Sherri Shepherd Celebrates Her 54th Birthday After Losing 20 Lbs.: 'This Is the Best I've Ever Felt'
Sherri Shepherd, like many Americans, gained weight during the COVID-19 pandemic. But after "seeing so many people impacted, health-wise, during the pandemic," she realized she had to make a change.
"During COVID, I put on weight and realized I needed to get back to the basics again, which was a lifestyle change," Shepherd, 54, tells PEOPLE.
The talk show host says she "challenged myself to take risks and do things that scared me." That meant joining Healthy Wage and putting money on the line to make sure she reached her weight loss goal of 15 lbs., while upping her workouts and switching up her diet.
"I walked 3 miles, four times a week, did Zumba in my backyard and I started boxing," she says. "Now, I roller skate three times a week and I'm also taking pole dancing lessons, and call myself a pole-dancer-like-ish woman!"
Plus, Shepherd started a challenge with her friends where they did 50 pushups a day for 30 days. "Completing that challenge was a major breakthrough for me," she says.
Shepherd also went back on a keto diet and started intermittent fasting.
"I had already been off sugar for two years; so I then made the difficult decision to give up dairy, pork and beef," she says. "I love eggs with avocados, onions and peppers and grilled chicken and salads. I love to make kale chips as a snack. I also started cooking my meals, which has made a huge difference because I know exactly what ingredients are in the food I prepare."
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The comedian managed to surpass her weight loss goal of 15 lbs., and is now 20 lbs. down since the start of the pandemic, and 35 lbs. down since she started working on losing weight.
"I realized I was able to make changes and be physically active to get my health in a better position," she says.
Shepherd is celebrating her weight loss — and her 54th birthday, on April 22 — with a fun photoshoot "influenced by some of the powerful and trailblazing women that paved the way for women of color in Hollywood," she says. The classic Hollywood-themed shoot is "in the spirit of Dorothy Dandridge, Hattie McDaniel, Lena Horne, Diahann Carroll and so many others."
"I've been blessed to not only reach 54, but to also have years in this industry with a body of work and accomplishments that I'm proud of," she says. "I'm strong, intelligent, sexy, talented and pretty funny."
And Shepherd says she's going to keep working on her health by focusing on her "why" — her son Jeffrey, 16.
"He is the reason why I need to food prep and fit in exercise," she says. "At 54, this is best I have ever felt. My goal is to be living a long and active life with my son Jeffrey, who shares the same birthday as me."
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