By Walt Johnson, Fort Carson, Colo., Public Affairs OfficeApril 30, 2013
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Sometimes reaching to achieve a major milestone can lead a person to even greater accomplishments.
That's the case for Estella Juarez, a contracting specialist with the Mission Installation Contracting Command here. Juarez began an effort to get into shape four years ago while stationed in Germany to participate in the Camino de Santiago, or the Way of St. James, pilgrimage across Spain.
Juarez knew that her physical condition would be the biggest obstacle to complete the approximately 500-mile pilgrimage. She has since dropped 65 pounds.
"I really wanted to do the walk four years ago ... I saw a number of things that talked about the race, but it didn't seem feasible to me to take on an event like that in the physical condition I was in," she said. "But the idea stuck in my head ... so this year I'm going to go and do it."
The four-year odyssey to prepare for the pilgrimage hasn't been easy for Juarez. She said she had to dedicate herself to losing as much weight as possible and getting fit enough to walk across Spain.
When Juarez first told her son about doing the event, he was concerned because he witnessed the strain hikes put on her body when she was overweight. She assured him that she would get in shape to complete the journey.
"When I began to train to get the weight off, I was actually so embarrassed because I felt I had gone so far off the wagon, and I didn't know where I wanted to start to get back into shape," Juarez said. "I remember looking at myself in the mirror and feeling like I was so far gone; so far out of shape that there was nothing I could do about it.
"I wanted to go to the gym but I had to get in shape first. Then I remembered I heard once that someone said 'you don't have to be great to start, but you have to start in order to be great,' and that is what I use for motivation," Juarez said.
She said staying faithful to her desire to get in better shape played a large role in her getting ready to take on the biggest challenge she has faced since losing 65 pounds and is confident she is ready to complete her mission.