It's tempting to think that losing weight through cycling is so elementary a concept it requires no elaboration. Ride more and make a few changes to diet and lifestyle, and you're on your way, right? But of course it's not that simple, particularly if you're a beginner or are riding with purpose for the first time. (Search: Best beginner bikes) Who better, then, to share strategies for success than Bicycling readers who have shed anywhere from 40 to 230 pounds? These folks discarded the fad diets and took to the roads and grocery aisles to figure out what works.
Turn your bike into a powerful weight loss tool and Ride Your Way Lean!
With a job that kept him either on the road or behind a desk, Mark Morales's sedentary lifestyle and reliance on fast food piled on the weight. Eventually he hit 325 pounds. "You're just mucking along," he says. "You have no energy and you realize something's got to change." Plus: Find your ideal cycling weight and stay lean for life!
In August 2010 Morales decided to make a change. He cut alcohol and unhealthy foods from his diet and bought a bike. "It's a low-impact exercise, and I can ride from the house or use a trainer when the weather is bad or it's dark," he says. In about two years he whittled his weight to 180.
Read Mark Morales's whole story!
As Nina Mosby entered motherhood she kept gorging like she had a baby on board. Over time her busy schedule--which made it difficult to make time for fitness and forced her to eat burgers on the fly--pushed her weight up to 265 pounds.
Free Guide: Cut 500 Calories
After a few failed attempts to lose weight, Mosby went on a ride in 2006 with her family, and she was hooked. "I realized, I like this," she says. "It reminds me of being a kid again." Fast forward almost seven years and countless miles later: Today Mosby clocks in at 165 pounds, leads a cycling group, and has an eight-day, 525-mile ride under her belt.
Luke Metcalf had always been a big kid, but it hit him flush in 2010 that weighing 435 pounds could be a roadblock to getting married, starting a family, having a successful career. Metcalf was overwhelmed at first, until he found a recumbent bike at the gym. "I said to myself, 'Hey, I used to go on bike rides when I was a kid,'" he recalls. In March 2012, his friends prodded him to buy a bike. He was blown away on his 18-mile maiden voyage. "It was more comfortable and natural and the ride went by so fast because there was such great scenery," he says. (Jumpstart your new year with the Best Gym Workout, Ever.)
Plus: Turn your bike into a powerful weight loss tool and Ride Your Way Lean!
Once riding, Metcalf's progress was meteoric. His most challenging and longest ride was also his best: Ohio's 164-mile Bike MS Pedal to the Point last August. Now at 205, having shed more than half his weight, he is lighter in more ways than one. He's on his way to a business degree, can ride roller coasters, and has the confidence to bring a date to a movie. "Riding takes me back to a place in childhood," he says, "when I didn't have the worries I have now."(Need some motivation? Check out our Tips to Help Keep You on Your Bike.)
Not convinced that you can jumpstart fitness and lose weight with a bike? Read the 6 Ways Cycling Boosts Weight Loss.
Robbie Ewing loved TV. The police show NCIS, in particular, was his escape, his chief form of pleasure. And when he hyperextended his knee in an accident at work, beginning a streak of bad fortune that resulted in four surgeries, plus a left-knee replacement, he had an excuse to sit around clutching the remote and snarfing bad food. "I used the knee replacement as a crutch to eat too much and not exercise," Ewing says. (Are you guilty of any of these Worst Eating Habits?) On his first ride, he pedaled for 30 minutes-15 out and 15 back-without worrying about his speed. When he found his knees had held up, he added a few minutes the next time out. He kept a spreadsheet of his progress, and with this gradual, methodical approach, the pounds fell away.
More: Check out these Top Diet Myths that are sabotaging your weight-loss efforts!
Liberated from his sofa, Ewing now bounds toward a future that looks vastly different. He has lost 165 pounds and is pushing hard to get under 200. He hopes to ride a century with his dad. He just bought a mountain bike for his son, so they can go out together. He hasn't seen an episode of NCIS in years. Instead, Ewing sees the dramatic arc of television shows in his own riding. After a climb, for example, "you look back and say, 'man, I just did that!' And it makes you feel so good about yourself," he says. "It makes you feel better than watching TV does."
More Motivation: Read how these pro cyclists slimmed down for some more inspiration!
At 46, Scott Trombley harbored no illusions regarding his situation. "To say I was a mess," he says, "was an understatement." He weighed 320 pounds because of an eating habit that had replaced a nicotine habit. (Find out your ideal cycling weight?) He had coronary-artery disease and three stents in his heart. On a drive after getting his third stent, Trombley passed some cyclists in brightly colored gear. "I said to my wife, 'I wish I could do that,'" he says. "She said the words that became my motto over the next few years: 'Why not do it?'"
Trombley began cycling every day. After two weeks of going just a few miles, he bagged 10, then 15, then 20. He rode to work--a 7-mile trek--then gradually widened the return trip until it reached 50. He joined a Saturday group ride and began competing against his times using Strava. Within eight months, he'd ridden 4,000 miles. Now at 215, he has reduced his blood pressure and cholesterol meds. "I feel better than I have in years," he says. He's ridden 100 miles at a clip, and his next challenge is a double century-all to prepare for his ultimate goal, to ride across America.
We want to hear about it! If you'd like to be featured in an upcoming weight loss success slideshow, submit your story and photos for consideration.