Credit: St. Joseph Healthcare

The St. Joseph Healthcare Commit to Get Fit 5K/10K, happening on Sept. 29 in Bangor, is all about giving the community the opportunity to get out and get active, in a fun, safe and supportive environment.

It’s a chance for the health care system to demonstrate that it is committed to helping the residents of Greater Bangor be healthier and happier.

Most people would say they know more exercise would be better for them, but modern life often leaves us short on time, which leads to making excuses.

Beckey Buxton knows all too well how busy life can get: She’s a mom to four children between the ages of 11 and 20, she owns two dogs and works with her husband to run their own business. With so much going on, it became normal that she was putting everyone ahead of herself. The stress was building, and Buxton had been steadily gaining weight.

During her annual physical in 2016, a conversation with her primary care provider, St. Joseph’s Jennifer Freese, a doctor of osteopathic medicine, gave Buxton the motivation to start focusing on her health. She went home and made a plan — she wrote a list of five things she wished to change in her life: drink more water, cut out unnecessary carbs, eat more fruits and vegetables, get enough sleep and get more exercise.

“I started small, so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed,” Buxton said. “One of my favorite quotes is: ‘A goal without a plan is just a wish.’”

Buxton’s initial goal was to lose 20 pounds, but when she reached that, she continued on with her plan and lost a total of 55. It took her nearly a year to drop the weight, but during that time, light walking became walking five miles a day. That lead to running and a new form of self-care for Buxton.

“It’s my time, my one hour that I get to just focus on me,” Buxton said.

She explained that she didn’t love running at first — sometimes she still has “off” days — but she now makes time to run five or six times a week, even if it means an early start or a later night.

In a show of his support, Buxton’s brother wanted to run a half-marathon with her. Living in different places meant it wasn’t possible. Instead, they each ran a half-marathon on the same day — 2,500 miles apart.

Buxton now has a few half-marathons under her belt. A few of them she has run with her husband, who is her biggest supporter. Most recently, she ran with her two sisters in their first half-marathon.

She is now training for her biggest goal yet — running in the New York City Marathon on Nov. 3.

Buxton’s family has been supportive and she explained that another bonus has been being able to show her children that you can set a goal, work toward it and achieve it. She talks with them about healthy eating and being active.

“I want to teach them that although the weight loss is what other people might see, what really matters to me is the difference in how I feel,” Buxton said. “I feel 100 percent better than I did 2 1/2 years ago. It definitely has been hard work to get here, but I would do it all again.”

Buxton said she doesn’t often talk about her fitness journey because it’s personal, but she decided to share her story in the hope it might give someone the inspiration to start or to keep going when it feels tough. She is also grateful to Freese for the encouragement to start a healthier lifestyle.

Buxton’s advice: “Start small and take baby steps. Form some good habits and before you know it, it’ll add up to something big for you.”

St. Joseph’s hopes its first-ever Commit to Get Fit 5K/10K will offer a similar kind of inspiration — a fun and supportive environment in which to take a step toward better health and well-being. You can find out more or sign up at stjoeshealing.org/commit.