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How Sue Bird Stays Healthy

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

At 41 (almost 42) Sue has finally played her last professional basketball game (I’m 99% sure…). I have worked with Sue as her personal nutritionist since January of 2018 and have supported her physical body on a cellular level through food and very precise supplementation through a knee surgery, COVID and the "Wubble", 2 WNBA Championships, the Tokyo Olympic Games, naked photoshoots, and her 40th birthday - and those are just a few of the highlights.


More is coming from Sue Bird. A lot more. Congratulations to an incredible career and cheers to health and happiness beyond basketball.


Enjoy this throwback interview I did with Sue in July of 2019, right after she’d had her knee surgery. Take notes, she gives some gems here.


To listen to the full episode, follow The Functional Performance Nutrition Podcast. This episode titled "How Sue Bird Stays Healthy" originally aired on July 1st, 2019.



Ashley

Thank you so much for doing this.


Sue

Yeah, no problem!


Ashley

Okay, so I know so much about you because well, because of what I do, right? So I feel like I know so much about your health, your biochemistry, your background, all that. But I wanted to brush up on all your stuff, all your basketball history and all of that. So I totally was on Wikipedia. This way you've been reading all about you, and there's, like, no way to introduce you. You have so many words and, like, crazy stuff. So rather than try to introduce who you are, this is how I would introduce you. I would say Sue Bird is an incredible human with incredible talent, and she's just an overall, like, kick ass person who happens to play basketball.


Sue

I'll take it.


Ashley

That's what I would say. And then if anybody listening or watching wants to look up your awards, they can Google you.


I normally kind of check in with you and my other clients just so people can see kind of when I call you guys to say, what's up? How are you feeling? All that. I kind of call it my mom check in because I feel like such a mom.


Sue

Yeah


Ashley

So how are you feeling physically?


Sue

I'm actually feeling really good. I had surgery recently, so obviously I'm not in tiptop shape or feeling like I can go play a basketball game type good, which is like, my usual barometer for good. But I think given that I just had surgery, I'm only on this Thursday, so today is Tuesday. On this Thursday, it will be my third week post that given that I'm three weeks and it's pretty fresh, I feel really good.


Ashley

And how is the surgery process? I know you've had surgeries before.


Sue

Yeah. So for me, it's kind of like, low key. I'm like, “oh, I get to have surgery!”


I get to sleep for, like, three days, and no one can say booting me about it. Yeah, I don't really mind it. And I'm lucky, though. I don't get sick from, like, anesthesia. Doesn't make me sick. Pain pills don't make me sick, even though I was only on those for like three, four days, maybe. And then I kind of got off. But yeah, the surgery went well and didn't have a lot of swelling coming out. I actually had a lot of time leading up to really get strong, because the stronger you are going into surgery, the better you'll be on the other side of it, like atrophy and all that stuff. So I didn't really have a lot of swelling, and because I didn't have a lot of swelling, I lost my muscle. But not like crazy. Like you can see it. It's there, it's alive. It just needs to get built back up. So those two things, I think for an athlete who just had surgery on, like, a limb, those two things are probably the most important because everything else is going to heal and it takes time, but the quicker the less swelling you have, and the quicker you can get your muscle back, the better.


Ashley

You were so good about doing some what they call prehab, like prehabilitation type stuff. And so we're always yelling you about protein, making sure you get any protein. I love your picture of the salmon. You're like, “I went to the counter and asked for protein, and this is what they gave me, this many grams protein.”


Sue

Yeah. So the rehab obviously you helped in that. But the rehab for me was increasing my protein intake, which has continued after my surgery as well. It's a little stuff, like some of the vitamins I go on, like, you have to go off fish oil. Luckily, I've been through this, so I actually knew that. But on the call the two days before called, when the hospital calls you to kind of, like prep you. That's one of the things they tell you. I'm trying to think what else?


Ashley

And you were moving still. Like you were keeping light movement going into it.


Sue

You didn't totally yeah, I was working out.


Ashley

Yeah, you weren't totally, like immobile, which most people would think “I have to just sit, right?” You actually want to keep it going


Sue

Yeah, exactly. Like I was saying before, it's like the stronger you are going in, the better you are afterwards. It really does make a difference.


Ashley

That's so good.


Sue

Yes.


Ashley

How are you sleeping?


Sue

I'm sleeping pretty well. Yeah. I was just saying, I'm in Seattle now, but my surgery was on the East Coast, so I kind of adjusted. And even though I've been back for like, two weeks, I'm somehow still on East Coast time, which I don't mind. I go to bed really early. I get up really early. I do laundry.


Ashley

So productive.


Sue

I still get my normal amount of time at night.


Ashley

You feel like you're not waking in the middle of the night to sleep?


Sue

Probably every now and then, yeah.


Ashley

And then do you wake up feeling rested. And are you able to fall asleep?


Sue

I fall asleep fine that is never my issue. If I ever do have problems sleeping, it's usually the wake up at 3:00 in the morning, and for some reason it takes me like, an hour to fall back asleep or whatever the case. Falling asleep, though, never a problem. I'm out within minutes. Yeah.


Ashley

Awesome.


How's your water intake?


Sue

It's a work in progress.


Ashley

How many do you think you're getting in? How many ounces?


Sue

I have no idea.


Ashley

How many water bottles?


Sue

Yeah, I don't know. I feel like there's extremes. There's definitely days or weeks where I know I'm not drinking enough. And then there's days, weeks where I'm like, I can't chug enough. That's probably because I didn't have some of the week before, maybe, but yeah, I try. I have water bottles everywhere in my apartment. It's just like an easy grab. I have one that I always keep in my car. So again, just like an easy grab. Luckily, when you're on a team, there's just, like, liquids all around you all the time. Water, gatorade. I try. I definitely try. It's a work in progress.


