Showing Up

Michael is the other, not-so-public half of the team that is EcoVelo. She does a lot of the behind-the-scenes work and this site would not exist without her help. This is typical for Michael; she’s always eager to do the heavy lifting, but she’s more comfortable when the spotlight is on others.

There’s an interesting story about Michael that I’ve been wanting to share, a story she rarely talks about for fear of bringing too much attention to herself. Finally, after much convincing on my part, she’s reluctantly allowed me to tell it, with the hope that it might provide some encouragement and inspiration.

Not so long ago, Michael weighed 240 lbs. She wasn’t always this weight — in her 20’s she weighed approximately 160 lbs. — but kids, a job in the food industry, and a sedentary lifestyle eventually caught up with her. In 2005, at the age of 33, she decided she didn’t like where she was headed, so she embarked upon a program to get in shape.

In 2005, at the age of 33, she decided she didn’t like where she was headed, so she embarked upon a program to get in shape.

Having never been an athlete, she started slowly by joining the local “Curves” health club. Curves was a great introduction, and she religiously attended classes, but in just a couple of months she outgrew the program and moved over to a larger, full-service health club. There she dove into various classes, eventually working up to a point of exercising approximately 2 hours per day, 5 days a week, mixing three days of weight training with two days of high intensity cardio, all topped off with 45-60 minutes of low intensity cardio each day. During this same time period she discovered bicycling and started working active transportation into her lifestyle.

Along with the exercise, she also made big changes to her diet. She eliminated virtually all animal products, refined carbs, and processed food from her diet. Fast food was out, as was soda, alcohol, and “frappucinos”. She replaced her previously high-fat/sugar/salt diet with a healthy, plant-based diet centered around locally grown fruits and vegetables. During this time period she also turned herself into an accomplished vegetarian cook, using the internet to research nutrition and technique.

You’ve heard the old saying, “Showing up is half the battle.” Michael likes the saying, but she says it should read “Showing up is most of the battle.” She’s really good at showing up. Using the above self-designed program, she was able to lose 95 lbs. over a 21 month period using no drugs, surgeries, TV shows, or fad diets. She firmly believes anyone can do what she did with a simple program of diet and exercise if they’ll just stick to it (that’s a big “if”). She’s maintained her healthy weight for three years running and has since cut back to exercising 1.5 hours per day, 4 days a week while incorporating even more active transportation into her daily routine.

At this point, Michael’s new healthy lifestyle is the norm and she has no doubt it’s 100% sustainable for the rest of her life. And most importantly, she says she’s never felt better. Her tenacity and willingness to “show up” make her a daily inspiration to friends, family, and just about everyone who knows her.

20 Responses to “Showing Up”

  • bongobike says:

    Congratulations, Michael! That is wonderful. And believe me, I know just how wonderful. When I was a teenager I maxed out at 300lbs. and smoked a pack of cigs every day. When I think back about those days, I can’t believe what I did to myself.

    I lost 100lbs. in a year, and have never been obese again. I quit smoking about 32 years ago. I have my ups and downs with my weight, but it’s a narrow range.

    Now if only MY wife would lose weight and stop smoking… :(

  • Mike says:

    That’s inspiring, Michael! Having met you only recently, I can verify that you are indeed a different person today! I would never have known you had ever been anything other than lean and athletic… wow!

    This came at a good time for me… a winter reduction in cycling teamed with holiday eating is reversing some of the progress I made last year. I got on the bike today, rain or no rain, determined to “show up.”

    Thanks for sharing, Alan, and thanks to Michael for the inspiration and for being OK with a moment in the spotlight!

  • David says:

    Congratulations, your story is truly inspirational and thank you for being willing to share!

  • Ant says:

    That’s a great story, congrats to Michael and thanks for sharing it. Hopefully this type of lifestyle will catch on more and help reverse the staggering obesity trend in this country.

