It all started in 1995. It was a good year. Gas was $1.09, a loaf of bread cost $2.02, and a dozen eggs set you back $0.87. Then I came along. I was born in Asheville, NC then moved to Charleston, SC at the ripe age of 3 (or so). From there I went to school, did kid things, and finished high school.
At my high school, we had “majors.” My major was Biomedical Science (not as special as it sounds) and Arts Performance. Yes… I was one of those kids. In the choir. That’s beside the point. At the beginning of my junior year, I got some bad news.
No, I wasn’t failing a class and no, I didn’t get the solo for one of the songs in the Christmas Concert. I found out I had Mononucleosis – the kissing disease. But everyone gets it so it wasn’t a big deal for me. But here’s where it gets real bad.
I was in the hospital getting blood work done and got an allergy test done just for the hell of it. And guess what? Dairy and eggs lit up in big, bright red numbers. The numbers were at the top of the charts. 10/10 was getting REKT by these two things.
But it never affected me in the “I NEED AN EPI-PEN STAT” way. It just made me feel real nauseous for days and days. But I thought that was normal before. They don’t teach you that in public school (they probably do – I guess I was paying more attention to girls).
The Beginning of the End
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was sitting on the couch watching Johnny Bravo on Boomerang and I was eating Honey Nut Cheerios with 2% milk. I was so content.
Then my mom comes into the room and says “Alright, I’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that you’re not allergic to gluten. The bad news is that you’re allergic to dairy and eggs.” I remember saying, “That’s not a big deal. No more milk or omelets, I can do that.”
Then I looked down to my bowl of cereal. Then I remembered yogurt, butter… CHEESE. For Pete’s sake, I couldn’t have cheese anymore. I felt sick to my stomach (probably because of the milk in my cereal).
Milk was a bad choice. The next 1 ½ years were real hard. No pizza parties, no ice cream sundaes, no milk chugging contests, no nothing. And I still felt awful. What gives?
The Silver Lining
There are a few things I forgot about and didn’t realize until about a year ago. Your body takes a long time to heal on the inside. Remember when you fell off your bike and scraped up your knee real bad and it took forever to heal?
Well, your skin and your digestive tract have very similar properties – they’re even considered the same type of tissue. So, for me, my body was healing from 18 years of damage (and still is healing).
The other thing I forgot about was exercise. Holy hell, how could I forget that?
I go to the College of Charleston and the best way to get around town is via bicycle. So I borrowed my neighbor’s old Mongoose (you know… the bike everyone had as a kid) and set off for college. After riding on a $40 bike, I decided to get a real road bike.
I bought a single-speed road bike from a local shop (now fixed gear) and fell in love with it. And that’s where it all started for me. I would ride 10 miles every night. I probably should’ve been studying but I loved adventuring around town. Soon 10 miles became 20, 25, 30.
At the same time, my weight went from 205 lbs to 160 lbs. You read that right. 45 whole pounds. I told my dad what I had been doing and he went out and got us matching road bikes. And this one had gears on it! I didn’t know how to handle myself.
30 miles turned into 60 miles in no time. That summer, I accumulated about 1000 miles. I started racing. I started doing really long distance riding. I started feeling good.
The Moral of the Story
My allergies forced me to find healthy alternatives that helped me lose weight and feel good all at the same time – that’s why I’m here. Not to give everyone a hard time about their weight or their eating habits.
The biggest thing about losing weight, feeling good, and being happy, is diet and exercise. But not the super intense Crossfit, HIIT, or Rugged Maniac workouts. For me, taking a bike ride for an hour or so did it. For others, taking an adventure around town, seeing new things, meeting new people.
I’m here to say that cutting certain things from your diet (for me, dairy and eggs) and finding an exercise you love is the key to a healthy lifestyle. If you’re struggling with allergies or an intolerance, I feel you, but it gets better.