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From Fat Guy To Cyclist

I wasn’t always a fat guy. In fact, even now, I don’t consider myself one.  While I may think that way, the truth of the matter is I had let myself get up to 285 pounds. My rude awakening came during my annual physical when my doctor informed me that I was borderline diabetic. After years of ignoring my own health it finally hit home that I needed to take action.

When I was in high school I was 6′ 2″ and 155 pounds. I lifted weights during gym class and was a pole vaulter on the track team. I dreamed of the day I would put on enough muscle to get to my goal weight of 180 pounds. During that time I could and would eat anything and everything I wanted without going above or below my normal weight more than 5 pounds. A trend that continued into my early 20′s but had the unfortunate side effect of instilling terrible eating habits.

In my 20′s I become a stereotypical software engineer. Not the one like we think of these days, but what you imagine before the internet and computers became cool. I was the guy that drank, smoked, and indulged myself in fast food, junk food, and gallons of sugary soda. Over the next 15 years I steadily gained weight. Not good muscle weight, fat weight.  My friends and coworkers would makes comments about my growing belly size. I laughed along with them because even though I noticed a change in my body I was still a thin person in my mind. The problem with my mind was I still believed I could eat as much of whatever I wanted. Up until recently that is exactly what I did. I never thought that things would change.

As a youth I enjoyed playing sports and being active, but as an adult the idea of having to take time away my free time to ‘exercise’ simply did not appeal to me. I would rather spend my free time watching television, trying out some new computer technology, or hanging out with my friends. I would try eating ‘healthier’ every now again, but I could never figure out how to make it work with my lifestyle. I am not good at preparing food, and even now I’m only best at making relatively healthy sandwiches. Fortunately things did change. I finally was able to figure out something that worked for me.

For months I watched two of my best friends who are runners post their workouts to Facebook. Over time I began do envy them and decided I wanted to what they were doing.  So I ran. Running was fine at first, but my weight at the time (285 pounds) caused me to get injured due to the impact caused by running. I became discouraged and stopped running simply because it became physically painful.

In November 2010 I was told that I was borderline diabetic, which put me into a panic. My father was overweight and even though I vowed I would never be like that, I had become exactly his mirror image. I spent the next few months trying to lose weight by “dieting,” but it didn’t really work. I probably only lost, at most, 10 pounds, but it was never permanent.  After of few months of trying to diet one of my friends said something that finally struck a chord.

I live 6 miles from where I work. The morning drive is relatively quick and easy. However, the evening drive takes at least 30 minutes and can be 60 minutes or more on bad days. One day I posted a picture of the backed up traffic on my drive home and my friend simply responded ‘get a bicycle!’  I initially dismissed the comment as amusing but what I didn’t know was that it stuck with me. A few weeks more of battling ridiculous traffic to go 6 miles finally got me to the tipping point. ‘Get a bicycle!’

The answer was simple and straightforward. A bicycle!  It satisfied my engineer’s requirement of efficiency. I have to go to and from work. Cycling to and from means I get the exercise I need while not having to sacrifice my free time. I bought a bicycle and began doing exactly that. While my eating habits did not change at first, I did begin to lose some weight. What I did not expect was my mind began to change as well. My body was becoming healthy and my mind was beginning to follow.

After 8 months of cycling I was able to lose 30 pounds and was no longer borderline diabetic. Even though I indulged myself every now and again, I knew my mind was where it needed to be. I was finally focused on leading a healthier lifestyle. For me it didn’t mean giving up everything I enjoyed.  It just meant I was enjoying it appropriately.

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