Industry News

Root Awakenings: Suzy Preston

Web Editor | July 10, 2011 | 6:16 PM
Mary Beth Janssen chats with Suzy Preston about losing big and finding happiness.
Root Awakenings: Suzy Preston
The new Suzy with boyfriend Matt Hoover.

Twenty-eight-year-old hairdresser Suzy Preston has been taking care of clients for 11 years. Her personal transformation began when she appeared on NBC's "Biggest Loser." She finished as a runner up, but with a weight loss of 95 pounds-from 227 to 132-she's definitely a winner. Suzy's experience has impacted how she works and how she balances her life.

"I'll be a hairdresser my whole life. I love it, and now, my weight loss has made it much easier for me to make it through my workday with energy to spare. Having so much less weight makes it easier to stand over the length of the day.

"Those of us in this industry are giving to others all day long. We become counselors for our clients. We listen to their problems and become their sounding board-and they do vent. Unless we know how to keep ourselves grounded, all the stuff we take in can start to take its toll.

"I love being able to make people feel better, but I wasn't taking care of myself.

"I was always doing for everyone else; it felt selfish when I took time out for me. My outlet was eating. It became my addiction and would soothe my emotions.

"When the ‘Loser' opportunity came about, I knew it was the best situation for me to be put in a new environment, uprooted from my home, where I had no choice but to only focus on me-no distractions.

Suzy before her 95-pound weight loss.

"It was big for me to put myself at the top of the to-do list above my clients, and not work 12 hours just because someone wanted her hair done. People can get very intense-and demanding. There were days that I thought, ‘I need to go into counseling because of all this stuff I'm carrying from my clients.' I couldn't breathe sometimes! I know many hairdressers struggle with this. We need to learn how to cope in a positive way.

"I've learned to protect my energy. I don't extend my workday to squeeze in clients and I look after myself. In the process of taking off the weight, and really tuning into my needs, I realized I have to say no-something that I've struggled with all my life. That's doing something valuable for me.

"I now have these skills to observe when I'm not honoring myself. I can see when I fall into my old patterns-and stop myself. This takes a lot of inner work and healing.

"Going through this process, I learned so much about myself emotionally. Being overweight is the outward reflection of the real root of the issue.

"Eating was my coping mechanism, so I had to learn different coping strategies, and more importantly, see the behaviors that are making me need to cope. I'm working at not putting myself in these situations.

"I've learned to be very honest with people, to say, ‘When this happens to me, I want to eat, so help me out here!' Reaching out for help is huge, because when you tell people about a problem, it sets it free. It's no longer hidden."

Suzy has continued her journey by exercising 90 minutes a day. She's now dating Season 2 winner Matt Hoover.

"Going through this was life-changing. We're not the same people we were. We both know what it's like to be fat and miserable-and what it's like to be happy and healthy."

To other hairdressers struggling with body issues, Suzy offers this advice and encouragement. "Make sure you take time for yourself. Don't let what you do-helping others-take over your life. It is your livelihood, and a beautiful one. But it's not your life. Refill your own well before it runs empty."

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