You Can’t Serve Two Masters

Suzanne —  April 29, 2013 — 62 Comments

I used to be a runner. I would run 4-6 miles about four times each week and then go for a long run, 10-12 miles, every weekend. That was my routine when I wasn’t training for a race. If I had a race coming up, then those weekend runs would get even longer. And I was hardcore about it. I still like to brag about running 13 miles in 6-degree weather. I literally had chunks of ice between my layers of clothes.

Running started out as a way to shed post baby weight that had lingered for way too long. I started out on a treadmill barely able to finish 2 miles. I eventually met a woman who convinced me to go outside with her for a 4-miler. That was the turning point. I remember exactly how I felt during that run and it was nothing short of exhilarating. I also remember my first 10K, The Bluegrass 10,000, which gave me the confidence to run my first half-marathon. And my first half lead to the Country Music Marathon (26.2 miles) in Nashville, Tennessee.

The finish line was in sight and I felt great!

The finish line was in sight and I felt great!

Over the next several years, I continued to run. It became part of my identity. People would ask me all the time, “You still doing all that running?” I, of course, loved that people thought I was a bit nuts. But my body still did not look very good. Sure I lost some of those post baby pounds in the beginning, but over the years my weight was constantly up and down. I could run 12 miles easily on any given day, but that did NOT translate to a rock-hard body – not even close.

I finally decided to take drastic measures and signed up for group training classes at GYM Laird Strength and Conditioning. On my first day, Jim asked me questions about my fitness goals and ran me through an assessment. I’m pretty sure it took Jim about 5 minutes to figure out that I’m very hard-headed and that I can be a real pain in the ass (stubborn, type A, a little bit OCD, and competitive as hell). So, his approach with me was no-nonsense.

If you want me to help you run faster and more efficiently, I can do that. But, if you want to look good and feel good, then distance running is counterproductive. You can’t serve two masters.                            

He wanted me to stop all distance running. Now, if you are a runner that probably sounds like CRAZY talk. I understand because I’m sure I looked at him like he had three heads. But over the course of the next three months (that’s how long it took for me to finally trust the program), I completely quit all distance running and focused on strength training. About that same time, and with the support of my coaches and more importantly other gym clients, I switched to a Paleo diet.

before and after

I achieved these results after I stopped all distance running and focused on strength training exclusively.

In my “before” picture I was still running. In fact, I ran a half-marathon not long after the picture was taken. My “after” picture shows my results achieved in about four months, after I stopped running and focused on strength training exclusively. I was only allowed to train 3 or 4 times each week, and in the beginning, my sessions included mostly body weight exercises and heavy prowler. That’s all I needed to get results. My coach also had no qualms about telling me that I was done and to go home and focus on recovery (eat right, manage stress and sleep more). For those wondering, I’ve (only) lost five pounds, but I’m down two dress sizes.

Are you a runner and not happy with the way you look? Or maybe you are a slave to some other form of chronic cardio program? If so, I’m here to tell you that you can actually exercise LESS and get amazing results through strength training. You do not have to become a competitive powerlifter, but as my fellow Miss Fit, Jen, says, lifting heavy is fun as hell and extremely effective for fat loss!






Posts Google+

62 responses to You Can’t Serve Two Masters

  1. I was looking forward to this blog entry! I love to run although I never have ran as much as you! You look awesome thanks for sharing your success!

    • Suzanne

      I love to run too and I admit that I felt a bit envious this past weekend when a friend was running the Nashville half marathon (except that I later learned it poured rain the whole time!), but I don’t ever want to go back to that body! Strength training gives me the same sense of physical accomplishment AND I can wear a bikini again! Thanks for your support! Suzanne

  2. coming from a family of runners im sure all this was a big surprise to you. l love to run but cant do more than a mile because of my bad knees so ive pretty much stopped. you definately look great, you give me motivation, although iI still cant get into your paleo diet 🙂 love you suzanne and congrats

    • Suzanne

      Oh Jessica…lol…if only you lived closer. 🙂 Thanks so much for your support and take care of yourself. Suzanne

  3. Oh I LOVE this post!!! After 3 years of running (yep, I started late in the game), I gave it up cold turkey and went for the heavy weights with Jason Seib!!

