I am not a nutritionist or a doctor. I am a 40-something, overweight cyclist who has lost almost 50 pounds. I am sharing what worked and what didn’t work for me in an open, honest way. The photos of me are all mixed up and from different parts of this process and I love each and every one of them. Finally, I also love and appreciate all feedback, so don’t hesitate to reach out! Email me at [email protected]
One of the things that I have been incredibly open and honest about in my cycling journey here at Sascy Cycling is the topic of my weight and my body.
The ONE thing I am here for, the one thing I want for all of you, is to love your body just as much as you love cycling.
Heck, I want you to love your body MORE. There. I said it. And I mean it.
You don’t need to change the way your body looks.
You need to change the way you are thinking about your body.
Believe me when I say talking about my weight, about my body, did not always come easily.
My body was something I was ashamed of.
It was a project. It was something that was perpetually “broken”, that I was constantly trying to find tools to “fix.”
It took me years, decades even, to figure out it wasn’t my body that needed to be fixed.
It was the way I was thinking about my body that needed to change.
It wasn’t until I began to love and embrace my body, until I started focusing on what my body can DO, not what it LOOKS LIKE, that I really started to see change.
THIS is when I started to lose weight.
Changing my thoughts about my body, getting my head straight about my body? Learning to really, truly love myself just as I am right now?
This is what got me the results I wanted.
Not focusing on physically changing my body, or what it looks like.
Changing my MINDSET about my body is when EVERYTHING started to change.
Now I can say, without emotion that I am an overweight cyclist.
At times, depending on my weight and standard definitions, I am an obese cyclist. Sometimes I choose to think of myself as a fat cyclist.
That’s the thing. I GET TO BE THE ONE IN CHARGE. I get to describe my body however I choose. I am the person who gets to decide what it means.
Not the person driving by me who yells something out their car window.
Not the kids who teased me about my weight at school when I was younger.
I am the one who gets to decide what my body is, how to think about it, and what to feel about it.
Regardless of the label or identity I choose at any given moment, or what the scale says, I am a cyclist that generally weighs more and carries more body fat than other female cyclists I see.
Whatever my identity, whatever my size? The most important thing is that I am a CYCLIST.
It doesn’t matter what kind of cyclist I am, what kind of bike I ride, what I look like. All that matters is that I am a cyclist.
And if you ride a bike? Any kind of bike? You are a cyclist too.
How I Used to Approach My Relationship With My Body
My thoughts surrounding my weight, my size, for years? These thoughts were NOT FACTS. They were thoughts. And feelings. And they were hurting me.
Growing up, I was always bigger than other girls. At least I felt bigger.
By the time I was in elementary school, I identified as “fat.” Kids mostly knew it wasn’t cool to ridicule others for their size, and most were kind, but not all.
Also, I have always spoken my mind.
The things I would say and do weren’t always popular. I have always been a bit “rough around the edges” and easily provoked.
These were the times that the “fat” insults would get flung at me (like in Middle School when I refused to give a boy the seat that he wanted to sit in, and he called me a “fat cow” and dumped me on the floor).
Some of this was happening outside of me, for sure, but a lot of it was going on inside as well.
I looked in the mirror and I didn’t like what I saw.
I saw a girl who to me looked bigger than others.
I saw a girl who wanted to be skinny.
I saw a girl who became motivated to eat all things fat free in the hope that she would no longer be fat.
I thought that if I was smaller that things would be better. People would like me more. I would have more friends. I would be more popular.
It didn’t matter that none of this was actually TRUE, this is what I thought, what I felt, what I believed.
I remember using reduced fat margarine and eating fat free snacks that had a cardboard-like taste. This was the late 80s/early 90s when the “fat free” diet craze was everywhere. We didn’t realize that all of those fat-free snacks were so full of sugar that they were not the best choice.
I didn’t lose weight. If anything? I gained weight.
