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More proof that age is only a number! lucyPRO Shari Holbrook just turned 60 -- a milestone for anyone but especially for a woman who was diagnosed with a debilitating disease in her late 40s. To lift her own spirits, Shari reviewed her accomplishments over the past decade and came up with an action-packed list that would make anyone proud. Here are some of the highlights: She became certified in Pilates, personal training and Zumba. She still teaches Pilates, organized a Zumbathon for Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), started running, and ran several 5Ks and three half marathons to support CCFA, biked 161 miles across the state of Indiana, learned yoga, paddleboarding and paddleboard yoga. She has also volunteered for and led many other fitness activities for charities related to health.
How did you find out about your disease?
I was very sick – you know how you know you don’t feel right but you don’t say anything because you’re scared? I was raising children and I just kept going -- but it wasn’t a good going. I finally went to the doctor in my late 40s, and found out I had ulcerative colitis (UC). I’d had symptoms since I was a child.
What brought you to Pilates?
My doctor said, “You’ve got to do Pilates or yoga. You’ve got to get at the stress.” There’s no cure for what I have. It kept coming back and getting worse. I had been to different classes over the years but when I took my first Pilates class, it was Boom! I like this. I was certified when I just turned 50.
Why did you decide to teach?
People know I have this disease. My main goal when I decided to teach was if I could help one person to not be ashamed to have a bowel disease, that would be success. I want to let people know you can workout, you can look good, and be strong. I wanted people to look at me and say, “She can do this. I didn’t know you could do this when you have that disease.”
What about running?
What prompted me to run is my daughter and her college roommate were running in an event, and I asked if I could join them, and they said, “Sure!”
I’ve run many races for CCFA because I want people to be educated. This is not a curable disease. I’ve managed very, very well. My doctor told me, “If I could have a poster child, it would be you. “
The reason I ran my first half marathon is I read about an Iron Man who had UC and competed with an ostomy. And I thought if he can do 26.2 I can do 13. 1. I say I’ve been given this disease – it is genetic – but I’ve chosen to use it as a gift. It’s gotten me where I am today.
What keeps you going?
I have a very driven daughter – she’s always promoted me. I’ll say, “This is what I’m going to do,” and she’ll say, “OK, I think you’re crazy but..” and then she’ll come with me. She went on the bike ride -- 161 miles across the state of Indiana. At times she would look at me like, “Mom, what are we doing? What are we doing?” And she ran a marathon. It wasn’t her thing but she did it.
I thought it was after I finished my first 5k but my proudest was probably my very first half marathon. I was told by many people, “Oh you can’t do that.” Well, I trained my body to do it and I did well. It wasn’t my biggest accomplishment -- that was my bike ride – but it was the most emotional.
Do you set goals?
Every year of my life, I have a goal. I have a goal to be a stronger person – physically, mentally, spiritually, all the way around.
Goal this year?
My goal this year was to be able to do pull-ups again after having major surgery on my hands. I trained myself and I did it. I got that pull-up. I got that for this year so I’m just laying low now. But I’ve got several friends who are saying we should do that bike ride again – and I’d love to see them cross the finish line – I love helping people.
What’s your biggest challenge?
Honestly, I would say it’s that I really seriously do want to run and I have to tell myself I cannot do that because it’s not good for my body so I have to walk. That’s hard but walking is calming and peaceful. When I’m teaching, it’s when people tell me, “I can’t. I just tell them, “No. Circle with a line through it no. It does not go in my classroom. We’ll do it and we’ll do it and we’ll work on it ‘til you do it.” I actually like to instill that fire in people.
What are your long-term fitness goals?
Just to keep getting stronger. I have worked hard on my arms this year. I don’t want to look like a saggy, old lady. What I feel humbled about is that fitness comes in all ages. Just because you’re 30, 40, 50, 60, you do not have to stop. I want every woman to know that. You have every right to find a goal. It does not come with an age. It just does not. I applaud anybody that actually wants to put an older person in the limelight and say, “Look, do you see? You can do this. It’s not limited by your age.” Your body is a miracle. It will produce.
Well. Oh gosh. Honestly, I’m probably going to have to tell you my daughter. She inspires me to the point where she – she always backs me up and my husband does too – I have a wonderful support system. I have a wonderful son. My daughter doesn’t ever let me think that it’s not possible.
What makes you happy?
Many, many things now. I’m a gardener and to look out and see my beautiful flowers makes me happy. My husband my children, my grandchildren, my dog Lucye. I’m one very grateful girl when it comes to my job – not everyone loves their job – I love fitness. I know that someday I won’t be able to do this. I don’t want to stuff it all in there but I don’t want to waste any minutes.
Favorite lucy item(s) ?
I love lucy because it fits and it makes me look good. Right now I’m on the Get Going Capri – Oh Good Lord, my daughter just texted me and said they have the pants in petite now and I’m like, “No, I have two pair already!“ I’ve been going around in this one pair all summer, and c’mon they’ve got to be washed.
My first pair of pants I ever got from lucy – They’re 10 years old, you’d never know it. They’ve gone through massive Zumba, running, and biking. My daughter in law got them for me and when she got them she said, “I’ve done my shopping and these are what you need.” I put them on and I was like, “Oh dear God, I can’t buy anything else because I just don’t like them.”
Any words of wisdom to share?
I’m really proud. I know my family is too. Sometimes they say I’m too stubborn but I say I’m determined. You have to have a little bit of that to get where you’re going. Don’t defeat yourself. I’ve never defeated myself. Even if I’m crawling, I’m still crossing the finish line. A lot of people defeat themselves before they get started. I want to inspire younger women to get stronger and to have that throughout their life.