My Journey to Regain Health and Fitness: A Cyclist's Tale of Losing Weight and Finding Balance
I was averaging well over 5,000 miles every year but I considered myself to be overweight. The main reason for that is that I rode but never gave much thought to my nutrition. In 2018, I got tired of carrying extra weight even though I was riding over 5,000 miles a year and I started the keto diet. It was very successful as I lost 48 pounds.
I did not feel great at my lowest weight of 182 on my 6'0' frame. For whatever reason, my endurance suffered. Keto is not an easy diet to sustain and I started moving away from it and over the next year I gained back about 10 pounds. I felt better than I had ever felt and my cycling went to a new place. In 2020, I rode my bicycle across the state of Texas(962 miles) from Oklahoma to South Padre Island. I did it in July and had days over 110 degrees. The days were brutal but the fact that I felt so good made it possible to get through the ride.
I kept my weight around the 195 to 200 pound range throughout 2022 although I had totally turned my back on the keto lifestyle. I did not ride a long ride in 2021 or 2022. I run a nonprofit food truck that hires disabled young people and we moved from a trailer into a truck and that took a huge amount of my time. Toward the end of 2022 I started ignoring my bicycle while eating poorly.
By the time we got through the winter of 2022/2023 I started having headaches and my blood pressure shot up really high. I was shocked to step on the scale and see that my weight was up around 20 pounds. I decided to do something about it.
I am going to use this blog to chronicle my attempts to get my health back and hopefully help other people too. I absolutely do not want to do the keto diet again. Sure, you can lose weight on it but trying to sustain it is impossible in my opinion.
Here is what I am going to do. I am going to use the MyFitnessPal app and log everything I eat and the exercise I do. I am not doing any fad diet. I really dislike most "clean" foods or any of the foods that nutritians would tell me to eat. I am 67 years old and trying to eat foods I simply do not like is not something I want to deal with. I just going to eat food I like and try to keep in a calorie deficit, mainly by using the extra calories that cycling gives me. The app figures out where I am and where I am wanting to go and gives me a set amount of calories to eat. By going into a deficit, I should lose down to my 195 pound weight by the end of summer.
Any of you who have ever tried to lose weight know how difficult it is and I am going to be honest as I progress through this and let you see the highs and the lows.
I actually started this journey 3 days ago and already feel better. My headaches are gone but I mainly give the credit of that to me dropping diet drinks and just drinking water. For some reason, probably dropping the diet drinks, my blood pressure has already dropped back to the normal range. Hopefully that will continue to be the case.
I had not totally ignored my bike through the winter but I had not rode it enough to keep my fitness level. My first day back I went for a slow 20 mile ride. It was easy and I felt pretty good after it ended. Of course, if you have ever tried to get back into shape after getting out of shape you know that the first day usually goes pretty good only to be followed by struggles the next day.
My second day was a real struggle. My legs felt tired and hurt and I rode into a 25 mph wind to top it off. I had planned to ride 20 miles but cut it down to a very difficult to finish 17 miles.
This morning I woke up to Alexa telling me that we were going to have winds in excess of 40 mph and gusts up to 70 mph so I went for my ride early before it got too windy. I know I need to have patience so I cut this ride down to 14 miles and took it easy. I felt good but tired but, after 3 days, I feel like I can get back into the swing of things.
I am going to chronicle this entire journey so that you can see a real attempt eating foods that I am used to eating to lose weight and get back into riding shape.
I will come back here and link to the next article so that you can follow it easier if you catch this months from now.
Here is my next post: Should I Carry a Firearm While Touring on a Bicycle?