Susan Van Hoosen is the author of One Bite at a Time and population health strategist at LHD Benefits. She is inspired to help others live their best healthiest, happiest, most inspired life, One Bite At A Time.
1:15 – Susan introduction
5:47 – What are the 3 most important things people can do to feel the best. Rest! Unplugging before bed time. Wellness starts with sleep.
8:17 – Medication vs meditation
11:28 – One Bite at a Time. Re-evaluatting our lives
20:55 – some lessons. It’s never too late. What activities get you out of bed
24:04 – Broken down and broken open
31:32 – The number one reason people don’t move
33:00 – Why do people make the wrong choice when it comes to eating? The formula is simple but it’s not easy
40:39 – Knowledge through the decades. Attitude lesson at birth. It’s not about “me” anymore. Unconditional love
44:13 – Attitude lesson at 10
46:40 – Attitude lesson at 20
49:15 – Attitude lesson at 30
51:37 – Attitude lesson at 40
53:57 – Attitude lesson at 50
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Susan Van Hoosen
I want to welcome everybody. Please remember to subscribe, rate, and review if you like this episode, which I know you are going to like because our guest, focusing on Attitude Booster 9, is truly amazing and probably one of the most certified people we’ve ever had come in here. We are going to meet with Susan Van Hoosen. Susan is a population health strategist for LHD Benefit Advisors. She is also a certified corporate wellness specialist, well-being promoter, health coach, meditation and mindfulness teacher, and certified yoga instructor, which is the most fun out of them all. She is also the author of an unbelievable book called One Bite At A Time: A True Story of Transformational Change & 7 Life Lessons Learned. Susan, welcome to the GAP.
Thank you for having me. It’s very exciting to be here.
You have been a busy lady. You have done a lot.
It’s been a journey. There’s a lot to do.
We are focused here on Attitude Booster 9, Eat Right and Exercise. I know that this concept of eating right and exercise gets into mindfulness. It gets into wellness. Give me your thoughts on how diet and exercise play a part in wellness and mental health.
It’s the root of optimal mental health and physical health. We’re often focused on the physical or the exercise. Many of us have the exercise piece down, but then we struggle with eating right or as I like to say, eating better. You see people at the gym and they are hitting it at the gym, but they can’t figure out why they still can’t lose weight. It’s because we can’t outwork a poor diet but there are also so many other components. It’s that mind-body. It’s understanding what is our inspiring sense of why. Why do we want to feel better? Why do we want to move more?We can't outwork a poor diet. Click To Tweet
When I was coaching, I stepped away from using the word exercise because it’s work. It’s like a workout. It has the word work in it. I like to use or integrate moving more. How can we move more? It’s less intimidating. It’s more relatable. Everybody wants to move more, and you don’t feel like you have to do it. It’s not a chore. If we think about, “How I can move more throughout the day versus exercise,” people get stuck there.
When you talk about moving more in your corporate position, my guess is you are working with people that are sitting in front of a computer for 8 to 9 hours a day or people that aren’t moving as part of their work day. Do you help them with what to do? What do you do if you are one of those folks?
I work with many different types of industries and employer populations. You have the office worker who’s sitting. You have the sales folks that are out there sitting in their cars, and then you have the line workers or shift workers that maybe get a half-hour break. They are in that one station and they are only moving one way for what their certain job function is.
First of all, it’s finding what that why is. Why do they want to feel better? Find something that they like to do. Maybe it’s not a workout. Maybe it’s going on a walk during a lunch break or at a shift break, or taking a screen break or an ice cream break. Also, sneaking and more movement, whatever that may be for that person’s lifestyle and their job function.
When we talk about sales guys and lifestyle, it’s sitting in their car. It’s out running and knocking on doors making sales calls, but then it’s like, “I only have five minutes, so I’m going to Arby’s. I’m going to get a double processed meat, extra cheese with curly fries, but I will get a Diet Coke. Hello, mama.”
That’s a classic. What I always say to the salespeople is to prepare, just as you are preparing for that sales call. As you are preparing for that sales call and pitching that service or your product, whatever that is, part of your plan should be how you are going to plan to perform optimally. Pack your bottled water. Pack healthy snacks for the road so you don’t get stuck and you are driving through the junk-through and then wonder why you are tired later and you are gaining weight. Prepare for success. Set yourself up for success and plan your meals. Pack healthy snacks. Bring your water.
You have given us some, but there are people sitting in their car, walking on the beach, or walking right now going, “I have been walking 29 miles this week and I haven’t dropped a pound.” With the mindfulness piece, what are the three things people can do to feel best?
