For as long as I can remember, I have been terrified of getting old. While there is quite a bit of longevity in my family, most of them that lived into their 90s (my great grandfather until 104 and his mother until one hundred) lived like old people for all the years I knew them. Noticing that from an early age, I have been obsessed with how to stay youthful for life, and in my quest to do so, I’ve taken notes from those who seem to be mastering the art of staying young well into their 70s and 80s. While attending nutrition school, one of my favorite teachers, Dan Buettner, who studied the Blue Zones of the world, where people live the longest and healthiest lives, created a bucket list of qualities of the centurions in each region. Flash forward and I now teach for The Blue Zones Project, helping others to live their healthiest, longest lives.
Because this is a topic that I am completely obsessed with and super passionate about, I’ve decided to put together a series on how to age youthfully, featuring some of the most inspiring “youthful agers” I know.
So without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to my first inspirational “youthful ager,” 74-year-old, “Surfer Susie”. I discovered Susie via a viral video she made expressing her pure stoke over some waves she had just caught and with colorful language and the most genuine personality I had seen in a while, I thought, gosh, this is the coolest chic and I wanna be just like her when I am her age. At the same time, I noticed the years of sun that showed so beautifully on her skin. On a whim, I decided to reach out because I was truly becoming obsessed with seeing if my skincare products (O’o Hawaii) and in particular our sun damage repairing serum, Golden Nectar, would fade some of those glorious sunspots. To my surprise, she responded to my message and graciously accepted the samples I offered, and the rest was history. I would love for both my H Lyfe Method followers and O’o Hawaii to get to know Susie just a bit better!
Holly: Aside from having the water in your blood as a Pisces (water) sign, what inspired you to surf?
Susie: Around 1959 I was staying down in San Diego with my aunt and uncle, and I wanted to see a movie. Of course, they wanted me to see something more refined, but I picked Gidget and after I saw it, I said I’m gonna be a surfer girl. My parents bought me a board and I went back to school, and I told all my friends I’m this surfer girl and I hadn’t even been in the water yet.
Holly: You must have seen so many changes in the surf scene since you started.
Susie: It’s unbelievable. I hardly know where to start. Back in the 50s and 60s, it was just kids you went to school with. All over California, it was that way. Junior high and mostly high school kids. You didn’t see old people or even families or adults. These were just the surf beaches. I never even wore a leash. I learned back then how to not lose my board. When shortboards and leashes came to town, it totally changed surfing. Longboarding was a whole different vibe, a whole different mentality. Over the years it got so crowded, and the surf schools just clog up the water…..that’s when I stopped surfing for a bit. Every time you go out everyone looks at it like it’s a contest or something. I’m an old SKOOL small wave soul surfer who surfs for the serenity of it all which totally feeds my STOKE!
Holly: Flashing forward to now, what time of day do you like to surf?
Susie: Anytime. I just go by the tide. It goes to shit if the tide is too low or too high. I love to surf mid-morning best though!
Holly: What’s your board of choice? Size and shaper?
Susie: I have a 9’6” Surf Tech soft top epoxy now, but I love a 10’0. Never surfed anything smaller than a 9’6”. I like epoxy boards now because they’re lighter and easier to carry. One thing is I’ve always knee-paddled into waves. As I’ve aged, the softer, rubber top with extra padding has been much gentler on my knees than a glass board. It just bothers my back to prone paddle (on my stomach). I have arthritis in my spine, and you just have to make adjustments as you age. I’m a team rider for Jbay Fins and only ride with my old school Jbay Fin (@jaybaydesign) and I’m a Team Betty Surfer as well. (@bettybelts)
Holly: I know you’re married and have children and grandchildren. Do any of them surf?
Susie: My husband is a kick-ass nose rider and I always surf with him. He’s also my board caddy, ha! I go out in anything. I go out in shit city. An inch, white water, doesn’t matter…. husband wants perfect conditions. I like to do my own thing. I don’t talk in the water much but I do love to call out my waves (speaking to the ocean yep I’m crazy) and I’ve been heard yelling & cussing out the ones I miss. I’m now more of a small wave surfer. I used to surf the big stuff. Ya gotta know your limitations. I enjoy longer period sessions now. (longer breaks in between wave sets). Our son surfs and of course, we taught the squids aka grandkids.
Holly: What is your background? (Professional/family, etc.)
Susie: Got a scholarship and went to beauty college. I actually wanted to study science but was always doing my friends’ hair and makeup and nails so when I got the scholarship, decided to do that and worked in the hair industry for a few years.
