How Cycling Changed Me – Brooke Petska
, 2022-07-21 10:40:08,
Name: Brooke Petska
Hometown: Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Occupation: Business development/marketing director for a commercial construction company; part-time cycling/strength instructor for the Chippewa Falls YMCA
Time Cycling: 3 years
Reason for Cycling: Cycling gave me my life back. It’s my why and my purpose for how I now choose to live my life to the fullest.
Growing up I was always the “fat kid.” I was raised in an incredibly loving and supportive household, but nutrition, serving size, portion control, and exercise were never talked about. I spent my entire adolescence being bullied for what size pants I wore. Thankfully, I was blessed with a stubborn Norwegian mindset and thick skin, so I ignored the bullies.
When I was a freshman in college I did the reverse “freshman 15” and lost about 25 pounds by eating salads at almost every meal. That didn’t last long though, as I discovered all the joys of being in college and quickly gained the weight back—and then some. By this point, I had hit my heaviest weight, at around 200 pounds. Post-graduation, I continued to live a lifestyle of eating what I wanted when I wanted with zero focus on my mental, physical, or emotional health.
Fast forward to 2017, when I was in a car accident that left me with a concussion and sustained back and neck injuries. I sunk into a deep depression and gained roughly 30 pounds between 2016 and 2019. I used the accident as an emotional crutch to justify eating, and my physical injuries as an excuse to become even less active than I already was.
Full transparency, I gave up on myself, and often wondered if this life was worth living anymore. When I hit the age of 25, something finally clicked and I knew I needed to change. At 5’7” and 230 pounds at 25 years old, my health was a ticking time bomb for sure.
I’ll never forget the moment I knew I needed to change. It was a morning in early July 2019, and I turned to get out of bed. As I put my feet on the floor, my ankles cracked—and as I stood up my knees gave out at the ripe age of 25. That was the moment I knew I needed to make changes, and make them fast.
I didn’t know what getting healthy meant or how I would do it, but I figured joining a local gym would be a great starting point. So I told my husband I was going to be joining the YMCA with or without him, but I had to do this for myself. We both joined that morning and committed to this lifestyle change together.
The first year of being…
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