From fat motorcyclist to skinny cyclist – A 12 month journey to health

fat-biker-to-skinny-cyclist

I am Sam, and I used to be fat. Not just a little big podgy, really really obese. There, now I’ve got that out of the way I can get to telling you the story of how I stopped being overweight and transformed myself into a slim, athletic cycling (and running) machine. Whether you are busy getting rid of the extra pounds you put on over Christmas, or you are looking to make a serious change in your life, read on to hear how I did it.

From 20 Stone to 11 Stone

In 2011, as every year, I was invited to take a medical by my then employers. What I was confronted with wasn’t pretty. 34 years old, 19 stone 9 lbs (125kg) and heading towards an early grave. As someone with 2 young children, a decent career and a desire to see as many more birthdays as possible, I was shocked into taking action.

I’ve dieted many times over the years – name a faddy diet plan, the chances are I’ve tried it and failed. Sure, I lost weight in the short term, but it soon piled back on along with more for good measure. This time though something clicked. I knew what I was after wasn’t a faddy diet plan or celebrity endorsed meal replacement shakes – no, what I needed was a complete and utter change of lifestyle.

The Secret Formula

That change came on two fronts. First – and most importantly – came the eating. Not a diet, but sensible, filling, balanced meals. Low in processed food, high in vegetables and fruit – pretty obvious stuff really.

The second assault was on the exercise front. Obviously, at 20 stone you have to be careful what you do. Risk of injury – or worse – is ever present, so small steps were taken – literally! I started walking, and hour or so every day at a reasonable pace. I also started getting back on my bike – bought years earlier at the start of a previous ‘health kick’ that didn’t last the distance. Not far at first, 2 or 3 miles was about my limit beyond that I was out of puff and had legs like jelly. It was frustrating, and at times embarrassing, but I kept at it.

From 20 stones to 26.2 miles

The weight started to drop off reassuringly quickly, and the exercise got easier every day. About a month into my new lifestyle I began to run – well I say run, the first time out I managed 30 second runs interspersed with a great deal of walking. I followed the well proven Couch to 5K programme ably assisted by the Get Running iPhone app, and built the running up each time and was walking less and less until, after 7 weeks, I ran for 20 minutes with no walking.

Soon I was running 5Ks, then 10Ks. Shortly afterwards, I completed my first half marathon in 2:07 in my hometown. To say I was emotional at the finish would be an enormous understatement. At that moment, on a grey and rainy September day, I truly believed I could achieve anything. Since then I’ve run 6 more half marathons and I’ve also run a full marathon in Edinburgh 2012 so from close to 20 stones to a marathon in a year.

A Cycling Obsession Emerges

However, my true obsession is now cycling. I now consider myself a cyclist who runs rather than a runner that cycles. I am totally cycling obsessed and everything in cycling excites me – from the daily commute, to a weekend club ride, to a long distance sportive, to touring, to racing – all of it.

I am sure most cyclists can relate, but what excites me most is the range of bikes and gear available. They say the correct number of bikes for a cyclist to own is n+1 where n is the number you currently own.

My own n is currently 5:

  • A carbon road bike
  • A winter aluminium road bike
  • A steel cross bike/commuter
  • A steel single speed rigid mountain bike
  • A folding bike.

The Next Challenge : John O’Groats to Lands End

In June I will take part in the Deloitte Ride Across Britain – a 960 mile ride from John O’Groats to Lands End over 9 days with an average of 4000ft of climbing each day! To prepare for that, alongside my usual commute, I am putting in about 150 miles a week of riding and it’s only going to increase as the event gets closer. I am taking part in some pretty iconic sportives before the event to prepare so you can expect some tales of trials and tribulations along the way!

Oh, for the record, at the time of writing I am 11 stone 6 lbs (72.5kg) which is a loss of 8 stones and 3 lbs (52kg). I’d still like to lose a bit more – after all the less I weigh, the less weight I have to drag up the Great British hills in June!

cyclist-sam-london-cyclist-writer

[Andreas: Sam will be contributing to London Cyclist, bringing coverage of cycling gear and sportives (something I’ve always wanted to cover more of).]

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45 Responses to From fat motorcyclist to skinny cyclist – A 12 month journey to health

  1. Jack 22/01/2013 at 11:50 am #

    Great read. thanks Sam – especially like the line on the correct number of bikes to own (I’ll be borrowing that!)

  2. Lachlan 22/01/2013 at 12:01 pm #

    Excellent work Sam, I did exactly the same thing and went from 128kg to 86kg, so not quite as good as you, but I’ll get there!

  3. David 22/01/2013 at 12:02 pm #

    Congrats to Sam for getting in shape . I did the Ride Across Britain last year and it was brilliant route and very well organised. You don’t realise what steep hills there are in Britain till you have ridden LEJOG

  4. Laura 22/01/2013 at 12:08 pm #

    Really inspiring story, and as a person with a nutrition degree I couldn’t agree more with your methods, small manageable steps, and finding a balanced lifestyle you enjoy and can maintain. Congratulations and here’s to many happy miles for you and your bikes!

