Hometown: Westminster, Maryland
Time Cycling: 3 years
Start Weight: 220 pounds
End Weight: 180 pounds
Reason for Cycling: It keeps my diabetes under control, and given my sedentary job, getting outdoors and away from a computer screen is tremendously uplifting to my spirit.
In February 2018, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. My A1C level—the chief marker for diabetes—was 7.5, firmly in the diabetic range. As a type 2 diabetic, I don’t need insulin through a pump or anything like that, but instead I was tasked with controlling my blood sugar through diet, exercise, and medication.
I’d biked a fair amount in my youth and when I was newly married. But then the whole kids and career thing happened. I stopped riding and gained a lot of weight, in the intervening years. When diabetes changed everything for me, I knew immediately cycling was going to help save my health.
Within a week of the diagnosis, I ordered a Peloton bike, so I could consistently work out and ride any time of day, regardless of the weather. After a year of indoor cycling, I decided I wanted to ride outside, and I bought a Trek FX hybrid. The following year, I got a real road bike (a Trek Emonda, then a Trek Domane). You could say I’m hooked.
Before my diagnosis, my diet mimicked that of a 15-year-old, with a tiny bit more self-awareness (I ate the occasional salad). Plus ice cream—and lots of it. When I was diagnosed, I went on the Whole 30 diet to help stabilize my blood sugar. It’s recommended that diabetics reduce their intake of sugar and carbs, including bread and pasta, so even though I’m not on Whole 30 anymore, I still follow much of the diet. Between dieting and cycling, my A1C dropped to 5.7 at my last check-in, which is considered in the pre-diabetic range.
The most common medication type 2 diabetics are given is Metformin. I was on it for about two months, but had some side effects, so I knew I wanted to be off of it ASAP. I lost about 20 pounds within two months, and at that point, my doctor said I could try to control my diabetes with diet and exercise alone, which I’ve been doing since.
Now, while my diet is still not as healthy as it could be, it’s much better. Typically, I eat oatmeal with some fruit and nuts for breakfast, eggs or other low-carb, high-protein foods for lunch, and more normal dinners, although I typically avoid high-carb items. Occasionally, I splurge on dessert. I eat more vegetables than I used to eat (still probably not as much as I should). And I drink a ton of water.
Typically, I’ll ride outside one to two hours on weekdays, and three to five hours on weekends. I now have a smart trainer in the basement as well (I sold the Peloton last year), and use a combination of Trainer Road and Zwift for workouts.
Cycling has certainly redirected my life in a positive way. My diabetes is under complete control now, without medication. My glucose levels stay low, and it’s largely due to the bike(s).
You can follow Ward’s journey here.
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