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How Cycling Changed Me - Andrew Crockett's Weight Loss Transformation - Bicycling

Name: Andrew Crockett Age: 38 Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas Occupation: CPA, Government Finance Consultant, Certified Cycle Instructor at Life Time Time Cycling: 4 years Start Weight: 350 pounds End Weight: 165 pounds Reason for Cycling: To join a community that moves forward in strength and smiles.

I was husky in junior high, chubby in high school, and the ‘big’ funny friend in college. At work, I was the guy in the big shirt with the big personality. However, as I got older, I noticed my humor had changed from being light-hearted jokes to more self-deprecating. And let’s be honest—no one likes fat jokes.

I have always used part of my vacation time to travel the world and volunteer as a non-profit financial consultant for international organizations, traveling to places such as Africa, Europe, Australia, and Central America. I always pair a fun trip with a service trip— the Arabian Beaches in the Middle East, a safari in Kenya, a week in London.

On one trip, I was climbing up Mt. Sinai in Egypt. I huffed and dragged my 350-pound body up about a quarter of the way, but I broke down and decided to rent a camel for the rest of the trip. However the Bedouin looked at me and said, “No, this [is a] small camel.” It was right there that I realized I was the literal straw that would break the camel’s back. I didn’t realize how my weight was holding me back until I saw myself only seeing the world, not experiencing it.

When I came home, I made an appointment with a surgeon to have my stomach stapled. However, my friend Elizabeth instead stole my phone and signed me up for a Life Time fitness membership as a birthday gift in October 2017. Everyone needs an Elizabeth in their lives.

I started taking cycling classes at Life Time. I liked them because it was an individual workout, but done in a group. The structure of the classes helped me because I was able to learn and ride at the same time. Being new to the gym, there was a lot I just didn’t know. When I started out, I could only complete half a class, once a week. Then, I stayed the whole class. Then I added another class. After a few months, I was riding three classes a week. And I eventually want to transition to outdoor cycling as a competitor.

The same day I joined Life Time, I also joined WW (formerly known as Weight Watchers) to help get my eating habits under control. I have not given up food; instead, I’ve made different choices and added food that is better for my body. I never thought about my weight-loss journey as what I am saying no to; I think about what I said ‘yes’ to. Yes to the grilled chicken. Yes to the watermelon. Yes to walking for one more block. Yes to five more minutes at the gym. Yes to the 4 a.m. alarm.

In 2019, I went back to Tanzania and Uganda for a trip. For the first time, I could put the tray table down, and I didn’t have to request a seatbelt extender. I was able to walk through the market downtown, and I turned down taxi rides. And for the first time on my trips, I was able to fully experience the world.

I have lost a total of 185 pounds, and hope to reach my goal of 200 pounds by October 2021, my four-year anniversary of my weight-loss journey. I am the same person, just 185 pounds lighter, thanks to cycling. I am not a better person because of the weight I lost. My value did not increase because my weight decreased. I am not a better person because I lost weight. For me to say I am better now, I would have to say that I was a worse person for gaining weight—and that is simply not true. Weight and worth are not connected.

I want other cyclists to know that the hardest thing to do at Life Time is push open the door to the cycling room for the first time. Everyone has had a ‘day one.’ Some of us have had multiple ‘day ones.’ It is not about the race that is to be run, but the journey that has just begun. When I got on the bike for the first time, I was not thinking about the 200 pounds I needed to lose. I was thinking about 10 minutes. All I needed to do that cold day in November of 2017, was to pedal for 10 minutes. Those 10 minutes turned into 15, and then 30, and then 45.

Don’t ride away from something. Ride towards something. When you’re driving, how often are you looking in the rearview mirror? How can you drive forward if you are using the rearview mirror as your navigator? We drive by looking forward. Ride the same way. Don’t get on the bike to ride away from the old you. Ride towards joy.

We want to hear how cycling changed you! Send your story and submit your photos to us via this web form. We’ll pick one each week to highlight on the site.

Emily Shiffer Emily Shiffer is a former digital web producer for Men’s Health and Prevention, and is currently a freelancer writer specializing in health, weight loss, and fitness.

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