The Challenge

by Kerry Taylor

For the past few summers we’ve run a gym check-in contest.  The goal of the contest is to help keep everyone active in the gym throughout the summer.  Some people rise to the occasion and others don’t.  Then there are others that go above and beyond.  This summer Suzanne Cadge was one of those people who decided to take it the extra degree.  One day Suzanne gave me a call asking me what I thought of her going to the gym every day for the month of August.  Of course my answer was, “Go for it!!! Just keep in mind to work just as hard on your rest and recovery.”  Now that her experience is over, I decided to have a sit down with Suzanne and see how it all went.  Below you will find our conversation.

So now that it’s over, what made you want to go to the gym everyday in August?

It just kind of happened.  I came for a few days in a row and was curious to see what would happen to my body and mind if I came for 31 days in a row.

What were you hoping to achieve?

I was totally open to what was about to happen but I was hoping for some weight loss, core strengthening and hopefully catching a glimpse of my elusive ab muscles.

How were you feeling before you started this challenge?

To be honest I was feeling pissed off.  Before this 31 day gig happened, I came to the gym about 4-5 times per week. I’m also pretty active in my non-gym life.  Teaching fitness classes 4 times a week, walking my dogs and chasing after my two young kids, I don’t really sit much during the day. I was pissed off with feeling the jiggle, working, what I thought was quite hard at the gym and not really changing physically that much. I was also carrying a few post-partem pounds from my now 2 year old. (I’m very aware that looks may be deceiving, as a tall chick, we can hide a lot in a pair of tight leggings.) I was 60 pounds heavier when I got married 13 years ago and put on a solid 50 pounds with each pregnancy. I was really interested in perceiving myself in a better light. I strongly believe that once you’ve had a baby or two, you have this strange body dismorphia that feels like you’re in a strange body sometimes. Your equipment doesn’t respond like it used to, aches and pains creep in where they never did before. It’s like getting to know yourself as an athlete all over again.

How do you feel now that you achieved it and it's over?  Notice any changes?

I feel really proud of myself for physically getting through that door every day. I see ab definition, stronger legs, better arm definition and I have surprised myself by lifting heavier weights. It takes a second check to re-think what we’re capable of and not always grabbing my ever, secure green kettlebell. I’m also a bit worried. Worried about what will happen if I now take a day off (which, at the time of writing this, I have taken a few and survived haha).

What was key to being able to make this happen? 

Walking through the door was my one and only aim each day. What came after was often surprising. The days I felt like I had nothing in the tank, I was more relaxed/tired and yet performed better. I needed a ton of high school babysitters.  I was alone with my two year old for 3 weeks of this challenge and could not have done this without them or the gym daycare.

How’d it feel towards the end?

2 or 3 days in the last week were the hardest. I was tired from solo parenting, working and felt guilty going every day knowing the rest of my family were home. Sticking to the finish line and showing up was how I got through this part.

Besides coming everyday, did you make any other adjustments to your daily habits?

At the beginning of August I switched back to being pure vegan, whole grain, no sugar etc. Since then I’ve met with Alicia, we’ve put together a plan to get more protein into my engine and eat a more balanced diet. I also splurged on some new workout gear that fit properly, didn’t smell and made me feel better about myself.

Did you have any setbacks?

I did get a medial glute strain doing weighted lunges, which I’ve done a million times with no pain.  It was probably from a combination of overuse, lack of rest and perhaps not enough protein and hydration. I also had my old friend, subscapula pain rear it’s ugly head. I sought Kerry’s advice and splurged on a few sports massages, which although painful, did get me through this. I also took it easier some days on the weights I selected.

What's your mindset now that it's over compared to when you started?

I feel so positive about how I feel, look and I’m excited about what the future has in store. I feel more focused and yet at the same time, easier on myself. Trying to balance life, working out, and nutrition is not always easy (for me, it’s tricky most days), but from this 31 day experience I definitely learned to just walk through the door no matter what your mood or level of fatigue and see what happens.