Fit Recovery

Home » Cycling » Why am I having a Difficult Time Losing Weight Cycling?

Why am I having a Difficult Time Losing Weight Cycling?


November 2017

I love this question: Why am I having a tough time losing weight cycling?

“Ah, grasshopper, doth thou lackest honesty?”

The answer is simple, my friends, for those who can embrace honesty:  Results are equal to the effort put into achieving them.  Not less than, and certainly not greater than… though most wish the latter were true.  As a recovering drunk, I can relate – after I’d become I pickle, I wished and prayed I could to back to being a cucumber.  

We find losing weight difficult because we don’t push hard enough on the pedals, dear.  Well, that and we eat too much of the wrong crap, but let’s keep it on track.

Every cyclist on the planet needs an easy day once in a while (including the pros).  However, if your days are all easy, guess what?

Look at it this way, imagine yourself atop a mountain pass – you drove your bike up there on your car.  You unrack your bike and coast almost all the way down the hill, riding your disc brakes to the bottom.  It takes you 30 minutes.  You then take a bus back to the top to get your car…

Many will chalk that up to a 30 minute bike ride then reward themselves with some form of fast food goodness.  In reality, you put in slightly more effort than you would sitting on the couch watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  You will gain weight on the day.  That’s how it works, and that’s why it’s so hard.

Try this revolutionary idea:  The easy days don’t count.  

Lately, I’ve been walking quite a bit for work, upwards of three or four miles a day.  I don’t count that because, dude, it’s walking.  I do my regular evening ride and that’s what I count.  I consume an average of 400 calories less than I burn every day.  Guess what happens!  Every ten days or so. I drop a pound.

Expectations and intake must be in line with effort, it’s simple as that, if sometimes disheartening.  

Ride hard, my friends… because the other option is to eat twigs, leaves, roots and fungi.  



  1. theandyclark says:

    And it is incredibly easy to out eat your exercise. There are quite a few cheeseburgers out there that will wipe out an hour on the bike. The good news is that there are also quiet a few that don’t!

  2. Brent says:

    As someone with an eating disorder who used to weigh 420 pounds, I will agree wholeheartedly with that statement. Losing weight is even harder than recovery in alcoholism (I just celebrated my 5th anniversary there last week, BTW). That’s because it’s pretty easy to figure out whether you drank on any given day. You did or you didn’t. No ambiguous discussion. Yeah, there can be a lot of rationalization after the fact when you’re not living the life in recovery — “my boss made me do it.” But simply knowing whether you drank is pretty straightforward.

    With food, even someone committed to rigorous honesty to recover from an eating disorder has to manage a lot of variables to avoid making a mistake about how many calories they’re eating versus burning off. You burned off 200 calories on the treadmill at the gym — GREAT! But the people who celebrate that achievement by having a Frappucino at Starbuck’s afterwards often have no idea that they’re consuming 600 calories (all empty sugar and fats, no nutrition whatsoever).

    You can definitely burn off a lot more calories than you eat if you cycle actively, but I have discovered that it takes a good mental game to keep pressing yourself with every turn of the pedals. I went out yesterday on my usual training ride, the one I’ve done hundreds of times in the last 3 years. I could tell that my mental game wasn’t there, no matter how much I tried it. I was 3.2 mph (20%) slower than my fastest time, and quite a bit slower than my average time. And I didn’t feel any better after the ride than before.

    So I’d have to have the intellectual honesty to say it’s almost as if I didn’t ride at all. And that’s on a course with 1,000 feet of climbing in just 13 miles, a lot different than what you describe about merely coasting down the hill. So even on a “real” ride as opposed to your “pretend” ride, it’s possible to get no benefit from going out on the bike. It took me years to learn the intellectual honesty to admit that and to make extra sure I didn’t “reward” myself for a ride that meant nothing to my body. And it’s something I still struggle with.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Amen, Brent. First, congratulations on both counts (weight and alcohol). That’s impressive, brother. Second, you’re right. The balancing act is a lot tougher with eating. There are a lot of similarities, but I can see how one would have to be that much more vigilant. On the other hand, a Big Mac will always be a Big Mac…

  3. So true. I need to get my shit together, stop eating so much crap and make time for longer (harder) riding.

  4. Gail says:

    Honesty. Best taken full strength, non diluted.

  5. biking2work says:

    Could not agree more. Got back down to my pre holiday weight after a week. This was due to:
    1-Riding a hire bike 140km 2000metres up and down hills DURING the holiday
    2-Pushing myself to continue the 161km per week cycling goal and getting back on the wagon with the food and alcohol.

    I had lost that extra 1kg in a week. It ain’t difficult if you ain’t lazy (but it does help if you like the riding a bike bit)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: