Inside each of us is a special mixture of gifts and interests, and all of our extraordinary lives look so different! The one thing that people who are working towards their dreams and goals have in common however, is that they make the decision to go for it. In each of my interviews with people living their brand of an extraordinary life, I want to showcase not only the many versions of “extraordinary”, but also to show you that yes, you can have a life you love, too.
For Episode #31 of my podcast, I interviewed Sue Butzow, a posture therapist. We met several years ago in a networking group, and she’s been a member of my Extraordinary Life Tribe for the past year. I’ve also been a client of hers for about fifteen months. Keep reading for the biggest takeaways from our interview, or listen to the entire podcast here.
CO: Sue, tell my listeners a little bit about yourself.
SB: I'm a posture therapist, but I'm also a mom and a wife and a friend, and I just love being involved with you. I've loved having you as a client, being your client, and it's just been a fabulous friendship that's grown.
First, a little backstory to how I found posture therapy. When I was a teenager, I bussed tables at a local steak restaurant. My back hurt a lot, and I remember going home and asking my mom to rub my back. From then on, I’ve had back pain off and on my whole life.
I’ve always been very physical in life; I ran, was a cheerleader in highschool, and taught aerobics. I went on to get my degree in physical education because I loved fitness. I had all of that knowledge, but I still couldn’t heal my own back. I remember when my youngest son was in kindergarten and I was loading the dishwasher. I stood up and had excruciating pain. I spent the next three months going to chiropractors, acupuncturists, trying cranial sacral therapy, etc. It took about four months for the pain to go away. That’s just how I lived: sometimes in less pain, sometimes in a lot, but it always came back.
Then about eight years ago I was seeing a chiropractor for maintenance, and he had a flier for a personal trainer. It was closer to my home, so I decided to try it for a month. I went to the group classes, and he gave us some super simple exercises. I was kind of insulted that maybe he thought I couldn’t do more. But at the end of the month I couldn’t believe how great my back felt! It gave me so much hope that these exercises made my back feel so good. I asked him more about the exercises, and he said that he was certified in the Egoscue method.
I went and read a bunch of books about it. Essentially, it brings your body back into alignment so everything works together the way it’s meant to. I got certified and I’ve been seeing clients for about three years now.
CO: So did you work and learn from the personal trainer or someone else?
SB: The personal trainer was great, but he weaved it into his training and wasn’t practicing the true method. He was giving general exercises to help, rather than looking at my posture and giving me specific exercises.
As part of my own practice, I’m trying to see as many different practitioners as possible to learn their individual styles as well as connect personally. Zoom has been great for that over the past two years. I also go to other practitioners for my own care, because I don’t like to give the exercises to myself. I love when someone else gives me an exercise that I’ve never done, or sees something I didn’t.
CO: It’s the same as me having a life coach; it’s so important to have that outside perspective.
SB: It takes the pressure off, because it’s hard to be the client and practitioner at the same time. So I’ve committed to myself to have three or four appointments a year to help me feel better. I mean, I’m almost fifty-seven and at the beginning of the pandemic I was in a lot of pain, even with my knowledge. I started to see someone, and I’m stronger than I’ve ever been in my posture now. It’s so worth it.
CO: That’s why I saw you initially, too. We don’t realize that if we’re working from home, we’re missing out on all the extra walking that happens when you’re out in the world more often. When I’m working from home downstairs, I purposely use the upstairs bathroom just to get in a bit of extra movement. But even if you’re athletic and working out every day, there are still long periods of time when you’re not moving.
SB: Another thing that happens is that your body adapts to whatever movement you do. So not to pick on you, but sports like cycling have you bent over and aren’t great for posture. Yes, it’s fabulous for getting your heart rate up and conditioning a lot of muscles, but you need to then do exercises to pull your shoulder blades back and work on the underused hip muscles that cycling doesn’t use. No sport uses all of the body, so we always need to add in a little something to specifically keep our posture aligned so we feel great.
CO: I have to share something. We recently went skiing, and my husband videoed me. He’s a very experienced skier and snowboarder, and he pointed out my improved posture on the slopes. He says he can notice how much more aligned and upright I am, which made me feel great because I’ve been trying to be disciplined about doing my exercises in the morning and the evening.
SB: It makes such a difference when your body is balanced from right to left, front to back. No one wants to be the Hunchback of Notre Dame. If you look in the mirror, your right and left shoulder should look the same. But one is often higher than the other, or closer to the mirror than the other. The same goes for your hips, knees, ankles, and feet. So many people are just kind of “wavy” in there, and when your body tries to balance itself, it causes pain.
