GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — On Nov. 4, 2013, Teri Kelley was on her way home from the gym, driving down Cascade Road when she came across a crash not far from her home.
“I decided, felt something in my heart that I needed to stop that night. I got out of my car and I asked around what was going on and found out somebody had been hit,” Kelley said.
Soon she would realize it was her husband.
“That just kind of put me into a tailspin. My world just came crashing down. He was the love of my life. We had been married for 30 years. He was my biggest support and cheerleader,” Kelley said.
His death began impacting her health. She weighed the heaviest she had ever been in her life, and her cholesterol rose to the point where her doctor said she was at risk of a heart attack.
A phone call from her daughter Amber Kelley helped her make a change.
“She said ‘Mom, you know if something happened to you I would have nobody left to be with.’ And that really sunk in and hit me hard as okay I need to take hold of my heath and take control of the things I can control and my health is one of those things,” said Kelley.
A few weeks later she came across a post on Facebook from Woman’s Day magazine asking women to explain why they should be chosen to take part in the magazine’s Live Longer & Stronger Challenge.
Among the thousands that applied, Kelley along with four other women, were chosen. Over the past nine months, she has lost 38 pounds.
“This is not just a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. And they want us to be successful in that lifestyle change,” said Kelley.
She has been given access to expert nutritionists both locally and nationally. She found a support group with the other women in the challenge, as well as weekly conference calls with TODAY Show nutritionist and Woman’s Day columnist Joy Bauer.
“My hope is that people will see that it’s important to take care of yourself for those around you and I hope that I’m an inspiration and an example to them that they can get through this and you have to keep on going,” said Kelley.
Through it all she says the experience has given her more self-confidence and made her face the obstacles in life many never want to.
“I think more about the journey of what I’m on right now, not the accident or anything, but the journey I’m on now and I feel comfortable with that,” Kelley said.
Kelley will appear on the 10 a.m. hour of the TODAY show Monday with Hoda and Kathie Lee.
She will also be featured in Woman’s Day Magazine’s March edition which will hit shelves on Feb. 9.
“I’ve also realized that if I just ask for help the help is out there. Whether it’s family, friends, co-workers or complete strangers cheering me on,” Kelley said.
While in New York City, Kelley will also join Woman’s Day in celebrating their 13th annual Red Dress Awards, which honors those who have made significant contributions in the fight against heart disease — the number one killer of women.
Kelley along with the other four women chosen for the Live Longer & Stronger Challenge have collectively lost more than 220 pounds.