Glamorous clips showcasing fitness goddesses working out their glutes, abs, and arms across social media has become a trend for young women to consume and emulate. I used to be an avid follower of fitness models, but with each video, my body sunk further into the couch. I religiously practiced aerobic exercise, dance, and, yoga, however, results moved at a snail’s pace and I never met my desired weight goal. For the average woman like me who strongly advocates body positivity, the journey to losing weight and staying lean has been a challenge. Two years ago, I discontinued any form of physical exercise. During my personal blue period—a term coined to describe Picasso’s blue paintings—I devoured every piece of cake handed to me, drank the last drop of beer in the mug, and felt lethargic after a ten-hour sleep. As a result, I gained sixteen pounds in less than six months!
My doctors confirmed I was overweight and referred me to a nutritionist. My self-confidence plummeted, and I lacked motivation to improve my well-being. This dramatically changed in 2016. On the first day of summer, my cousin, whose magnitude of love for his bike is unfathomable, trekked an hour on his wheels to visit me. As I stared at him cycle up and down our driveway, I decided to borrow my brother’s bike. I left with my cousin to ride on the Belt Parkway Promenade. I remember that night feeling a burden of anxiety being stripped away with the warm breeze. I borrowed the bike the following day, and then the next, and the next, until finally I bought my own.
In seven weeks, my arms and calves were toned, solid as a rock. The muffin top rings around my waist had begun to disappear. I effortlessly lost 6 pounds during that summer without consciously following a program or setting a specific weight goal. I cycled to run errands, to work, and to attend family gatherings. By now, I enjoyed cycling up hills, down hills, on dirt trails, and on paved and cobblestone streets. Like many inspiring cyclists, my two spinning wheels supplied a high intensity workout that enabled me to drop twenty pounds. In addition to this, cycling properly with the right posture has helped detox my body and alleviate my lifelong struggle with abdominal pain.
Regular cycling has many health benefits. It is proven repeatedly to reduce the risk of coronary diseases and obesity. A study conducted at Harvard observed that cycling improves flexibility, strengthens bones, and is excellent for people with joint pain. New studies show that cycling can also lower the risk of cancer by 45% and increase life expectancy. For me, cycling continues to be a necessity. It is my primary mode of transport that allows me to remain attentive and active. Cycling has boosted my self-esteem and highly encouraged me to make more sensible food choices. While Instagram fitness accounts are omnipresent, it is important to reflect that looking good begins with the inner before the outer.