Everyone has a story. For some it’s a story of wanting something more, for others it’s a story full of tears, heart and determination. Our series “Sole Stories” will give you a glimpse into what drives women to change their lives and their “soles.” We’re taking a little different approach to our “Sole Stories” series. I met Sherita Parks when we launched the Black Girls RUN! Hampton Roads running group. The more I ran with her, the more inspired and intrigued I became (and I know I’ve only scratched the surface). In this “Sole Story” Sherita explains what prompted her to make a drastic change in her life and how others who may be in the same position she was in, can do the same.
I started running one year ago, October 2010. I had run in the past and did some serious damage to my right knee because I didn’t have the help and guidance that I needed (i.e. buying proper running shoes, allowing your body rest days, slow and steady). I have always worked out but mainly stuck to strength training. Weight loss has been a never ending battle for me since I had my son 19 years ago. My weight would fluctuate up and down and I had learned how to diet and exercise very well, losing 80 – 100 lbs the good old fashioned way at least twice in my life. In early 2005, I was diagnosed with diabetes. My father had already had a stroke and two amputations from diabetic complications and I was determined not to see that happen to me.
Thus, I began my quest to lose the weight (AGAIN) and fight this disease. I began exercising 6 days a week, sometimes twice a day and was barely losing weight and my blood sugars were still quite high. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I’m the queen of research so I also began combing the internet and reading any articles I could find about diabetic success stories. One article I read really stood out for me. It was about two French doctors who had done studies to show that 90% and above of diabetic patients who had gastric bypass surgery were either cured or their A1C’s were greatly improved. At first I was very resistant to the idea but I kept digging and began to pray about what God’s plan for me would be to battle this disease since I had tried everything else under the sun. I told God that I would be open to whatever he showed me and made an appointment to talk to a doctor and some other ladies who had had the surgery. Many of those ladies shared their own personal success stories with diabetes and how it went away after they had the surgery and the one thing that really stood out for me was that their quality of life was so greatly improved and no one regretted the decision.
I had my surgery in November of 2005 and to my shock, I went from taking insulin the day before surgery to not needing it at all from the moment I had the surgery (and I hadn’t even lost the weight yet). I have not had to take any diabetic medications since that day and although they say once a diabetic, always a diabetic, my A1C’s have stayed consistently within the healthy range for the past 6 years now. To be true to myself and honor God for healing my body in this way, I am a stickler for “doing my part” to stay healthy. I look at the surgery as only a tool that God used to get me on my way. I eat pretty healthy for the most part and have kept exercise as a priority in my life. Running is just a new love for me. I love it because it feels like a metaphor for life with its ups and downs, days when you don’t feel like continuing on but you do it anyway. I also view it as my Thank You to God for giving me my health back and I want to be an example for other plus sized girls out there who need some help to get moving. I would much rather see a sister get her weight down through diet and exercise so that she doesn’t get diabetes in the first place so I have made it my mission in life to help all those who come into my path and need some encouragement.
Some of my friends on the BGR! Facebook page call me “Runner Stalker Girl” because I immediately begin stalking (as they like to call it) the newbies and cheering them on. I began training using a 5K program that allowed me to gradually run longer and walk less and within 10 weeks I was running a full 30 minutes and I was stoked, to say the least. Once I reached that goal, I decided it was time to take my training on the road and I went from treadmill training to black top and trail running. It was hard at first and my joints let me know it. To keep myself motivated, I signed up for my very first 5K, Cause for PAWS. It was a small local race with 100 or so people so it was a good place for me to start and I enjoyed doing something to support my furry friends at the Humane Society. On September 4, 2011, I ran my first half marathon with more than 25,000 other people. I was told by several people that I couldn’t do it and that I was crazy for even considering it with my past knee problems. Fortunately for me, if you tell me I can’t do something it usually happens….even if it kills me.
I don’t know what’s next for me but I do know that I will run for as long as I can and am thankful for all of the new sister friends I have met through BGR!. And for those who can’t run yet, just get out there and move. I and many others will be there cheering you on as you crawl, walk and eventually run. We all started out somewhere!