This is an appropriate introduction in preparation for when you get to meet Dr. Lewis; this is exactly what she does on a daily basis. Originally from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. Sharlon has called BVI home since 2008. She is a general practitioner at the Wellness Center Medical Clinic at the Cyril B. Romney Tortola Pier Park, and specializes in obesity and diabetes management.
Dr. Lewis says she noticed that in her early 30s, she started having problems maintaining her weight, which prompted her research in weight management. Further inspired by her own and others’ journey, she decided to do postgraduate work in obesity and weight management.
Now in her 40s, she is hoping to help persons in the Caribbean, especially women, to take their health and wellness more seriously.
“In the Caribbean, we weren’t really taught much about diet and exercise. This is still fairly new.”
Dr. Lewis spoke about the transition between women who stayed at home to take care of the children, cook and manage the household to a time where our mothers and grandmothers have entered the workforce, “which means a change in the dynamic of diet and overall wellness”.
“Now, we are seeing the ill effects. We have seen astronomical rises in diabetes, hypertension, obesity and cancers. We have to now be able to ‘fit’ a healthy lifestyle into our daily lives.”
In addressing wellness, she explained, “It’s not just about weight, but it’s about you as a whole person. It’s not just what you eat or drink or whether or not you exercise – it’s many factors. It’s what’s going on around you, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.”
“I think that many people feel intimidated by trying to eat healthier. It’s not only about the foods. It’s about the habits that you have to change.”
To that end, Dr. Lewis says there are certain mindsets and behaviors that we in the Caribbean just have to let go. She referenced the idea of “thick” being better than “skinny”, and said she wants persons to look at how strong they are and their overall health.
Dr. Lewis also warned that persons of color should be more cognizant of their weight, as gaining weight beyond a certain point, increases chances of developing chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.
Dr. Lewis was inspired to create ‘The Wellness Weekend’ while working with clients. She observed that there were individuals making the necessary changes to lead healthier lifestyles, but saw the lack of community spirit.
“I want to give people an immersion experience of health to actually show persons what healthy living looks like.”
The Wellness Weekend will be held from October 23 to 25 at Tingalayo Villa on the western end of Tortola. There, participants will enjoy wellness activities and seminars for the mind, body and soul. She says the Tingalayo Villa was chosen as it facilitates the gathering while allowing physical distancing and other health protocols.
About the dates chosen, Dr. Lewis said she is trying to capture those persons who are accustomed to traveling around that holiday weekend, adding, “This can be their way to experience a getaway, without having to fly out.”
Dr. Lewis also said many people are in need of a weekend getaway, adding, “They need to unplug, to focus on not only eating properly and exercising, but learn how to implement better health strategies for themselves and their family.”
Persons have to be enrolled in the Wellness Center Medical Clinic so that Dr. Lewis is able to chart where individuals are in their wellness journey, and create a program and experience for participants at The Wellness Weekend.
“It’s a tailored experience and money well spent.”
For tickets, persons can call Dr. Sharlon Lewis at 284 541-6060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. To enroll with The Wellness Center Medical Clinic, call 442-4357 to book an appointment.