Shepherd ran in the 2010 Baltimore Marathon last month (she walked six marathons and since turning 71, ran three), holds the 2010 and 2011 Guinness Book of World Records oldest female competitive body builder titles, benches 150 pounds and can rock a bikini better than most college students. And these are just a few of her achievements.
"Lord knows when I got on my feet, started walking, started going to the gym, started eating properly, my life changed. I'm really a strong confident and positive old lady," says Shepherd, a grandmother and retired AT&T employee who lives in Baltimore.
But like many people, Shepherd didn't consider regular exercise until something went awry. At 56, she went with her older sister Mildred Blackwell, 57, to try on swimsuits. Displeased with the images starring back at them, the sisters, who weren't overweight but had body fat where they didn't want it, decided to do something about their weight.
At Blackwell's suggestion, the pair decided to tone up by hitting the gym. While gun-ho initially, Shepherd admits she almost let her girly-girl persona interfere with her personal training. "I was too prissy. I just didn't want to do it," remembers Shepherd, who, along with her sister, became dedicated and garnered attention for their progress.
Sadly, a year into their new regimen, Blackwell died of a brain aneurysm but not before making her little sister promise to stick with the training.
"I did everything that my sister told me to do. I made that promise and I kept it up through the years. That's what keeps me doing it. As long as I have breath in my body, I'm going to do this. I want to inspire people to live fit healthy lives," says Shepherd, who's also a certified personal trainer.
But Shepherd far exceeded her own expectations.
She's extremely dedicated to her regimen that includes rising at 3 a.m., running or walking 10 miles every day, weight training regularly, teaching fitness classes and personal training her fellow seniors. "If I run 10 miles on Sunday, I will run five miles and walk 5 miles on Monday. Tuesday I do nothing. It's my day of rest," Shepherd says.
Another key to Shepherd's continued success is the loving support that her husband of 54 years, Collin, provides. He prepares all of her meals which often consist of liquid egg whites, bagels, boiled eggs, sweet potatoes, grilled chicken, brown rice, tuna, vegetables and absolutely no junk food. He also makes sure she stays fueled up on Gatorade and drinks plenty of water and is well-rested.
"He is that good to me," Shepherd attests like a congregant at a Sunday morning church service.
While it takes will power and discipline to stick to a daily schedule like hers, Shepherd also credits her personal trainer, former Mr. Universe Yohnnie Shambourger of Yohnnex Sports, with getting her ready for the bodybuilding competitions. "Honestly, he got me together in seven months time because I did everything that he told me to do," she says.
When it comes to working out, Shepherd adamantly proclaims that age is just a number and that patience and consistency are key.