Inspiration paying it forward this year

Published on Saturday, 4 January 2014 17:40 - Written by By Coshandra Dillard cdillard@tylerpaper.com

Within 14 months, Jennifer Shepherd, of Diboll, shed more than 120 pounds, or more than 35 percent of her body. Before her journey, she weighed 261 pounds.

The 43-year-old nurse began running in her 40s for the first time. In the last year, she’d also competed in three triathlons, in 5K and 10K races, and has been training for a half marathon.

To increase her chances of success, Mrs. Shepherd participated in the Lighten Up East Texas weight loss challenge, in which she lost about 56 pounds during the nearly six-month contest. She was one of 11 people honored with an inspiration award. 

When the contest ended, she lost an additional 20 pounds.

“The contest for me worked because it gives accountability,” she said.

An endurance training coach introduced her to triathlons. Ironically, Mrs. Shepherd has dealt with water anxiety, although swimming is a component of the race, along with biking and running.

“I’ve done three of those things, and now I’m hooked,” she said. “Whatever you chose to be active in, it’s so wild how those things spill into your regular life.”

Now at her goal weight, Mrs. Shepherd will be busy motivating others. She’s telling friends to get in on this year’s Lighten Up East Texas challenge, set to kick off Jan. 10 at Broadway Square Mall.

“Now what I’m doing is paying it forward. … Now I’m going to be a cheerleader,” she said.

Having group support was helpful through her journey, she said. Realizing she had a healthy dose of competitive spirit, she was glad to be a part of a team with her coworkers last year.

“Doing it in a group, you’re supporting a team. I was mindful that I was representing my hospital, the county, that kind of thing. I think having group support is huge.”

There’s no secret to her success. She lost weight little by little, about two pounds each week. Looking back, she said it was a matter of believing in her self first.

“I was shocked that I had control over it,” Mrs. Shepherd said. “All these years I’ve been overweight I don’t know who I thought had control over it but I didn’t realize that I did. It’s a very simple formula. You move more. You eat less. It may not be as fast as you want. It’s going to fluctuate, but quite simply, that’s what you do. You move more and eat less.”