    • Suzanne

      Penny, Thank you so much! Lifting makes me feel amazing and I just can’t help but tell everyone. It has literally changed both my body and my mind. Thanks again for your support and kind words.

  4. Holy cats – I totally can relate. I started lifting and HIIT a few months after completing my first marathon. I tried to keep up long distance running, but the combo was physically and mentally exhausting. I’ve slowly weened myself off running, and now prefer an occasional leisurely jaunt or more fast, fun, and effective sprint intervals. Congrats on all your success, Suzanne. You look fabulous, and sound really happy with your new fitness and nutrition lifestyle. Yay!

    • Suzanne

      It was a big transition but I am definitely so much happier and healthier now. Thanks for your support and kind words!


  5. Love this story – everyone I know seems to be running these days I was beginning to feel I was the odd one out and was contemplating joining them, but I much prefer weights and sprints. Your results are amazing, you look great well done

  6. This entry really hit home for me…I’ve done 4 half-marathons, but had to stop running at the end of February due to some health issues. I thought I was doomed, but I’ve been eating mostly Paleo for about 11 months now (I occasionally have dairy and some gluten-free grains). But I haven’t yet started exercising in the Paleo way…I know I need to do it, and reading this has given me the motivation to now start looking for a trainer in my area that can get me on a good program. I definitely can’t do this on my own!

    • Suzanne

      Welcome to the Paleo family. The Paleo diet was definitely key to my success, combined with simple but highly effective strength exercises. I know you will love it! Find a trainer who does NOT think it’s his or her job to “crush you” during every workout. It won’t take much to get results. Best of luck!

  7. Wow! You look amazeballs. But I don’t get why you can’t do both?

    • Suzanne

      You can do both. It just didn’t work for me. My goal is to look good and feel good and lifting is all I need. I can now spend all my “extra” time with my kids and family. I also get way more sleep (I used to get up pre-dawn to run before my kids would wake) and what mom doesn’t need more sleep?

  8. I’m inspired!!! I’m stick’n to my Paleo Diet and get’n my butt in the gym and boosting my strength training. 😀

  9. Sarah running marathons does not produce a hormone profile that is conducive with looking good and feeling good and overall long term health. Some people might be able to pull it off but they are few and far between. Listen to former world class marathoner Mark Sisson talk about the effects of marathons on long term health. I would highly suggest listening to all seven interviews.

  10. Congrats on your success, you look great! I am a runner and a lifter, and I would be interested to hear your thoughts on why it’s not a good idea to do both? I lift 3 days per week and run 2. (Runs are 3-7 miles and scheduled so as to not conflict with leg days). I agree that lifting improves the look of my body more than running does. I run because I truly enjoy it, and it’s meditative for me. Thoughts?

    • Meg you can do what ever you want. If your happy with where you are at awesome. If you keep you mileage down and eat well and continue to cross train your results will be better (body composition and performance) Suzanne’s number one goal was to look good naked, with her limited schedule we picked activities for her that will give her the most bang for the buck (time). She wrote this to show the thousands of women out there that are doing chronic cardio with the soul purpose of looking good and feeling good that there are much better options out there that will actually give them what they want with less overall work.


      • Suzanne

        Meg, I really enjoy a run too, and I did both for about two months. I joined J&M in mid-January and ran a local half marathon on March 31. But, I had a hard time because it was exhausting. I also never felt 100% on training days because I had so little time to recover. This sucked because I’m very competitive and I like to give it my all. Then finally I had to admit to myself that while I love running, my main goal was to look good. Jim finally convinced me that the running would never give me what I wanted and while it was scary as hell, I quit. And, that’s when the fat started falling off.

  11. Hi!

    So excited for this post. I basically gave up running 6 mos ago, but I have a tough mudder so I’ve been at it again, only once a wk. honestly can’t wait for it to be over so I can put the running shoes away again.

    Question for you. I xfit twice a wk, great box, heavy lifting short wods. I eat paleo, with cheese 1x a week. My issue is I love me some vino… I am curious what your daily diet looks like, because as much as Paleo is not about counting calories, I know that it can matter if one is trying to lose fat. I’d just love an example of what you eat daily or weekly if you are really feeling generous! Thanks for any tips, thoughts and this amazing post!

