WILTON — By the end of 2016, Devon Frechette had hit a wall.

She was working 14-hour days, six days a week at her family’s snowmobile dealership, sometimes more. During the day she juggled looking after her toddler, Paisley, 1½, and running a business with only one full-time employee besides Frechette and her husband, Scott. After work she’d go home, cook, clean and try to be there for her two teenage stepdaughters.

When it got to the point that Frechette, 25, dreaded waking up each morning, she knew something had to change.

Deciding her busy life had lost its balance, Devon Frechette turned to a longtime love for comfort, exercise and fitness, and then hundreds joined her. Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

“I wanted to hit pause on my crazy life, and I didn’t have that avenue. I didn’t have that outlet,” Frechette recalled in an interview Friday. “When you own your own business, there is no clocking out or clocking in. It’s 24/7. … It’s what’s always on your mind.”

So Frechette turned to a longtime love and source of comfort: exercise and fitness. An avid athlete most of her life, Frechette had played field hockey, basketball and softball in school and went on to coach high school basketball and softball. After she graduated from college and got married, however, sports fell by the wayside. So did the gymnasium.

In November, Frechette decided to start a group on Facebook called “17 by 2017.” She invited 10 or so friends to form their own health and fitness goals for the last 34 days of 2016. The group would be a place of support and accountability.

The group took off. Within 72 hours it ballooned from a handful of members to 150. Today the group, now known as Maine Made Wellness, has over 1,800 members. They write in with post-workout selfies and meal plan victories. They trade product recommendations and reviews, workout regimens and inspiration.

Initially, Frechette said, she had no intention of keeping the group going past the end of the year. But after suffering a back injury that landed her in the hospital only two weeks into her “17 to 2017” challenge, she returned to the group and found it had become a self-sustaining entity, with women turning to one another for help and support as they worked toward better, healthier lives.

“They were still feeding off each other. They were still encouraging each other, and that’s when I realized this group can’t end in 2017,” Frechette said.

She believes that in reaching out for support in her own life, she tapped into a larger need. Like her, other women were struggling with their attempts to create more balanced lives. Like her, they looked at social media images of seemingly perfect female bodies, models and athletes in bathing suits and wondered, “Why don’t I look like them?”

Frechette encourages those just starting their own fitness journeys to reflect on what type of help they need, such as learning about nutrition and meal planning or exercise routines. Frechette said she wants people to see the group as a resource as they set about educating themselves on their best paths to healthier living.

Kate McCormick can be contacted at 861-9218 or at:

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Twitter: KateRMcCormick