Being an overweight female cyclist can have its struggles.
I speak from experience, my friend.
For years I have struggled with my weight.
In the past, I watched the numbers on the scale go up with a kind of abject horror. It can almost be this out of body experience!
I step on, I see a number that is way higher than what I thought it would be, and my jaw just kind of drops.
Or, I would avoid the scale altogether. Then I’d find myself, putting on a cycling kit that used to fit, only to find that I am struggling to pull up the bibs.
And then? When I zipped up the jersey? Let’s just say there were some more noticeable rolls than what I remembered!
If all of that weren’t bad enough, I would then start beating myself up and berating myself over it.
I looked at myself in the mirror in disgust and wondered what on earth I had done.
I would say things like, “Stacy! You worked SO hard to lose the weight. Now look at you. You’re right back where you started. Awesome.”
I would think, “You need to DO something about this. Ride more! Eat less! Do it NOW!!!”
And then, in most instances, I felt like such crap that I didn’t do either of those things and gained more weight.
Or I tried to cycle a TON, and really cut back on what I ate for a little while. And it may have even resulted in some weight loss, but it was usually so restrictive and that sheer willpower only lasted so long.
I hope that none of this is familiar to you, but if you are anything like me, these thoughts and feelings probably are.
All too often women gain weight, beat themselves up, lose weight, and then gain it all back again.
I was stuck in this cycle for years, and it felt absolutely awful.
This cycle simply wasn’t serving me. I wasn’t getting the results I wanted for myself, I had zero confidence, and I just wanted to eat an entire pantry of organic Doritos.
I mean…at least they’re organic?
Once I changed my thoughts about weight gain, however, I started to feel better.
When I started to feel better about my body, and about myself, I started to make changes. I started to get results.
Why You Shouldn’t Ever Feel Bad About Gaining Weight and What do Do Instead
Feeling bad about gaining weight just feels…bad.
Feeling bad is not useful. It’s not productive.
It would be one thing if feeling bad actually got us the results we want, but it usually doesn’t. At least not long term.
This is especially true if we initially go all out trying to make a change, burn out on our attempts, and end up back where we started, or even further back from where we started.
Instead of beating yourself up, what if you tried thinking something different?
For example, instead of thinking, “I gained weight, this is awful, I’m a failure,” why not try something a little more neutral and kind?
Such as, “I gained some weight, and that’s OK.”
I cannot tell you how much making that small, subtle shift can change things for you.
“I gained weight, and that’s OK.”
You didn’t fail. You didn’t do anything wrong. All that happened was you gained weight. That is a fact.
The way you think and feel about it is a choice.
YOU get to choose what to think. What thoughts will make you feel good. You get to choose the thoughts that will make a long, lasting difference.
It is completely normal for your weight to fluctuate.
Another reason that gaining weight is OK is that it is totally normal.
Our weight fluctuates constantly.
We have all sorts of circumstances surrounding our weight. Some are in our control, such as what we put into our mouths.
Some are not, such as natural weight fluctuations in our menstrual cycle, or physical changes like pregnancy and menopause.
Women’s bodies in particular change a lot depending on our circumstances.
Additionally, there are going to be times of day we way more or less. Our weight may be different at home or at the doctor’s office…especially if we are not wearing clothes when we weigh ourselves at home!
The number on the scale is truly just a number.
It is neutral. Not good or bad.
It is just data. It is just a number.
The key here is to look at data over time to see where you are at, and to look for trends.
If the number is overall trending up or down, these are still just numbers. It’s just information.
They are not good, or bad, they are neutral. They can only be considered bad if you decide to label them as such.
You are in charge, and you get to make that choice.
I know this is way easier said than done. It took a long time for me to truly see the scale as just a number.
To get to a place where my jaw didn’t drop, or I wasn’t feeling frustrated or angry with myself.
Now, when I get on the scale I note the number and move on with my day.
I then get to decide what I want to do with this data.
I use a scale like this Withings scale which is hooked up to wifi. It instantly sends the data to an app on my phone.
The app tracks my weight, BMI, bone mass, water percentage, muscle mass, and fat percentage.
I don’t get bogged down too much in day to day details. For example, it’s important to note that the accuracy of the water and fat data is questionable, so I just look at those trends over time.
But, I have noticed that over time as my weight decreases, my muscle mass increases and my body fat decreases.
The trends are what is important. It’s all helpful information.
You are in control.
You are the one in control of your weight and how you feel about it.
The more information you have the more in control you will feel.
YOU are the one who has the power to make changes.
It is within your power to either gain or lose weight.
For example, I went into the holidays this year knowing that I would gain weight. I planned, in advance, to have more cookies and special meals than usual.
I planned, in advance, to know that gaining weight is OK.
And you know what? I did gain weight. I did enjoy those cookies, and it is OK.
Nothing went wrong.
Everything happened just as I planned. Now I am in the process of losing the weight I put on over the holidays because I want to.
I was in control when I gained weight, and I am in control as I lose it. Neither of these things is good or bad. They just are. And I am the one who calls the shots, and it feels amazing.
Realize It takes time for the good habits you are building to get results on the scale.
So maybe you are thinking, “Yeah but what if I am actually trying to lose weight, and I am not losing weight. In fact, I have gained some!”
You may feel like you are doing everything right, and the scale is just not budging.
This means that likely you just haven’t given it enough time.
As we start to ride more and watch our nutrition it can take time for our body composition to change.
There will likely be weight fluctuations along the way as well.
Be patient, don’t give up, and realize that you are playing the long game here.
This is a marathon, not a sprint! A century, not a time trial!
When I lost almost 50 pounds a couple of years ago there was a lot of up and down. It was actually really interesting to watch.
What I started to find was that it sometimes took up to a month or two of my habits to actually show themselves on the scale.
This tends to be the case with my body, and it may be with yours too. Be patient, and give it time. In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear talks about this very concept.
He explains the compound interest of developing good habits. We expect that our good habits will show results much quicker than they actually do.
In cycling, as you create a body that has a great base level fitness, and you fuel that body with what it needs, and you stop emotional eating?
You will see results over time. You just have to be patient. And if the scale goes up from time to time during the process? That’s normal. It’s OK. Nothing has gone wrong.
A Final Note on Why Gaining Weight is OK
When I learned to love myself and my body as it is right now, I truly learned that gaining weight is OK.
I realized that it doesn’t matter what the number on the scale is.
It doesn’t matter what size my cycling bibs are.
All that matters is that my body is mine. My legs allow me to ride my bike. My arms let me hug my son.
You can do hard things. You can do wonderful things. It doesn’t matter if your body is bigger or smaller at any stage. All that matters is that you really truly love and appreciate it. As it is. Right now.