Ashley

Okay, good. And then for you, we were working on specific colorful vegetables. So, like, the red, oranges, yellows, greens. So what are you doing for those?


Sue

All my meals are pretty standard, like, protein, the veggie, like, whatever carb starch that I'm in the mood for. And then I just kind of, like, rotate. It's almost like I've definitely gotten to a point with my food, and for me, this is a good thing. This is going to sound boring, but I'm like, decision fatigue, so I just kind of have this, like, rotating every now and then I might open up a cookbook and try to get more creative. But lately, because Megan is at the World Cup, for the last month and a half, it's just been me. It's just easier just to be like, boom, boom, boom, done. It just depends. The other night I did a little stir fry situation, and that's like, to me, the easiest way to just be like, this veggie, that veggie, this veggie, that veggie goes in.


Ashley

So easy.


Sue

So easy. And so the more colorful, and prettier the plate is, you know you're doing it right, if it looks too boring. You didn't do it right.


Off the top of my head, I can't think of any vegetable, any protein that I don't like. So it's just a matter of that day. When I'm in the grocery store, like, today I'll do this, and this colorful stuff is not an issue. Like, it's super easy for me.


Ashley

Good. And then we went to gluten free, dairy free, or like, low lactose, I should say. And low gluten during season, so you can have those right now if you want. How has that been for you?


Sue

The gluten was probably the biggest adjustment, and that was, like, a year ago, and like you said, it was for during the season. And what made it difficult was when I was traveling. You're just kind of prisoner at times to what's available, because sometimes maybe you're at a hotel where the closest restaurant that has what you want is, like, 20 minutes, but you just don't have the time, so you have to eat in the hotel and just make it work. So that was kind of an adjustment. I mean, I did it, but I ended up having to eat things that I wouldn't have normally ate that aren’t my favorite. I like oatmeal. I don't love it. I like eggs and toast and that kind of so if they didn't have gluten free bread, I would just have to do, like, eggs, some veggies in that I usually do, like, a scramble or make them do a scramble. And a little cup of oatmeal isn't the sexiest breakfast for me, but it was good. But, yeah, the gluten was the hardest just because on the road, they don't always have the options, and sometimes it's just so easy.


Sue

You finish practice, you just want to grab an easy sandwich. Do they have gluten free bread? Okay. They don't. And then you have to figure out other ways. So that was the hardest. It's become way easier now. Once you get your little flow with it, it just becomes that much easier. Yeah, I pretty much stick with it. The other day, this bagel store from my hometown, they sent me like this huge thing of bagels. I mean, I don't even know.


Ashley

It was like twisty green, right?


Sue

Yeah, they did that. It was like a little get well package. Yes. So I've been living on those bagels the last couple of mornings. I can't help myself. They're so freaking good. They're the best bagels in the world. I've been everywhere. I've had many bagels. Best bagels in the world. I'm not even saying that lightly.


Ashley

You know, I went to New York and they said, “we have the best bagels.” And they said something, they're like, “we don't know what it is. It's in the water, it's something.” And they're like, we bake the best bagels. And seriously, I had a New York bagel and nothing will touch it now.


Sue

It's the water. It's literally the water. It's like something in the water. I don't even know it's actually the water. It's not like they're not just saying that.


Ashley

That's crazy. And just for people listening. So the reason that we went gluten free low lactose for Sue is based on her genetic variants. So you're not celiac and you're not even symptomatically gluten sensitive, I would say. But because she's an elite athlete, because you're an elite athlete, we want to prevent any sort of inflammation right in the gut, anything that could potentially cause and we're looking for minuscule ways that we can go ahead for you. So it was mostly just preventative. Like, okay, you have a couple of these variants. So in case they decide to become active, let's bring it down. So you can process lactose, but maybe your threshold might be lower than the average person. So that's why we went low lactose for you. And there are some like, lower lactose dairy products that you can have we talked about. And then so that's why she kind of flips. You kind of flip on and off season. So to make that clear for everybody, because I think there's this huge fad and saying that gluten and dairy are terrible for you. And that's where genetics come into play and biochemistry and all of that.


Because then you can actually see for this person, it might be awful. For this person, it's totally fine. And so as an athlete, I think if we can include gluten and dairy, those are such great sources of like, carbohydrate, protein and different things, different minerals and vitamins and stuff. So if we can keep those and I want to for you guys, but if there's potential for a little bit of gut inflammation or whatever, let's take it out.



Ashley

I love to ask and talk about food culture with people. So we all approach food based on the way we grew up with food. And it's kind of like every counselor will tell you you are formed as a child, and then you bring that stuff into your adult life, and then you kind of play with it and adjust it based on your environment and who you're around. But food is something that we don't really think about that's so ingrained on us as a child. And so I would love to hear the story of your food culture and kind of the vibe that was around food for you, like, as a little kid. Anything that you remember from then up through, like, elementary, middle school, and then high school, we get a little bit more independent so you can at school lunch and things like that, or ask your mom to buy this, the grocery store, pack this, and then once we ship off to college, we're, like, on our own. So then it's like, what do we buy? How do we shop? How do we cook, all that stuff. I would love to hear about your food culture.