I was a heavy smoker for years and loved smoking, but one day when I was in my 30s I realized I was in bondage and didn’t want them anymore. I called my husband and told him I’m not smoking anymore and quit and decided to just get into fitness. I thought the instructors were a joke in most of the fitness classes I had attended so I said to myself, I’m gonna be a group exercise leader and I’m gonna be the best. I then got over ten certifications becoming an instructor, then a trainer, then an aerobics coordinator, and at one point ran eight fitness clubs at one time. Teaching, and presenting workshops in southern California…….it snowballed into all of that. For the last 15 years of my career, I was spinning (bike) and then retired. The whole time I was surfing off and on and busy with kids. Later in life, I decided to get back into surfing. I gave up the classes and really got into surfing in retirement. Walked away from gym life. It really did pay off being in the fitness industry all those years. I kept moving and that’s why I’m still moving today.
Holly: We’ve talked a lot about movement but what does your diet look like?
Susie: I don’t cook at all. My husband is the chef. Basically, I don’t eat a lot. I get full quick, but my big thing is chicken. I’m like a chickaholic. Not much of a red meat eater. Veggies and Fruit. Dark chocolate. I’ll eat a little bit at a time. I do intermittent fasting of which I’m a believer. Dawn patrol for years up at 4:00 am got me going to bed early. I get tired early. Eat early.
Holly: It’s no surprise you seem to be doing all the right things, Susie.
Susie: I don’t feel right if I’m not training. My digestion doesn’t work right. Energy is low. I feel lethargic. My whole body feels that way. My husband is the exact same. He’s very active. He was a pro road racer and cyclist. Now he keeps busy as a musician, and he surfs and skates. Yep, I’m a fanatic about staying active and since I’m still surfing at 74 it’s definitely paid off.
Holly: What advice do you have for people that think they are “too old” to do things like surfing?
Susie: Mindset. People get so worried about what people think of them. Am I gonna be able to do it? How am I going to look doing it? Do what you love. Sometimes you don’t know because you haven’t done anything. Try everything and anything to see what you love. I’ve always liked swimming and jumping rope. If you’re doing something you love, you’ll stay motivated. Find what turns you on. You have to nourish it and feed it but you just have to find it. So many people stop before they start because they don’t know where to begin. Try everything. Who cares what anybody thinks? You just gotta get off that. There’s just something about being active that besides making you feel better, it just does this thing with your head. The endorphins, it really does work. You can do anything you want, anything in moderation. You don’t have to give up life but so many people just don’t know how to moderate. It’s 90% food, cardio is more for your heart and lungs. Exercise makes you feel better. It’s huge. If you feel good, you think you look good. Maybe you’re not supposed to base everything on the way you look, but it’s just the way we are. Start with the interest first and go from there. If you can’t do anything else, just walk. People tend to think they are fitter or more healthy than they actually are. Start slow.
Don’t overwhelm your body.
Holly: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start surfing?
Susie: GO FOR IT!!!
But be prepared to GET THE STOKE and there’s no turning back after that. HAHA! To beginners, I would say look both ways before you pop up, learn the basic dos and don’ts, and paddle, paddle. Know your limitations and stay safe. Oh and have fun! After all, the best surfer out there is the one having the most fun!
“You’re never too young to start and you’re never too old to stop.”
Holly: Do you have other hobbies?
Susie: My fitness life and surf life are my lifestyle. I wouldn’t call either a hobby. I love disc golf but I’m more of a spectator. My son and husband are serious players. I just go to watch and hike and take photos. I love reading. I’m an avid mystery fan. My Bible is my real book of choice. I love old black and white movies. When I have time, I love taking photos and scrapbooking. I’m not a serious collector but beach combing is a blast. Love finding sea glass and odd finds. I just spend most of my time, when at the beach, scouting for waves to ride! But mostly staying active and being outdoors. I can become hugely depressed if I don’t have the sun on my body.
Holly: So tell me and our readers about your current O’o Hawaii skincare routine. The transformation is really quite incredible. If you look at videos from a year ago in your feed versus now, there is a pretty significant improvement.
Best products I’ve ever used in my life. So grateful. I love your products. I received the products you sent and they just sat there for a while and then all of a sudden, I thought, I really need to try this product and you know, if I like something I’ll tell it to the world. If I don’t like it I’ll also let you know. Once I got into it, this stuff’s the shit. I love it. I’m a hot or cold kinda gal.
My fave outside of Golden Nectar are Soar and Birdsong. My favorite thing about your products is that you don’t have to use a lot of it. That’s what makes it nice. You don’t have to use a lot to get really good results.
If you’re interested in trying O’o Hawaii, use Susie’s code SUSIE20 for 20% off!
To continue to be inspired, follow Surfer Sue on IG @surfersusie66 and on TikTok @therealsurfersusie and of course check out our feature on Susie on the gram @hlyfemethod and @oohawaiibeauty