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THE JOURNEY STARTS

Ex-athlete aims to improve her health

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THE JOURNEY STARTS

Susan (Laymon) McCreath ranks among the best volleyball players in San Jose State’s modern history. Her 2,330 career assists is 8th on the all-time list. McCreath’s competitive spirit has been chan...

Photo courtesy of San Jose State University Athletics/


POSTED January 14, 2014 1:39 a.m.

The high blood pressure and sleep apnea.

Panda Express lunches compounded by pizza dinners.

The baggy sweaters and loose-fitting jeans that hide what she calls an “office butt.”

Somewhere, trapped beneath all of those layers, under all that cover, lies the real Susan McCreath.

She’s sure of it.

“I have every just about jean size in my closest,” the 45-year-old mother of four said with a sincere yet sorrowful chuckle, “and I’d like to start working my way back.”

McCreath wants to lose more than excess weight and inches this year. The vice principal at Lincoln and French Camp elementary schools wants to regain a life she says has spiraled out of control in the last five years.

McCreath took her first steps on Friday afternoon, stepping through the door at Manteca’s CORE Athletic Performance and into the office of owner and lead trainer Robert Iniguez. In conjunction with The Bulletin, Iniguez has offered to provide one Bulletin reader with 12 months of its top membership, as well as nutritional advice.

The contest has been dubbed “The Year of You,” and now it has its face. That lucky participant is McCreath, a former Division I college volleyball player turned working mom.

McCreath, formerly Susan Laymon, played for the Spartans from 1986 to 1989, ranking among the program’s all-time single-season leaders in assists in a game (69) and season (1,289). Her 2,330 career assists are the 8th best total since 1984. 

“One of the hardest parts for me … I played volleyball in college at a very high level for many years,” she said. “That sticks in my mind. I used to play beach, grass and train year-round. I had under 10-percent body fat. Then I graduated, got married and had kids. The focus turned to them and my career.”

With only two children left in high school – twin daughters Madison and Samantha are freshmen at Ripon High – and her weight hovering around 250 pounds, the 6-foot McCreath is ready to steal back some of that focus.

She stepped with trepidation through CORE’s door on Friday, but those nerves were soon turned into excitement. She spoke for about an hour with Iniguez about the program and the expectations and the obstacles they would face.

They toured the facility while Iniguez went into greater detail about the year-old facility’s amenities and various classes.

McCreath and Iniguez will work together almost exclusively over the next 12 months. Iniguez has agreed to help her shop for groceries and prepare meals, while providing her with physical training and a gym.

“You can’t outwork your diet,” Iniguez cautioned.

Iniguez believes he can awaken the athlete inside McCreath and help her reach her fitness goals just as long as she remembers why she asked for help in the first place. To keep her accountable, the 28-year-old trainer asked McCreath to create a vision board at home, hanging it somewhere prominently. On that board, he wants her to list her goals and motivations, as well as pin photos, as daily reminders of her journey.

“It’s about finding a reason to do it, and not that I want to look good. That will fade,” said Iniguez, who specializes in athletic training. “We want to find what really motivates you; what brought you to this point of getting here.”

McCreath’s motivations are many, the least of which is losing weight. She has no aspirations of being 145 pounds with a body fat percentage in the single digits.

That was another life, she said. However, she’d like to feel fit and functional at about 170 pounds and equipped with the knowledge to continue her transformation after her year-long contract with CORE has expired.

She would like to keep pace with an athletic, active home. Her oldest son Jake McCreath is wide receiver with the Modesto Junior College football team. Samantha is involved with athletics at Ripon High, while Madison has a passion for fitness and running events. Her other son, Josh, is a firefighter in the military.

One of McCreath’s immediate goals is to participate in a mud run with her daughters.

“There’s a thing in me that thinks I can kick my kids’ butts,” she said.

She also wants to ditch the blood pressure medicine, which she says is the genesis of her weight gain. McCreath was diagnosed with high blood pressure after a visit to the emergency room with an irregular heartbeat.

She also suffers from a sleep apnea, a realization that stems from an embarrassing stay with friends.

“They said I should go see a doctor because I stopped breathing,” she said.

Now she stands on the cusp of a change, a journey Inigues warns will be long and grueling.

McCreath is ready to peel back the layers.

“The joke at home was that I would wait until I got to be 300 pounds and then I’d go for The Biggest Loser,” she said, “but then I saw this and knew this was it. This was the one I needed to do.”

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