My Path to Wellness: Nobella Baba on Challenging Cancer Through Fitness

Nobella is standing by her yoga mat after a workout, flexing her muscles and beaming a proud smile.

Nobella Baba instantly stuck out as an inspirational community member, conquering her fit52 goals and any workout challenge standing in her way, but it wasn’t until we spoke with her that we realized the true depth of her strength. We are honored to tell her personal story through our My Path to Wellness series:


@nobellamb

My name is Nobella Baba and I am from Livermore, CA.

When I was 20 years old, I began experiencing many health problems—none of which made any sense. I spent 8 years getting biopsied, tested, poked, and prodded only to be told “we aren’t sure why you are experiencing these symptoms.” I got married at 28, and when I switched to my husband’s insurance carrier, I had to find new doctors. My first introduction/consultation appointment, I was told that it’s very clear from my medical records that I have cancer.

I was floored and in disbelief. I was misdiagnosed for 8 years, and my cancer had now spread to my lymph nodes. I spent 4 years in treatments and that was definitely the toughest point in my life. I struggled with my faith and had a lot of inner turmoil, despite typically being a happy and positive person. It got even tougher when I was told I may not be able to conceive children…my dream was crushed.

“We only get this one body.”

That difficult journey led me to find a path of health. Although I knew that I had lived an active and healthy life, I also knew that there was room for improvement. I needed to put my focus on nutrition and exercise to make my new body stronger. I came out of the treatments with weakened muscles/bones and one less lung. I worked very hard to strengthen my right lung to do the work of both sides. That meant lots of slow walking, leading to power walking, leading to slow jogging, then finally leading to running. This took 6 months of really hard work and so much sweat and tears. But I was determined to make my body strong enough to fight, and I would do my very best to make it less vulnerable to cancer or anything else.

Now at 39, I can honestly say I am in the best shape of my life and have never felt so healthy. I am happy to say that once I got my body to a place of health, I was able to conceive not one but three sweet daughters—Sophia (7), Olivia (6), and Amelia (4)—that mean the world to me. They represent the hard work I committed to and the promises I made to myself.

Nobella is surrounded by her three daughters with beautiful, beaming smiles.

We only get this one body. That body may go through a battle one day, so I want to help people potentially prepare for that battle. I now have an MBA and run my own health & wellness business, so through my life and work I am able to help others reach their health goals and feel good about their commitment to themselves. This feeling of accomplishment keeps me inspired and motivated to continue my path to wellness. I am able to be a better parent, better wife, better everything when I focus on my health. Some days are harder than others to stay motivated (especially when you have three girls to entertain) but I try to keep in mind that they are also watching me. They are studying and learning everything from us, so we need to teach them the importance of building a strong body, both physically and mentally. So their future health (and my future health, so that I can watch them grow) inspires me daily. Having a partner who is equally motivated and committed to his health is also important—we pick each other up on days that are difficult.

I honor my body daily by making sure I carve out an hour to myself, whether it’s at 8 am or 8pm. One fit52 workout sets me up mentally and physically. I love all the motivating factors on the app that make us competitive people want to strive to reach our goals quickly (the badges and hours of challenging, unpredictable reps). On days when I’m tired because my kids or my brain kept me up, I am tempted to be a couch potato, but then I think about getting my time in to meet my weekly goal and earn my next badge. I used to be a recreational ballet dancer, so on rest days I am usually dancing, alone or with my girls. Other forms of self-care for me include bubble baths, reading, writing, or my all time favorite—listening to my favorite music while watching my girls play outside.

It is soothing to my soul to be able to sit back and reflect on my life and how far I have come. Aside from measuring my physical progress, I am really able to notice the difference from a mental perspective when I am working out and eating well. I sleep better, feel less stressed, and become a more fun mom for my girls. When I don’t eat as healthy or fall off the workout wagon, I find myself having more restless nights worrying about everything. I turn into a big stress ball with less than positive thoughts.

To others searching for their path, I would say start in small ways to make changes in your life. You don’t have to go from zero to 100 in a week. Small changes over time can make a huge difference. Start eliminating things from your life that don’t make you feel great (this could apply to those around you), and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. 

I live by the mentality that “if it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you.” When an exercise feels impossible to finish, I go over this quote in my head as I work hard to meet my goal. Eve Overland once said something that stuck with me. It was along the lines of “the exercise that you are having a hard time with now will someday be your warm-up.” I know fitness can sometimes be daunting, but just remember to start small and work your way up.

– Nobella


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