Today's ride was with a bike group that does Sunday rides at different places in the two counties that circle Tampa Bay. The ride started at a city park, went into a very exclusive residential area and then down to one of the beaches in Tampa Bay and back for a total of 25 miles.
Before the ride, I met a guy named Keith (he never said his last name). He had just moved to the Tampa area from Pennsylvania a little over a week ago and saw this ride while doing an internet search. Keith is a very heavy guy, almost to the point of being obese. Some of us were worried that he was not going to be able to do the mileage or keep up with the group. Expressing our concern to the ride leader, he went and talked to Keith about the ride, his ability and our concerns. Keith told him it was not a problem. Well, he completed the ride and kept up with us just fine.
Now for the inspirational part ....
After the ride, we all went to the Village Inn for brunch. I hadn't talked to Keith during the ride and found myself sitting next to him at the restaurant. Somehow the conversation on our end of the table turned to weight loss from cycling. Keith, who barely said anything before we stated talking weight loss, picks up his phone and loads a photo he has in it, looks up and says, "I used to weight 525 pounds", then shows us the photo. All of us just stopped and looked at him with this shocked look on our faces. The photo he showed us was of him and some girl looking over his shoulder. In the photo, Keith was sitting down and took up the entire width of the photo.
As we looked at him and the photo in disbelief, he started to tell us his story. The photo was taken just three years ago. He was taking 17 different medications, including insulin, and hardly left the house because of exhaustion. He started a strict 1,200 calorie diet and followed a friends advice to get a bicycle and ride. At first he had to have a special seat made because none of the seats from a bicycle shop worked for him. He got so involved in cycling, he now has 16 bikes and has done several cross-state bike rides up north. He is now 250 pounds, has never had any kind of weight loss surgery or personal training and he is no longer taking any medications, including the insulin. His new goal - to lose another 50 to 75 pounds. I think he'll make it.
I am so glad that I met Keith today because it's the first time in a long while that I have been this inspired by someone's personal life struggle. The next time I gain a few pounds and complain that the riding isn't getting it off fast enough, I will definitely reflect on Keith's story.
Before the ride, I met a guy named Keith (he never said his last name). He had just moved to the Tampa area from Pennsylvania a little over a week ago and saw this ride while doing an internet search. Keith is a very heavy guy, almost to the point of being obese. Some of us were worried that he was not going to be able to do the mileage or keep up with the group. Expressing our concern to the ride leader, he went and talked to Keith about the ride, his ability and our concerns...
Wow, that's ignorant.
I would have told you to kiss my fat ass and went for a ride by myself.
This ride was a casual ride but there is still liability associated with it. Our concerns, not knowing him, were medical related and not the fact that he was heavy. I would have hated to watch him have a heart attack because someone didn't take the time to ask if he was physically and medically able to do the ride.
I never got that big but I was up in the 270 range @ 5'8" before starting my weight loss journey a year or so ago. I'm now at 215-218. I hear ya on the biking isn't taking it off fast enough. I get mad sometimes but I eat like crap sometimes too still.
That is pretty inspirational. 500+ to 250 is awesome!
What an inspirational story! For the record, as much as it sucks/is embarrassing, I can't blame Keith's fellow riders for their initial concern - while obviously not true in this event, he might literally have just gotten up off the couch after years or decades, and driven his new bike to the trail head for the first time. While thrilled that he had the challenge well in hand, I can't blame his skinnier companions for their concern.
How very cool to be him and meet the skepticism with confidence and certainty - knowing you can do the ride at hand because you've really earned it, already put in the work and miles required to shed literally hundreds of pounds to get where you are - cycling with the 'in-shape' crowd. Because you belong there. Because you safely can, these days.
While I'm a few pounds heavier than I'd prefer to be, I'm fortunate in that I've never had a real weight issue - while having had some very close friends who did/do. I've seen enough of others' struggles with serious weight problems to deeply appreciate stories of triumph such as this - even if bikes aren't involved
Bravo, Keith! May you achieve your goals, and know of at least some of the inspiration you've given others. Thank you for sharing the story, John!
He really made an impression on me. It just irritates me, at times, that you constantly see stories on TV where obese people, such as Keith, lose all this weight by changing their diet and damn near killing themselves at a gym. These stories always involve personal dietitians, personal trainers and hours and hours at the gym or medical intervention. Here is a guy that lost over 250 pounds doing something he has a passion for and never got any professional help or medical intervention and nobody knows about his story or that he did it cycling. I'm sure that there are many more Keith's in this world, but we only tend to hear about those that use professional assistance or medical intervention to succeed.
I think the fact that he did this on his own, and did it on something so simple as riding a bike is why I am so impressed with this guy. I really hope that I meet him on another ride because I would like to get his permission to send his story in to one of our local TV stations that highlights people like Keith. I'm sure that there are lots of obese people out there that just don't think that they can tolerate the regimen that they have to endure at a gym and have no clue about the results gained by riding a bike.