One of the most underrated habits is sleep. Get more rest. There’s an epidemic of sleep-deprived people. Unplugging before bedtime so that you can fall asleep. I’m an eight-hour girl. If I don’t get my eight hours, I feel it. 7 to 8 hours is optimal. It starts with sleep. If we are not getting sleep, we are going to be more prone to stress, inflammation, weight gain, and poor choices in what we are eating and drinking.If we don't get enough sleep, we will be more prone to stress, inflammation, weight gain, and poor choices in what we are eating and drinking. Click To Tweet
Our energy levels are going to suffer. It starts with sleep and hydration. Start your day with water, and integrate water throughout the day. I like to say stepping into those healthy habits of putting whole real foods in your body one bite at a time. If it has a food label and you can’t pronounce it, probably you shouldn’t eat it. It was made in a chemistry lab, not on a farm or not from the ground. Sleep, hydration, and looking at what we are putting into our bodies.
They said if it has an expiration date, you probably should not eat it.
If it has twenty ingredients that you can’t pronounce, it’s a food product. It’s not food. It was packaged and manufactured to be shelf stable and sit in your body.
It never leaves.
Sometimes it doesn’t, especially if there’s no fiber to help eliminate it.
Do you believe in Activia? They don’t sponsor my show yet so you can say whatever you want.
I believe in probiotics. If you are not taking probiotics, certainly we want to first look to get our nutrients from food first and not supplements. I have not read the label on Activia. How much sugar would be my first question. I would say take a probiotic or plain Greek yogurt with no artificial sweetener to make it taste so good.
Let’s get back to this sleep thing. Nobody can sleep off. It’s horrific. Now I prefer to do a shot of bourbon and then take two Advil PMs. Usually, I sleep great but then I wake up a little tired and groggy. I’m guessing that that’s probably not the best choice for my mindfulness to sleep.
Are you serious?
I am serious. I don’t during the week but every Sunday I demand of myself to medicate myself in a manner that I sleep. I don’t do the shot of bourbon as much as I do the Advil PMs. Tell me how Advil PM is ruining it, but you got NyQuil. Everybody is pushing sleep aids now.
You mentioned medication. The only difference between the word medication and meditation is a T and a C. You don’t want to be on medication. At the end of the day, it is going to disrupt your sleep. It’s not going to be good for your system to rely on medication. It’s looking at getting still, unplugging, and quieting your mind or that monkey brain to settle yourself so that you can have a restful night’s sleep. Not just on Sundays that what we do matters. What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while. What you do every day is going to help you more than what it is on that Sunday night.
When we talk about sleep, especially workers, whether folks who have been furloughed and are hoping to get their job back, have been laid off, or are working overloaded and burned out at their job right now, their sleep is oftentimes suffering. We know social media and the digital world we live in are feeding into that.
It’s to disconnect and unplug. It’s the basics. Unplug about an hour before. Try not to eat two hours before bedtime. Put your worries to bed. Tuck in your worries and your stress. Write them down and say goodnight. Settle yourself and settle your mind. The first night, you will probably find yourself going, “This isn’t working. What can I do now?” The monkey brain starts. Get back to breathing and unsettling, and practice it. It’s a practice.
Jason, are you feeling better?
He was meditating on that.
I was paying attention to the sleep part because I am not a good sleeper. I also medicate with vodka or I got some Buffalo Trace over here. We could do a shot of Buffalo Trace.
Vodka doesn’t have any calories in it.
It’s a cleaner choice.
I heard Tequila is an even cleaner choice than vodka.
Yes. It’s a clean choice.
There you go, but probably not the best choice when it’s all said and done.
It’s moderation but that might be another podcast.
We have had some moderation talks. Let’s talk about this book called One Bite At A Time: A True Story of Transformational Change. Tell us your true story and what you were faced with, and what that transformational change looked like. We have people who are tuning in like, “I can’t believe this happened to me.” I think your story would go a long way in helping them know that there’s a place to go and that you can get to the other side of the bridge.
You absolutely can. There’s hope and I’m living proof of that. I lost my husband Trent on November 2nd, 2012, which is crazy to me to think that it’s been that long. I feel like I have relived two lifetimes since then. Trent was very healthy and physically strong. He took care of himself. He’s just turned 46 three weeks prior. We had just returned from our wedding anniversary trip in Nashville. With that said, he’d been feeling a little tired. He was working overtime. He was putting in a lot of hours and was a little stressed at his workplace in a fast-paced environment.
Men typically won’t go to the doctor. I had an appointment for him that day at noon. He did not make that. Let me back up and say that Trent had a blood clot in 2008. They had tied up the vein so that it wouldn’t travel to the lung and kill him, and he was on Coumadin. They put him on Coumadin. At that time, he was in his 30s. He was taking Coumadin, a blood thinner. Doing the research, I have always been our own health advocate, I learned that this is a dirty drug. It can have harmful side effects, especially taking it so young. We tried to avoid medication at all costs.
He wanted to get off the Coumadin. We talked about, “If you start to feel tightness in your legs or fatigue, we will revisit this.” We knew that he wasn’t feeling well. When I look back at the signs and the symptoms, it’s so clear to me that it was very serious, but you don’t want to believe that when you are going through something.
