Occupation: VP of Operations for Home Visiting Physicians
Hometown: Plainfield, Illinois
Start Weight: 175 pounds
End Weight: 100 pounds
I’ve had a love for bikes since I was a child, but I sort of stopped cycling because my life took over. I started to gain weight when I had children, and in 2004, when I was two years postpartum, I was at my heaviest—175 pounds. Being 4′ 10″, that weight was considered morbidly obese.
I used the excuse that I was eating for two, even after I was no longer eating for two. Working and raising kids often meant sacrificing a healthy diet for convenience. I hardly had the energy to take care of my kids and poor eating habits became detrimental. Diabetes runs in my family, and a recent doctor visit confirmed I had very high blood pressure and was borderline diabetic.
I remembered how much I enjoyed cycling, so I thought, “If I want to have energy to take care of my kids, now’s a good time to restart.”
I started out with a very simple, cheap bike and rode every other day, just five miles at a time. I was so overweight that every mile was excruciating, but after time, I started to feel better. I felt good after exercise, and knew that if I made healthy diet choices, I could feel even better.
I set small goals for myself: First, I dropped soda, and then candy bars. It was one baby step at a time. But I knew I wanted to make a total lifestyle change.
Over the course of two years, the changes in my dietary habits coupled with riding 20 miles every day paid off. I was able to hit my goal BMI, and then I rode 30 miles every other day, weather permitting and haven’t stopped!
I didn’t want this to become a passing phase, I wanted it to be a lifestyle. And that meant eating, too. I didn’t want to eat healthy for a season, I wanted to learn how to make healthy eating work for daily life. So, I follow a diet that focuses on foods that are made in nature—the goal is to eat less processed foods. I do incorporate one “cheat” meal a week, because it’s important to keep balance and enjoy a healthy lifestyle without feeling restricted.
Heading out for a ride often doesn’t feel like a workout; if anything, it’s therapeutic. Often, I get so lost in the moment enjoying my surroundings that I forget I need to head back, and I go further than intended. But the physical gains from it never disappoint.
I also incorporate HIIT cycling sets into my workouts. For example, within 30-mile ride, I incorporate seven sets of 60-second cycling sprints. In between sets, I ride at a moderate pace, approximately 13 to 15 miles an hour. There have also been several times that I have challenged myself to go further than 30 miles per ride, having gone as far as 60 miles in one ride at one point—while remaining to incorporate those HIIT sets.
I live in Illinois, and I can’t stand exercising in the cold—so my cycling season ends in about mid-October, and I pick it back up in about March, when the weather warms up. But to keep my fitness during that time, I do bootcamp classes three times a week. Even though I kind of hate them, the classes help me stay in shape, and I don’t feel exhausted when I’m getting back onto the bike.
[Gravel! prepares you with everything you need to know to crush it, including the best gear, how to train, and much more!]
Because I enjoy cycling so much, it never took much to motivate myself to head outside with my bike. But if I ever need that motivation, I set a mileage goal for the year. In 2018, I set a goal to ride 1,000 miles, which I accomplished. Last year, I upped it to 2,500 miles and was able to hit that before the end of the year. This year, I have my sights set on 3,000—that means I have to ride about 45 to 50 miles every other day, since I’ll have to complete my goal before it gets too cold for me to ride.
On my bucket list is to one day cycle from coast to coast. And, it’s my mission to inspire other moms that were in the same position as I was. When I started out, I recall looking to other moms who overcame similar obstacles to make a lifestyle change, and now I really enjoy seeing other moms do what I did. And I love when I can inspire other moms to get started cycling. I know that if I could do it, they can, too.
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