The Physical Side of Before, During, and After of Obesity: Guest Post 2 From Gaz

02.22.2012 | 7:42 am

A Note from Fatty: This week, Gaz, who blogs as “The FORMER Super Morbidly Obese Cyclist” will be taking over my blog. He’ll be describing his journey from fat to fit, as well as answering your questions about how it’s possible to lose a lot of weight (in Gaz’s case, hundreds of pounds) by riding.

Sorry folks, I should have been here yesterday but got called away on business at the last moment yesterday. You do, however, have my full attention again today.

I’d like to touch base on the physical side of the journey I have been through, before dealing with some more of your questions.


I started my journey at 560 pounds (Give or take)

  • I had Type 2 Diabetes
  • I had Sleep Apnea
  • I had Super High Bloody pressure

My Doctor told me that if I chose to exercise, it might well kill me, but if I chose NOT to then I’d be dead pretty darn quick. That was harsh to hear but not a total shock, to be honest.

I had 2 very young kids at the time and I knew what I was doing to myself wasn’t fair on them. Through no fault of their own, if I didn’t fix myself then the children that I had decided to bring into this world would know a future without a father, there would be no role model, no “My Daddy was a fighter.” Just “My Daddy was too fat to live.”

When I sat down and thought about that for the first time, I knew I couldn’t fail.

Where do you start though, when even walking to the bathroom hurts? Running was out, I found swimming was so very difficult at that size, and walking bored me.

As a kid I used to cycle and was pretty good at it for someone that wasn’t passionate about it (Oh how times change), but finding a bike store, let alone a bike, that would take me seriously at that weight was a REAL challenge.

I didn’t give up and a few months later my MTB was ready and waiting, it took me a few months to muster up the courage to go out in public and show the world what I had become.


I was REAL lucky physically with injuries during my weight loss journey, despire all the strain on my body, I only suffered one “injury” — a hamstring pull — and even that wasn’t enough to keep me off the bike, it just slowed me down, a LOT.

201202220626.jpgHowever, when it came to accidents, my luck wasn’t in, once slipping on a icy road and once being hit at high speed by a van.

But amazingly, that accident didn’t cause me any major , long lasting injuries. Sure, I still suffer with my back now, some 18 months later, but I was doing over 20 mph and the van driver over 30 mph and I landed on my HEAD, backwards. On any other given day, I wouldn’t have survived!

But I did and I feel its because I have someone watching me, I wear a LiveSTRONG band and have done from day one, never taking it off. It fits pretty big these days from being stretched though, but — and I know this might sound crazy — I feel that it saved my life.

That accident spooked me, but I will talk about the mental effects of it and my weight loss tomorrow.


So, now, after being obese , where am I ? Well, I NO LONGER have

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Super High Bloody pressure

I can hold an average speed on my Single Speed road bike of over 20 Mph all day long (unless we are talking serious hills of course)

I can round around playing with my kids, they are proud to have there daddy take them to school and want to show him off, unlike 3 years ago.

And along my journey I have raised around $6000 for Cancer Charity’s by just riding my bike, everyone is a winner,

It’s not all good tho, with around 14 pounds of excess skin, I have been told I need a full body reconstruction, something that I would never be able to afford or justify but I’d much rather have the skin than being dead!

Tomorrow I will cover the same areas but from a mental perspective!

Ok, questions from the floor please……..


Q. Hey Gaz – nice to see you on here. I’m based in the UK and came across your story last year and was inspired then (as now) by it. I saw you’ve got a Madone now – cool, cool choice!

A: Hey Al, good to hear from you, my Madone is of course the coolest because it’s the 7 TdF champion edition J


Q. How far is your daily commute by bike?

A. The “normal” route is a 13 mile round trip, but in the summer, most days, I’ll ride 20 miles each way.


Q. I have a close friend who weighs close to 400lbs and I want to help him loose a lot of that weight by embracing cycling like you did. He has expressed interest in it and I want to get him started by buying him a bike and helping him with his training.

My question is, what kind of bike did you start riding at your heaviest? It seems like one would need something specialized for such a high weight, as well as someting easy to handle with the limited mobility of someone that size. Any tips on an entry-bike for someone trying to do this for the first time at 300-400lbs?

A: I rode a TOTALLY Standard Giant Yukon 2007 MTB. Best tip I can give, is to avoid pot holes and don’t jump off the kerb.


