In the hospital the doctors told her it was the worst case of gallstones they had seen in 10 years. The doctors said they needed to do surgery, but they didn’t know if she would survive. The lifestyle Kyle Eustice was leading was literally killing her.
Fortunately Eustice made it through the surgery and left the hospital with the motivation to change her lifestyle. She turned to her bicycle. Pedaling on two wheels took the place of bad habits, and it literally saved her life.
Eustice began her journey back to health with a workplace incentive program that challenged her and her co-workers to travel the most miles, using only their own power. Determined to get healthy and win the competition, Eustice worked her way up to riding 50 miles every day, no matter the conditions. She biked through wind, rain and swarms of bugs. Her internal drive kept her pedaling. She didn’t win the competition (she got second place), but she won something more important – her health, her life and a better lifestyle. “Even though I technically got second place, I feel like I won that challenge,” Eustice said.
The challenge helped Eustice lose 20 pounds, it gave her a goal she could accomplish each day, and allowed her time to do her favorite thing – listen to music. Most importantly, riding gave her an alternative to the destructive lifestyle she was living. She quit drinking alcohol just before the challenge in 2006 and has not had a drink since. She learned that, “through healthy living, anything is possible.”
For the new year, Eustice, who recently moved to Fort Collins from Omaha, Nebraska, has a goal of riding over the dams along Horsetooth Reservoir. After some time off the bike, she is feeling drawn back to it. “There’s something very freeing about cycling,” said Eustice. “Biking has been the one steady presence that has put me back to where I need to be.”
Eustice also hopes to take what she has learned about living a healthy lifestyle and teach it to youth in the community through volunteer programs such as Team Fort Collins and the Bicycle Ambassador Program.
Eustice’s story is inspiration for all of us as we begin a new year. Her drive to replace bad habits with healthy routines and to share her lessons learned with others will have a lasting impact on her as an individual, as well as on the community.
As you read this story, think about how you can use your two-wheeled machine or your own two feet to make a difference in your life or the lives of others in 2015. Try bicycle-commuting once a week. Walk or take the bus to work instead of driving. Take a traffic-skills or a bicycle-maintenance class. Volunteer with groups that promote healthy lifestyles. Whatever drives you, choose to make a positive change.
Eustice knows how difficult yet rewarding positive change can be, offering this advice: “You need to work at it every day. Never give up.”
Jamie Gaskill-Fox is an FC Bikes Program Specialist for the City of Fort Collins. She also coordinates the Bicycle Ambassador Program and is a League Cycling Instructor.