    • Suzanne

      I really appreciate your questions. For me, the nutrition stuff is way harder than the training. I’ve been following a Paleo lifestyle for about a year now and my favorite part is that I don’t have to count calories. My eating habits consist of protein and healty fat every meal. I keep carbs low and will have the yummy stuff in the evening, post heavy lifting. I’m totally addicted to waffle cut sweet potato fries. A Mexican meal with corn chips is a go to as well except I skip the cheese and sour cream. I love wine and dark chocolate too. Admittedly, I eat the chocolate way more than I should but it keeps me from killing people. Ha! When I indulge in alcohol, I stick with red wine or Paleo margaritas (yum!).

      So, not a detailed menu but I hope this helps. My fellow Miss Fits and I are going to add a food section to our blog very soon so we can provide details about what has worked (and what hasn’t) for each of us as well as some fav recipes. We all experiment a bit and are constantly sharing tips with one another so we thought our readers would like it. Hope you will stay tuned for that.

      • Thanks Suzanne! Sounds like we have the same habits when it comes to chocolate and wine. My favorite part about paleo is not counting calories and knowing I am healthy. Just would love to trim down a bit! Can’t wait for the nutrition posts and thanks for the inspiration.

        • Suzanne

          Maybe keep a food log? That seems to really help me figure out if I’m indulging too much. I also realize that I often times don’t eat enough. It sounds counterintuitive but eating more (lean protein & healthy fat) helps me get leaner especially when I’m training hard.

  12. Your post was just what I needed to make a change! I’ve been a runner for all of my adult life, yet never achieved the body I was after. Recently, running has just left me exhausted and I’ve discovered my thyroid has become a bit sluggish. After hearing Jim Laird on the Everyday Paleo podcast, I have been following the miss fits. I’ve been eating paleo for about 6 months and I’m ready to stop the running and start lifting!! You are all a huge inspiration. I only wish I lived near J&M!! 🙂

    • Suzanne

      We wished you lived closer too. Jim loves to “save” runners. ha! The transition can be tough mentally (at least it was for me) but I am confident that you will see results once you slow down and add strength training. Good luck on your journey and keep us up to date on your progress.

  13. Meg-I can relate! I was a runner too. It has been 2 years since I ran for distance). I’m still trying to get this no sugar part down. It is too tempting! Great post and thanks for that motivation!

  14. I am so happy to tea this post. For years I’ve been running and for years I’ve been discouraged. Over the past year I have discovered Paleo, but have not been 100%. I’m reading Jason’s book right now and after reading about your experience, I know what I need to do. I’m actually looking forward to stopping running!! Time to take the plunge – CrossFit here I come! Thanks for sharing – you are inspiring!

    • Suzanne

      Just jump, girl! Good luck on your journey! I hope you will let us know how you are doing along the way.

  15. Love this! I am a group fitness instructor who has *finally* gone from teaching 8 classes/wk to only 1 per week. By lifting heavy and giving my body rest, my physique definitely has changed for the better. No more stressing about how many hours I ‘need’ to put in! Quality over quantity, for sure.
    I really am enjoying this blog…you gals are great. Just reminds me of myself and my friends. We are not fitness models and don’t have perfect bodies. We are wives, mothers, and just everyday women trying to be healthy. Keep up the great work 🙂

    • Suzanne

      Sounds like we have a lot in common with you and your friends. Thank you for helping us spread the word that strength training makes us “everyday women” anything but ordinary.

  16. Thank you for this post. This was my story…have run 5 half marathons along with many other distances mixed in. I LOVED running but now and hooked on CrossFit. Two months going strong and look and feel so much better.

  17. So glad my friend shared this with me! My hubby is a triathlete (full ironmans) and one thing I always wondered about were some of the other people doing them….or at the full marathons, i.e., Eugene Marathon in Eugene, OR….I was stunned at the condition of the people running that race who finished. Maybe they didn’t all run the whole race, but I could not figure out why some people who were so heavy could even finish the race. What you said makes a lot of sense!! i am going to post your article on my site – thanks!