    I did pretty much the same thing (aside from the gym/fitness club) in 2007. Stopped smoking/drinking/caffeine, started eating a LOT better, biking as transportation, acupuncture and yoga. Within 2 yrs I was down 85 lbs, a lot stronger, dropped my resting heart rate by 40bpm, lower blood pressure, etc . It really is just a matter of “showing up” every day and its amazing the mental changes that go along with feeling great.

  • Karen says:

    Congrats to Michael and all you other Ecovelo buddies! You are an inspiration for me to keep “showing up” even when I’m discouraged.

  • John says:

    Bravo, Michael, and thank you for sharing your story. We all need a little inspiration now and then.

  • Michael(the wife:)) says:

    Thanks to all of you for the kind words, it really does mean a lot! :)

  • Doug R. says:

    In simple words” Michael you are a stud”! Thanks for sharing as it helps those of us who need inspiration. I started riding bicycles again and collecting them after being hit by a car and nearly “killed” in 2007. I feel stronger and I have great friends like you guys and the tweeders
    to keep me up even in the down winter months! Great stuff! Dougman

  • lyle says:

    Very inspiring and congratulations!

    I quit smoking 10 months ago and know how difficult it is to change bad habits. I also put on 25 pounds almost immediately. I only have 7 more to lose before I’m back to my ideal weight. The last few are so hard.

  • Ryan says:

    In the words of Billy Crystal “you lost 95 pounds? thats a backstreet boy!” seriously your story is very inspiring thank you so much for allowing it to be told out here in blog land. As I start down the road to losing my own “backstreet boy” this kind of story and demonstration of where perseverance gets you is great to hear.


  • Rick says:

    Having a beautiful human being as your partner to help carry the load through life means everything, my friend, and we are two of the luckiest men ever.

    Give Michael a hug from us. :-)

  • Alex Moll says:

    Thank you for sharing Michael – you’ve set a great example for others to follow.

    I’ve had many hobbies over the years, and enjoyed them very much. They reduced some stress, but unfortunately, they were sedentary. In our modern society, most of our occupations are also sedentary. As I raise my two boys, I realize that I need to discontinue the sedentary hobbies, and stick with the active hobbies. With our busy lives, and the time crunch we’re all in, we really need to adopt an active lifestyle as much as possible.

    My sedentary activities today consist of reading great message boards, and blogs (like this one) and maintaining my fleet of bicycles – all of this occurs after the sun goes down.

  • Tamia Nelson says:

    Well done, Michael! You are an inspiration, and it’s folks like you who help others realize that they CAN change themselves, and it’s never too late. Helps me keep up my efforts toward a slimmer, healthier self. Thanks for your courage in allowing Alan to share this with the rest of us.

  • Dan says:

    Michael that is a story that does need to be shared. Congrats and keep on showing up.

  • PJ says:

    I am sure this will encourage and inspire others in a similar situation.
    You are right that showing up is most of the battle but you deserve a lot of credit for doing it.
    Thanks for sharing this with everyone, it is one more example of the great work that you both do here.

  • Kit says:

    This is a great story. I myself was overweight and had dangerous levels of cholesterol going on. So one day, with my wifey blessing, I bought a bike and ride 20 miles each day to and from work. I have lost about 20 lbs and my cholesterol levels are now in the normal zone. I love my bike (and my wife) dearly and would never go back to my old lifestyle. Thanks for sharing your story Michael.

  • tim says:

    Thanks for that inspiring story. It need to to told to help other see they can do it.

    My wife has a very similar story, started slow after 5 kids, and now is in great shape.


  • Leaf S. says:

    Great story. I can’t even begin to tell you how many stories of change and growth I’ve heard over the years (18) as a member of a 12 step group. I never get tired of them. Thanks for sharing. I’m sure your story will help inspire others to change and grow so that they can experience a new happiness and freedom in their life.

  • duane says:

    i’ve delayed my winter routine long enough. it is time to get to work. thank you Michael.

  • randomray says:

    Impressive , life style changes are so hard . Stick to it .

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