Fitness in Life


A woman walking and listening to a pair of earbuds in front of a white wall with the Consumers Credit Union logo

Shawn Premer, chief human resources officer of Consumers Credit Union, talks about her fitness journey – from VHS tapes in the living room to running half-marathons! Along the way she’ll provide tips, tricks and inspiration. Listen today!





00:06 Lynne Jarman-Johnson: Money, I’m Home. Hi, everybody. This is in Lynne Jarman-Johnson from Finance to Fitness, here at Consumers Credit Union. Thanks for joining us. Oh my goodness, we’ve got a great podcast for you, today. Why? Because it’s all about goals, it’s all about fitness. And I’ll tell you what, there is somebody sitting across from me. Shawn Premer is the chief HR officer here at Consumers. But you also are truly one of those inspiring people that I just kind of tilt my head and say, “Oh, I wanna be like her.” Seriously, you are really a great fitness fanatic, you’re a fitness queen in the organization because you really bring everybody along. But thanks so much ’cause I wanna hear about your journey. Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do on a day-to-day basis to make fitness a reality.


00:49 SP: Well, it was about 15 years ago when I realized that I wasn’t getting any younger, and staying fit and healthy was a little bit harder than it used to be. And so I really started to make a life choice, to incorporate better eating and fitness into my life. So I started very slowly, worked out three days a week at home, I had little kids. So…


01:22 LJJ: I was gonna say, how… Your kids were young then and you were working.


01:24 SP: Yeah. So my oldest was seven and my youngest was one at the time and I worked full time, so it was very difficult to do so I was making a conscious decision. And I started with just getting up three days a week in the morning, and working out at home on some home videos. Back then, you still had your VHS tapes. [laughter] So I’d pop my VHS tape in in the morning on Monday, Wednesday, Fridays and really make a decision to work out. And I had to do it at like 4:45 AM because kids, once the kids got up, it was not going to happen. And so that’s when I started being healthier and making healthier food choices because I had my third baby and pants didn’t fit as easy as they used to. And so, from there, I really realized that I started to feel better. And as I started to feel better, I became more motivated to eat even better and work out even more, and now it’s just part of my life.


02:28 LJJ: Was there research that you did, or was it really where you thought to yourself, “Hey, I wanna make this.” And then every day, it just got better? What was the journey as you really started to dig into health and wellness? Because you really do lead the health and wellness teams here at Consumers.


02:48 SP: I do. And honestly, workplace wellness is important to me. I was very blessed at a young age in my career to work with a company that was kind of on the cutting edge of workplace wellness and they offered it, and it was like 1996, so nobody offered workplace wellness. And they did biometric screenings on site, which was not even a thing, but they took my blood and I realized I had super high cholesterol.


03:16 LJJ: Really?


03:16 SP: And… Yeah, so it was kind of this eye-opener for me even that long ago. So now we’re talking 22 years ago that I had some health challenges that I needed to be aware of as I was getting older. Now, at that time, I was pretty darn young and a few small changes made the difference on my cholesterol, so I had to cut out the Kraft macaroni and cheese and ramen noodles from my diet. [laughter] But ultimately, I was able to correct it. But then as I got older, that got harder to do, I couldn’t just work out sporadically and keep that under control. So, as I continued in my career and after I had my third child and kind of realized that cholesterol was getting harder to control and my waistline was getting harder to control, all of those things was really when I had to make that life decision to take it much more seriously.


04:11 LJJ: So fast forward. And you are a really good runner.


04:17 SP: Yeah, I’m alright. Yeah, yeah, I’m a runner, yes. For sure, sure.


04:19 LJJ: You are, and you do half marathons.


04:22 SP: I do.


04:22 LJJ: When did you start running?


04:24 SP: I started running about…well, it’ll be 12 years in January. I actually started running in January.


04:33 LJJ: In the winter.


04:34 SP: Yes.


04:35 LJJ: In Michigan.


