Sandra Boyd

Name: Sandra Boyd, 2 adult children, 7 grandkids
Church: Greater Salem Church
Health Factors: High Blood Pressure, High cholesterol

A four-year veteran of the Village Heartbeat program, Sandra Boyd most values the connections and relationships she continues to develop.

Like most participants, she enjoys exercising with teammates — line dancing, Zumba, walks in the parks — and the healthy-cooking classes, but she never anticipated, for example, being able to take Spanish language classes.

“It was absolutely phenomenal to learn more about the culture, the history (of Latinos),” she said of the “Spanish World Tour,” offered by Camino Community Center, another Village HeartBeat partner. And learning to communicate better with Spanish-speaking customers while on the job — “that’s building a relationship,” said Boyd, who works part-time at the Charlotte airport.

Boyd, a longtime member of The Connecting Place at Greater Salem Church, joined the Village HeartBeat team in its second year.

A “conscious eater” for decades, she was shocked when the biometric assessments showed she had elevated blood pressure readings. Boyd said she didn’t realize that she “had a need that needed to be met.”

She constantly fine-tunes her diet, and now is more mindful of checking labels for sodium content.

Healing through

Boyd’s mother died of cancer when Boyd was 21, and she began then to be more conscious of taking better care of herself, she said. As a caregiver for her ailing father, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2004, she fortified his diet with lots of nutrient-rich “live foods” — which include enzymes that aid digestion and health.

Her son, now in his 40s, became a vegetarian in his teens, cutting out meat, eggs, and dairy, which helped alleviate a lymphatic disorder.

“I’ve seen how God heals us through diet,” said Boyd, who stopped eating pork and red meat in 1998.

She says she knows her body well and can tell almost immediately when certain foods don’t agree with her.  She’s eliminating “white” foods — milk, mayonnaise, white flour, for example. And she tries to incorporate different foods into her diet once a month.

Her goals this year are to keep her blood pressure and cholesterol numbers in check and to strengthen her lower body. She’s eating fewer processed foods and “living off the land,” said Boyd, an avid gardener who grows vegetables and herbs.  “The trees and leaves are my medicines.”

Health ambassador

Boyd wants to pass along what she has learned from her experience.

“I want to become an ambassador for Village Heartbeat,” Boyd said. “What I learn, I want to be able to share with others.”

She wants to bring more people into the program. Being part of Village Heartbeat makes you want to do things you wouldn’t ordinarily do — it draws you in, she said. “The connection to the village is greater than myself alone.”

Boyd is looking forward to the challenge-ending Gala on Thursday — the anticipation of finding out if her team has met its goals. Last year, Greater Salem took first place in weight loss, she said.

Looking back at the people she’s met, the connections she’s made and the opportunities presented to her and her teammates, Boyd sums up her Village HeartBeat experience this year in one word: “phenomenal.”

About Village HeartBEAT: The faith-based program, run by the Mecklenburg County Health Department, seeks to reduce health factors associated with heart disease and diabetes in African American and Latino communities. This story, sponsored by VHB, is part of a series profiling some of the participants in the program.

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