Hometown: Pensacola, Florida
Job: Active duty military, cycling instructor and studio manager at Cyclebar Pensacola
Cycling time: 2.5 years in Pensacola and repeatedly cycling in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Takeoff weight: 294 pounds
Final weight: 234 pounds
Reason for cycling: I hate running, but I need cardio in my life. It has always been my favorite exercise.
My weight has been up and down all my life. I’ve always been active, but by 2018 my exercise habits became obsolete and – in my own words – I exploded. I tried to get my weight under control, but nothing I did seemed to really affect it.
There were many factors that contributed to my weight gain. I was taking a new drug and my testosterone was low. Overall, I was dissatisfied with my body. I had a resting metabolic rate (RMR) test that included a body scan. This body scan showed I had the body of a 44-year-old man, but I was only 38. I had to do something so I started exercising again, but it just wasn’t “right”.
One day while I was shopping for groceries, I saw a sign saying “Coming Soon” in the window of a CycleBar in Pensacola, Florida. I checked immediately and found out that they had an event that weekend. So I signed up as a founding member for the new studio. I’ve ridden a bike before, but nothing like that. I started cycling at Cyclebar in February 2019 when I was at my greatest weight – 294 pounds.
Before that, I couldn’t even go up the stairs without breathing heavily. When I first started cycling, I couldn’t even get through the first song without gasping for air. I felt like I was passing out. It was tough, but I knew I had to keep coming back because I loved training.
I challenged myself so much that I actually overtrained. I drove five to six days a week and I didn’t load my body like I should have done for this workout. I was also very overweight and had to really recover my body, which I didn’t allow myself.
But at some point my body adjusted and I got stronger. I had no idea how many doors this place would open for me. Today I teach regularly three to four days a week, sometimes more when I have to fill in for someone, or sometimes less when I need a break.
Rusty’s must-have gear
→ Lululemon license to train shorts – I think quality is important when cycling and I love their shorts with the built-in lining. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.
→ Lumens – Welcome to your new best friend hacking your own body. Interfaces to MyFitnessPal and my Apple Watch.
→ Specialized cycling shoes – If you are a cyclist and you ride a lot, you must have your own pair of cycling shoes. These are my favorites.
→ Leorever compression gear – The best compression equipment I own.
My diet has also changed. I started tracking what I was putting in my body with MyFitnessPal, and my husband bought me something called Lumen, which hacked my metabolism and helped me get on track. It was a game changer and I love it.
Before I started cycling, I literally felt like nobody; Now I feel like I’ve become someone. Going from 294 pounds to 234 pounds was just profound. I had a 45 “waist and now I’m 35/36”. I’ve changed mentally, emotionally and spiritually. There was a lot of frustration, tears, and anger when I asked myself, “WHY did I let this happen to me? Why didn’t I do more than I could? ”And you want to know what I’ve learned? All that matters is doing something about it when I could, setting a goal and sticking to it.
I feel like I encourage people to do more and be more. Each of us has our own path to self-discovery. A lot of people think I can’t. I’ve learned to despise the phrase “I can’t”. I’ve heard every excuse – I don’t have time, I have no motivation, I don’t have my “why”. Finding the why is the hardest part. Once you find that, you are locked and charged and can change.
Overall, I’ve lost 60 pounds and gained a few pounds, but I seem to find that I comfortably stay around 245 pounds with no extra exertion. It took me almost two years to reach this weight my way. I didn’t go on a fast or special diet – just a lot of hard work. Find what you like and just do it. The day I entered CycleBar, I never could have imagined that I would become a manager and instructor for this amazing brand.
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