Indoor Cycling Supports This Rider’s Mental and Physical Health and Helps Her Stay Sober

cyclist amy boelter
Indoor Cycling Helps This Cyclist Stay SoberCourtesy Amy Boelter

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Name: Amy Boelter
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
Clinical Study Manager
Time Cycling:
One year, three months
Reason for Cycling:
It’s fun and you can get out and explore places and it challenges you!

I struggled with many health issues before I started cycling. In the summer of 2021, I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), a diagnosis that was a long time coming. The metabolic impacts of this were terrible for me. I had major challenges with infertility and taking medications for that caused significant weight gain. I also began struggling with alcohol.

I became a new mom during the pandemic, and I tried to do my past tried-and-true weight-loss practices, like lifting weights and dieting. However, the weight would not budge. I had been considering getting a Peloton bike for some time, and in October of 2021, I finally purchased it.

Around November 2021, I began having major digestive issues. I was very sick, and started medication to treat some of my PCOS symptoms. I was also diagnosed with depression and anxiety around this time, and began medications for these conditions. Ultimately, I was tired of being sick and feeling unhealthy. I had a young daughter and realized I wanted to be healthy to see her grow up. I wanted to get sober and not raise her in a home of dysfunction, and show her it is okay to have mental health and physical health issues—but to work on them. I wanted to be a positive role model for her.

So I began cycling in November 2021 on my Peloton. I liked it because of the convenience of being in my home, as well as the strength workouts and online community. My first few rides were all 15 to 20 minutes, and I built on it from there. I made it a daily habit, promising myself at least 15 minutes a day. I loved the rides and the instructors. It felt motivating and I wanted to keep going.

I also started my sobriety journey on January 1, 2022.

Initially, from November 2021 to April 2022, I only did cycling. I built up to about 45 minutes per day in that time period. I then started running and training for an off-road triathlon here in Minnesota. I followed a five-day-a-week training plan that consisted of riding, running, and swimming for approximately 30 minutes to one hour per day. I just went at my pace, and also integrated Peloton classes.

I registered for three triathlons, but due to sickness and an unexpected surgery for skin cancer, I did not complete them. I did do the off-road triathlon, but unfortunately, I was disqualified due to injury in the mountain bike portion.

As I increased my exercise, I also adjusted my diet and started to track my macros. I found it worked best for me and my training schedule because I could adjust my carb and fat intake up or down to meet my training demands. Prior to tracking macros, I ate whatever I wanted and yo-yo dieted for years in between. My eating patterns were terrible. I ate food for comfort, but rarely chose nutrient-dense foods. I aim for a high-protein diet now, which has been incredibly helpful for my PCOS.

I plan to do a few triathlons next summer, so my training schedule will shift at that time. I also want to get into adventure racing next year and do a three-hour race.

Cycling isn’t always easy and it takes consistency, but being healthy and being able to chase my daughter is worth it. I now lift weights six days a week and cycle or run for 45 minutes a day. This has dramatically improved my mental health, helped me stay sober, and also is very helpful to PCOS.

I would tell others to start with one goal. Set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals, and make them something you can track. Don’t become consumed by weight but rather your reason why.

Cycling has made me feel strong and has given me a place to compete. Cycling gives me time for myself in the chaos of life. I love a ride on my Peloton or out on the beautiful trails near my home. It makes me happy and gives me a sense of purpose.

These three tips have made my cycling journey a success:

1. Stay consistent

When I started out what I could do was 15 to 20 minutes a day, but that was a lot for me! Through consistency I was able to build on that and worked from 15-minute classes up to 45-minute classes. Progress takes time and consistency.

2. Fail forward

Something you have to get uncomfortable with in a health journey is failure. You will fail at a ride, you may fail at your diet, but one day won’t break you. Through sobriety, I have learned that life really is lived just one day at a time and failure does not define us but rather grows us. If you don’t try, you won’t fail–but you also won’t move the needle in the direction you desire.

3. Lean into community

Community has been key to my success. I found an online community, but also found a local bike shop that does community rides. I was afraid to show up but the truth is that everyone is so welcoming. If you don’t have a community, you can join mine! I always have room for one more. (You can also follow my sobriety Instagram account!)

Amy’s Must-Have Gear

1st Phorm Level-1 Protein Bar: These are great bars for eating ahead of or during a long ride to keep you energized!

Lululemon Wunder Train High Rise Short: This pair of shorts stays in place and are longer, so they do not ride up and you do not chafe.

Peloton Cycling Shoes: I love being clipped in for a ride and these are super comfortable.

GU Energy Gels: I grab these for fuel during long rides.

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