Especially to men or guys out there, but ladies too, when you are not feeling well and have those symptoms, get yourself to the doctor. Heart disease is the number one silent killer that often goes overlooked. Trent went to work that morning and I begged him not to go. He wasn’t feeling well. He came back about 30 minutes later after he left for work. He worked in a hospital. He came up to the stairs, looked at me, and collapsed at the end of the bed. He had a pulmonary embolism. It was another blood clot that traveled to his lung and ultimately took his life.
Needless to say, I was in shock. I had PTSD for probably a few years, but I didn’t know that then. A lot of that is going on. It’s going on right now. At the time when I lost my husband, I thought my world was over. I spent weeks looking back in bed. I couldn’t move very well. I was looking at how can I survive. I was in shock. It was about a month afterward that I got my daughter on the bus and I realized I could barely walk. Trent and I were very fit and active people. We had started CrossFit before CrossFit was even known in this area.
I remember watching you guys on social media working out. Trent played middle linebacker at Iowa State. He was a specimen. He was a beast.
He took care of himself. When you are not feeling well, I have noticed myself doing this. I was like, “I’m okay. I’m healthy.” You ignore it, but we must be in tune with our bodies. I realized that I didn’t want to live like that anymore and I was in survival mode. I thought, “I need to accept this and I don’t want to just survive this. I want to thrive and start to feel better again.” My go-to feel better was always exercise. I went downstairs and put myself through a short CrossFit wad. I remember surrendering on the floor thinking and I realized it was the first day that I hadn’t cried in 31 days.
Exercise gave that to me, and mental strength. Physically, I couldn’t give 100%. I gave what I had. That is the key to starting again and seeking healthier choices one bite at a time. I decided then that I was going to try to do something every day to feel better one workout a day and one bite at a time. Part of that transformation too was seeing that when we lose someone that close to us, we reevaluate our own lives, at least for me.
Looking back, I see that I was experiencing some acute depression. I had never experienced true depression before. I’m not sure how I wanted to live my life, but when I had that awakening and that a-ha moment after having that exercise, I decided that I wanted to be here and I didn’t just want to survive. I wanted to thrive in my life. What was that going to look like?
I previously loved my job. We worked together. I was there for almost twelve years. I loved the people I worked with. I knew that I needed more meaning in my life. Certainly, we were doing great work, but I needed more meaning. What that meant for me was to help other people heal along their own journey. Trent and I were faced with a lot of challenges in our life, and often at one time. He was the laid-back one. He could take naps. He could be relaxed about things.
He was a Libra and I was a Gemini, the type-A personality. I was never one bite at a time kind of girl. He would say, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” I used to balk at that. It set the tone for my grief. It was my self-prescribed grief therapy to go on one bite at a time. Oftentimes, it was one hour at a time. It was one day at a time. It was one minute at a time.
Sometimes when we are going through a storm, whether it’s a pandemic or we are going through our own life storm, it starts out as maybe one hour at a time, and then it’s one day. We have to make that decision to have faith and want to rise up to our highest calling. For me, that meant I needed to step away from Corporate America and step away from my job.
It meant that I’m going to serve others to help them live their best, healthiest, happiest, and most inspired life one bite at a time. It’s going to be different for everybody. That’s how I formed Inspired By Fitness. I was so blessed to have that business for five years and work with people with so many very similar stories but on their journey in a different place and space.
It’s so cool that the title of your book creates a legacy for Trent. He’s there on that cover every time, which is so cool.
That’s the rock at the corner of my neighborhood. That’s my strength rock. When I started to get out, it was part of that. It was probably a few days after I had that first workout. I used to always jog to that rock. It’s about a 2-mile trek in my neighborhood. I certainly did not have the energy to jog early on. I thought, “I can walk and get there. If I can just get to that rock.” That will be my strength rock every day if I can get there. I remember seeing it for the first time and getting there. I had been running to that rock for years. That became my strength rock. Eventually, I was able to run to it. I would meditate on it. That rock represented the rock of strength and the rock of having hope.
Is it still there and you are still in the same house?
It’s my rock. Yes.
If they tried to move it, shit is going to hit the fan.
They cannot move that rock. It’s there.
Let’s delve into the seven life lessons you learned. You don’t have to give all seven because people are like, “Glenn, tell me your ten attitude boosters,” and I’m like, “I know I should know all this.”
It has benefits since I have revisited it.
I won’t do that to you. People are always like, “Motivate me. Come on.” I’m like, “Hold on. It’s not the setting.” Maybe hit 1 or 2 that you can bring back that you feel are the most important of the seven that you talk about in the book.
What’s interesting is I had to relearn a lot of these lessons. A couple of years ago, I lost my father, and both of my parents got sick at the same time. My brother got cancer and stayed with us. My daughter was going through health issues. I was in another storm. I found myself having to mindfully go back to some of the lessons that I had learned and practiced.
