By Jared Gould
21 Apr

Pedaling the Pounds Off: Back in Mississippi, Part 1

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

In my previous blog, Walk it Off, I wrote about my summer in Washington, D.C. After three months in D.C., I finally broke 240 pounds and when I returned to Mississippi in August to begin junior year, I was 230 pounds. I also discussed that by walking every day, I learned that exercise can be fun. Riding a bike, in fact, is not just a mechanism to lose weight. It is an adventure, a way to explore the environment and, as I will discuss in a future post, a great way to spend time with friends. On the day I returned to Mississippi, I hopped on the bike and took a long ride through my suburb, taking in my surroundings, looking at scenery, and even took a 30-minute break at the community lake.

Embarking on rides with this new understanding made cycling exhilarating and fun. Yet, as exhilarating as the rides were, nothing was more remarkable than the confidence losing weight gave me. Two years prior to this journey, at nearly 300 pounds, I was extremely self-conscious, did not think I could accomplish much, and, with the high career aspirations I have, certainly did not believe that I would be taken seriously in the professional world. And, matching the sentiment I had about my body image, I doubted as well that substantial weight loss was achievable.

As you have read in my previous blogs, however, with the help of cycling, the weight came off in increments, and reaching 230 pounds exceeded even my greatest expectations, instilling in me a new, profound sense of confidence. And, as unwarranted as it may have been, this new, profound sense of self-worth was exactly what I needed to drive me to make the ambitious decision to serve as the President of the History Honor Society at the University of Southern Mississippi.

Having a better body image, I felt comfortable standing in front of a classroom, speaking with the student body, and recruiting students to be members of the organization. Not to mention, I felt even more comfortable speaking with professors, asking for their assistance, and personally inviting them to attend organization events.

In fact, during my time heading the organization, the leadership team and I had many successes. I say this not to brag about my hard work, but to explain my experience. Losing weight was more than merely obtaining a healthier BMI. It was all about the little things: learning that exercise can be fun, learning that cooking is enjoyable, and learning that cycling rocks! Most importantly, though, it was about a whole change of attitude and finally having a sense of pride that gave me the confidence I needed to act on my ambitions.

For the academic year, I regularly cycled, ate a healthy diet, and kept a strict sleeping schedule. Doing so, I maintained 230 pounds. Nearing summer, I was happy with my progress, but I knew that losing more weight was necessary. As my cardiologists suggest, I need to reach 190 pounds. Based on lessons I learned in D.C. and the confidence I gained, I knew losing more was possible. But first, as with every summer in this series, there was an obstacle to face. This time, it was moving from Hattiesburg to Jackson for an internship at the Mississippi Governor’s Office.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where I will discuss exercise challenges in Jackson, and how finding a gym, using a stationary bike, and working with a great staff led to the greatest weight loss in my journey.

Finally, I hope you are staying safe during the outbreak of COVID-19. To stay active during this quarantine period, I encourage you to join in on an ACHA Your Way walk, which can be found here.

Note: Always make sure to check with your ACHD cardiologist before beginning any exercise routine.

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