ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Shereece Mitchell transformed her life and her health and now, she wants to do the same for others.
In 2015, Mitchell was working in IT in South Florida when she began her journey, losing 100 pounds in the process. However, it wasn’t until 2018 that she started making the most changes in her life.
“(In) 2018 (is) when it got to its peak — where I decided I wanted to be a bodybuilder and I tried to transform my life and I got baptized, I became a Christian,” Mitchel said. “I realized that I felt like there’s something more — because before I used to feel like there’s something missing in life.”
The next year, she moved to Orlando, selling her house and quitting her job in the process. Beyond that, she decided to start a nonprofit, Butterfly Lifestyle.
The nonprofit is focused on promoting health and wellness, encouraging people to change their lifestyles rather than just their diets.
“If you take it as a diet versus a lifestyle, you feel like if you eat something that you shouldn’t on this diet, that you cheated — and now you feel like you messed up,” she said. “But if you treat it as a lifestyle you can say, ‘You know what, I can eat something that’s not part of my everyday diet, but because it’s a lifestyle — that means my next meal, I can fix it. Tomorrow, I can fix it.
However, Mitchell was still very focused on bodybuilding in the early stages days of Butterfly Lifestyle.
“Then I got injured within like three months, an ankle injury,” she said. “In my back of my mind, I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to get back on stage, I’m going get back on stage (as a bodybuilder),’ but the ankle injury became one of the biggest blessings ever because it allowed me to really focus on the nonprofit and to really hone in on what I want to do to help the community.”
All this was happening in 2019. When 2020 hit a new challenge arose — the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pandemic laid bare how big of a problem food insecurity is in Central Florida and across the country. Mitchell realized, she could not encourage people to live a healthier lifestyle if their basic necessities are not being met.
“I don’t feel comfortable telling you, ‘You know what? You should eat healthier. You’re diabetic, eat healthier,’ and you don’t have something to eat. You can’t even afford a simple meal,” she said. “It’s very hard to tell someone to do something or to encourage them to even attempt to be living a healthier lifestyle when there’s nothing for them to eat.”
Mitchell started working with a church in Pine Hills to start a weekly food bank. She sources the food from area businesses, such as Wawa, Outback Steakhouse, and Publix.
The help has been greatly appreciated by the community.
“I don’t realize the impact I have on people at times. It’s when they stop and they say, ‘Hey, thank you so much,” Mitchell said. “We can see has over 100 cars depending on how much food we have…. which total out to about 250 people.”
On the latest episode of Florida Foodie, Mitchell shares more of her own health story as well as her plans for the future of Butterfly Lifestyle.