Hometown: Milton, Ontario, Canada
Occupation: Medical Sales
Time Cycling: 1 year, 7 months
Start Weight: 379 pounds
End Weight: 179 pounds
Reason for Cycling: I started cycling since it was the one exercise I could do without being in excruciating pain. It quickly became the vehicle to a complete change in mindset.
I have always been a large person, but in my early 20s I was very active; I would run and lift weights regularly. As I began my ‘adult’ life, weighing 218 pounds, I struggled to keep a healthy balance of my life priorities. My weight quickly rose to 270 pounds, and then up to 320 pounds in a few years. How do you lose track of 50 pounds?
When my weight reached over 379 pounds, I could barely move, let alone walk. I learned I had a genetic heart issue (cardiomyopathy), hypertension, and four herniated discs that eventually put me on long-term disability. I was watching my kids grow up from the sidelines; I was just existing and not living.
In the fall of 2019, when I was 36 years old, a group of my neighbors had an intervention with me. They shared their concerns, and we all committed to making a group change together towards a healthier lifestyle. That commitment made way for something bigger: the CCC, or the Coombs Cycling Club (Coombs is the name of our street). Cycling took the pressure off of my back, so I figured it would be the best option for getting exercise for the time being. In October 2019, I asked three of those neighbors if they would ride with me, and they agreed.
I enjoyed cycling right away, but finding equipment was tough. After extensive research, I bought my first jersey in size 5XL; this seemingly easy task wasn’t a great experience! Buying a bike was challenging, as well. For my first bike, I bought a used hybrid bike that wasn’t really fit for me—all I cared about was the weight capacity. When I invested in a real road bike, I was a lot more specific about what I was looking for, counting spokes on the wheels, narrowing it down to aluminum specific frames instead of carbon, and running 32mm tires at max pressure.
With the CCC, we rode for the first two months outside, before transitioning to indoor spin classes at the local gym five to six times a week during the winter. The following season, I completed numerous 100km rides, and even a 100-mile ride.
In 2020, with the challenges of COVID-19, I rode outside, and followed a cycling training program provided by a local Granfondo organization called Epictour. I also mixed in some winter fat biking over the off-season. And once it was no longer under 0 degrees outside, we were back outside riding 30km to 40km almost daily. Since then, through rain and family tragedy, through winter spin sessions and Zwift rides, the CCC has not stopped.
Additionally, my eating habits changed. I started counting calories, ensuring that I was at a safe deficit everyday; I tried to keep a 40/40/20 split between protein, carbs, and fat. And in September 2020, I had gastric bypass surgery. My goal for the procedure is to use it as a tool to prevent me from regaining the weight. I have a long history of losing and regaining weight, which was exacerbated by extreme diets, such as low-carb, keto, and intermittent fasting.
Since surgery, I have lost an additional 120 pounds. I still eat a cookie, or some chips, or a slice of pizza at times, but I have just learned to limit myself to small portions. I had the surgery to give me that physical limitation, but during the journey I’ve gained the willpower to control it so those limits are never tested anymore.
Currently, I cycle about five to six days a week. I try and get out anytime it isn’t raining. At the end of the summer, I’m going to be doing a cancer fundraiser riding 250 kms over two days.
I was sold on buying a Defy, which is Giant’s endurance bike offering. It matched where I was in my journey and what I was currently able to do. However, when walking to the cash register, one specific bike caught my eye: the Giant TCR Advanced Pro Team Disc. It was the color I wanted, it was more aggressive looking, and upon closer inspection, it was the Team CCC edition. Obviously, it wasn’t our CCC riding club, but once I saw this, I felt like it was meant to be, and that this represented where I wanted to be in the future.
Since October 2019, I have lost 200 pounds. Cycling has given me a second chance at life. It’s given me perspective on what I had lost, and it’s given me appreciation for the things that really matter to me. It’s given me the opportunity to be an active and present husband, father and friend. Cycling has become so much more than a way to move and get exercise. It has become the physical and social center of my life, and, to a large extent, it’s helped me cope with the doom and gloom of the past year and a half.
In December 2019, I lost my mom. That was followed by the psychological, economical, and social challenges that came with COVID-19. Cycling has very much been one of the steadying components of my life. I’ve had a lot of what some may call “spiritual awakenings” over my weight-loss journey, as I reconnect with different aspects of my life that I thought that I had lost forever. I can without a doubt say that many of these moments of clarity have been either on the bike, or as a result of me realizing what I’ve gained back as a result of cycling.
I started this journey with a broken body, unable to walk to the mailbox, let alone ride 160kms. I had already watched from the sidelines as my kids grew up over the past six years. How much more was I going to miss before I inevitably missed it all? This motivated me into action and kept me going when things got hard.
My last piece of advice is something members of the CCC would say during the winter training sessions when it was -20C outside, and we didn’t want to go to spin class: just take that step out of the door. Once you get up, pack your bag and walk out of your house, you are already committed. We are here waiting and rooting you on. Just take that step.
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