Q. Gaz, great job. I was wondering what your first ride was like when you decided enough was enough. If you can remember what were your thoughts from when you took the bike out and put your leg over it to when you brought it home from the first ride. And, if you had to do it all over again would you have done anything differently? Thank you.

A: It was HARD, shameful, painful, exhausting and enlightening at all the same time, there is nothing at all I would have done differently , apart from not gain the weight in the first place.


Q. What a brilliant blog!! Great story that has been told in great style – inspirational!! Thanks Gaz – I really enjoyed reading through some of your blog posts.

My only question is this – did you ever “fall off the wagon” or regress to old habits? If you did, how did you kick yourself back into regular riding again?

A: Thanks! I fell off the wagon just once, and that was after the accident. I felt REALLY low and couldn’t walk for a few weeks. As soon as I got back on the bike, it was all fixed though.


Q. Did you ever figure out why you gained all the weight in the first place? What made it stick with the trade of the bike instead of the food?

A: I sure did and its something I will deal with in tomorrows post.


Q. First off, congratulations on the loss and maintenance! The questions I have are regarding the temptations and “falling off the wagon”. What was your biggest temptation? How did you fight it? IF you did go overboard, what got you back on track?

Also, this is for the wider audience as well. I’d love to bike to work, but its 12+ miles and some climbing which means I wouldn’t exactly be “fresh” when I got to work, if you know what I mean. I work in an office with no shower facilities. Any suggestions or strategies that would allow me to bike and to be presentable at work?


Keep up the great work!

A: Thanks for the question, the bike always kept and keeps me on the straight and narrow.

12 miles isn’t as far as you think, I have 2 climbs both ways and both are not easy , I did them from the start almost though and it makes you a better rider, having no shower at work too myself, I can say, take a towel, change of clothes and LOTS of deodorant

Thanks everyone!



  1. Comment by Byg Papi | 02.22.2012 | 8:49 am

    Hey Gaz, thanks for being an inspiration. At 360 pounds last year I rode my old bike until I lost enough weight to get my current bike. Although I have more gears now (21 instead of 7), I still have difficulty breathing. My question is did you have asthma or difficulty breathing and how did you handle it?

  2. Comment by roan | 02.22.2012 | 9:01 am

    @Dan.weise, there are restrooms at work. Let your co-workers know that you are trying to lose the weight. Try to locate a restroom with little use, talk to your boss. Take a towel & wash cloth, if you have to…post a sign on the restroom door. Then be very quick about changing and washing, planning is key to a quick change. 10-12 minutes max.
    Also wet wipes either baby wipes or the disinfecting wipes work too. Both the quick wash and the wet wipes are followed by deodorant.
    OH Yes ! Short hair helps a lot, even a body hair trim now and then does wonders.

  3. Comment by Ken | 02.22.2012 | 9:03 am

    As I read this series from Gaz, I am amazed. I don’t know that I could ever fight and win such an epic battle.
    Biking to work is one of the best things I ever did. People take notice and they enjoy and appreciate seeing it. One fella said to me “Wow, you were really moving down that last hill!” I had been aware of a jeep and thought maybe it was him. He hadn’t passed me. Kinda cool.
    As regards being fresh, I pack a large plastic cup and two towels along with my work clothes. I ride in kit. I use the cup to douse as much of myself as I can standing at a bathroom sink. I use one towel to dry off, and the second one (samller) to wipe the sink, counter and floor. That all goes into a plastic bag. I use a stall to change and I’m ready for the day. And I feel great in more ways than one.

  4. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 02.22.2012 | 9:37 am

    Dan.weise – When I ride to work, I take a wash cloth and just wipe myself down with the wet rag in the bathroom. It cools me down and gets the smelly sweat off. And the extra deodorant is a must, too! Some people really like wipes (such as Action Wipes) instead of a wash cloth, but I’ve never tried them.

  5. Comment by Suzanne | 02.22.2012 | 9:42 am

    I also work in an office without a shower and came up with a fairly good system for dealing with my sweaty arrival (the last two miles of my commute are hilly and then I have to carry my bike up two flights of stairs once I arrive at my office):

    1. In the warmest part of summer, I’ll carry my bag on a bike rack — keeps my back from getting too sweaty!
    2. I sit at my desk for about 10 minutes before changing. This allows the sweat to dry and not transfer to my work clothes.
    3. Paper towel shower! A little water, a little soap. And, as previously noted, lots of deodorant.

