We love finding out about the philosophies of Aotearoa’s experts on health, nutrition, wellbeing and fitness! Susan Baxter is an established fitness presenter, writer and international fitness competitor who strives to motivate and empower people towards their best health possible using science.
Having recently completed a PhD in health science, Susan is passionate about researching strategies for overcoming barriers to exercise. Combined with close to a decade of experience in group fitness instructing, her goal is to share her knowledge, inspire others and lead in the fitness industry.
This week we asked Susan the NZ Real Health 10 Quick Questions.
1. In a nutshell, what do you do for your job?
I am a fitness writer and presenter, an Optimum Nutrition athlete and international fitness competitor. This allows me to research with industry experts who will take the information and put it into practice.
Through my eBooks on Amazon and other writing work, I’m passionate about using best proven health and fitness techniques in real-world settings in the most efficient way so that people can get the most benefit from the research.
Competing and being an athlete has given me a vehicle to set goals for myself – to really challenge myself – and as a result I feel more authentic than ever.
I am now someone who is living and breathing the goal setting and attainment that I have been trying to encourage people to do!
2. How did you get into your line of work?
I have a passion for learning about health and fitness and communicating the science that I know and understand to others. I started studying at the University of Otago, and well, just didn’t stop! I now have a PhD in health science and I have merged my passion for practical hands-on work in health with academic research.
In terms of competing, I always advise people to set themselves goals, yet I had no real goal (with a ‘set’ deadline) myself. Since I am a very shy person, I was initially brushing off suggestions that I should compete. I decided that once and for all I would give it my best shot, and I haven’t looked back since!
3. What’s the best thing about your job?
In the words of Mandela, education is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have the alignment and sporting and academic support of a world-class company, such as Optimum Nutrition. I was blown away when I was asked to be a part of their team’s Jakarta tour, which taught me a lot about training and nutrition within a different culture. I guess that’s why travelling to different countries is so important, and what’s inspired me to be a fitness presenter on an international level.
4. What do you do to keep fit?
When not prepping for competitions I will exercise six days a week, but always with one rest day. I do love being active so I might also have other social activities included in there, such as trying a new dance class or a game of tennis, but I don’t sacrifice my scheduled session for that.
I’m often based at a computer for my writing and studies so getting moving is one of those things I’ll (quite literally) jump at the chance to do!
5. What’s your philosophy on nutrition and diets?
Balance is key, and knowing your ‘why’.
Once you know what your ‘why’ is, it can really help you make the more difficult decisions. The thing is, happiness isn’t the result of doing exactly what you want all the time, it’s wanting to do what you have to do.
If you don’t know what it is you want, it makes it very difficult to stay on track, but it is even more difficult when you don’t know why you are chasing that dream. For example if your goal is to look great in your little black dress, it might not quite feel the same if you have no friends to wear it with, simply because you have sacrificed your friends in the pursuit of your goal.
Above all, it’s the small consistent habits that add up. Aim for perfection but don’t feel guilty for being imperfect: you will instead have reached excellence!
6. What does keeping healthy mean to you?
To me, health is a complete mental, physical, environmental, spiritual and social balance (as well as technology!). To achieve this you must nourish your body with correct nutrition, exercise regularly, rest well, challenge your intellect – and be able to enjoy time with friends, yourself and your surrounds. I cannot say that I get the balance right all of the time, but I certainly try, and for me that’s the goal!
7. What motivates you to stay on track with your own nutrition and training?
Following my nutrition and training has taught me so much: dedication and not deprivation, commitment and not obligation. Developing a personal insight into my own strengths (and weaknesses) has been incredibly empowering: this has also led, in turn, to a better appreciation of the strengths in others.
8. What’s your best health or fitness tip?
We are so often led to believe that life should be about ‘quick fixes’ but the reality is that we need to work hard to reach our full potential. However, small things, consistently done, produce big results in the longer term. The greatest challenges produce the greatest rewards – certainly there are often hurdles along the way but this makes it all worthwhile. We are all capable of a lot more than we give ourselves credit for!
Just imagine if some of our world’s greatest leaders had refused to ‘get off their couch’ and invent things? What might we be living without today? You have the power to change within you, and the only person standing in your way is you!
9. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want to take?
Music, coffee and a way of creating a fire (matches?) I would be the best darn survivor out there!
10. Any favourite inspirational quotes?
I guess for me, my favourite quotes are around working hard. My grandmother has always instilled these values on me.
‘Just when the caterpillar thought it was all over, she became a butterfly.’
‘If you try your hardest, you will never be disappointed with the result, regardless of the outcome.’
Images / Trev Hill Photography
Hair / Zaibatsu hair art
Beautitian / Elegance on hanover