Cycling is my new addiction.posted by Amber Brady on September 28, 2022
My name is David Bourgeois. I’ve been with the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) for a little over 17 years. As the title says, I’m an addict. My drug of choice was food. I used it as comfort. It was always there for me. Then I decided to make a change.
I had to do something as my health was deteriorating, so, I talked with my doctor about his thoughts on weight loss surgery. He said it would be very beneficial to me, so I started to do research. I found a weight loss surgeon, but my insurance denied my surgery three separate times, and the surgeon’s team could not figure out why. I kept calling the surgeon and my insurance company to find out why I was denied; it took almost a year, but I got to the bottom of it. I was finally getting my surgery.
After the surgery is when I really found out how addicted to food I am.
Food is everywhere. It’s not at all like alcohol and drugs. If you’re addicted to alcohol or drugs, you don’t go to certain places or do certain things. With food you can’t do that. It’s in relationships, dating, marriage; it’s there when you bring your family together. So, it’s a very big part of everything, and a person of a heavy stature has to navigate through that.
Life after surgery can be very difficult because your mindset has to change quickly. After the surgery you have to choose something else as your addiction, and a lot of bariatric people will run to alcohol, which is just as bad. So, to create a positive addiction, I decided to get into cycling.
When I was younger, I cycled a lot. Then, of course, life happened—marriage, work, etc. And as life happened and my family grew, so did I. Eventually, I reached a point where my weight and my size were really having an effect on my life. At my heaviest I was 406 pounds. I couldn’t do a lot of things, and nothing was enjoyable.
After surgery I focused on the diet part, which is great for losing weight, but you also lose a lot of muscle if you don’t work out regularly. So, being active was also very important for me. Then in March of 2021, I started my fitness journey. Now it’s been over a year, and I’ve lost about 185 pounds.
Now, I cycle one to two times each week, and each time I ride between 12 and 15 miles. I have a Tuesday ride in Fort Wayne that I go to each week with approximately 70 people of all different fitness levels. When I first started the ride, I was one of the last people to finish. Now I hang with the top group because I’m a little bit quicker.
Part of my training has taught me that I need milestones along the way to keep myself active, and that’s part of why I want to build a team for next year’s RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa). Training with a team for a group ride would mean we have more accountability to each other to train.
This group will be not only for RAGBRAI but anyone who wants to get healthy. We can ride together and become more fit as a team; and even if someone doesn’t plan to do RAGBRAI, they’re welcome to ride with us and start to make changes for their own mental and physical health.
If I could give one piece of advice to someone on a journey similar to mine, it would be to follow directions. Don’t think you know what you’re doing—because you probably don’t. If I’d known what to do, I wouldn’t have been in the position I was in.
Follow your doctors, nutritionists and health coaches, who can include the psychology piece and every other piece you need. Don’t try to wing it or go the cheap way out, because I tried to, and it made my journey harder.
You’re making an investment in yourself, so don’t try to skimp.
Personally, investing in myself is hard to do because I’m thinking about other people and other things I need to do. Sometimes it’s easier to skip a ride because I should be working on the house or the car or something else, but I know that if I make time to go on a ride, I’ll be happier. And I’m able to do more.
Now, my wife and I can go places together and just walk around. At the Shipshewana Flea Market, for example, we can walk around for three or four hours through the whole place, and two years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.
Now, I’m just living life and enjoying it. It’s sometimes hard to miss things you haven’t done in a while, but when you start doing them again you remember the feeling. It’s also great knowing you have the freedom to do things without having to bring a chair or sit down to rest.
I mentioned earlier that I’m setting myself milestones in my fitness journey to help me stay motivated. One of these milestones is riding in RAGBRAI: the oldest, largest, and longest multi-day bicycle touring event in the world, otherwise referred to as a rolling festival of bicycles, music, food, camaraderie, and community. And I want you to join me!
If you’re interested in RAGBRAI, check out the history of this fascinating ride that all began with a simple challenge between two coworkers: The History of RAGBRAI – Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa! Then, send me an email at email@example.com if you’re interested in training for RAGBRAI with me, and we’ll get a State of Indiana team together to train for next year’s event.
I’ve never done anything remotely like this, so hopefully I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew!
Other physical activity and fitness resources
Gym Discounts: Several gyms, programs and facilities across Indiana offer membership discounts to State of Indiana employees. If you’re looking for a new gym or new ways to get active, use this resource to find a facility near you.
Indiana Recreation Guide: The 2022 Indiana Recreation Guide showcases the wide variety of activities, challenges and recreational opportunities at Indiana State Parks this year. Use this guide to find new adventures for you and your family.
Physical Activity Tools: The Physical Activity Tools web page is a hub for a variety of recreation guides, walking routes, community parks, trails and other exercise ideas.