  5. Ben 22/01/2013 at 12:12 pm #

    Great piece, Sam and most of all; great work. Really well done, that’s an excellent achievement in only 12 months. And it seems you approached everything with the right attitude.

    Maybe see you cycling around London some time!

  6. Gary 22/01/2013 at 12:23 pm #

    Congrats Sam. So similar to my experience (21st to 11.5) that l feel proud on your behalf! I especially remember those days when walking 1 mile felt like a marathon but the end-goal was always kept in sight. I did LEJOG last year – you’ll love every minute.

  7. Marston 22/01/2013 at 12:30 pm #

    Congratulations Sam, fantastic achievement and a fabulous start to your involvement with London Cyclist (good catch Andreas!).
    Having gone from nearly 20st motorbiker to just under 15st pedallist myself, I still have a long way to go, but it’s all good. I even managed to complete a London to Paris ride last year for Marie Curie Cancer Care with Skyline. Yep, fatties get the biking bug big time.
    Lots of plans including another London to Paris ride and hopefully the London cycling marathon, too, this year!
    Still love the 2 wheeled engine, though!
    More power to you and I look forward to following your successes.
    Mars

  8. VJ 22/01/2013 at 12:33 pm #

    Congratulations mate – great article and keep up the good work.

    I did the Ride Across Britain last year, by the sounds of things, you’re well into training and won’t have any problems whatsoever.

    Good luck!

  9. Giles Roadnight (bigBlokeOnABike) 22/01/2013 at 12:42 pm #

    I was 22.5 stone when I started cycling around 3 years ago. I am now about 17.5 stone (after xmas!) and cycle 180 miles a week commuting.

    At the moment my target weight is 16 stone. I am quite tall and broad and also do weights at the gym so am never going to be 10 stone!

    Cycling is by far the best way to lose and keep weight off. Good luck with the sportive

  10. Sam 22/01/2013 at 1:54 pm #

    Thanks for the kind comments on the article, and thanks to Andreas for giving me the opportunity to share this story along with more in the future.

  11. Emma S 22/01/2013 at 2:06 pm #

    I first knew Sam as a “fattie”. I remember taking him for a “walk-jog” and he couldn’t run between two lamp posts. Oh my, what a difference now. His dedication and complete enthusiasm for both exercise but also healthy, happy living has been inspiring. As another fitness fanatic who has struggled with surgeries and injury I have watched Sam stay focused and drawn strength from it for my own goals. Good luck with Le JOGLE and the other challenges this year!

  12. Nick Stubbs 22/01/2013 at 2:17 pm #

    Great article Sam, well done and keep it up!

  13. Lois 22/01/2013 at 2:28 pm #

    Go Sam! :)

  14. Social Media Training 22/01/2013 at 2:47 pm #

    As another person who knew Sam in his ‘former guise’ all I can say is the weight loss is staggering.

    His determination is both admirable and humbling. I continue to watch his pursuits with interest!

  15. Simon Wilcox 22/01/2013 at 3:42 pm #

    Hi Sam – I’m doing Ride Across Britain this year too and I signed up for it to give myself a big audacious challenge to aim for. I’m looking forward to it immensely.

    I think I’ve found you on the forum (same pic) so I’ll be sending a connection request momentarily.

    Best of luck with the training.

    Simon.

  16. Brian of Welwyn 22/01/2013 at 4:48 pm #

    Inspiring Sam. And we’ll written too. Looking forward to your future posts.

  17. John Wright 22/01/2013 at 5:14 pm #

    Sam, great article, and as someone who knew you before your new regime, I can only say how much I am in awe of your achievement! I got the cycling bug about 5 years ago, but really ought to try running sometime…

    Enjoy JOGLE, especially Shap, it’ll be a doddle!

    How about Marmotte2013 as a cool down ride ;-)

  18. Celine 22/01/2013 at 5:47 pm #

    Well done Sam, looking forward to your coverage of Sportives.

  19. Stacey 22/01/2013 at 6:26 pm #

    Congrats and good luck Sam – loved your comment about the number of bikes needed!

  20. Richard Evans 22/01/2013 at 6:38 pm #

    Well done Sam, fantastically inspirational stuff, deserves wide publication. I predict your next cycling discovery will be Audax, if you have not found us yet… http://www.aukweb.net/home/

    • Sam 22/01/2013 at 7:21 pm #

      Oh I’ve found you alright Richard, just bucking up the courage to enter an event – definitely figures in this years plans though!

  21. Claire Cole 22/01/2013 at 7:34 pm #

    I used to work with Sam as a teenager. I have never seen Sam looking this good. Well done for all your determination and hard work. A true example of what human will can achieve.