  18. Thanks for sharing your story, Suzanne, and congrats on your success! Although I’m not a runner, I am a cardio junky (daily Turbo Fire, P90X, etc). I have recently been diagnosed with severe adrenal exhaustion and found you ladies after listening to Jim Laird on Everyday Paleo podcast. I’ve been told to stop all the stressful aerobic/intense exercise and I have but I HATE not exercising and have gone to mush! I’ve been paleo for about 18 mos but I’m at a lost on how to begin exercising again, in a way that is much less stressful. At this time, finding a trainer is not an option so I’d like to find a way to begin strength-training at home. Any advice on how to learn more about doing this at home (dvds, bks, youtube, etc) would be HUGELY appreciated. I’m just at a lost on where to start and really looking forward to “feeling good in my skin” again. ; ) Thanks so much and again, way to go!

    • Penny Danner May 3, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      Butting in here but you said you had listened to Everyday Paleo podcasts. You could give EPLifeFit a try. If you have heavy weights at home, you can do them at home. I’ve heard Jason say to just start easy with walking when you are recovering from adrenal fatigue then you add in the heavy lifts after that as you feel up to it. 🙂 It isn’t a huge expenditure to try it out for a month. 🙂

    • Suzanne

      Stay tuned. Jim is going to answer your very important health question. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope you are feeling better (and strong) soon!

      • Thank you, thank you, thank you! I can’t thank you & Suzanne enough for addressing my ques so thoroughly & quickly. You nailed me on the head…type A, perfectionist who ‘stuffs’ emotions & probs w/ all or nothing exercise and/or food (prev anorexia & bulimia). Dealing w/ “life” has been harder than going paleo. Just since being dx’d, my dad died suddenly, mom dx’d w breast cancer, husb dx’d w graves’ disease & thyroid cancer, etc…). Life is hard for everyone & there w/ always be ‘something’ … what I need to learn is how to deal w it better. Thx for recommending the hrv app. I w definitely look into that as well as research how to do some basic strength training. Also, w try your stretching video clip. Thx for reiterating what I already knew in my heart. Now, off to bed for some good sleep. 😉 Thx again for sharing your wisdom & time. It really means a lot. Blessings, Michelle

        • Suzanne

          Michelle, wishing for you health & happiness! Thanks for sharing and I am humbled to know that I could help you in some small way. Suzanne

  19. Great info! I have never enjoyed running ,but always felt a bit guilty because everyone around me was running! Now I know where to focus my efforts. Thanks.

    • Suzanne

      Ditch the guilt and give strength training a try. I am positive you will love the way you feel AND how your body looks.

  20. This post couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Due to my children’s school/sports over the next few weeks, I am unable to run with my running buddy for our long runs. I was planning on doing a little “experiment” over these weeks by focusing on lifting and NOT RUNNING. Gasp and nervous belly. Seeing the proof in this post is just the justification I needed.

    • Suzanne

      Amy, I wish you lots of luck on your experiment. It was a scary change for me too. I was physically and mentally addicted to those longs runs. Now, I just cannot imagine going back to that!

  21. What an amazing story! You are an inspiration to so many women! I recently had a friend finally convince me to do a squat exercise with her. Prior to that day the most I had squat in almost 9 years was 115, and during that workout I hit 140! (which is my bodyweight) That squat workout was this past wesnesday and since then I have done a heavy bench, deadlift, and push press, and I’m loving every minute of it! Next thing on my list is to get my diet more paleo oriented. Thanks for your blog, and you and your friends keep up the good work!!! 🙂

    • Suzanne

      Kelly, Impressive squat numbers on your first workout! Isn’t is so fun?! Do I see PL competition in your future? Go for it!

  22. Brooke Shumaker June 6, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    This is so inspiring! I’ve been lifting weights for a while, but still feel pulled into my old running lifestyle. After reading this, I’ve decided to take the plunge and give up running without guilt. I’m also going to look into Power Lifting competitions. Looks fun! Thank you for posting your story. I wish I could be part of the Miss Fits and have such a great coach! I don’t even know how I’d find one like Jim.

    • Suzanne

      No guilt! You can do it! And, I promise you can get a similiar “high” in the weight room when you start setting PRs. There is nothing quite like deadlifting 300+ pounds! PL competitions are so much fun.