04:35 SP: In Michigan. And it was funny because I had a friend who said, “Hey, let’s join this running group.” And I never ran, I did my little videos at home, I did have a treadmill that I would walk on, but I was not a runner. And there was a 1.3 mile loop in this park, where this running group met. And so we went for the very first run and they’re like, “We’re going two times around.” I could barely make it one time around, I thought I was going to die. Literally thought I was gonna pass out and die. So, I said, “I’m not going two times around, I will go one.” And then the next week, she’s like, “Let’s go back.” And I hated it, it was terrible. But every single time, it got a little bit easier.


05:20 LJJ: So what made you go back? If you truly like you’re, “I hate it, I can’t do it.” What is it that made you say, “There’s something about this.”?


05:29 SP: Well, one of my top five strengths is achiever. [laughter] So I was not going to fail, I was gonna go around that park two times if it killed me. But really it was the fun of doing it with a group and doing it with my friend and having her encourage me, and I knew it was just as hard for her as it was for me. So she kept encouraging me and we kept doing it together. And eventually, we worked our way up to three times around the park, which was about three miles and then we made another little loop to make it a 3.1 mile. And then two weeks later, we ran our first 5K. And when we ran that 5K, that was such a sense of accomplishment. It was so hard, but then I was hooked. And I knew that if I could do that, then I could keep going. And then what I learned was running became enjoyable. Once I got over that hard end… When it was hard, I get so much joy out of it so I love going and just seeing new things while I run. And if I go to a new city, it’s super fun to run and get to see new things. So I just got a lot of joy out of it, and so I ran my first half marathon in the fall of 2018. And since then, I run about a dozen so…


06:44 LJJ: And variably, I see that…


06:46 SP: Or 2008, I said 2018.


06:48 LJJ: 2008?


06:49 SP: I meant 2008.


06:49 LJJ: You truly, you like winning these. You’re like the best… And I’m not saying it… And sometimes it’s not even just for your age group, correct?


06:58 SP: No, I don’t win…


06:58 LJJ: That’s true.


07:00 SP: No, only my age group.


07:00 LJJ: Yeah, but that’s huge.


07:02 SP: So of the more mature master female…




07:06 SP: …I am sometimes the fastest. [laughter]


07:10 LJJ: So there’s two things that you mentioned that I’d love you to touch on. One is the mentorship that came along with your success. How important is that, in any type of fitness routine?


07:20 SP: It’s really important. So if you’re just thinking about starting out, like maybe you wanna run, maybe you wanna try a fitness regime of some sort. I think having a support system is the key. So whether it’s your sister, your kid, your friend, or you have access to group fitness classes, that makes all the difference. I am probably, now at 44 years old in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life, and I was a gymnast, so I was probably in a better shape then, but…


07:53 LJJ: Well, a different kind of shape.


07:54 SP: Yeah, a different kind. But in my adult life, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been. And part of that comes from doing group fitness classes and being encouraged by those around you that you can lift a little bit heavier weight, that you can push yourself a little bit harder and running with other people that will push me to run just a little bit faster. Those things really have just helped keep me encouraged. So any support system you have is super helpful. While my family, I have some kids that like to run. For the most part, they’re not into it. But my husband is my supporting foundation. Ultimately, it’s about having a good support system and encouragement. So it can be anybody in your life that you trust.


08:38 LJJ: You mentioned running in different cities, do you have an app or how do you plan what you’re going to do for that day?


08:45 SP: Yeah, absolutely. There is an amazing app out there for running, it’s called RunGo. And you can be in any city, and pull up the app and it will give you routes that are close to you and it’ll give you turn by turn directions. And then other runners will rate those routes as well. So it’s super cool because I don’t stress about it. Like if there’s 100 runners that have rated this route and said that it’s safe and easy to go to. Now, I always research the cities really well too, to make sure I’m running safely and you don’t wanna be unsafe. But I’ve even used it in towns around here, like Holland. I went to Holland and spent the night there, and I’d never run in Holland [before]. So I used RunGo to give me turn by turn directions ’cause I wanted to run by the water and I found a route that took down by the water. So you can really use it anywhere and runners all over the world use it, so it’s pretty cool and makes it easy for you. You can use it for walking, too.