Now, we are in this time. Hopefully, these lessons can help people during this pandemic. First of all, it’s never too late for a biggie. When I was making a career change and going into the fitness industry at age 43, I was questioned, “Aren’t you too old to be doing that? Are you sure you want to leave everything that you have and take the risk of starting your own business?” To me, I’d already lost everything and it was no longer a risk for me. I took a leap of faith.
One of the lessons is it always works out for the even better. It’s not that it always works out but for the even better. For me, it worked out even better than I could have imagined and dreamed. Having that faith and practicing it. It’s one bite at a time. The one bite at a time lesson is practicing and having that belief and connecting to what’s important to you.
People always ask me, “How do I know what my purpose is? How do I find my purpose?” There are some questions we can ask ourselves, and I lead people through this in the book. What activities light you up? What gets you most excited to get out of bed? Where do you find yourself losing track of time? Those are your passions. Find a way with your passions to serve others. Service is one of the lessons. If we find a way to take what we love and serve others to help, it will all come back to us even more.
Contribution and growth are two huge emotional needs. Why do we do what we do? We know that the spiritual and emotional needs of growth and contribution really do that, which is what you embody. That is why I had to have you on the show. I know when you went through that, you got that book done within a year. I always admired how you dealt with it. I didn’t know Trent well, but I know that’s what he would want for you, as cool as that is. It’s such a great story and very poignant. I love how you said that you lost it all. When people are like, “How do I know what do I need?” I’m like, “Lose it all. Go spend everything and lose it all, and then guess what? Nothing is a real big challenge.”
I was broken down and I was broken open, but what was broken open in me was a way to be able to rise up. I want to teach people that you don’t have to have that to be broken down and wait for that brick over the head. Life is always talking to us. There are those nudges, those little whispers, or those little signs. It’s cool when you are in flow with life and you are aware of it. If we ignore all of these things, the brick is going to come. We are going to get broken down. Hopefully, we don’t just get broken down, but we get broken open to see why and what is the purpose of that so that we can grow and then rise up.
What you do now is you go into businesses, and you work with people on wellness and mindfulness. Talk to me about a client, you don’t have to say who they are, where you are like, “I did some good for these people.” What was the setting? What was the need? What did you feel? What was the lesson that you learned from that?
I will make it more relevant and talk about what I’m going to be doing with one of our employer clients. I work with our employer clients. It’s basically the wellness consultant for our firm. I get to work with HR directors and the benefits team on how we integrate wellness and employee well-being into our benefits strategy.
We are in a time right now with this pandemic, racial injustice, and these environmental catastrophes all happening at once. We have people in the workforce who are looking to their employer to help them through, and how we navigate this time. As an employer, we look at how we make sure our employees understand their benefits. What’s available to them to help them with everything from the basics of an Employee Assistance Program or EAP, or how to access telehealth and navigate the healthcare system? How do we make sure they are well?
We care about our employees. We want to make sure that they have the resources to be productive and energized, to still help grow the company if we are growing or help still deliver, and to bring their best to work. How do we do that? For example, what I started seeing in our population health data over a year ago was the rise of the top three chronic conditions.When you care about your employees, you want to make sure they have the resources to be productive and energized to help grow the company and bring their best to work. Click To Tweet
For all of our employee populations, the top three highest risk factors that we always look at to drive strategy and how we are going to educate and program are diabetes, hypertension, and BMI. Those are the top three. It’s the American lifestyle disease. We can lifestyle our way into them and we can lifestyle our way out. How do we do that?
I started to see in our data that mental health was starting to rise to the top. It’s right up there with diabetes and hypertension as far as claims cost and top medication. What are the top health risks that are affecting an employee population so we know how to develop a strategy and what type of programming, education, and workshops to provide employees to help manage their conditions?
I started talking about this, destigmatizing, and having that conversation. It was new for a lot of people to talk about mental health. I then look at it as comorbidity and how that affects. If I’m living with a mental health condition and I’m living with diabetes, it’s going to be hard to keep on top of managing my A1C and making healthy choices. I’m not going to be in that mindset. It’s all together. If we can focus on and support mental health, then we are going to be impacting those other lifestyle chronic conditions that our employees are suffering from, living with, and spending on.
This particular group is such an exciting privilege to work on. We started to see the mental health rise to the top. This particular client has such a strong leadership team. This group cares about its employees. They said, “We want to make sure that we are first making sure that our managers are equipped to help our employees when they need to refer to an EAP. First of all, do our leaders and managers even know what the EAP is or how to access telehealth themselves? Have they downloaded our health insurance app?”
That all sounds extremely stressful because with anything technology now, I found out that I suffer from a mental illness called I want to strangle tech now. It’s like, “I need help,” and they are like, “Here are 50 answers.” I’m like, “I’m a sales guy. I’m an ADD person. I can’t read my way through this.” That causes a lot of stress. That’s huge.