  22. JennieM 22/01/2013 at 9:46 pm #

    Chapeau!!!

  23. Dave Buckney 22/01/2013 at 10:27 pm #

    Great effort and results.

    I’m at the start of a similar journey having lost 2 stone last year through cycling and sensible eating. I’m down to 120kg, so still a big part of the journey to go.

    I’ve got a 47 mile sportive coming up in April, part of it is called “little Switzerland” so I need to do some hill training.

    You can follow my progress at http://cyclingfromfattofit.blogspot.co.uk

    Looking forward to more articles.

    Dave

  24. Aaron 23/01/2013 at 2:27 am #

    Great work, you are an inspiration!! I’ve lost 2, maybe 3 stone through cycling, but nothing like what you’ve done.. Well done.

  25. Simon K 23/01/2013 at 6:57 am #

    Great work and very inspiring, I am already on the same path although I started at 21 stone, so far I am 25lb down and working hard to claim the rest back.
    Oh you can never have enough bikes :)

  26. MrCommuter 23/01/2013 at 6:58 am #

    Excellent Sam, truly excellent. And like other commenters here, it’s a similar story to my own.

  27. Matt 24/01/2013 at 4:17 pm #

    Sam ,

    Congrats mate – just a small pick up on your equation re the number of bikes you should own. The equation recently changed – its now:

    N+1+B

    Where B represents a Baum Bicycle – http://www.baumcycles.com/

    Worth dreaming about!!

    Cheers mate well done

    Matt

  28. John 25/01/2013 at 12:10 am #

    Chapeau Sam!
    You will enjoy JoG-LE.

  29. Steve 25/01/2013 at 10:53 am #

    Well done Sam – much respect to you and good luck with the JoGLE.

  30. Mike 25/01/2013 at 11:13 am #

    Well done Sam, thats a fantastic achievement. Its inspired me to get back on my bike.

  31. Flavia 25/01/2013 at 11:18 am #

    I cannot add anything to the previous comments, really. Great determination, amazing work, WELL DONE!

  32. PaulM 25/01/2013 at 11:47 am #

    Hi Sam

    Pretty impressive! As a partner at Deloitte I am thrilled to see you participating in our sponsored ride. If you have a justgiving account for a charity fundraise, can you let us know what it is so I can drop a tenner or two in the pot?

  33. david 25/01/2013 at 2:28 pm #

    impressive!! a very big well done !!

  34. georgie 25/01/2013 at 8:49 pm #

    Wow, that’s an amazing difference between those two pictures. Amazing and congratulations. Cycling bug bit eh! Completely agree about the ideal number of bikes -since I have no garage I’m limited to three… but really want at leas another three.
    Here’s to another great year of cycling in 2013.

  35. John O 29/01/2013 at 8:25 pm #

    That’s so impressive! I think I might even have had a bit of grit in my eye when I got to the part where you completed your first half-marathon.

    As a keen cyclist who’s lapsed a bit, you’ve inspired me to brave the elements and get out there again.

    So thank you. And well done!

  36. dimmodd 04/02/2013 at 8:01 am #

    Hi Sam, hi Andreas,

    Sam you are really strong and I believe your dramatic story will help other.
    Just have translated your tale to Russian and posted on my blog. http://goo.gl/vkTxY
    Have a nice new rides!

    Dmitry from Kaliningrad Russia.

    • Sam 04/02/2013 at 9:32 am #

      Wow thanks Dmitry, that’s fantastic!

      Happy riding!

  37. Dominic 04/02/2013 at 8:10 pm #

    Well done. It is those first few months of realising the sheer effort that it’s going to take that truly going to take and then the realisation of how far you’ve come that blows the mind. I went from smoking/drinking couch potato that was always suprised to see a bald fat man in the mirror, to having done lejog and led (jointly) other bike tours.

  38. Terry 05/02/2013 at 4:02 pm #

    A great achievement, top marks!

  39. Robert 14/02/2013 at 10:48 am #

    Learned a bit about weight loss and will start doing the same.

  40. Alan Benham 23/02/2013 at 8:52 am #

    Very well done Sam. An impressive life change. I am also doing the RAB, but have so far lost a mere 3 stone in comparison to you.

  41. Mick Blackman 11/03/2013 at 1:51 pm #

    Hi Sam “The Man”,

    Sam, will you be creating/writing a blog?
    If you are, could you please send me a link so that I can follow your adventures?

    I lost 3 stone by Nov 12, but it is slowly creeping back, I do ride my Brompton, obviously not enough.

    Mick.B.

  42. chris 22/03/2013 at 6:39 am #

    I love how much bikes can make a difference in peoples lives. As a shop owner who does bike rentals I get to meet lots of riders and it’s alays neat to hear everyones story. You can check mine out at http://www.mauicycles.com and then come ride with us on vacation!

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