I was constantly stuck in this loop of trying to make better choices, trying to eat less, getting bigger, being depressed, and then saying “eff it”, giving up, and then eating a whole lot more.
If you are anything like me, I bet some of what I am saying sounds all too familiar to you.
I know that I repeated this cycle, or some version of it, into college, into my twenties, thirties, and so on.
I have tried a lot of methods to lose weight. There is ALWAYS a new diet program out there. A new thing.
And yet? My attempts were always pretty half-hearted. I never really thought they would work. I didn’t ever really even try all that hard.
Generally there weren’t enough cards, points, calories, etc. in the day for me. I would tire of it, I would give up.
I mean, I think deep down I always knew HOW to lose weight.
You move your body more, and you eat healthy things. You eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy proteins. You go for walks. You take the stairs instead of the elevator.
The actual HOW to losing weight is really, MADDENINGLY simple.
So why wasn’t I doing it? If this is what I wanted, why wasn’t I actually losing any weight? How was I constantly getting this so wrong?
Well, in a word, I was afraid. What if I actually tried, and I failed?
It was a lot easier to just not try and keep repeating the loop of losing a little weight and gaining it all back, than to actually trust myself and go all in on myself.
How I was FINALLY Inspired to Change My Relationship With My Body
About a year and a half ago I was listening to a podcast. I am something of a podcast junkie, and just love to listen to them and learn all the things.
Well, the host of this podcast, Natalie Bacon (check her out, she’s amazing!), was talking about her body. And she was talking about how she was changing her relationship with her body by changing her thoughts about her body. Specifically she mentioned that she went from thinking something like, “I don’t like my legs” to a neutral thought “I have legs.”
I figured I really didn’t have a lot to lose, and this did seem like a pretty simple place to start with my relationship with my body. Start with neutral thoughts like “I have a body.”
Yes! I can do this!
“I HAVE A BODY!”
This isn’t a thought, or a feeling, or an emotion.
This is a FACT.
It was so powerful to go from looking in the mirror and focusing on all of the things that I would like to change, all of the things I didn’t like, to just focusing on the fact that I was there.
That’s ME there, in the mirror. And I have a body.
I then started to focus on what I liked about my body. This was an easy one. I focused IMMEDIATELY on my hair.
I love, love, love my hair. I like to play with it. I like to color it different colors (I had a brief stint with blue last summer that was so subtle I think I was one of the few people who even noticed!).
I like to wash it. I love the smell of fancy shampoo.
I kid you not, I take selfies in the car after every visit to the salon and send them to my absolutely lovely friend, Caroline, who indulges me each and every time. Bless her.
I don’t love to dry or style it, and don’t do it all the time, but DAMN do I love looking at it and running my fingers through it after I dry/style it!
My hair is serious business to me. Some people spend money on clothes, things, etc. I spend money on my hair. Getting it cut. Getting it colored.
The fanciest hair products I can get my hands on. You name it, I have likely tried it or at least have an opinion on it!
Focusing on what I like about my appearance made me appreciate parts of my body that I never truly appreciated before. I focused on my hands and feet that I get from my mom.
On my hazel eyes that I get from my grandfather and now share with our son.
Focusing on the things that I have positive thoughts on? THAT was where things started to change.
Then, I moved on to my legs. My feelings about them have never been great. I always thought of them as, well, BIG.
But then I really got to thinking. My legs are one of the only things I have left of my wonderful, jolly, fun-loving Dad who was just so full of life and loved me and my family so much.
My legs are JUST like his.
They are short, they are large, they have strength, they are POWERFUL.
It is my legs that spin my bike. It is my legs and what they DO, not what they look like, that makes me the cyclist that I am today.
The more I ride my bike? The BIGGER my thighs appear. My legs are getting stronger, and so am I.
Not just physically.
My relationship with my body is getting stronger and is making ME stronger.
Focusing on what my body can do, what it has done, was literally everything in terms of really, truly, changing my relationship with it.
