by Justin Barsanti, Editor-in-chief, www.SproutVine.com
I am not getting any kick-backs or commissions from this article. This is not sponsored content. I am not being paid for this. This is just me in the raw sharing with you my experience.
I had a lot of mixed emotion posting this article. Anyone who really knows me knows that I am not one to open up online about my personal life. I like to post pictures of my family, or vacations, or pictures of my children, and just general surface things – but nothing this deep about myself. This is not only the most heart-felt post I have ever made, but definitely the most vulnerable I have felt putting this out there on the internet. I have been on a quiet journey for the past year that only a few close to me know about. Its hard for me to even look at the starting pictures out of embarrassment – and now they will be on the web. How did I let myself get to that point? People will say to me when I tell them my story or show them the pictures “oh don’t be embarrassed, it happens…” and “look how far you have come – you should be proud”. Unfortunately that’s just not how my brain operates. I am usually my own worst enemy and my own worst critic. So with a little help from a few close to me, and Jess King with Peloton, I had to re-train my thinking and change that thought process. You could say this is just another weight loss story, nothing special, and maybe it is, but I believe there are still a lot of people in my position who just need that one last motivational push to make it happen for themselves – so I went out on a limb and decided it was time to share my story as scary as it is for me to be exposed like this.
My story starts with a small “dare”.
My wife, Rachel, saw the commercial for these Peloton stationary bikes that you can use in your home with a live instructor. After a little convincing me I decided to get her one. The bike arrived and she started pedaling away. I would check on her and talk to her while she was riding at times and sometimes tease her about her performance (it is part of our sense of humor in our marriage to poke fun at each other now and then). One weekend she gets off the bike and during our teasing session she says “I bet you cant do it!”. I knew she was right. I had completely let myself go and was very overweight. I was teasing her because it was easier to do that then to admit to myself that I definitely couldn’t do any better. I had “drunk my own kool-aid” so-to-speak and would always excuse myself for being so unhealthy. It was always “oh, well I have 3 small children, I don’t have time for that” or “I have too much work to do with our businesses” or my favorite go-to “we’re all going to die anyway at some point, might as well live the way I want and be happy” (how sadly wrong this one is – I realized just how unhappy I was with myself later on)… there was always a reason to justify why it was ok for me to be unhealthy and out of shape. I just all around wasn’t taking care of myself.
me in June 2017 – 283 lbs
One thing I don’t like, however, is being challenged that I can’t do something. Looking back I think Rachel did it for that exact reason. She knew I needed to change my life but she couldn’t bring it up to me or I would get extremely defensive about it, so she cleverly disguised her pushing of me to do something about my weight. So, I went online and I ordered myself some Peloton cycling shoes and a few days later they arrived in the mail. I rode my first ever 45-min Peloton class just to prove it to her. To say the least, it was miserable beyond measure. It opened my eyes all the way to just how bad it had gotten. I generally thought several times I might just keel over and die, but with Jess King pushing me, I made it to the end. I remember when the timer hit 00:00 on that first ride. That sense of pride that I had done it. I had made it through. I could do this. I knew not just this one time, but over and over again if I pushed myself to do it.
me in June 2017 – after first ride with Jess
It is amazing where technology has taken us – it really is. We take it for granted so often. Peloton is a perfect example of this. I was able to get elite, in my home, personal training. This was invaluable to me as I was that person who wouldn’t dare show my face in the gym for fear of being laughed at.
Jess King, instructor with Peloton, doesn’t know me. She has never met me or spoken to me. She could walk by me on the street and have no idea that I have spent the last year riding a bike with her. She also doesn’t know that I spent the last year listening to her motivate me, laugh with me, push me harder than I can imagine going, scold at me not to compromise myself, yell at me not to give up, dance with me on the bike to my favorite songs, and ride through the ups and downs of a climb to my absolute breaking point. She has no idea that we have spent 45 minutes together almost every day for the past year or that I honestly consider her a friend for everything she has done for me. I look forward to our meeting each time I get on that bike and get to share those 45 minutes with her. Several years ago I could never have even imagined having an opportunity that I have with the creation of Peloton and instructor Jess King and it honestly changed my life.
Turns out not only did I do that first ride on a dare, but have now done 440 rides willingly since over the last year as of the writing of this article – almost all with Jess – and just hit 71 pounds of weight loss. I dropped ten pant sizes from a 44 to a 34. I went from placing 2,500 out of 2,600 riders in classes to placing in the top 50 at times. I will take the same class sometimes up to 25 times in a row to challenge myself to beat the last time each time.
me in July 2018 – 212 lbs (71 pound loss…and counting)
After reading many articles on nutrition and watching hundreds of YouTube videos with Jeff Cavaliere (I need to write another article on what an impact Jeff has had on me as well), we decided to create a little gym in our home and layering on both of those things to the Peloton are what ultimately got me to the 71 pound loss. I haven’t only been losing fat but building muscle along the way as well. Having said that, Peloton and Jess King still remain the sole basis for my loss.
So going back to what I was saying at the beginning about re-training my brain. I was that guy. The dad bod guy – and worse. Just an average guy who has never been in great shape. I went through periods of my life where I was in so-so shape, I would hit the gym for a month or two and quit, and the cycle would continue – but over the last three years I spun completely out of control and by 2017 I was obese. Again, I had every excuse in the book as to why I could never be in the shape I wanted to be. I figured I was fine and happy the way I was. That small dare was only part of what happened that day that I rode that first ride. As I was pedaling I began to think about my three small children…my wife…my mom and dad…my brothers…my friends. I realized I have a lot to live for and by being healthy I greatly increase my chances of being here much longer. I decided I am worth it. I want to see my grandchildren and be able to spend time with them without worrying about my broken down body and not physically being able to do the things I want to do with them.
What I am trying to say with all of this is it doesn’t matter if it is Peloton or not (although I highly recommend it). It doesn’t matter if you have children or not. It doesn’t matter what your status is in life or what you are going through. You have to find what motivates you! It is much more of a mental block than a physical one that you have to get around. You have to be mentally and spiritually strong. Search deep, dig into the soul, and pull it out. Use it. It is not a sprint – don’t overdo it, pace yourself. There have been times over the past 12 months where I have felt broken or tired or that results aren’t coming like they should and the thought would briefly cross my mind about giving up. I would immediately put that thought out of my head and replace it with those motivational factors. If you are doing what you are supposed to, the results will come. Don’t punish yourself. Don’t “diet” or do anything short term – make it a lifestyle change. Its the only way it will work. And don’t listen to those like my old self that will tell you that there is no chance of getting to where you want to be and to just let “you keep doing you”. It’s not enough. You are so much more.
Its only been a year and I still have a ways to go to get to my goal and where I ultimately want to be, but I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying my new lifestyle. I have never had this much energy or felt this good. My confidence level skyrocketed and most importantly my children have gotten involved and excited about the change. I am being an example for them and making my wife proud. Those things alone have made all of it worth every second. I am incredibly happy… and I have the pics to show it 🙂
Thank you so much Jess King… from the bottom of my heart. I can’t tell you what you have done for my life. I am happier and healthier than I have ever been and you are a huge part of that.