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Hometown: Santa Clarita, California
Occupation: Stay-at-Home Mom
Time Cycling: 3 years
Start Weight: 342 pounds
End Weight: 248 (and still losing)
Reason for Cycling: Who doesn’t like to go fast? I love the feeling of speed I get from cycling.
I have been overweight most of my life. Prior to my current weight loss journey, I had lost more than 70 pounds in six months when I completed an intense weight-loss program—a medically supervised all-liquid diet regimen of 800 calories per day. It was not sustainable, to say the least. After the program ended, I regained the 70 pounds, plus an additional 20.
My weight had always interfered with how I wanted to live my life. I had to ask for a seat belt extender when flying. When going to theme parks, I couldn’t ride with the kiddos on rides because I honestly couldn’t fit. I would look for excuses to not participate when it came to physical activity—like it was too hot, I had the wrong shoes or outfit, etc.
My turning point came in June 2017 when I volunteered to be a Roadie for the AIDS/LifeCycle ride to support my dad—it was his seventh year fundraising and riding 545 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I was assigned to bike parking, which was a tough job. Work started early and ended late, and I was on my feet all day. By the end of the day, my ankles and feet were in so much pain. We slept in tents, and at 342 pounds, I couldn’t zip up my sleeping bag because I was too big. I was miserable, but I pushed through.
Because of my efforts and my smiles, I was selected as Roadie of the Day, and that made me more comfortable with being uncomfortable. If I could push myself that hard for people I didn’t know, maybe I needed to push myself that hard for my family and myself. I was determined to start losing weight.
I started by adjusting my diet. The first two changes I made was by reducing the amount of soda I was drinking and not eating out as often—that helped me lose the first 20 pounds. In November 2017, I signed up for a 21-day keto challenge at a local group fitness gym and lost 16 more pounds.
I continued to take group classes at that gym, and I absolutely loved the instructor who also happened to be one of the spin class instructors. I had never done a spin class, but I decided to start. Was it comfortable? No. But it was exciting and engaging, and the instructor encouraged me to stick with it and give it at least eight rides. I did, and it stuck—so much that I invested in a gel seat cover to take to class. In May 2018 when I hit my 100-pound weight loss mark, my dad gifted me Shimano cycling shoes, which I still ride with today.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was attending the gym four to five days a week, and I took a cycling class on two of those days. When gyms closed in March 2020, my working out ceased, and I slacked when it came to my diet. With my three school-age kids now attending school at home, I was mentally and physically exhausted. As I kept seeing the scale creeping up, I knew I needed to find something to get me motivated again. The thing I missed the most from the gym was cycling.
In June 2020, I took the plunge and invested in a NordicTrack S22i. I never thought I would be someone who could work out at home, but the benefits have surpassed my expectations. I don't have to make an appointment for childcare (or get my kids dressed and ready!). And I can work a ride into my day at any time. When my family sees me filling my water bottle, changing into my leggings, and putting on my cycling shoes, they know what time it is for me.
Fast-forward to January 2021, I set a goal of losing four to six pounds a month. Diet-wise, I try to consume 30 net grams of carbs per day, and typically have one “carb-up day” every four to seven days. I have also found that intermittent fasting, with an eating window of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., really works for me.
I now cycle six days week; I use the iFit app on my NordicTrack S22i, and I love doing different challenges through the app. I recently hit a milestone of 100 workouts, and I look forward to hitting my next milestone of 200 workouts with iFit.
A future goal I have is to eventually invest in a road bike. I prefer indoor cycling because I don’t have to worry about any type of obstacles in my path that might slow me down or make me crash and hurt myself. I’ve set a goal for December 2021 to hit the pavement for a birthday ride. I’ve been working on building my climbing legs and getting my saddle endurance to above an hour to prepare for that ride.
Since my journey began in June 2017, I have lost 94 pounds. I have had weight fluctuations, and that’s totally normal! I am proud of my journey. Right now, I feel like I'm on more of a fitness journey than a weight-loss journey. I love the shift in the fitness industry that I'm seeing. You can be an athlete and still be ‘thick’ and have loose skin.
My goal is to be under 200 pounds, but I don’t need to be skinny. Fit doesn’t equal skinny. And cycling fulfills my ‘me’ time. I've never regretted a ride and love that feeling of speed. Remember, the only person that can limit you is you. And as long as your legs are turning, it counts!
Follow along with Vanessa’s journey on Instagram.
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