlon in Honolulu two years ago.”
Through all the changes to Swanson’s busy life she has consistently used running as a ‘fall back’ activity as she finds that it works well with her ever changing schedule.
“Running isn’t the ideal full body workout, but it is better than nothing,” she said. “Running keeps me sane and allows me to eat what I want.”
Swanson will run three times per week with distances varying from 2.5 miles to 4 miles, depending on where and how she feels. She will also watch what she eats to maintain a healthy, well balanced diet.
“I love to eat which became a huge motivator for me to run,” she said. “But running also helps me watch what I eat. When I run in the afternoons I will stop eating by 2 p.m. so that I won’t cramp up, which leads me to stop snacking late into the day.”
The Swanson family will rarely eat out and they try to stay away from processed foods. “My four kids all help with the cooking so we tend to eat a lot of basic, old fashioned meals,” she said.
This busy mother, with a full time job, has also raised the bar in her goal setting as she looks for a variety of ways to stay healthy and fit.
“I’d like to try Zumba, if I could find the time,” she said. “I’d love to do the entire Sprint Triathlon in Honolulu sometime before I’m 50, (within the next 5 years) and I’d like to run in some races beyond the 5K distance.”
Swanson continues to make the most of her situation and continues to challenge herself in the battle of gaining age related weight. Her goals are simple and obtainable and her biggest competitor is herself.
“I have no desire to compete in a race and I don’t ever want to run in a marathon (26.2-miles)” she said. “But I would like to build up to 5-miles, then 6 and eventually 7 miles without stopping.”
Swanson is a good example of an average, everyday person, who sets her first priority on her family while looking for ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
“I feel better after I run,” she said. “I used to not go (running) if it was raining, but then decided that it is better to be wet than grouchy. Besides, after I run I can eat whatever I want without feeling guilty.”