Sue

Yeah. So my dad's a doctor. My mom's a nurse, and it's not to say that they were psycho about the food stuff. Like, my mom still brought me McDonald's for lunch every now and then in elementary school, or maybe it was more like middle school, which was, like, “Sue Bird, please come to the office.” You're like. What's going on? And then it was like, oh, my mom brought me McDonald's. So it's not to say things like that didn't happen, but it was very much a household of, like, “eat your vegetables.” I just have vivid memories of things like Brussels sprouts, where as a kid, it's like, that's the most disgusting thing. And so they would have to airplane it into my mouth. Spinach. I got sold the whole Popeye thing. That definitely sticks out. It was like, eat your vegetables. I mean, my mom made probably every standard American meatloaf, obviously with steak or chicken or whatever. For some reason. Meatloaf. I never had to endure the whole liver thing. I feel like a lot of kids have stories of having liver. I never had that. I feel lucky, but yeah, but there was also, like, slice and baked chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge or in the freezer or things like that. So I think it was actually a pretty good balance, looking back. They were never sticklers about much other than, like, eat the vegetables on your plate.


Ashley

Okay, so is it like clean plate club style? Or was it like, “try, and if you don't like it, just you had to try it,” and that was it.


Sue

It wasn't, like, strict, clean your plate. Like, “you can't get up until everything's off that plate.” You hear about kids, like, falling asleep in their meals. It wasn't like that. But I think similar to how I am as an adult, I think I was as a kid. There was not much I didn't like. I ate.


Ashley

You weren't picky?


Sue

No, not really. The pickiness that I had was I didn't like when it touched. This stayed here. That stayed here. I didn't like the mixing. I can do it a little more now. I'm now 38. Don't have them touch. But I was like that as a kid, so I was very much like, can't touch. But now every weekend we woke up to the smell of eggs and bacon every morning. Because both my parents work, like I said. So there were mornings where I woke up and it was like, the bowl, the spoon. And then it was like the cereal, the milk. All I had to do is combine. Yes, there was mornings where they weren't there, and I had to catch the bus on my own. That was the message. If my mom could make breakfast, it was like, I've laid it out for you perfectly.


I think that pretty much sums up my childhood. My dad was more like, let's go out. When it was his job. My dad was not in the kitchen. He was like, we'll go out, whatever.


Ashley

What about family meals? Did you guys eat together as a family or I can imagine you were probably so busy with sports and stuff and activities these days are, like, so much more busy than even we were. Do you guys eat as a family a couple of days a week? Or was it kind of like you're on your own, or how was that dinner portion?


Sue

Yeah, I would say 70/30. We were just on our own or like 70/30. There would only be, like, two family members. I have an older sister, she's five years older, so maybe she had an activity and it was just me, my mom and my dad, or maybe my mom had to take my sister. It's just me and my dad or something like that. So I would say 70% of the time was like that. And then there was, like, occasionally once a week, probably not that often, where, like, the four of us could get down. But it was never like the mandatory type thing that you hear from families now like that.


Ashley

Well, especially with a doctor and nurse. Those are two jobs that can go overtime very easily, and your mom worked longer shifts.


Sue

So once I got to middle school, she actually changed to be a school nurse. So then it was like a little more like she was basically working the same time as me and my sister were in school. So it worked out a little, like, just from like a time scheduling perspective.


Ashley

Yeah, more stable. Was she a nurse at your school?


Sue

She was. She was at the high school. It was fine. I only went to that high school for two years. I ended up transferring for other reasons. But, yeah, it was great. I didn't abuse it, but I definitely did if I needed to pass or something, I knew who to go to.


Ashley

That's so awesome.


Sue

Yeah, and the good thing was she was definitely, like the cool nurse, which was great because your mom doesn't have a bad rep. Imagine your mom was like, the jerk and then you're like, the daughter of the jerk nurse. It could have been but she was the cool nurse. Everybody was cool about it. Except she was cool with some of the older students and they would report back to her. I saw Sue at a party, just FYI, and I was like, what? Can I live? Yeah, not in a bad way, but I was like, man. But yeah. So it was good. It was good. No bad stories.


Ashley

Did you pack your lunch or bring your lunch or buy in high school?


Sue

In high school, buy.


Ashley

What was your favorite day?


Sue

I don't even remember. I know they baked fresh Otis Spunkmeyer cookies. And that was like, fresh out of the oven. I'll be lining up for those. Yeah. Otherwise, honestly, I don't even remember what the days were. Like, I have no memory. I know I ate. When I went to my second high school. They actually, unlike my first high school, they actually served. This is wild. There's nine periods a day and they had lunch starting at period two. So you're talking like it's 9:30 am and they're already giving kids lunch. Yeah, but you could get breakfast. Oh, I remember that. Breakfast, as it turns out, is my favorite meal anyway, so no wonder I remember that.


Ashley

That's so funny. Yeah. So did you cook with your mom a lot growing up, or were you interested in that? Did you want them to show you how to do it, or were you just kind of like in college and like, oh, my God, what I'm doing?


Sue

No, my mom taught me a lot. Nothing crazy. Like I said, a lot of what we did was very basic. But yeah, I knew how to make things once I got to college. Nothing crazy, nothing fancy, but I knew the basics, which gets you by


Ashley

Then now do you feel like you're an adventurous cook, a basic cook? Do you like to cook or would you rather have someone else cook?


Sue

No, I actually really enjoy cooking. Like I said earlier, when it's just me, I'm definitely a little more boring with it because it's hard when you're making one serving, it's, like, not as bad. So it started when I went overseas, actually. So, like, college? Yeah, I didn't have a kitchen in college until my senior year. For the other three years, I was in, like, a dorm with no kitchen. So it wasn't until my senior year where we started cooking more, then, obviously, immediately, I went to the WNBA, and I was totally on my own, because a little bit. But it was really when I started going to Russia, playing overseas in Europe, because now you're just, like, on your own in a whole different way because you're in this other country, and you can't really speak the language necessarily, so now you're really starting to cook. And that's when I started to, like I buy cookbooks, and I would try to go through all of them and just try to make everything. And at one point, I lived in this house with two other teammates, and so it was fun to get adventurous for other people.


