My journey leads to a healthy place

Paula Reece

Each month, I search for the newest topics in health and fitness about which to write. I also get to share my passion for working at Crossroads Fitness. Sometimes I write about nutrition, motivation or exercise tips.

But this month, I’d like to share my personal story. My goal is to motivate some and inspire others to reflect on their own journeys.

I enjoyed a normal childhood growing up in Wyoming — albeit windy and cold. Playing with friends on the block was our form of exercise. I never played organized sports in high school, but was a cheerleader and baton twirler.

After my two children were born, I followed in my mother’s footsteps to be the best mom I could. Family came first.  My kids were involved in golf, gymnastics, soccer and volleyball. It was my duty to attend every event and try to be the super mom volunteering in their schools. There was no time left for me. Lesson learned.

At age 36 and after some life changes, I was introduced to exercise. I started working at Crossroads Fitness, but didn’t know anything about equipment or programs. Most of all, I didn’t know what it felt like to actually exercise. Since I was thin, I thought I was fit. That couldn’t have been farther from the truth. I had no muscle, bruised easily and always felt tired. I assumed that was how I’d always feel.   

With time, I started to feel better. I had energy.  While visiting my parents one Thanksgiving, I decided on a goal — to run a marathon. My husband, Dale, encouraged me to start with a 5K since I could barely run a block at that time. But a year later, I completed my first marathon. I cried at the finish line. I never believed I could set a fitness goal and achieve it, let alone hear my husband call me an “athlete.”

Continuing my fitness journey, I added a small group training class. I built muscle and for the first time in my life, felt strong.

I ran another marathon.

I knew my body better than ever. But this is where my journey took a sharp turn. Because I knew my body so well, I was concerned about what I thought might be a muscle strain that didn’t go away. 
I decided to see a doctor. After months of appointments,
ultrasounds and surgery, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

I went through all the normal feelings, but there was one thing that was different. I thought to myself, “Paula, can you imagine if you hadn’t been fit and strong? You would have never found this in the early stage.” It’s so true. I went through numerous surgeries, months of chemo treatments and, finally, recovery.  I’m so blessed to be able to say now, eight years later, I’m cancer-free.

I guess the moral of my story is you only have one body. If you want it to last, to feel your best and live life to the fullest, make time for you. It doesn’t matter at what age you start. Just start. Don’t put it off your journey one more day.