Hometown: Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania
Weight lost riding: 145 pounds
When he weighed 325, Mark Morales discovered that being heavy meant carrying more than just the excess pounds. As a field-service engineer in the oil and gas division for Siemens, he splits his time between the road and his home office. Between the sedentary work and constantly eating out, Morales became mired in unhealthy routines. (Search: Average calories in fast food) “You’re just mucking along,” he says. “You have no energy and you realize something’s got to change.” His size weighed heavily on his psyche: “You get on an airplane and you can see people thinking, Please don’t sit next to me.”
So Morales decided in August 2010 to make a change. Cycling was a natural choice because it had been a childhood passion—he and his friends used to spend entire days tearing up the roads. “I used to read BMX magazines when I was younger, thinking I may race someday,” he recalls. It wasn’t so hard to imagine riding a mountain bike. So he changed his diet—eliminating alcohol and empty calories like pizza—took up his friends’ advice that he buy a Giant Trance X2, and hit the trails.
Turn your bike into a powerful weight loss tool and Ride Your Way Lean!
Cycling was ideal because he had bad knees. “It’s low-impact exercise, and I can ride from the house or use a trainer when the weather is bad or it’s dark,” Morales says. (Besides being low-impact, read the 5 More Reasons Biking is Better for Weight Loss.) Still, his journey included ups and downs that went well beyond the hilly paths. As he locked in on riding, he had big weight-loss weeks and stretches where he faltered. But the overall results were unmistakable. The pounds melted away over about six months, and he decided to try out an aluminum Giant Defy road bike, which allowed him to leave for rides right from his house instead of driving to the park trails. He still rides the mountain bike and his Giant on a trainer on rainy days. For good weather he purchased what he describes as his “pride and joy”—a 2012 Specialized S-Works Tarmac.
Video: What it Takes to Be a Mountain-Biking Pro
He has dropped to 180 in the past two-plus years, and found that returning to his childhood passion lightened his soul as well. “Even though you’re tired, your legs hurt, even your butt a little bit, you have a smile on your face,” he says.
Related: We Raced Our Way into Shape!
Morales recently attended a climbing camp organized by Carmichael Training Systems that included a 14-mile (22.5 km) ascent. He couldn’t have imagined doing something like that just two years earlier. And when he climbed on the plane and found in his assigned seat, he didn’t worry for a moment about the person sitting next to him.
What He’s Learned
“To get big and stay big,” he says, “you have to eat big.” Aim for five smaller, healthier meals rather than three large ones. (Try these Foods That Make You Fitter and Faster.)
Park your car at the far end of the lot at work and the store, for what Morales refers to as “accidental exercise.”
Exercise at least 60 minutes a day, but at different intensity levels. Mix in recovery days to maximize your gains.