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Height: 5’3
Weight: 110
Birthplace: St. Louis, MO
Current Residence: Raleigh, NC
Sports: Bodybuilding, weight lifting, bowling, walking exercising

Tell us a little about yourself, what you do for a living, what hobbies / interests / passions you have.

My name is Shirley Minter-Smith and I celebrated my 60th birthday on November 26, 2012.  I am the seventh of  ten children. I grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois, and I believe  the words to the song "The Rose," by Bette Midler, are so descriptive of my essence.

I was employed by the Federal government for 30 years and served as an Administrator for the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Prisons. After retiring in 2004, I spend much of my time speaking, teaching, and promoting good health.  I have taught healthy living, vegan cooking, and exercise classes throughout the United States and abroad.  I also write a weekly Health Tip column.  I am the Founder, Owner, and CEO of Vegan Magic/Healthy Living Made Simple. I specialize  in vegan dishes, RAW desserts, spices, seasonings, and a healthy living program.

I am  a “lightweight” natural bodybuilder, and have  competed in and won over 35 amateur body building and bench press contests.  On November 3, 2012, at 60 years of age, and after four years as an amateur, I received my Professional Bodybuilding credentials.  On December 2, 2012, I received awards from the National Physique Association  as “Top Pro Female Athlete of the Year” and “Iron Female Athlete of the Year”.   In 2013, I was presented the “Women and Girls Inspiring Change” award from Global Girls of Chicago, Illinois.  I believe that God allowed me to achieve these goals and accomplishments to encourage others to take care of their temples. 
As the result of my  many health and bodybuilding accomplishments and attributes, on February 1, 2013, I was named the first spokeswoman for ZOBO Hibiscus Drink and Hemisphere Beverages.  Since that time, I have been featured on NBC, TV 17 News, The Dr. Melanie Show, the Voice on America Health and Wellness Channel; Nubian News, a Monthly Online Publication for Black Business Owners (March 3, 2013);  BOOM and WEEN Magazines, YouTube,  local newspapers, and other periodicals.    

I want to be a walking billboard, letting people know that I was once considered obese because at 5’3” I weighed over 200 pounds. Today, after being committed to changing my poor eating habits, I weigh 110 lbs. 

I believe God is using me as a vessel to positively affect individuals’ physical health.  I also believe that one can be healthy at any age; and I am  proof of what dieting and exercise can do for one mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.  I want others to know that there are NO excuses not to be healthy. “Make the decision right now, make the commitment right now, and pray.”   I am a living witness that God WILL show up and show out!

I am the mother of two, and grandmother of four. I earned a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Troy State University; a Master’s degree in Counseling and Education from Southern Illinois University; and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Eastern Illinois University.  Each year, I attend and participate in various classes and seminars on Health, Nutrition, and Fitness.  I believe that if you take care of your body, your body will take care of you; and when we know better, we can CHOOSE to do better!  I have learned to eat to live and not live to eat, which has made all the difference in my continual health journey.   My philosophy is:  WHAT YOU WANT, WANTS YOU!!!!

Why did you become vegan?
Mostly for health and fitness reasons.  However, I am very concerned about our earth and the animals.

When and why did you become interested in fitness?
I have been interested in fitness most of my life but really embraced it about 35 years ago.

How would you describe your nutrition program?

I eat very clean, usually oats and beans for breakfast with  fruit, and chia, flax or hemp seeds.  Each day I consume at least one 32 ounce green drink (with wheatgrass which I grow) a large salad, cooked vegetables and tofu or another meat substitute.  I usually eat a small dinner or pea protein shake.

How would you describe your training program? 
I train about 3 hours a day, five days a week.  Most of the time I work out with a personal trainer (M, T, W, TH, and Sat - Sunday is my off day).  I have two trainers.  I work two different body parts each session, 60 minutes of cardio, stretching for at least one hour, and I always work my abs.  
What are some common misconceptions about veganism?    
  After becoming a vegan, I started taking a daily "B-12 Dot;"  however, after  starting my bodybuilding journey in 2008, I included one additional vitamin supplement,  "Vegan CLA" -  Conjugated Linoleic Acid,   According to my research,  CLA safely decreases the amount of fat stored after eating and the total number of fat cells in our bodies.  It also increases how fast fat is broken down in fat cells and the rate of fat metabolism, thought, "...this will work for me and give me the edge I need..." I take no medications and I contribute my physique,  outstanding health, muscle mass, etc., to my vegan diet and training. However, I believe that these two supplements have been beneficial to my current status and have given me that extra dose of confidence.

What advice do you have for people who are just starting out with veganism or training?    
Just do it but keep it simple.  For those who can afford it, I recommend a personal trainer, for at least 30 days.

Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share?

My philosophy is:  "what you want, wants you", but it comes with a price, you must do the work.