CO: What's something about being a business owner that you didn't expect?
SB: Right now, I’m learning how to separate myself from my business. Like when I go to the grocery store and I see someone with poor posture or in pain, and it drives me crazy! When I first got certified, I just wanted to go out and have clients all day and teach all of these classes. But marketing isn’t my favorite, so that’s been challenging, too. Thanks to you, Crystal, my ten year plan has calmed me down a lot about my expectations and timelines.
CO: So if it’s hard to separate your business from your personal life sometimes, how do you manage balancing work with marriage and having two sons? I know one lives at home while the other goes back and forth from college.
SB: My family comes first, and I’ve been fortunate to be at home with my kids. So they’re used to me being here and doing what I need to do, but they’re old enough that they don’t need me like young kids anymore. This business has given me something to focus on and also lets them see that I can have a job and work, too. It’s pretty balanced with them because they don’t need me as much!
With your guidance in the group, I realized that I need to put time and energy into this business and myself. For a while it was consuming all of my thoughts because I wanted a thriving business. But It isn’t going to be an overnight success, and I want to take time to find the right clients. The people I help are the people I help, and others will come to me when they’re ready. So I’m also very content with this balancing point.
CO: If you could go back and give your eighteen year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
SB: Well, I don't want to sound like an advertisement, but I just wish I had started this ages ago. I wish I had these tools to feel better in my body and not go through as many physical episodes. People actually associated me with back pain! Recently a friend introduced me to her children, and she said “This is Sue, she’d had a lot of back pain.”
I’m happy I’m not that person anymore. Now I have so much confidence that my body's going to be really great even into old age.
CO: Tell me about one of the most influential people in your life and how they impacted you.
SB: Oh gosh, I have so many… I’m going to pick my husband. He’s such a hard worker and has been our rock through the past two years of the pandemic. He inspires me, how he’s all-in for our family and marriage. It makes me determined to do the same.
CO: That’s amazing, because we all know that it hasn’t been easy the past two years.
SB: Oh for sure. And if anyone’s listening and they’re struggling, don’t think it’s been easy. We've had struggles. It was hard to get used to having him working from home at first. And then when they were trying to open things up again, I didn’t want him to be gone that long again! But we’ve spent time in counselling and worked on our marriage over the years.
Somebody once told me that it’s like watering a tree. You water it. You keep watering it. But you don’t see it grow because it happens so slowly. So we were watering our tree years ago, and it didn’t feel like it was doing anything. But we stuck with it, and here we are.
CO: That's such a great example. If we don't water any of our relationships, they won’t grow. The same with our bodies, minds, and spirituality. They all need to be fed.
CO: Now, is there anything that you wish that I had asked you that I didn't?
SB: I want to shine a little light on your Tribe! It came at the right time for me, and working with you has been amazing. At first, I thought working with you would really drive my business. I was going to set all these business goals and it was just going to flourish! But lo and behold, halfway through, my eldest went away to college and it sent me down a different path. I didn’t realize how challenging that would be for me. I still have the business goals and the knowledge you gave me, but now things have shifted to focus more on my personal life.
CO: They do all go together!
SB: It’s very similar to what we do with Egoscue, right? The body and the mind are working together, and you’ve got my mind thinking positively about the future while taking care of myself in the moment.
CO: I got into life coaching because I was an integrative health coach. And what I found was that most of my clients had issues with family, relationships, careers, and spirituality, and those things are more important than your nutrition and exercise. If you’re way out of balance in one area, then you aren’t going to be healthy.
SB: And we're shifting all the time. I was thinking I was going to focus on my business, but then my life said, no, let's focus on this other part. It just cycles around, and we have to really honor where we’re at. It's about patience, and that's what I love about the idea of your ten year goals and dreams.
CO: Exactly. Even though I have to tweak my shorter term goals thanks to the pandemic, for example, my ten year dreams are still there, and I feel like I can accomplish them.
SB: The longer view gives you room for things that come up, like a pandemic or family situations. It’s helped me learn to be flexible and accept things as they happen. I think as we get on in life it’s about being okay with more change and less control.
CO: So true!
Before this interview, I hadn’t really seen the similarity between what Sue and I each do for a living. She helps people keep their body in alignment so everything works better together, and I help women create alignment in their lives so the pieces of it fit together. If there is one thing I’d like you to take away from my chat with Sue, it’s this: even when things change or get hard in your life, you can still have your big dreams!
If you’d like to learn more about Sue and what she does, you can find her at www.painfreewithsue.com She offers classes, 1:1’s and is happy to answer any of your questions about Egoscue.
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