I'd get there. And then they would have favorites that they would request, that kind of thing. So that's kind of when it first became both fun for me, but then also maybe, like, a little therapeutic. It was not like you're in Russia. People understand it's like, you're kind of bored a lot of the time. So this became this thing where I was, like, up 2 hours of my day, where I would take my time shopping, and it became this kind of therapeutic thing where I was killing some time.


Ashley

Yeah, well, and I can imagine grocery shopping in a different country is, like, a wild experience. You can't read any of the labels. You're guessing what something is, like, what spice is this?


Sue

Yeah, you figure it out. But the early parts are kind of entertaining, and then there are times where you come across a recipe you want to make, and it might have an ingredient on there that's kind of like a wild card, a good one. Okay, this is actually not a wild card, but it was very difficult to find whipping cream, and it was, like, you go in there, and it's, like, nothing's in English. So it's like a lot of things could be it. Russia is actually, I would say, a country obsessed with sour cream. They love it. They put it on everything. I mean, everything. They put it in their soups. They put it on their salads. One of my teammates would cut up tomatoes and just put sour cream all over it, and that was, like, her snack wild. And they have a huge range of percentage. I guess it's like fat percentage, the way almost like we do milk, but from one to, like, I swear, like, 50, like, this huge range of sour cream. So you go into that department, and you're trying to find something that's not sour cream, and it's just like what. We end up with sour cream instead of whipping cream. We had a translator that helped us. I would literally just be like to the translator, and then I would go to somebody in the store, and I would just try to hand the phone to someone who works in the store, and they'd be like, what are you doing? I'd be like, Push off the phone, and I'd be like, hello. But then they would take me to the aisle I need to go to. And then once you see it, once you know what it is, and then you start to read more and then you're self sufficient.


Ashley

Yes.


Sue

A lot of wildness, though.


Ashley

That's really funny and difficult. Nice challenges there with some food.


Sue

Yeah.


Ashley

Talk to me about focusing more on your nutrition now as an adult, as in a player. So from what I understand, from what you've told me, your rookie year and your initial seasons, I mean, you're focusing so much on your God given talent, you know, and you're focusing on your strength and your workouts and being strong. Like, you're focusing on your physical body, but it's more like what your body can do for you and keeping your muscle strong and that kind of thing, but less on an internal perspective. So tell me about that transition for you.


Sue

Well, I think I was in college from 98 to 2002, and my early years are, like, obviously 2002 to let's say 2008 ish. And at that period of time, it wasn't a lot of talk about nutrition. There was, but not how it is now. And I actually remember in college, we had a nutritionist come in and take our team through the cafeteria and kind of give us some tidbits. And the message we all left with was, you guys work out enough. Eat what you want. Which there's some truth to that, but never was I educated on the whole, like, to me, it comes down as an athlete. It comes down to your fueling. You're refueling, and then you're like, fueling again for the workout, right? So you're fueling for the workout, you're doing the workout, you're refueling from what you just probably killed yourself doing, and then it starts all over. It was never really explained, so luckily I had a good enough baseline where I wasn't eating like crap. Like, I was never a big snacker. I wasn't, like, selective. Like if I wanted an oreo, I had it. If I wanted a bag of doritos, I had it.


But that just didn't happen often. So I wasn't eating terribly, but my time was all messed up. I would, like, skip meals sometimes just because I didn't have time to do it or I wasn't hungry. I wasn't eating the right things at the right time. So that was my growth, I think, more than anything. But it was more so about being told you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want. It doesn't really matter because you're burning enough calories anyways. So then getting to a point where it was like, I feel like I could do more. I feel like when you start hearing people who change their nutrition and for me, it was meeting Susan Borchardt. She worked for our team, and she was kind of funny she's, like the sweetest, and she's got this blonde hair, and so she's very like this angel, right? But she kind of sends these like I was going to call her a tiger because she's not outwardly a tiger, but she knows exactly what you need to be doing. And so she'll be like, okay, this space is telling you you got to work out and do this.


Ashley

Get on it. No excuses.


Sue

Exactly, right? So she's not aggressive. But she is. But she's not. But she is. And what happened was now we work together. This is when she was working for our team. So it was kind of more like hints at nutrition to all of us, like, hey, guys, subtle hint hint. And you could pick it up or not. And then it got to a point where I was basically like I felt like I was plateauing in my career, and I was just like, all right, I need to try to do everything I can. And so her little voice was in the back of my head about nutrition. And then I basically just went to her, and I was just like, all right, I'm in. Tell me what to do, and I'll do it. And then that's when my nutritional journey began.


Ashley

Yes. You know how Susan and I know each other, right?


So her husband and my husband played basketball together at Stanford. And so we had known each other, like, on a personal level and you know your friends, careers or whatever. Like, she knew I was a dietitian. I knew she did strength and conditioning and stuff. She used to work for Stanford, and now she has Storm and stuff. But we haven't really connected on work before. Whenever we got together, it was like kids and family and visiting and all that stuff. And so she called me one day, and she's like, hey, I saw this article that you're in, and I'm super fascinated by what you're doing with the genetics and the biochemistry, and I have a couple of clients for you. I was like, okay, cool. Have them call me. She's like, no, these are athletes. And I was like, oh, well, I'm not a sports nutritionist. I'm not a sports dietitian. I don't know what to do with that. And she's like, no, they don't need the sports stuff. They need, like, next level stuff. They want to do what you're doing normally, so just treat them like you would your normal clients because they have a team dietitian.


They kind of have that stuff covered that we've been there, done that. I was like, okay… so it's Sue Bird and Megan Rapinoe. I was like, okay, I can do that. So, yeah, when you first heard that Susan was going to refer you over to me and you heard what I did, what was your initial reaction?