If we are ready where we need to talk to somebody or we are sick and we are worried we have COVID and we are going to do a virtual visit, it’s going to be stressful to go, “I never set up my telehealth and download my profile.” We want to have it ready on our phone so we can tap and we are talking to someone or be able to call the number for EAP assistance.
We always start with, “Let’s leverage our existing resources. Make sure our employees know what help is out there for them.” We want to make sure that they know how to access care. Right now, it’s a time of educating people on how to be resilient and savvy healthcare consumers, and how to navigate the healthcare system. A lot of that starts with education.Right now is the time to educate people on how to be resilient and savvy healthcare consumers and how to navigate the healthcare system. Click To Tweet
I created a survey. We surveyed the leaders first to see, where are we as managers in this organization. What do we know? If we are going to be able to help our teams, we first need to assess leaders. We got the survey results back. I sent those over and I will be reviewing them on this training. The CEO and the director of HR are very forward-thinking innovators who care about their employees. It’s a company that has made smart business decisions so they are doing well economically in this pandemic. They are an essential business. Most of their folks have been working from the beginning. We also wanted to see and get real with what type of mental health needs are there.
There are 100 ways we could go when we look at programming. Is it resiliency or coping? Is it, “I got kids at home doing school and I’m working from home. How the heck do I manage this?” Is it caregiving? Is it anxiety and depression? We wanted to assess those things first to see where are our leaders and managers. Where do we need to start educating them and make sure our leaders and managers have what they need for themselves and help their teams, then we are going to take it to the next level. The training is a leadership training on Mental Health 101, and educating on resources, assessing, strategizing, and collaborating on next steps.
You will be peeling back the onion a little bit.
Talking about stigmatizing.
Also, creating a safe place, which is the number one thing. We have had some other folks on. First of all, my brother does a lot of this. I forget what broadcast he was, but it’s so amazing how people don’t feel safe especially when they are talking about mental health, what they are feeling, why they don’t eat, and why they don’t exercise. What do you think is the number one reason why people don’t move?
I thought you were going to say the number one is people don’t report that they have mental health issues.
We know that because they don’t feel safe.
I was researching this topic and found that oftentimes people will not share with their supervisor that they are struggling in their job because they are worried about their job, which causes even more stress. The number one people switching gears don’t move is different for everybody. Moving is a mindful action. It’s a mindful choice. It’s easy. Especially if we are sedentary and we have been sitting for a while, we have to mindfully choose to get up and move. Sometimes it’s not always easy.
That’s why I like to say, instead of thinking about going to exercise, how can you get up and move or get up and stretch, whether it’s dancing, moving around, taking a walk, or whatever that is for some? We got to take or remove exercise from the mindset because that feels exhausting. It’s work and it’s intimidating. It’s one more thing we have to do.
Let’s hit on the eat part of eat right and exercise. Eating is a choice. Why do people make the wrong choice? What’s inside their brain? I know there’s an addiction to sugar. I get it. That’s more powerful than cocaine and all that. I get it. I have to eat right and exercise for a reason because it’s so simple. $35 billion get spent on diets and weight watchers. I’m like, “All you got to do is just eat right.” If you eat right and exercise, you are good. You only eat fruits and vegetables and exercise. How can you help our GAPers who make bad decisions when it comes to either moving or eating right? What needs to go in their head? What can they say to themselves to stop eating the third piece of cake or the first piece of cake? What tricks do you have?
The formula is simple but it’s not easy. The formula is simple. It’s to eat whole foods, step away from sugar, and step away from junk through. We know that. We are a society that is programmed to eat on the run, to not sit down and eat, and to take the easy convenient choice. We are the only country with a kids’ menu. We set up our kids by feeding them chicken fingers and fries or the deal meal for kids, and then they struggle their whole life as adults trying to get off that stuff.
They then market it. They go to movies, drink Coke, eat popcorn, and have chocolate.
We are the biggie size of America. Therefore, we are biggie Americans. It’s basic. It’s mindfully asking yourself, “Why do I want to feel better? Why do I want to lose weight?” When we dig deep, then we have to realize, “I’m going to have to speak to people’s vanity.” People listen to their vanity. If you want to look good, have clear skin, and be at a healthy weight, that’s one thing. That’s short-term. That’s why diets and those 30-day challenges and programs don’t work. It’s truly a lifestyle.
It’s one bite at a time starting with looking at what kind of life I want to live and how I want to feel each day. If I want to feel vibrant, energized, happy, and more at peace, a lot of that starts with mindfully stepping back and taking time to think about what I choose to put in my mouth to eat and drink. It’s taking time to set myself up for success just like I would with my work and with my kids, or any other project that’s important to me to plan for that. That means setting out your workout clothes in the morning or your movement clothes, so you are not trying to think about that when you are groggy for a coffee.
