A few weeks ago I sat down for lunch with a friend at a local café. We took turns sharing updates about our lives; I talked about my recent work projects, he shared his family’s recent trip to Disneyland, I told him about a new run route I liked to go on then he interjected and said, “I should go running.” A simple thought, but it stuck with me because it highlighted the awareness that we have about things we should be doing and the disconnect with making it happen. Now, I’m not judging him for exercising or not and I believe everyone has the right to make their own decisions, but the point is that we as humans should feel fortunate that we are able to distinguish our options and choose one path or the other. For some people there isn't always a second option. Such was the case last year for Sherrie Kelley.
In March of 2013 Sherrie Kelley was over 100 pounds overweight. She felt sluggish, tired all the time and didn't have any energy. “I felt terrible,” she said. Following the advice of a friend, Sherrie went to the doctor to get some blood work done and was told her cholesterol was out of whack, her thyroid wasn't working properly and she was real close to being diabetic. If that wasn't scary enough, the doctor went on to explain potential outcomes of diabetes-hair loss, heart disease, early death. “That right there got me going,” she said. There were no more options for Sherrie. She had to lose the weight.
Sherrie didn't need to hear anymore. She promptly heeded her doctor’s advice and began doing all she could to lose weight. She started exercising and joined Weight Watchers, whom she credits for greatly aiding her fight against obesity, and learned the importance of eating in moderation and drinking water. For those who think it isn't that easy to transform your life, Sherrie would like to say that you’re right. “Before I’d grab a bag of chips and eat the whole bag. That would be my dinner. You can’t do that if trying to lose weight. You have to moderate your portions, exercise and drink water for a healthy lifestyle. It’s a lot of hard work but what you’re working towards is a life-changing attitude.”
I met Sherrie last year when she began attending the gardening classes at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. By this point she had already lost 100 pounds and had her eyes set on an additional ten. She started taking the classes because she wanted to learn how to grow her own food in an effort to save some money.
It wasn't until nearly eight months after her first class that she shared with me her story, an act which is a testament to her modesty and humble spirit. She told me all about her kale smoothies, reduced protein portions, her love of butternut squash and how her new garden is now producing enough food to share with her neighbors. “I made them some squash and they loved it too!” What I understand now is how dedicated Sherrie is to improving the lives of others. In fact, when I asked her about writing this article she said agreed without hesitation and offered her assistance to anyone else who may be dealing with a similar struggle. “If I can help one person to lose weight or avoid diabetes, I’d feel blessed. But you have to want to take the weight off. There has to be a want there. If you have the commitment, it’s absolutely possible.”
Submitted by Greg Norrish, Garden Coordinator at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.