      If you are looking for a coach, take a look at this site: When interviewing a potential coach, tell him/her that you want to look good & feel good. If he or she doesn’t know what to say, then keep looking. You do NOT want a coach who thinks it’s their job to “crush” you everytime you train. In the words of our coach, Jim, “any fool can design a program that will crush you”. Lastly, you might want to watch the coach in action to see if the coaching style jives with what you want. Once you have a foundation of good functional movement and strength then you can start increasing weight….and that’s when it gets really fun. Good luck!!

  23. I realize this is a couple months late, but I just discovered you ladies and I’m catching up on old posts. I am also a former runner and finally had to admit it wasn’t working for me. Your before and after photos are amazing, and exactly the reminder that I needed that the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. You may be “only” down 5 pounds in the after, but man what a difference!

    • Suzanne

      Jenny, I’m so glad you found us! I have never regretted retiring my running shoes. Thank you and I encourage you to do the same!

  24. Hi Suzanne,
    I stumbled upon your blog while researching weight training. I started lifting weights again after many years of being on a roller coaster cardio program. It finally dawned on me I couldn’t maintain a healthy weight because I no longer had any muscle. I have cut all cardio and am currently working on strictly building lean muscle and eating a clean diet. After just a few weeks I can feel a difference. I feel tighter and leaner. I plan on adding in HIIT in a few weeks to start burning some fat.
    Just wanted to tell you Thanks for sharing your story. It confirms that I am on the right track.
    Take care!

    • Suzanne

      Michelle, You are definitely on the right track. Congrats on your progress I am confident you have had since you posted your comment almost a month ago. 🙂 Thanks so much for letting me know that my story helped…means a lot to me. ~Suzanne

  25. I was a runner and had to stop once I became pregnant. I started back 11 months later and just can’t seem to run like I used to, as well as finding time with a baby. Her schedule= my schedule. I don’t like the way I look. I would love to get back into my old clothes and feel better about myself. My husband keeps telling me to lift weights, but I have no idea how to get started or what to do. Do you have a routine you followed? Are there any websites you suggest?

    • Suzanne

      Hi Stephanie. Thanks for your question. All of us started with body weight exercises (lunges, squats, bear crawl, rows, planks, etc) and slowly added weights. We also ended workouts with some “conditioning” such as pushing a prowler or rope slams. In my experience, it didn’t take much to get results so start slow and focus on proper form & good movement. I hope you will continue to follow us here and FB…we post workouts and exercise demos regularly. You can search our page and will find some good stuff, I promise. If you need videos of proper form of squats, etc. Mike Robertson of IFAST in Indy is a great resource. He puts out great articles and videos. Hope this helps. And, you can always send us more questions as you get started. Welcome to the strength side! ~Suzanne

  26. Hello! All I ever do is cardio because I was never able to find a good strength training plan for female beginners, any recommendations? And you look fantastic, I would love to get similar results!

    • Suzanne

      Hi Maggie,
      As a reformed cardio junkie, I definitely encourage you to start strength training. When I started, I did mostly body weight stuff…it didn’t take much to start seeing results. When you start loading, be sure to build slowing always focusing on good form. To get started, check out our coach’s dynamic warm-up at I also encourage you to check out the Miss Fit’s youtube page and FB page. We try to post videos from time to time. We welcome questions or specific request about this stuff….it helps us know how we can help you get started. So, stay in touch!

  27. Suzanne

    I am extremely flattered to be recognized by the super smart and sexy folks at Everyday Paleo. Thanks Jason and Sarah! Can’t wait for you to return to Lexington in February!! In the meantime, I’ll be working on that 400 lb deadlift (no pressure!) 😉

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness Podcast, Episode 64 | Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness - November 19, 2013

    […] Strong and The blog written by some of J&M’s amazing clients is called The Miss Fits. Here is Suzanne, the lifter we discussed who deadlifted 369 lbs in […]

  2. Can Running Give You Heart Disease? | FitLife Personal Training - March 27, 2014

    […] evidence that overdoing is worse for your heart that sitting on the couch watching Breaking Bad. Maybe it’s time to ditch the endurance training and pick up a barbell. Build some muscle and get yourself in a better metabolic state, while increasing longevity without […]

  3. Lift Heavy | Outside the Box - September 4, 2014

    […] they talked about one of the women that they train and it is something I think will blow your mind. The girl in this article can deadlift 365 pounds…Look at how petite she is and that is proof […]

Leave a Reply

Text formatting is available via select HTML.

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>