If you start to do this, one thought at a time, you can change your relationship with your body too.
It won’t happen all at once. You won’t immediately go from thinking your body sucks to thinking your body is awesome.
Your brain, my friend, is WAY too smart for that. It simply won’t believe it.
But if you start the way I did, and do a little bit at a time…changing your more negative thoughts to neutral ones, and eventually the neutral thoughts to positive ones?
You will start to love your body. And love yourself. And focus on what you and your body can DO together.
There is so much power in that.
How Changing My Body Led to Weight Loss, and How I Feel About It
So this is where things get kind of tricky and sticky, right?
If I have found a way to love myself, as I am, then why do I even want to lose weight anymore?
Why couldn’t I just be happy as I was?
Is there something wrong with me because I love my body AND want to change it at the same time?
In a word? NO.
You absolutely CAN love your body, BE happy with yourself and your body, AND want to make changes all at the same time.
Conversely, you absolutely CAN love your body and NOT want to change it at all. It is all up to YOU.
All of these thoughts, feelings, desires are equally valid, and equally OK! The important thing is that they are YOUR thoughts. Not someone else’s.
That if YOU decide that you want to change your body, then you CAN do it, and you absolutely should!
In this article I go into detail on five of the specific things I did to lose weight cycling, that led to my weight loss because it is what I wanted for me.
It was thinking of the body and the life that I wanted for myself that really motivated and inspired me to make positive changes.
I want to be strong on the bike. I want to be fit, and I want to be able to keep up with my son when he wants to play, run, or ride (OK to be fair he already runs a lot faster than I do, but at least I can run too!).
I don’t want to feel tired. I want to be full of energy. I want to be physically strong.
I want to get UP THOSE DARN HILLS a little bit faster!
I want to be able to keep up in group rides.
I started to think about the person that I wanted to be in 3-5 years and started setting goals that would move me forward.
I focused on developing healthier habits.
Loving myself and my body as it is, right now, helped me with all of this so much.
Yes, I wanted to make changes, but doing it from a place of love was everything.
When you love your body and respect it, you want to treat it well.
You want to care for it inside and out.
You want to put the best, healthiest stuff in it because you care about it that much.
I mean, think about it. So many of us are moms. There used to be so many food choices that I wouldn’t offer to my child, but would regularly eat myself.
Why wouldn’t I want to take care of myself just as much too? The more I take care of me, the stronger and healthier I am to take care of him.
Now, please note, there is NO MOM SHAMING HERE. You are NOT a bad mom if you don’t make the same choices I do. I didn’t always make super healthy choices, and I still don’t all of the time. We have sugar! We have ice cream! It’s delicious!!!
What I am saying is I have decided that most of the time I want to make the kinds of choices I encourage our son to make.
I mean I could go on and ON about some of the choices I have made as a mom just to survive. And all of those were OK. They were the right choices for me at the time.
I ultimately was able to make changes by thinking about what I wanted my body to be like in the future, and focusing on what kinds of choices that future me would be making without even thinking about it.
Sometimes I stand in front of the pantry and am feeling stressed. I want to EAT ALL THE THINGS!
BUT, I have learned that if I am really clear on wanting to do what’s best for me and my body it becomes more possible to interrupt my unconscious, emotional eating.
I can say, “Stacy, you are feeling stressed. Let yourself feel that emotion. You will not feel any less stressed if you eat all the cookies. You will then feel stressed AND feel not so great about eating a bunch of cookies.”
YOU can absolutely do this too. Think about how your future self would think about these cookies, chips, etc. in the pantry.
Future Stacy? She rides her bike, makes healthy choices, and loves her body. She focuses on what her body can do, not what it looks like.
She would probably not even think about eating things that weren’t a part of her plan because they just aren’t a part of her plan. She doesn’t emotionally eat because she lets herself feel the stress and anxiety and work through it.