Prepare the night before. It’s so basic. Preparation is so key for that success. It’s a good attitude mindset. Get in the attitude of I am in charge. I am in control. Often, we feel like we are not in control, especially in this environment that we are living right now. What we can control is what we are eating and drinking, how we are thinking, who we are choosing to be around, what we are listening to, how we are sleeping, and how we are moving. Eat real foods and step away from processed packaged foods and all the stuff that we were raised on that makes it so easy for us. If there were a magic pill and if it was easy, then there would be no health issues. We’d all be in a healthy way of living our best lives.
For me, my happy pill is when I get a cardio buzz, or when I’m done with a nice deep stretching Vinyasa flow of yoga practice, a hardcore workout, a run, or even an invigorating lunch break walk. It doesn’t have to be intense, just to feel better. I could bottle that up and give it to people as “This is what it feels like.” It’s starting your day with the intention of I’m going to make choices to the best that I can and starting each day, knowing that it is one day at a time. It’s one bite at a time.
People get ambitious and say, “January 1st, I’m going on that diet and I’m doing that weight.” The data shows us that by January 31st, half of them have dropped off. By March 1st, there’s 10% left that have stuck to their goals because it’s not a lifestyle. Living our best life is deciding to pay attention, wake up, plan, and prepare. It does take work. As you live a healthy lifestyle, it takes work to make sure I’m packing my lunch. I have my water bottle. I’m mindfully unplugging before bed. I always travel with snacks and food because I know I will be in a jam and often can’t eat what’s being served at a function. It’s setting ourselves up for success.
We had breakfast one morning years ago, and you had peanut butter on a muffin. I heard peanut butter is not good first thing in the morning but I’m like, “Susan Van Hoosen did it, so I’m doing it.”
I did it on a muffin?
I think you did or it might have been a piece of rye toast or something like that.
I hope it’s not a muffin.
Peanut butter in the morning, is that a yes or a no?
For me then, it was a way to get my protein and healthy fats. It was probably toast and peanut butter. I used to be in this school of thought for everyone to eat breakfast. It depends on who we are. I have learned a lot about the gut health and mind connection. I have never been hungry at breakfast. I used to force myself to have breakfast under the mindset and training of, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Get your metabolism going,” but it depends. We have to make sure that it’s protein, healthy fats, and fiber. That’s different than grabbing a bagel, donut, or a sugary cereal box. I am now practicing intermittent fasting. It’s working for me. It’s for gut health issues as well. It’s helpful and energy.
We could do a whole on gut health. That’s a big Tony Robbins. We spent three days on gut health. It was crazy. McMuffins are only 300 calories. They are good for you because they are only 300 calories.
There’s a reason everything at McDonald’s is a dollar. It’s not real food. The cheese will never mold. The bread won’t mold. Also, processed meat.
It’s probably not a good healthy choice. I want to know because I love McMuffins, but I don’t eat them any more because of learning. This has been great, but now we want to get back into your history because not only are you a superwoman for the past ten years but there’s a whole history to you. We do this through a little thing that we call Knowledge Through The Decades. What we want you to do is take it back to the very day you were born.
If you don’t remember that day, you can think about when your kids were born. What we do is we go through every decade of your life asking you to revisit that time in your life and ask what the attitude lesson that you learned was. We are heavily edited. If you are on the spot, don’t worry about it. We have heard it all. If your answer completely sucks, Jason, we will edit it out and make it perfect, but we never do because our guests are so good. We love to have people walk through their life, and see the growth of attitude from when they were born to, is it okay to say you are over 50?
Yes, I’m a proud 51.
That’s what we are going to do now because we only have about nine more minutes. What I want to know is what is the attitude lesson that you got from childbirth or being born, if you remember. What’s the attitude lesson? Attitude is defined as the way you dedicate yourself to the way you think. When you think of a newborn baby, what can we learn attitude-wise from a newborn?
I don’t remember the day I was born, but certainly my daughter. It’s not about me anymore. The attitude that I am now responsible for this wonderful loving being, and dedicating my life to service in a way that I’d never felt before. It’s unconditional love. The lesson here is if we could only practice that unconditional love and empathy for everyone and not just our children, the world would be a safer, more peaceful, and better place. We wouldn’t be so divided, and there wouldn’t be an arrest and illness.If we could only practice that unconditional love and empathy for everyone, not just our children, the world would be a safer, more peaceful, and better place. Click To Tweet
Not to jump back, but I do want to because there are a lot of single moms that are tuning in to this. Eight years ago, you became a single mom. What is your hope for those single moms or what is the best advice you could give them? Whether they became a single mom with the circumstances they faced or their husbands left or they left. What’s the attitude lesson on single parenting?
What I would say to women is you are stronger than what you think. As moms and especially as single moms, oftentimes we just do it. We take care of what needs to be done and we do it. I know there are also a lot of folks that struggle with that. Also, remember that you are not a victim. Have a victor mentality. We are the victor. Single moms are some of the strongest and most resilient women and mothers that I know, especially single working moms. We have two full-time jobs. Know that you can do this and you are not alone. Find a community of support. One of my biggest lessons and one that I still practice is don’t be afraid to ask for help. Swallow your pride, mama. We are all in this together. Ask for help.
