Alison Sutherland's wellness initiative

BY PENDA HONEYGHAN

Monday, October 08, 2018

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AT five feet, four inches tall and 165 pounds, Alison Sutherland knew she was overweight, but with no major health issues, changing her lifestyle was not on her list of priorities.

However, this changed when Sutherland, now 48, joined the team at Rainforest Seafoods as special projects manager. It wasn't long before she realised her weight was interfering with her ability to carry out her job.

“I was never a fitness person and never got involved in extra-curricular activities while in high school. But my job is physically demanding — involves a lot of daily travelling — and I did not have the energy because I was obese and got tired easily, which depressed me. I knew that I needed to do something about it,” Sutherland told All Woman.

This acknowledgement, and the subsequent input of one of the company's directors, Shelagh Jardim, who not only supported her dream of leading a healthier life but facilitated a strong network of support, led to Sutherland's love affair with fitness.

“After the first time at the gym I thought I wouldn't go back, but with some prodding from Mrs Jardim I decided to try running. I found [that] while running I felt free. I was addicted to the adrenaline. She never gave up on me,” the Kingston native said.

Participating in the 2010 Chicago marathon was the first in a slew of athletic events that she would participate in over the years. Her most recent and among her most prized accomplishments was her personal placement as well as that of her company's in the Ministry of Health's corporate health and wellness challenge.

“I am happy to say that I have completed three full marathons — Reggae Marathon in 2014, Las Vegas 2016 and the Miami Marathon 2018 injury-free. Being named the 2018 top female as well as leading the Rainforest Seafoods team as captain to the title of 2018 Jamaica Moves Corporate Challenge champions are special to me,” Sutherland shared.

While it is evident that Sutherland is committed to her fitness journey, her journey has not been without its challenges. She acknowledges that her Achilles heel — food — has been the most challenging hurdle to overcome, and this has made maintaining a steady body weight challenging.

“The main challenge of living a healthy lifestyle is the food. I am a foodie and I have come to realise that I cannot eat everything in the portions that I want, whenever I want. I can run a marathon (26.2 miles), but the minute I get home I want to eat, eat, and eat some more! I am working on it, though, with the help of my mom, Normalyn Scott, who is integral in my meal prep and keeps me in check regarding my weight,” Sutherland said.

Even though we are still two months away from the end of the year, Sutherland has already been eyeing an event-packed, successful 2019 both personally as well as for her team at work, which she believes has a combination of people with incredible athletic talent waiting to be unearthed.

She is seen as a phenomenal motivator, trainer and organiser, ensuring that her team members lead healthy lives.

“Personally, I want to complete a 5,10, 20 and 40k combination challenge in one weekend. I have done the 5, 10 and 20k in one weekend, but haven't combined the 40k. For my team, I want them to continue to reign as the number one happy and healthy company in Jamaica. While working with Rainforest my fitness journey begun, and championing their fitness strategies is how I say thank you,” Sutherland said.

In the meantime, she said that she intends to monitor and maintain the system of fitness that has been set up at Rainforest to ensure all-year-round health and wellness of employees. This ranges from their participation in road races, inviting personal trainers to conduct workout sessions in office, in-house football competitions, jump-rope competitions, and well as employee health fairs.

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