Sue

So I trust Susan with my life, and that obviously develops over time, but she pretty much kind of similar to what you said. This has happened before, where she's, like, read something or saw something. I actually don't have it on right now, but I wear, like, a Whoop band, which is like a tracker thing and measures you. And she kind of was like, yeah, I read this thing about Whoop want to try it? I'm like, yeah, sure. So very similar. She was like, oh, here's the deal. I want to connect you and blah, blah. And I was like, yeah, let's do it. Because to your point earlier, as an athlete, there's really not much that separates us from our competition. It's these really little, small things that change it. And that's actually how I would describe nutrition. Because for those that are like, what? I've gotten this far, I've been eating the same way forever. I've gotten this far. But it's only going to make you like it might only make you, I should say this much better, but this much is the difference. That's what people are looking for something that's going to increase them so much, but that's not what it is when you're an elite athlete. It's just this much. Anything that she thinks is going to help, this much, I'm all for. And then it ended up being, like, totally hilarious and interesting when we do the whole the initial consult, not the first one, but after all the stuff is done. Megan and I were, like, dying laughing for days on some of the stuff we learned about ourselves.


Ashley

I know. It's so funny. I say I should blind read a genetic profile and then sketch out and create the person I think it is, so much stuff about, well, right, so I know your ancestry, so I kind of know that. And then I know how you process through all your nutrients and all that kind of stuff. But then I start to learn stuff about your personality and how you handle stuff and kind of if this person I bet you this person is an athlete based on their genetic advantages, the variants that they've gotten. And then I can tell somebody who is like, if this person was an athlete, I bet either injured or their career didn't go very long because they're just, like, genetically predisposed to a bunch of stuff. But it's so funny. I learned so much stuff about you guys. So when I went through that initial stuff, what are some of the things that stood out to you? And it doesn't have to be nutrition if you don't remember anything about nutrition.


Sue

I guess I pretty much remember everything. Like, the nutrition stuff was what you said it was. The gluten and the lactose were probably like the two where it was like, oh, man, this could be, like, dramatic change. Like, no gluten. What a pain in the butt. I don't digest coffee well, or caffeine well. I kind of knew that. I was like so that's what's interesting about it. It's like a lot of stuff. If you're in tune with yourself, a lot of the stuff is like, yup, not surprised. Like, caffeine. I was like, Yep. I get, like, crazy when I drink too much coffee. Not surprising. So now I have to limit myself in that way.


Ashley

You're a slow caffeine metabolizer.


Sue

Yeah, that was like, nutritionally. I mean, the vitamin stuff, I kind of like, tell me what to do and I'll do it. I'm like, I can't get caught up in it. But the actual food, that's more like where you pay attention. So those are the three things I definitely remember. Just the Mediterranean diet stuff, which luckily, because of Susan, really, I was already kind of on that train. So that wasn't that much of like a deviation from the norm. And then you venture into the athlete stuff. And for both Megan and I was like, yeah, we're athletes. This is what it is. There was some stuff about leadership, about them being like, a worrier. So meditation is probably, as you said, it was probably something that was good for me to add. Okay, so that oh, another one in nutrition. This one I know. I knew for sure, but it was nice to have someone tell you…I don't know when I'm full, like, for sure. I know this about myself. I knew it about myself. For example. I knew for years it had happened, but I knew for years. If I'm in ever a buffet type situation, I try not to put a lot on my plate because I know whatever is on my plate, I will finish, I will eat. Yeah. If it's there, I don't know that I'm full. So I just go. Now I'm, like, really hyper, where I already kind of knew. That was an interesting one too. There's more. I'm trying to think. Yeah, the skin one, it was something with stretch marks and glycation. So I changed my lotions.


Ashley

I know it's funny because I'm a dietitian, right? So I'm like this has nothing to do with nutrition, really, but it has to do with genetics. And it's a super easy switch. So if you start taking care of

your skin now, yeah, you won't look like this.


Remember I showed you the picture? You won't look like this.


Sue

There's heart attack gene, and then there was like the Alzheimer's gene stuff that's like on the scarier side, but I'd rather know than not. And then you can kind of act accordingly. I remember some of Megan’s, which to me was the funniest ones for me, it's not funny. But the poor girl, she's got like, whatever, that she can gain weight easily. So later on in life she has to be really mindful, but then simultaneously, she doesn't get like, the exercise euphoria. Neither do I. So she doesn't like to work out, but is like predisposed to gaining weight. I was like, oh man, that's a rough combo. Whammy. But we laughed about it, so yeah, there's a lot that I remember from it.


Ashley

And so one of the things that I like to talk about with genetics, especially with athletes, and now I work with a bunch of athletes, thanks to you guys. I mean, you guys talk in the locker room and on the bus, and then I would get texts like, hey, we're playing Atlanta tomorrow. Awesome. So now I have a bunch of you. But it's really good to think about it long term, right? In this case, genetics too. So you have some gifts that you were given from your genetics, like being naturally gifted at power sports. Or there's other athletes that I do have, like, swimmers who are totally gifted in endurance. So it kind of like aligns. And you learn that from a young age, right? Like, you start by playing a bunch of sports and you'll find out naturally, like, oh, I'm super good at soccer. I'm going to keep going here, or I suck at this and I don't like this. Some of your genetic prepositions start to come out earlier, but you can only ride out those God given gifts for so long. And so I think a lot of athletes in their careers, they all of a sudden hit that wall where they're like, so I feel like I'm peaking, I've kind of written out my talent that I've been given to a certain point. Now it's like, oh, crap, now what do I do? So it's really fun for me to get young athletes, like in their 21, 22.


Sue

Yeah, I wish. Yeah.