I hope our single moms keep coming to the GAP because I’m here to help you guys. I hope you guys know that. Let’s go to Susan at ten years old. I want to know where did you grow up and what grade school did you go to?
I grew up in Frankfurt, Indiana on a small farm and some of the hot dogs. It’s a wonderful small town in Frankfurt, Indiana. My dad worked for John Deere for 41 years. I had John Deere tractors instead of pink bikes, sickles, and three-wheelers. My attitude then was fun and all play.
You were just fun. Were you the tallest girl in your class?
I was one of the tallest.
How did that affect your attitude or was it good for you?
I loved it.
Every other girl was like, “I wish I was that tall.”
My young childhood best friend at the time, Tina, we were the tallest together. It was like power.
You had a buddy. Did you have siblings?
I have a brother John that I grew up with.
Your dad and mom. They were your first two attitude coaches? What did mom and dad instill in you in regards to the attitude that might have affected you that still is with you now?
It still does, for sure. My father who I just lost two years ago. This lives on in me, his work ethic. It’s such a strong work ethic. I grew up in the church. We were God-loving and faithful people. They taught me to have a strong faith. My father taught me his humility, to be humble, and not worry about who gets the credit. Do your work and take care of things.Be humble. Don’t worry about who gets the credit. Do your work and take care of things. Click To Tweet
From my mom, I learned more humor, fun, play, and also to serve. She was a Sunday school teacher. She was my confirmation teacher. She was a substitute teacher in the schools to teach others. She would always say, and I used to laugh at it and mock her at the time when I didn’t want to hear it, “Kill them with kindness.” It’s so basic but so true.
Booster number 1, be nice. It’s amazing that everybody does what you want when you are nice, and when you are a complete prick, they don’t. I have lived it. Trust me. It’s just a practice. You were in Frankfurt. You went to Frankfurt High School. Were you in jock, cheerleader, or in the arts?
I did play sports, volleyball and basketball.
Where did you go to college? West Virginia.
In my senior year of high school, my father got relocated to Morgantown, West Virginia with John Deere. I thought my life was over moving my senior year of high school. It turned out to be the best thing for me. I started to get a little rebellious in my high school years. I started to get a little rebellious, bored in a small town, and not making some good decisions. I put my parents through a bit, I will just say. Moving your senior year, you don’t have any friends. My friend was an international student. All of a sudden, I realized in my senior, I was making all As because I had to study. I had no friends to go do things with.
With that, I showed myself that I was always street-smart. I knew I was street-smart. I never thought I was that book-smart. I never pride myself, which drove teachers crazy. My dad was a Math teacher before he joined John Deere. I realized, “I like this feeling. I like getting all As. I want more of this.” That’s the silver lining of what I thought was the end of my high school world.
I went to West Virginia University in Morgantown. It’s such a beautiful state. The mountains. It’s a bit of an impoverished state, but it was such a melting pot. You have your down-home West Virginians, you have your East Coast folks and your Carolinas. It was a beautiful melting pot that I got to meet people I would have never met had I stayed in Indiana my whole life.
You are a West Virginia Journalism grad. Isn’t that cool? Those lessons from mom and dad stuck through, which is cool. The opportunity to learn or the realization that there’s more to you than just being you. You have this thing called a mind and you excelled. Were you straight As in college or were you a little bit crazy in college? Did you make fun?
Do you know what’s funny? I remember getting to college and people were going a little nuts being in college and doing the party thing. I thought, “That’s high school. I have done that.” I had a little more fun in my freshman and sophomore years, but then I got it together in my junior and senior years. I was always on the honor roll and good to go.
You are out of college and you are 30 years old now. What happened? Were you married at 30?
At 30, I had my daughter Sophia.
The attitude lesson, I know you already talked about her being born, but place yourself at 30. What did you learn when you were 30?
I went through a lot of infertility. I have endometriosis, which we did not discover until I was trying to get pregnant and couldn’t. For a lot of you out there, I know struggling and trying women with your infertility, but people don’t talk about it. It is very prevalent. I had miscarriages. I had to do infertility treatments. When I finally got pregnant, it was the happiest time of my life.
I had a great pregnancy and I always felt like God has given me this gift of a great pregnancy because I went through hell and high water to get pregnant. I get this gift. It was a full-circle moment for me. I was adopted at birth and went home from the hospital with my parents. I had yearned as a little girl to see what does my bloodline look like? What would a child of mine look like? That was a nice full-circle moment.
Did you ever find your birth parents?
Yes, I did. That is a whole episode.
We got infertility. We may have to bring you back. These are real hard life experiences that you brought in your 30s. It sounds like you grew up quite a bit and went, “Holy moly.”
