Have you ever listened to the radio and wondered what the person looked like that was coming over the air waves?
For several years, as I listened to LAVA 105.3 or KKOA 107.7 fm, I heard the voice of this high energy person on Sunday mornings ask some thought provoking questions on a show called Island Issues.
She would interview people like CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and a Nobel Prize winner Dr. Susan Solomon, along with our last three Governors and many, many more high profile community leaders.
Her name, of course, is Sherry Bracken and I was able to put a face to the name when I attended a Big Island Press Club function.
Bracken, a news reporter for Mahalo Broadcasting here on Hawaii Island and for the statewide Hawaii Public Radio, is as high energy on the radio as she is in real life; staying active and fit while enjoying the outdoors.
“The work is fun, I love it, but like anything with deadlines it can be a little hectic,” Bracken said. “But seriously, what a dream job, I am naturally curious and now somebody pays me to ask questions! How much better could it get?”
Bracken grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area where she rode her bike for fun and exercise.
“I grew up in Oakland and then as an adult lived around the Bay Area. During the week I rode my bike for grocery shopping and errands. On the weekends I rode for distance,” she said.
Bracken and her husband enjoyed biking so much that they chose to bike across Italy from Pizza to Venice, going over the 3,000 foot Apennine Mountains.
“But once we moved to Kona there were too many hills and too few safe bike paths or wide streets for recreational bikers like me,” Bracken said.
Bracken continues her regular fitness routine by playing tennis.
“I play tennis four times a week, regularly,” she said. “Tuesday afternoons I play mixed doubles with the same female partner whom I’ve been playing with for 15 years, Lisa Malapit.”
Malapit and Bracken believe that they keep wearing out their guy partners over the past several years, which account for their rapid turnover, according to Bracken.
Bracken’s love for tennis has her on the courts for two plus hours each time. “I admit I should do other things, but rarely do,” she said. “I try to walk once in a while and other than that I’m sort of a high energy kind of person so I walk fast, do things fast, park further from my destinations and take the stairs instead of the elevator.”
As for diet I asked Bracken if she watched what she ate?
“My husband would say yes, I watch and watch and watch,” Bracken said.
Because of her high energy Bracken usually has several small meals throughout the day.
“I think I digest my food quickly so I get hungry quickly,” she said. “Breakfast is always berries, shredded wheat, yogurt, chia seeds, wheat germ mixed together, plus a glass of water with a little orange juice in it.”
Bracken will also snack through the day which is usually soy beans, oranges, bananas, almonds along with bread or crackers and cheese.
“Other meals ideally are fish, greens, sometimes mushrooms and onions sautéed together, sometimes chicken,” she said.
Part of Bracken’s motivation to eat healthy comes from losing her mom to diabetes.
“Diabetes is a terrible disease,” Bracken said. “Though I have the genetic capability to have it, and have always had mildly high pre-diabetic blood sugar, I focus on eating right to keep from developing it, if I can.”
Bracken also has some good genes on her side as her father’s mother lived to be 98 and his aunt lived to age 104.
“If I’ve inherited that side of the family longevity, I want to be as healthy as I can for as long as I have to live,” Bracken said. “Living long is not my desire; having a good quality of life is my goal.”
But Bracken does have her weaknesses.
“I do love sweets; malasadas, ice cream, homemade cookies, sweet breads like banana bread are my weaknesses,” she said. “I will try to limit, or to combine a healthier food, such as ice cream with berries, but it doesn’t always work that way.”
Bracken also feels that tennis is the right sport for her.
“I have no motivation to work out so you won’t see me at the gym,” she said. “So tennis is perfect because other people depend on me and I know I have to show up.”
Tennis also feeds the many needs that Bracken encounters, besides the need to be physically fit.
“Tennis is a great sport, it is good exercise and it’s also a great socializing opportunity,” she said. “When I started playing tennis it was because I knew I needed exercise, but I didn’t want to go to the gym!”
I hope this column put more of an identity into that voice we listen to on the radio.
Sherry Bracken is an interesting person who plays senior tennis and belongs to several community groups which includes the Kona Outdoor Circle and the Aloha Performing Arts Company.
She is a great addition to our Big Island community.
And someday should you happen to see a senior jogger meandering through the back roads of East Hawaii, remember to smile, say “woof” and never shy away from “Running with the Big Dog.”