“For years the comfort that food gave me was greater than the pain of having degraded my health and my body” – Susana Henriques – Peso e Nutrição

When you joined the TV show Maximum weights, Susana Henriques was the most obese competitor, with 170 kg. She is determined to change her life, she has lost 100 kg in less than a year. Susan is currently personal trainer and discovered his purpose in life: to help others. In between there is a story of resilience, of overcoming fears and many obstacles, in the literal sense of the term, but also of emotional walls.

Based on her life story, Susana Henriques gifted the book to the shop windows You are your only limit: 7 steps to transform your life (Handwritten edition), a pretext for an interview with the woman who, as a teenager, lacked self-esteem, love for life and for herself. Susana found solace in food, albeit also a vicious cycle and binging. Susana tells us about that period in this interview, but also her whole process of growth and overcoming, the people she surrounded herself with, the tools that helped her change and how, 11 years after the beginning of a path , be a different person: “the only way is to keep fighting in the continuous search for the best version of me”.

Susana remembers every ounce of weight she had before joining the program Maximum weights. Exactly 170 kg and 900 g. I assume this memory is not only physical but also emotional. What memories do you have of the moment when you decided to participate in the program?

At 28, I was morbidly obese, sad, without self-esteem or self-love. I was already a fan of the US version of the show, so when the announcement for the casting I decided to take a chance. I was lucky to have been selected from thousands of candidates and therefore the only way to move forward was to take the opportunity with all my might.

A very popular phrase tells us that “we are what we eat”. We actually also eat based on who we are. Was Susana the person who reached 170 kg?

For many years I have suffered from depression and binge eating. I have found in food a way to satisfy a certain need for comfort.

As I said, I was a sad girl, without self-esteem, without love for life and for myself. For many years the pleasure and comfort that food brought me outweighed the pain of degrading my health and my body and that is why I continued in the vicious cycle of binge eating.

The decision for such a radical change is made by the sum of countless steps. What has changed in Susana to decide “it’s now”?

It was when the pain of degrading my health and self-esteem became greater than the pleasure and comfort that food brought me that I began to try to change. But it was during one of the first challenges of the program Maximum weights, when I had to go through a mud pit and was buried, helpless, unable to move I realized, that the moment was there and now, that I had to fight for myself, otherwise I would have been buried in the mud, the rest of my life and not I could never have let that happen.

For many years I have suffered from depression and binge eating. I have found in food a way to satisfy a certain need for comfort.

In Susana’s case, she was able to identify the problems that led to depression and an eating craving. In many situations, people feel lost. What words do you have for these people?

First, it is essential to recognize that we have a “problem”. You have to let go of “denial” and not be afraid to ask for help. It is also important to ask: who can I turn to to overcome what I am experiencing? Who know who had the same problem and managed to solve it? Who can I surround myself with to have the strength to win this challenge?

Admitting that you have something to solve, asking for help and surrounding yourself with the right people are some of the steps that I believe are fundamental when facing a challenge of this type.

What are the “tools” that have helped you in the change?

The focus on the present, the here and now; make peace with my past; face my fears in the eye; believe in me, even when many people doubt that I would be able to; replacing the bad habits I had that didn’t contribute to my goals with new, healthier habits, congruent with what I wanted to achieve and letting these habits take root in me in such a way that the old habits would eventually die. . There was also always the constant need to overcome every day, to try to be more and better every day; resilience and absolute focus on my intentions and my process, even when obstacles appeared that seemed insurmountable. Surround me with people who helped me overcome myself and who believed in me, even when I doubted.

In her book, Susana talks about finding our purpose and lists some questions we should ask ourselves. Would you like to give us some examples of these questions?

Clear. There are so many questions that can help us find our way. Among the many in the book, I emphasize the following: What makes you wake up and get out of bed every morning? What are you really good at and do you do it almost naturally? What do people around you say that you are really good at? What can I do that the world needs? What would you do even without receiving any monetary value? If you didn’t have to worry about money, what profession would you have?

I assume that the people who are on our side play an important role in this process. Which people should we surround ourselves with?

Whatever goal you have in life, it is essential that you surround yourself with people who believe in you; of people who encourage you to overcome yourself every day and who help you stay focused on your dreams and projects; of people who have already achieved what you want to achieve,

Didn’t Susana, at the time she participate in the program, feel that the exposure to the country and the less opportune comments that might have arisen discouraged her?

Clear. The media exposure that a program of this size brings made me even question whether my question would make sense or not. I was fully convinced that, having had a somewhat troubled childhood, my story would be explored by the press and that’s exactly what happened.

It was the people closest to me who made me believe that fighting for my health would be more important than anything they could say about me and that is why I decided to take the risk and apply.

Have you heard many words of encouragement?

I have heard many words of encouragement, especially from those closest to me. They believed, like me, that this was the last chance for me to recover my health and be happy again, which is why they gave me all the support and love in the world. And how grateful I am to each of them.

In the book Susana states that restrictive diets have failed for 12 years. Was the problem in the diets or in Susana’s behavior towards them?

The problem was in the behavior, in the focus, in my attitude towards so-called diets. Today I am an advocate of food re-education and even with my students I avoid using the word diet. What I want for them is that they learn to eat healthy and balanced and that they train well. The goal is that these new habits are so trained and structured that they eventually take root and stop being a sacrifice and become a lifestyle, because only in this way will they be able to maintain the weight for long periods of time.

Whatever your goal in life, it’s essential to surround yourself with people who believe in you.

Susana’s weight loss wasn’t limited to the time she participated in the program, she stayed at home. Were you afraid of the moment you ran out of the net? How did you react?

When I ran out of hammocks or, as I said, when the lights and cameras went out, I was absolutely focused on continuing to take care of myself and perhaps for this reason it was relatively easy to resist the temptations of the “real world”.

However, some challenges have emerged along the way. For example, before embracing the profession of personal trainer, I have been unemployed for a long time, I suffered from hunger and I experienced the beginnings of bulimia nervosa. It was not a linear path, several stones emerged, which I had to learn to use as steps, always keeping the focus on solutions, on myself and on my goals.

Susan Henriques

credits: Manuscript / André Cardoso

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credits: Manuscript / André Cardoso

In the years between its entry into the program and the present moment, as personal trainerWere there times when you felt weak?

Come back to me personal trainer it has come to further increase my concentration and the will to continue on this path. I want to lead by example and continue to be a source of inspiration for every person who follows me and passes my way, especially my students. It is for them, for all the people who are inspired by my path and for my mother, who I know is still somewhere up there looking at me, that the only way is to keep fighting in the continuous search for the best version of me.

Imagine you meet a reader of your book and that person tells you a few words about work. What words would make you happier?

Already happened. I have already started receiving reaction of people who have already read the book. Knowing that my book inspired them, that it made them look inside and know each other better, that it made them act and fight for what they want and what they believe in fills my heart and makes all the dedication and all the efforts worthwhile. .

My main intention in writing this book was precisely to inspire and show that from the moment we break the bonds of our limits, that we are grateful for everything that happens to us and that we fight for what we want, without fear and without heart. life becomes lighter and with another light.

Written interview conducted in May 2022.

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