Ashley

And that's what you guys say because it might not feel like you're doing very much like, okay, she switched my vitamin. Like, big deal. But long term, being on the appropriate form and stuff, that's going to make sure that you play into your 30s, which is so important. So I want to talk a little bit about longevity for you, health wise and kind of career wise, lifewise. So when you think about your health long term with some of the longevity things. Kind of talk to me about that a little bit.


Sue

Well, I think the first thing I would say is what I've learned now, and maybe I wish I knew it then, but I feel like I got lucky right here. I am 38. I've already kind of beaten the whole longevity thing. I'm on the other side of it. And some of this stuff, whether it's my workout regimen or my diet, didn't change till later. So I kind of got lucky in some ways, which is probably genetics, to be honest. But what I know now that I wish I knew then was just everybody's different. And you can't take, like, what one book says or what one article says or what one strength coach says, and he or she is applying that to an entire team, doesn't mean it's going to be working for you. It's not, you know, like, everybody's different. Obviously the genetic test tells you that. But even your workout regimen, which is not a test you can necessarily take, it's about maybe working with the right person. For me, it was Susan and figuring out I have a bad knee, so I have to be very mindful of how much wear and tear I'm putting on that thing.

And the minute I started doing that, or Susan started doing that, I turned a corner in this whole other way. So I think that's the thing that to me is longevity. It's figuring out what's going to work for you and what's right for you outside of what you might be like learning or being put on you from a team and really kind of going in that direction.


Ashley

So once you're done doing basketball and training for basketball specifically, what do you see yourself doing for fitness?


Sue

I don't know.


Ashley

What will you definitely not do?


Sue

I don't know. I don't know. Actually, yes, I do know one thing. You know the bike? It's called an aerodyne.


Ashley

Yeah.


Sue

And like, you do this and there's like a wind situation. If I never see that bike again, I'm totally fine with that. But I do spin class. I like it. There are days where I dreaded just like anybody, but for the most part, it's like it's 45 minutes. You get in to get out. You did something good. The pool, I have, like, a love hate. I love it after, I hate it the entire time and all the leading up just because it's like it's the pool. It's a process.


Ashley

Or do you do, like, rehab exercise in the pool?


Sue

Both. It's always like a combination. Oh, no, I thought of one that's really awful. This one's really awful. It's a megaformer class.


Ashley

Oh, I don't know what that is.


Sue

It's kind of like a pilates reformer. It's called a megaformer though. So it's got that whole pulley system, but it's different. And it's essentially pilates, like on steroids in that you're doing very similar movements. Some are different, but it's always like a slow count. So everything's like very slow and deliberate. So you'll be doing something really hard and you have to like even if it's just like a bicep curl using the chords, and it'll be like 1234 and then down one, two. So it's like a 40 minutes, 45 minutes class. And the whole time that I break, take little breaks in that class, like 20 times a class because it's that hard. It's so hard. No, I'm not joking. It's really good for you, but it's really hard.


Ashley

You want to be doing that?


Sue

I don't know. Well, that's the thing. I know the game. And I feel like there's definitely going to be like a detox period where I'm not going to want to work out at all. I already can feel it. Like, I'm not going to want to do anything, and then there's going to come a time where it kicks back in and I'm going to want to do things that are challenging because that's what I've been doing my whole life. So when a workout is not challenging, I'm kind of like, did it even happen? If I feel like absolute crap during and after that, it happens. And maybe I either have to retrain my brain or just go with it. So the megaformer is tough, but I'm sure it'll stay in some way, shape or form.


Ashley

I went to this Abby Wambach talk. She has a book. Wolf Pack. Did you read it yet?


Sue

I haven't read it, but I have it


Ashley

Yeah. So I went to this talk she gave in Seattle, and she was saying the same thing. She's like, I did a detox period and she didn't move. I think she said like three years or something. And then she just started running. And she's like, “I hate you running.”


Sue

I don't think I'd be on a treadmill.


Ashley

It's so funny to hear an athlete she probably had to run so much through her career. Now she's like, I am and making myself run. But I hate running.


Sue

Well, it's like when there's no ball involved, it's difficult. So when there's no ball or I don't even mean literal goal I just mean a goal.


Ashley

Yes, I'm doing this for this. I think it's hard for athletes to just go around on the treadmill.


Sue

Yeah, so yoga is kind of all the same. I'm probably going to have to get a knee replacement. Like, I've had numerous doctors tell me this, so I don't know how that's going to impact things. I probably won't be able to just go for a run all the time. And yoga right now for me is actually really hard because I've had both my hips surgically repaired. And so it's just like, yoga positions are really hard for me.


I can do minimal stretching or like, soft stretching, and that's fine, but yoga is tough. But maybe when I'm done and I'm not pounding my body constantly and everything has a chance to calm down, maybe yoga can enter back in.


Ashley

Yeah. Okay, well, you have a good plan going. You're going to be fine.


Sue

Let's be honest. I'm going to be like "Susan, give me exercises. I need a plan."


Ashley

Okay. And then longevity past basketball. So basketball has been such a big part of your life. Once that is over, what are some of your passion projects or things that you really want to kind of experience or accomplish or get involved in once basketball isn't like, your main focus.


Sue

I mean, that's the question right now. I've been lucky in that I have stopped going overseas or I had stopped like, four or five years ago. So I've had some time in the off season to try some new things and see what my post basketball career or life will look like, but also simultaneously still play. So I dipped my toe in a couple of waters. I've tried some commentating, which I actually enjoy. I've done some front office work with the NBA, which is cool, learned a ton, and I think it's just going to be about in terms of job, like, figuring out just what I enjoy. I don't want money to be the driver in any of that. Outside of that, the WNBA is still something I'm really passionate about, and I want to grow, so I can't imagine I'm not trying to help in some capacity with that. I feel like there's been a big miss for me in terms of the city of Seattle, the community, and being able to be hands on with kids and camps and things of that nature just because I was always gone. So there's like sometimes I think about that type of thing, like starting some sort of basketball camp here in Seattle and seeing where it goes.


