Challenge: Pedaling Through Illness
Last month, new data revealed that bicycling ranks #6 among the most popular fitness activities in the United States. Through the National Bike Challenge, we’ve seen those fitness results right before our eyes.
According to our participant survey, nearly one-third of Challengers have lost weight and more than half have improved their well-being since the start of the friendly, online competition on May 1.
Those numbers are encouraging. Today, we hear from Jeremiah Galvin in Connecticut, about his health story.
In November 2012, following a negative medical diagnosis for my wife, my weight ballooned from 200 pounds to 237 pounds in a few of months. I had turned to comfort foods to deal with the stress of her illness. I turned to television to forget the stress of the day and I was quickly losing any benefit received from doing the National Bike Challenge the summer before. I was unable to look further than her struggles and thought little of my own health.
Then, in April, 2013, as I walked through the local hospital lobby, I saw a bicycle. The bicycle was placed there in memory of a charity ride the summer before. All the participants had signed the bicycle, and I just stood there looking at that bicycle, reading what people wrote. I stood there clearing my head for what felt like an eternity. In fact, I stood there so long, with tears in my eyes, that security approached me to ask me if I needed any help.
It was then I realized I had to get control of my own situation. The doctors were taking care of my wife, but it was up to me to take care of myself. It was up to me to be there for my family and it was up to me to be a positive role model for our children aged 10 and 2 at the time. That was the pivotal moment in my life and the moment I was truly ready to fight with my wife.
At that very moment I changed my diet and got back on the bike that afternoon. The first ride was short, 11 miles, and I had to stop twice to catch my breath. In time, I lengthened my rides. I started commuting to work, 20 miles one way, and carpooling home. Then I began commuting to/from work by bike a few times a week and added 50 mile rides on the weekends. I also became the bike advocate for my company leading the charge for the National Bike Challenge. To push myself, I signed up for my first century ride –the same ride that the bicycle in the lobby of the hospital represented. I signed the bike that year and can now see my signature on display.
By the end of summer 2013 my weight had dropped to 190 pounds, my wife was doing great, and I had a much better take on life. I had more energy and found myself sleeping better. Looking back, this was a massive 47 pound swing in the matter of a few months. My weight loss and improved fitness level has given me the energy to take the road less traveled and do things I never thought possible, like climbing Mont-Ventoux in France. A couple weeks ago I completed another century where my wife and kids were waiting for me at the finish line. Just this past weekend I decided to compete in my first ever Cat 5 race.
Looking back, had the Challenge not been there to push me, I don’t think I would be where I am today. It would have been easy to opt for the car on those hot or cold or wet days versus the bike But trying to be a good role model and company bike advocate got me on my bike. I’m sure I would have ridden my bike, but probably not to the extent that I have. The most important health related benefit I have received from being part of the National Bike Challenge is that I am in a better position, physically and mentally, to be there for my family. Thank you all for pushing me!
P.S My wife continues to do great.