09:43 LJJ: Oh, I was gonna ask that. Good, good. When you are looking at running, and I’m gonna use running but any… Put your hat on as you listen because it could be anything that you’re doing in the fitness routine and all of a sudden, adversity hits. I know, there has… Especially with running. Is there dangers of having a tear or something that can sideline you? What’s happened with you and how have you faced it?


10:12 SP: Yeah. So just this past May, a year ago, May, I was supposed to run a half marathon in New Buffalo. March 17th, I went for a 10-mile run to prepare for it and I had excruciating pain in my leg. I went to the doctor to find out that I had an injury. I actually run, which I knew that I had a tear in my right hip, found out I have a tear also in my left hip and I had never done any treatment for the one in the left hip so it was just getting weaker and weaker over time and it sidelined me. It would’ve been super easy just to be like, “No, I’m done.” But I didn’t allow it to do that. So I did my physical therapy, I did my group fitness classes, just didn’t do anything that would hurt my left leg and kept going strong. And believe it or not, just a month or a few weeks after I was scheduled to run the half marathon I had to back out of, I ran the Purple Community 5k with Consumers and got first in my age group. So it’s easy to let injuries sideline you but there’s always something else you can do instead. So I would hop on the bike and if the bike hurt that day, I would just do something for upper body and just make sure that I kept strong so I didn’t let the injury totally sideline me.


11:27 LJJ: Which really is what it’s all about. You kept doing something, right?


11:32 SP: Mm-hmm. Movement is so important and just keeping your body fit and strong, you’ll just live so much longer.


11:39 LJJ: So where is the mentality there in the sense of saying, “Okay, I have this tear, but it’s really important that I move?” Is it innate that you say, “Oh, this is danger right now, I need to slow down over here, but I can strengthen myself over here.”?


11:55 SP: Yeah, I think it’s really important for people to listen to their bodies. So one of the things I hear people say all the time is “no pain, no gain” or… That is not true. Exercise should not be painful, it should not hurt. Now it will be hard, especially if you haven’t done it before, but it should never be painful and it should never hurt. So if you’re experiencing pain, then that should be your body’s clue to stop and figure out what’s going on or take a rest for that area and don’t allow it to hurt. Usually, when people run through pain, or work out through pain, that’s when they end up really injured and then they can be completely sidelined where they can’t do anything. So listening to your body is really the key and making sure that you don’t allow yourself to be in pain. Pain is never a good thing, it will not equal gain. [laughter]


12:50 LJJ: Great to hear. I have a question that is totally on a different subject, but we call this podcast, ‘Money I’m home, Finance to Fitness.’ And one of the things that we have found is that people just don’t like to talk about money, they don’t like to personalize it, they don’t want anybody knowing their business. But to be successful, if you are not financially fit, you really do run into issues of stress in your life, stress at work. Can you tell me about a time that maybe you learned a financial tip that has been just great for you and would you just share that with us today?


13:29 SP: Yeah. Finance really is that important, wellness is not… It’s really a four-piece stool, right? It’s a four-legged stool, it’s physical, it’s spiritual, it’s financial, and it’s what you put in your body. Right? And so financial is just as big of a part because if you have financial stress, then it’s gonna… You’re not gonna feel motivated to move your body, you’re not gonna be able to afford to purchase the food you need to eat. So there’s all those pieces. So the best advice I ever had from that perspective was to think about money the same way I think about my running shoes and my diet is you have to pay just as much attention to that part of your life as you do everything else. So if you don’t have the money, don’t buy it, always have a budget. So to this day, here I am, middle-aged woman, I put everything I spend into my little budget app to make sure that I don’t overspend. It’s pretty silly, but that’s… Ultimately, I never worry about money because I know that if I live within my budget, I don’t have to worry about money. And that’s what was huge for me.


14:41 LJJ: And what a great way that you wake up every day, yeah. Well, thank you so much for today. This was awesome, Shawn. Shawn Premer, she is the chief HR officer with Consumers Credit Union. ‘Money I’m home, from Finance to Fitness.’ Thank you so much for joining us today.


14:57 SP: My pleasure.




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