As a child, I loved riding my bike. Living in a village, it gave me independence and I cycled everywhere; to see my friends, to school and later to college.
My love of cycling continued into adulthood and when each of my three children were little, I’d strap them into the baby seat and ride for miles. However, things changed following a difficult divorce in 2005. The proceedings took their toll on me and I turned to comfort food to cope.
In the evenings I ate crisps, nuts and chocolate and washed it down with gin and tonic or wine. Slowly my weight crept up from a healthy 142lbs (10st 2lb) to more than 210lbs (15st); it made me lose my confidence at work and I stopped wanting to go out.
My health also suffered. I kept getting chest infections and became asthmatic. Worse still, the extra weight made me feel unbalanced on my bike so, as I got heavier and heavier, I cycled less and less until eventually, in 2012, I stopped altogether.
The turning point came in January 2016 after I’d been sick with pleurisy. ‘I can’t live like this any more,’ I thought. ‘This isn’t how I want to be.’ I joined a local Herbalife nutrition and fitness group, run by a friend. I started by just swapping breakfast for a Herbalife shake and within two months I’d lost 20lb.
Around that time, I discovered I had the energy to run and a few months later I completed my first Race for Life. Then in September 2018, life dealt me another blow when I fell during a run. I dislocated my kneecap, ripped my medial meniscus and fractured my wrist.
I was devastated and horrified at the thought of going back to how I was before. ‘Why don’t you get your bike out?’ suggested my new partner, Andrew, 51. So that’s exactly what I did. Having lost 42lbs (3st) by then, I felt much more balanced on my bike and, although slow, I loved the freedom of being on two wheels again.
With my love of cycling rekindled I noticed myself getting faster and my body growing stronger and stronger. I quickly built up from 10mph to doing 30 miles at 17mph – I could even cycle up hills I once dreaded walking! And I now combine my Herbalife protein shakes with two healthy meals a day and use them to power my rides and aid my post-workout recovery.
I cycle between 50-100 miles a week and am part of the Chester Touring Club. I do lots of different exercises too – I row, swim, do yoga and weights.
When I was running, it was all about shedding the weight, but when I got back on my bike it was more than that. Cycling made me realise that I was improving and becoming sporty. It was about becoming more involved in sport and interested in performance and fitness.
Today I look and feel like a different person. I have energy and I have confidence instead of anxiety. Most of all, I just love it.