When 42-year-old social worker Tommy Reay wanted to lose some weight, he got on his bike for the first time in nearly 30 years. The Aberdonian made it his New Year’s resolution to get fitter and, after a difficult start, discovered that cycling is not only fun – it’s also a bit addictive.
“I’d been to the doctor’s for a routine check-up a couple of months earlier and discovered that my blood pressure was a bit on the high side,” explained Tommy.
“My doctor wasn’t too worried about it, but it played on my mind and so I decided my New Year’s resolution would be to try to lose some weight in a bid to lower my blood pressure.”
“I was tipping the scales at 16-and-a-half stones at the time, but felt I carried the weight quite well because I’ve a broad build and am almost six feet tall. My target was to lose a couple of stones, although I wasn’t too sure how I would go about it.”
Get More Exercise
“My diet has always been a fairly healthy one, with plenty of fruit and vegetables and homemade cooking. Like a lot of people, I enjoy the occasional curry or fish supper and go out for a few drinks most weekends. These are things I wasn’t willing to give up, so the only answer was to get more exercise.”
“Joining a gym was one option I considered, but it didn’t really appeal to me. Then my father-in-law, at one time a keen cyclist, offered me an old racing bike he no longer used. Although the idea of getting exercise in the fresh air was far more tempting than joining the sweating throng on exercise bikes at the local gym, I was unsure at first.”
“After all, it had been close to 30 years since I had been on a bike. Sure, you never forget how to ride a bike, but I was convinced I would feel too self-conscious to go out cycling on my local patch. To be honest, it was tough at first, but not because I felt self-conscious.”
Legs Like Jelly
“The problem was that I tried to go too far and too fast too soon. I didn’t realise how out-of-shape I really was and I remember having to stop about four times to catch my breath on a fairly steep hill. When I got back to the house after that first ride my legs were like jelly and I vowed ‘never again’. But luckily I did go cycling again – this time at a far more sedate pace – and very quickly it became a regular part of my routine.”
“I enjoyed it a great deal; the fresh air, the exercise and the chance to cycle whatever route I pleased. In the process, I discovered parts of the city and the surrounding area that I had never bothered to explore by car. The weight started to fall off too. As I stepped up the speed and the distance, the fitter I got, I now weigh just over 12-and-a-half stones – that’s almost four stones lighter than when I started.”
“Nowadays, I go cycling at least three times a week, usually covering around 20 miles, and I get withdrawal symptoms if I don’t get my cycling fix. I’ve met new friends through cycling and, now and again, go on cycling trips with some of them, but mainly I enjoy the solitude and use the time on the bike to clear my head and forget any worries and stresses I may have.”
“You see, the benefits are far greater than mere weight loss. I’m a different shape altogether, far more toned, and feel fantastic. I’m fitter, have loads more energy and I would swear that I’m sharper mentally and that’s helping me at work. I’ve not felt this good since I was in my 20s and my blood pressure is back to normal too.”