In case you are wondering, yes, ice cream and cookies ARE still a part of the plan…just a more occasional, and intentional part of the plan!
Future me is in charge of the choices she makes. She feels great when she moves her body. She feels great when she eats healthy food.
I want to make most of my decisions in line with this person that I want to be. I will not always make the best choices, and that’s OK! The idea is to learn from the choices I make and set myself up to make choices that are more in line with my goals in the future.
I want to be moving forward, and making these decisions from an intentional place, without beating myself up over any decisions, good or bad, that I have made in the past.
I will be brutally honest here. There are times I stand in front of the pantry, recognize the stress, say “eff it” and eat the cookies anyway, and that’s OK!
It’s OK because I focus on the fact that each time I close the pantry door instead, I am moving myself forward. And if we can close the door more often then we eat the cookies? THAT is a step in the right direction.
What My Relationship With My Body is Like Now
First of all, I want to reach out to middle school me and give that girl a big huge hug, tell her she is truly beautiful just the way she is, and to love herself because one day it’s all going to be OK.
I have come a long way, and would love to tell you that I currently have a perfect relationship with my body; that I am all done with this work.
I don’t. And I am not. Maybe I will never be.
And that’s OK.
I can tell you, however, that the love and kindness that I feel for my body is leaps and bounds above what it was even just two years ago.
I can tell you that by focusing on losing weight from this place of love I was able to lose almost 50 lbs in a year.
I can also tell you that I am really not even focused on my weight loss.
Months ago I had started thinking like someone who weighs 50 pounds less and thinking of myself as that person. As nice as the weight loss is (and it IS nice!), it’s simply not the focus.
Being happy and healthy is the focus. Loving myself as I am in this moment is the focus.
I have actually gained a little weight back the last few months, and that’s OK. I am curious about it, I question it, but I do not obsess over it.
I have been changing up my eating plan, changing up my workouts, and my body has continued to change too…FULL STOP.
That is all that number means and reflects. It doesn’t mean anything at all about me.
I do not let the number on the scale define me. It is truly, just a number, just a marker in this journey to become the healthier version of me that I have chosen I want to be.
I know that the accumulation of all of the good choices I have made over the past year and a half or so will continue to propel me forward. Maybe I will hit that 50 lb mark one day.
Maybe I won’t.
And that’s OK.
This is a marathon, not a sprint.
This is a CENTURY! Not a speed trail.
The number on the scale truly doesn’t matter. What matters is that I feel incredible.
That I am getting a lot better at stopping my negative body talk in its tracks.
That I work to change my negative thoughts about myself and my body to neutral ones, and my neutral thoughts to positive ones.
If, after over 35 years of negative thoughts about my body and beating myself up, I can start to make these changes to how I think about my body?
YOU can ABSOLUTELY do it too.
I promise you.
It won’t be easy.
It’s VERY hard mental work. It’s emotional work.
But I will say that once I started the work? Once I focused on my mindset? The weight loss really, truly came easier than it ever has.
I paid attention, I weighed myself, I became curious about ups and downs and why they happened, but overall I knew I would get there because I focused on loving me.
Loving my body.
Loving what I look like in the mirror.
When I started to finally love and respect myself? The changes were a whole lot easier to make.
Do I always make good choices now? No.
Do I always say “no” to the pantry and “yes” to feeling my emotions? No.
BUT, do I make overall better choices than I used to? YES!
Do I ask myself to feel my feelings, my emotions, and actually feel them more than I used to? YES!
Is my relationship with my body significantly better than it used to be?
Yes. Yes. 1000 times YES.
How do YOU feel about your body?
What are the stories you tell yourself about your body?
Are you struggling with your relationship with your body, or do you feel you have really come to terms with loving your body and what it can do?
Comment below and let us know!
Rather not share here? That’s fine too! Email me at [email protected]. I would absolutely love to hear from you and want to hear your story, and want to help in any way I can.
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