I don't know. I'm like, clearly I don't know what I want to do, but I've seen good options.


Ashley

Yes. Oh, my gosh. Okay, so a couple of follow up questions. So you're a bi-coastal girl. Do you see yourself staying west coast or do you think you'll ever move back east coast?


Sue

I feel like we'll always have both something east coast and west coast. I can't imagine giving up either, to be honest with that. I totally understand that there could be a job that opens where I have to be somewhere permanently, but I still think I'll keep an apartment in both areas. I really do. I can't I just don't see it any other way. It's like I'm from the east coast. All my family and friends are out there, but yet I grew up in Seattle in some weird way, like from 21. Now this is where I've spent except for those months in Europe, this is where I've spent all of my time. Like my American time, where, like, 90% of my American time has been spent here. So I grew up here. I became an adult in Seattle.


Those formative like twenties where you're on your own and you're figuring things out. So this is like my city in that way. So it would be hard to give that up. And, like, the Storms here, I always have that connection. Yeah, I'll be in both for sure. Even if I got a job in Arkansas, I'm keeping these two. There's no way. I'm not.


Ashley

Well, you've been traveling to Denver a little bit. How's it been with the Nuggets?


Sue

It's been great. It's been great. It was like the perfect little I was going to say segue. I don't know if that's the right word, but it's been this nice little half in, half out kind of commitment where I was pretty much going there once a month and staying for, like, a week, sometimes a little bit more, going to practices, going to games, being in the meetings. So when I was there, I was, like, all in. But they were totally respectful that I was still playing. And I still kind of had this other hat to wear, which was like my own hat. So I had, like, the Denver Nugget hat where I'm like a Denver Nugget employee. But then I'm also, like, I am still my own thing, because when you're an athlete, I hate using the word brand, to be honest. It's kind of the only thing that fits you're, like your own little brand. I still had to do things for that, and they were totally respectful of that. So I would leave. I would do that when I wasn't there. I would actually scout a little bit. I went to some UW men's basketball games.


Actually some random games on the East Coast as well. Watched a lot of video, that kind of thing. But like I said, they were really cool about letting me kind of have my own time. So then I got to flip back and forth. So it was like a perfect middleman type of experience where I got to do both. And I loved it. I learned a ton. The NBA is, like, obviously a thriving business, but it's a well oiled machine, and there's a lot that goes into just choosing a team. It's so much different from the WNBA. So it was cool. And I really feel like I learned a lot that I can take back to the WNBA as well.


Ashley

And it's been so fun to watch different WNBA players now getting involved in the NBA and coaching. Have you ever thought of coaching at all, or is that something that you've played around with?


Sue

Yeah, I played around with it. The only thing that's really been, like, a deterrent is that being a coach is kind of the same life as being a player. Meaning you're traveling, you're on the road. It's just from one game to the next. And it's a different job, obviously, but it's the same life. And so I've always thought, do I want to live the same life again? Like, I just live that life. That's kind of, for me, the biggest deterrent, but the actual act of coaching, obviously, I love. I feel like I'm already, in some ways, like an extension of the coach on my own team.


Ashley

Yes.


Sue

Because they're so young. So I'm constantly trying to help them out, give them advice and that kind of thing. But, yeah, it's in the back of my mind. And actually, Denver was open to even, like, me getting more involved in the coaching for them. Nothing permanent. It's hard to have somebody in and out when you're in a coaching role, but they were, like, open to me being in that. And I just wanted to experience more front office stuff because I never get to see what that's like. Whereas coaching, I kind of have an idea what that's like.


Ashley

Yeah. Oh, that's awesome.


You have some passion projects going on now. I want to hear about them.


Sue

I have a list. Most recently, Megan and I did this little collaboration with Uninterrupted, and it's for Pride Month, and it's to kind of bring awareness. So Megan myself linked up with this designer to do this hoodie and it's pretty amazing. Like, just the response. Again, it's all about bringing awareness. And this poor little boy, Nigel, he ended up committing suicide because he got bullied for being gay. And he was wearing at the time this sweatshirt that had, like, a rainbow across it. And Megan, like, deserves all the credit on this. First of all, she was going to be a fashion designer or something in the fashion world. She's already got her own business going.


Ashley

Yes.


Sue

You know that. Yeah. She's on her way. So she totally took over on the call and was like, okay, I think we should take the rainbow, put it on the back. We should have stuff down the arm. So she was really, like, the creative behind it all. I was just kind of like, yes, whatever Megan said sounds good. Yeah, but it was cool because, sadly, this is good and bad. So the initial idea was, like, all right, we'll make X amount of hoodies, and we'll send them to we made, like, this whole list, and some of it Uninterrupted made because they have, like, LeBron on there because Maverick Carter and LeBron kind of started uninterrupted and then, like, various different NBA players, and we kind of got to add our input. And it's only, like, 200, 250 people who got the hoodies. And the whole idea was that by sending these people these hoodies, they were accepting and kind of signing, like, not literally, but signing this pledge that they were also going to spread awareness and do this and do that. And what we found was like, everybody was like, where can I buy one? Where can I buy one? Where can I buy one? We're like, oh, my God, they're not for sale. That wasn't the initial goal, I guess, to sell and have proceeds go to but that wasn't the initial goal. So I don't know. It's been pretty cool to see people kind of light up at it. It's a really dope sweatshirt. But, like, what it means is even better. So it's been fun.


Ashley

That's awesome. And then any other collabs coming up or anything that you any companies you want to start later?