That was devastation. As a little girl, I always wanted to be a mom. To think that there was a chance I could not biologically have my own child was devastating for me, but it was my faith that carried me through. Going back, my parents taught me to have faith and to believe, and to keep persevering and to believe it, and to do my part to take care of myself so that my body could accept that.
It’s no wonder you do the work that you do. It’s pretty amazing when we hear your story. What a gift to a lot of people. Now you are 40. Do you remember your 40th birthday?
I do. Trent threw me a 40th birthday party.
Was it fun?
It was fun. Friends and family at the house.
You were in the corporate world at CENTURY 21 Scheetz where we both worked. What was your attitude lesson at the beginning of your 40s?
The beginning of my 40s was such an exciting time. Trent and I had suffered some more miscarriages and infertility, and going through that whole process again, but also thriving in my career. We’re very happy and flourishing, busy with kids with football practices, soccer, and doing that whole thing. We discovered CrossFit. We were high on life and very happy. We’re always seeking ways to grow in our health journey. I discovered things that I thought I knew were “healthy” for me as I have over the last 25 to 30 years may not have been as healthy.
In my 20s, I was eating lean cuisine thinking that was healthy. In my 40s, Trent and I were eating a lot of protein. I quit eating red meat in 1989. It was, “How can we fuel our body to be optimal physically and mentally.” At age 43 is when I lost Trent. My world changed and I continued that evolution and transformation.
The ability to have food properly prepared is a lot of effort.
We would spend Sundays watching football and prepping in the kitchen for the whole week, setting ourselves. We took the Dave Ramsey financial class and it’s the same mindset of preparing in advance for your future and how you want to live like no one else today so you can later ride. If you want to save and fill these different buckets, fill the bucket in your body.
Now you turned 50, we are through Knowledge Through The Decades. Tell us what the attitude lesson was at 50. What does the future hold in store for you? Lastly, what’s the message to the GAPers out there about attitude, the way you see attitude, and what you hope and wish for them?
Turning 50, what a gift. I am happy to share my birthday because I have lost so many people who never made it to 50. My husband didn’t make it to 50. I have had friends who have succumbed to breast cancer and other illnesses that didn’t make it. Celebrate every age and know that the best is yet to come. I believe that and I have believed that for a while.
Know that it’s never too late, whether it’s to lose weight or feel better. It’s never too late to start a business to make a change. It’s never too late. Life is short. Wake up every day with intention. Buddha said, “Every day is a chance to begin again.” What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while. Live with intention and purpose. If we are still here and we are breathing, there’s purpose for us. Figure it out.What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while. Click To Tweet
Every day is the first day of the rest of your life. It’s like being reborn again.
It is being reborn again. That’s hard to hear in a pandemic when so many people are suffering. It sounds good in theory, but when you are in it and you are stuck, that’s why I get back to one bite at a time. One day prepare your lunch, practice getting sleep, love yourself, look to your faith, slow down, and get settled one of these at a time. Eventually, it will become how you roll.
Do you have a mantra that you say to yourself?
I’m a mantra affirmation junkie.
Give us 1 or 2 of your favorite and we will get you out of here because we are a little late.
It’s an I am. One of my big teachers is Joel Osteen, The Power Of I Am. We become whatever we say after the words I am. If you have ever noticed if you say to yourself, “I’m so tired,” we become more tired. I wake up and I have this whole morning routine. Part of that intention setting and meditating is I will say oftentimes, “What am I needing,” if I’m not feeling safe or I’m not feeling complete or whole, or if I’m not feeling energized. Some days, I have more energy than others.
I say what I need to feel. I start always with, “I am blessed.” I start saying my prayers and gratitude before I even get out of bed and my feet hit the floor. It’s starting with gratitude that I am blessed, I am safe, I am favored, I am healthy, I am strong, and I am resilient. Pick an affirmation or a go-to that you need and that you want to feel like. Especially if you don’t, act as if. When we say it, our body listens to what our mind says.Pick an affirmation or a go-to that you need and want to feel good about. When we say it, our body listens to what our mind says. Click To Tweet
There’s no doubt. I am honored and as GAPers, we are thrilled that you came here. I could do another hour with you. How good was she, Emily? We have our young intern Emily Hannon in here with us. Susan, thank you so much for sharing your journey.
Thank you. What a privilege and honor. You are doing such great important work. People are seeking exactly what you are sharing and what you are teaching. They are seeking, “How do I get an attitude of resilience and thriving, not just surviving?” They are seeking what you are doing. Your work is important.
Thank you very much. It wouldn’t be the same. This is Glenn Bill with the world-famous Susan Van Hoosen on the show, focusing on eating right and exercising. If you don’t feel better after that, you must be dead. Let’s make sure that you come back to the GAP and that we have more fantastic guests. This is our last interview for Attitude Booster 9, and we will be Attitude Booster 10. Be a part of something bigger than yourself in our upcoming episode. Susan, thanks again. You are the best. Be good. Namaste.