What I Learned Losing 69lbs in a Year

At 475lbs. a lot of things had to change. For me, it started with a bicycle.

Riding “Tubbs of Fun” in fresh snow the first time.

On March 6th, 2015 I started commuting by bicycle to work. In the process, I have lost 69lbs. Here is what I learned so far.

It is important to keep in mind what I have done is not a blueprint, a tried and true methodology or anything else. It is the results of a lifetime of experimentation and cultivated self-awareness. Buying a bicycle will not magically make you start to lose weight.

Fall 2014 I hit my heaviest. I was tipping the scales at 475lbs regularly. There are a lot of reasons, but it boils down the potent combination of bad habits coupled with genetic predilections.

My wife has gently been encouraging me throughout our marriage. What she doesn’t realize is that her love of ultra running has been the ultimate inspiration. Through her running of the Arrowhead 135, I was exposed to fat bikes. Eventually, my curiosity got the best of me, and I had to try riding one.

Riding a fat bike was a revelation. It was like capturing the essence of being eight years old. The freedom and possibility. The force multiplier for me is that fat bikes are not fast. There is no sitting in the drops trying to spin at 20+ mph all day. The fact that they ride like the bicycle equivalent of a monster truck is a huge plus.

One day a week I started commuting to and from work. It was only a total of 8 miles. However, it was a solid start. Slowly over the year, I picked up the miles. This coupled this a change of diet lead to small progressive steps. To help keep my motivation topped up, I signed up for the Riddle Box 50k race this past December. The focus was trying to maintain regular riding schedule. As my fitness improved I started folding in longer rides on the weekends.

Riding somewhere in far western Iowa during the Riddle Box

A few things to keep in mind. Due to my size, I didn’t bother with “normal” bicycling gear. This includes skipping bike shorts with a chamois. Of everything I have done, this is the one thing I would encourage people to skip. Because I started with frequent, low mileage rides, I was able to condition without padded shorts. However, they are very comfortable and they will prevent chaffing. Otherwise, go with what you already have. I commute in jeans regularly.

It took a lot longer than I wanted it to. However finding something active I enjoy, that I can do year round, both with and without people has been a turning point. There was nothing revelatory, radical or quick about my progress. I take encouragement that I have made it this far, and know that it will require patience and dedication to continue. It helps that I love what I am doing. Here is to a great year on the bike and another 69lbs lost.

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