  6. Comment by 3d brian | 02.22.2012 | 9:47 am

    Regarding getting sweaty commuting to work:

    I do the commute thing and in good weather often ride a way that gets me very sweaty.

    A few tips:

    Just try it; it worked out a lot better than I worried it would.

    You can ride at a lower speed if you don’t feel like getting all sweaty on a certain day.

    A change of shirt, a quick towel off in the bathroom, and deodorant does the trick for me. As mentioned by Suzanne give yourself some time to cool down before you change.

  7. Comment by Lisa | 02.22.2012 | 10:52 am

    This post makes me really happy! I’m glad you cleared up those conditions through diet and exercise. That’s the healthy way to do it! When I lost 110 pounds I cleared up all my issues too–high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes…

  8. Comment by Obstinate Roadie | 02.22.2012 | 10:58 am

    I just want to say I’m inspired, in a general way, by how you overcame your fear and shame, and fulfilled your duty to your children. Well done, sir.

  9. Comment by Turn The Damn Cranks | 02.22.2012 | 11:42 am

    Gaz: Incredible and inspiring story!

    I am impressed that you managed to ride a stock bike, though. The questions about that reminded me of an article from the New York Times a couple of years ago about a company that makes bikes designed for heavy riders. Here it is for anyone interested:

  10. Comment by Haven-KT | 02.22.2012 | 11:43 am

    This is such an impressive and inspirational series, Fatty! Thanks, Gaz, for sharing your story and answering our questions!

  11. Comment by MellowJonny | 02.22.2012 | 11:45 am

    Gaz you are a true inspiration and I have lots of respect for you.

    My question is: How did you “get up” the courage to do that first ride?

    I’m sure it was hard, but I’m positive you are happy you decided to take it.

  12. Comment by RodNeeds2Ride | 02.22.2012 | 1:07 pm

    My favorite part – “Best tip I can give, is to avoid pot holes and don’t jump off the kerb.” Sounds simple, but it’s something those skinny folks wouldn’t think of. Thanks for sharing Gaz!

  13. Comment by Damian | 02.22.2012 | 1:28 pm

    Fantastic job Gaz. You are an inspiration to all of us. What was your diet during the weight loss? Did you fuel for riding?

  14. Comment by tom | 02.22.2012 | 3:20 pm

    For those of you without showers at the office, check these out If I remember correctly Fatty even endorses them through his ’stuff fatty loves’ columns.

  15. Comment by Cbuffy | 02.22.2012 | 4:28 pm

    Gaz – wow, you are amazing!
    With regards to the extra skin – try googling “dry brushing”. It’s something that has been done in Europe (and is catching on here) for years. Using a natural bristle brush, you brush your body, always using long strokes, towards your heart. In addition to exfoliating, it exercises the skin itself and your skin will actually shrink! A dear friend went from a size 22W to a size 6 using diet and exercising and dry brushing. There is NO excess skin! (And she had 9 children!) Be sure you are DRY when you brush or it can put microscopic tears in your skin. Oh, and it feels GREAT! No wonder my horses love their daily brush!

  16. Comment by geoff | 02.22.2012 | 5:04 pm

    Hey Gaz,

    I too have alot of excess skin. I have quite a long torso and stuff, so I have a devil of a job finding jerseys to fit. The solution was to get the mrs to sew a panel on the front – it just hangs down – and I can either tuck or dangle, depending on whether i feel like a dork or not.

    I also have a “pouch” of excess skin above the genitals, which causes me massive issues. When I lean forward to make the “V”, it mushes the gentleman package down on to the seat – I literally draw blood on every ride. The only solution is to ride more upright.. or to have it removed.

    I believe Sri Lanka is the place to get the surgery done cheap, but high quality..

  17. Comment by Paula Webb | 02.22.2012 | 5:45 pm


    You are such an inspiration. I wish more people would make the decision to lose weight with diet and exercise and not surgery. You are living proof that it can be done! I also like that you did it for your kids. I think that is so important! You are setting a great example for your children in so many ways.

  18. Comment by Limey | 02.22.2012 | 7:30 pm

    Brilliant Gaz, you are such an inspiration, I have 50Lbs to go. What was up with the dogma?


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