Sue

Not right now. I don't know.


Ashley

You got enough on your plate.


Sue

Yeah. It's been a really amazing, crazy offseason and, like, so busy, but in the best ways.


Ashley

That's awesome.


Sue

That's just the most recent thing that's been going on.


Ashley

Yeah. Well, I love it. I saw the sweatshirt and I saw the thousands of comments like, where's the link?


Sue

I know. And it's like, even like, friends or teammates or whatever. Like, oh, what's up? Where can I get one? And I'm like…


Not in a bad way, but I'm just like, they only made this many. I don't know.


Ashley

The sweatshirt is beautiful, and I love it. I love that you guys are getting more involved in that. And Megan is amazing with her fashion.


Sue

She is. She's got an eye. Sometimes the stuff she puts on, I'm like because she'll get dressed or something. And then she'll be like, how's this look? And I have to literally go, give me a minute. Because it's like my initial response is like, what? It's like, wild. It's whatever. And then I literally say, “I'm going to put my Megan goggles on.” And then I come back and I'm like, okay. I like it. I see where you went with that. And she was like, yeah, I know. I'm like because sometimes I'll be like, no, that's too much. She's like, no, I like it. She's just on, like, a whole other level. Literally.


Ashley

She's so fashion forward.


Sue

Yes. She'll send me, like, a link to a pair of shoes, and she'll be like, oh, my God, you have to get these. And I'm like, I don't know. And then, like, a month later, I'm like, okay, I'm ready. I want them now. Or all of a sudden, I've seen three people wear the shoes that she was telling me about, like, six months prior. And she's like, see, I told you. And I'm like, Damn it. Yeah, it's a talent. It's like she loves it, so it comes easy to her, but it's really, like a talent.


Ashley

Yeah. It's amazing to see what she's doing and just what she wears is so fun.


Sue

I know, she's funny.


Ashley

Okay, last kind of like wrap it up question that I like to ask people, and I'll tell you mine first, and then I want to hear yours. So I always think about how many different decisions we make throughout our life that could have totally changed the course of our life. Like, we could have lived somewhere else. We could have been with another person, we could have done another career. I mean, there's so many different little decisions that you make throughout. And so one of the things I like to think about, especially since your career, ends up taking up so much of your identity and who you are and how you spend a lot of your time. So I obviously became a dietitian. There's a road to what happened with that. But if I went back and I totally had to choose something totally different, kind of knowing what I know now, almost like hindsight, if I couldn't be a dietitian, I think I'd be a paramedic. Okay. I love the rush, the adrenaline, and I love health care and medical stuff. I got a little bit of that in residency and stuff. So I did a ride with Life Flight, which are like the helicopters and got to be with firefighters and stuff because IV nutrition you have to do for trauma patients and burn victims and all that stuff.


So I kind of got a little piece of it, but I think it would just be a really cool job and be a little bit flexible because they do these long shifts and so, like, I'm a mom and so I was like, I'd totally be like a firefighter, a paramedic, which is so funny and so different than what I do now.


Yeah, so if you could go back and maybe it's not even athletics…


Sue

This is going to be really boring. I already know what I'm going to say. It's going to be pretty boring.


Ashley

What would you do?


Sue

What would I do? I feel like I was born to be an athlete. There's no way around it. When I think about my childhood, all I was doing is constantly playing. I was either like, playing a sport or I was riding my bike to go play a sport or just riding my bike or climbing a tree or, like, doing something. That's what I was made to do. So if I were to pull out, which is somewhere in this house, to be honest, if I were to pull out my fifth grade yearbook and it's like, because you're graduating well, for us, it's like you graduate middle school and it's like, name, blah, blah, blah. And then it's like what you want to be when you grow up, some sort of question like that. And it was like, be a lawyer and accountant, which is like, I'm sure I said those things because that's what everyone was saying and that are like doctors, like the two jobs or the three jobs. So it's like, I either want to be a lawyer, an accountant, or a professional soccer player. And the truth is, if I didn't play basketball, I would have gone down the soccer route.


So I feel like it's kind of a boring answer because it's not that different from what I'm already doing, but it's the truth.


Ashley

And when you think about now, a lawyer or accountant, do they interest you at all now?


Sue

My sister is a lawyer. I have a lot of friends who are lawyers. And every now and then they would tell me stories of mediators, like, when they have to go to and there's, like, someone you hire to come in and, like, you have this side, you have this side, and then there's this neutral person. I think I'd be a really good mediator. You would either yeah, I'll bring this back to you. Actually, in my genetic thing, it says my level. I don't know how to word this, but my empathy is, like, above normal, and I totally see that in my life. And all I have found is that I can easily, as much as someone can I can put myself in other people's shoes. I think that plays to empathy. And I think as a mediator, I'd be really good because I can like, even when I have, like even in my own little life with friends and whatnot, I can usually help settle things because I can like, okay, I see what you're saying, and I see what you're saying, and I can try to help people see what the others is saying.


Okay. Maybe mediator would be my thing.


Ashley

There we go. That's such a good talent.


Sue

Yeah.


Ashley

Empathy. I remember. I remember your empathy, and Megan was like, “oh, my God. So right on.” It was so sweet.


Sue

But sometimes it's a detriment. Sometimes it's like, you want to be you don't want to see other people's sides because you want to, like I don't know. And then I'm like I do, and I get soft about it.


Ashley

And it's hard to teach, too. It's like something that you have to really work on, especially with little kids. Like, teaching empathy and to be so naturally empathetic is such a great thing.


Thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for doing this with me. Is there anything else that you wanted to say to the world or with nutrition or health or life?


Sue

No, just Google me and you'll find it all anyway!




Learn more about my assessment process with Sue here!


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