By Jared Gould
27 Jan

Pedaling the Pounds Off: It Takes a Long Time

Monday, January 27, 2020

In my second post, I discussed what I called “The Learning Curve.” That is, cycling alone was not enough to continue to lose weight. Instead, my lifestyle had to change. I began to seriously consider what I was putting in my body.

I used to think that life without sugar is boring. Eating healthily, however, taught me the opposite. Eating healthily made life more exciting, it gave me more energy, and it filled me without also making me feel bloated and sluggish.

However, I also mentioned that the road to losing more weight was not easy. While on one hand I discovered that through dieting and exercise, losing more weight was possible, the other hand made me realize something else—losing more was not going to happen overnight.

It should have seemed obvious to me from the beginning that losing weight is a long-term commitment. After all, I did not reach nearly 300 pounds overnight. For 18 years, I never seriously considered how dangerous a line I was walking with being both overweight and having a heart condition. Rather, I ate whenever I wanted, whatever I wanted, and however much I wanted. If, for 18 years, I committed myself to being overweight or, in the worse cases, obese, I needed more than a few months or even a year to reach my weight goal of 190 pounds.

As I moved into my sophomore year of college, time available to hold to my cycling commitment was fading and dieting was no longer going to be just as important as exercise, but more than. If I had any setbacks in life, the beginning of sophomore year was certainly one of them. I asked myself, how could I dedicate time to cycling with more rigorous course work and a job?

However, there are so many ways around setbacks and I was not going to let a busy schedule get in the way of my goals. I learned that life changes and, if I had any hope of success, I needed to change with it. So, instead of setting myself up for failure by asking defeatist questions such as the previous one, I reframed the question into one with a more encouraging tone: How early do I need to get up to get an hour ride in, make it to classes on time, and show up to work with energy for the night? For me, the answer was 6 a.m., a time that, in hindsight, is not bad.

Yet, for all of sophomore year I could not break 240 pounds. While I was mostly consistent in getting up every morning to ride the bike, only missing a few days here and there, the weight did not come off. Today, I am convinced that, though cycling was great for my health and strengthened my heart, it was only through conscientious food choices that was I able to sustain 240 pounds. It wasn’t my goal weight, but it was remarkably better to maintain 240 pounds than to gain all the weight back. Thus, I took it as a small win.

In keeping with my busy schedule, dieting was just as important as cycling—and although cycling was more fun, dieting was often more important. And, ironically, it was the best lesson I learned that year, because, by May of 2017, I learned that that summer I would be without my bike entirely. Why? Well, I was off to DC!

Keep your eyes out for my next post where I will discuss life without a bike and how I managed to sustain 240 pounds without it and then follow to the end to track my progress today. As always, I hope these blogs inspire others. To my CHD community, remember that weight loss is possible. In fact, why not get started now? Get your bike and read below to hear about ACHA’s upcoming event:

ACHA is excited to announce that in 2020 we will launch the first bicycling event specifically to benefit the CHD community! We are currently seeking volunteers to serve on our planning committee to help us create a truly memorable experience. If you or someone you know enjoys cycling, please contact Mark Roeder at mroeder@achaheart.org and let him know you want to help plan the inaugural Ride for 1 in 100. Stay tuned for more event details to be announced soon!

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

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