How This 52-Year-Old Woman Dropped 55 Pounds and a Bad Drinking Habit

Cycling guru and my mentor Selene Yeager crafted an article about my love of cycling and the weight loss that came with it. [I’m down 61 pounds; 5 more to go to make goal.]

Boston-area blogger Lisa Mae DeMasi with her bike.

Hint: It has two wheels and feels like flying

By ​SELENE YEAGER DECEMBER 12, 2017

Life comes at you fast sometimes. Perhaps after a few tough personal and professional years you find yourself 66 pounds overweight, drinking martinis, wine, and cognac every night, questioning whether you need some professional help. Then, even though you’re well past the age when parental gifts can save you from life’s lows, you remember that bike your dad gave you. Sure, it’s a trash-picked mountain bike that weighs a metric ton. But it puts you on a path that leads to the thought that maybe this cycling thing is the solution. And 55 pounds down and hundreds of skipped drinks later, you know you’re right.

With a little instruction and structure, she started doing long rides, like a 47-mile ride “down the Cape [Cod]” on the weekends. Those long rides had a snowball effect in the rest of her life. She limited herself to having a drink just one night a week. “You don’t want to be drinking because you want to feel good to ride.”

Chick and dog donning the type of orange you can see from outer space.

DeMasi followed the Health Management Resources (HMR) diet plan, which provides meals and snacks in proper portions, for several weeks but found she needed more carbs for her long rides. She eventually dropped the plan but remained vigilant, which was easier because she wasn’t drinking. “I didn’t have the urge to polish off a bag of Chex Mix every night,” she says.

Four and a half months later, she’d dropped 55 pounds, going from what she found to be a very uncomfortable 3XL to a size 16. “I’d like to lose about 11 more pounds to reach 150 pounds, which is a good weight for me,” she says.

Thanks to DeMasi’s newfound love for cycling, she’s confident she’s on the path to hitting that goal. “The thing about cycling is that it’s always a win,” she says. “It’s always an achievement. The best are those times when I’m looking up that hill and going so slowly that I think I’m just going to fall over, but I know what it feels like when you get to the crest and the grade starts to decline and you know you’ve done it. Just knowing what that feels like gets me up a hill every time. No matter how slow I am, I am determined to do it.”

With a New England winter bearing down, DeMasi knows her outdoor riding days may be numbered for a few months, but she doesn’t view that as a negative. “I just started doing indoor cycling classes, which are fantastic,” says DeMasi, who has found that riding a stationary bike helped her become more confident and comfortable with skills like riding out of the saddle, which she says she struggled with because of her weight early on.

“I want to be as fit and skilled as I can be for when I can get outdoors—which I love best,” says DeMasi. “I want to be out there having adventures and hopefully inspiring other women to do the same.”

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Who’s Biking Her Porker-Sized Butt Off?

Chick and dog donning the type of orange you can see from outer space.

Me. “Mace.”

I’m down 50 big ones.

In 4 months.

At 52.

How’d I do it?

I quit indulging in the Drinkeepoo and family-sized bag of Chex Mix every night, traded my flat bars in for drops, and got my porker-sized butt out on the road.

The catalyst?

Self-discovery stumbled upon through free-writing.

Huh?

Free-writing.

Two paragraphs to be exact.

Long-ass sentences that explained why and what I’d been running from all these years—the bouts of drinking, the trying on the wrong different people, places and things, the “girls don’t come along askin’ for ranchin’ chores.”

The unreconciled grief.

The “inflicted void.”

When I was on the edge of 20.

Edge of 20?

19. (Not 17, like Stevie Nicks.)

The discovery?

It was so powerful I sought a path to recovery.

I ride that path on my Trek Alexa.

A 47-mile bike ride down the Cape a couple of weeks ago helped shed those few pounds to achieve the big 5-0 milestone. Calcium was leaching from my muscles making my quads scream. The popping a squat to dispense fierce diarrhea and relieve the cramping in my lower gut didn’t derail me either.

Just made me dirty.

Hell, yeah. 52 and riding strong.

I got no strength, but I got endurance.

I got no core, but I got guts.

And I’ve dropped from an all-consuming 3X and comfortably sitting in a size 16 (know it sounds big, but think in relative terms). My inner thighs no longer bunch together and become one when I roll over in bed.

Does it feel great?

It rocks.

Has my presence of mind returned?

Not the kind I need to secure my smaller porker-sized ass in the technological workplace amid the Millennials. It’s troubling. What’s left of my mind is fleeting. And it’s not entirely due to alcohol consumption ’cause my high school girlfriend’s Cyndy and Kathleen’s minds are like sieves too.

And they ain’t boozers.

Nothing stays in my mind for long and there’s not alot of computing going on, just anxiety. Cycling helps. Yoga helps. My former writing coach did yoga. I wrote about the paradox (her doing yoga and my doing drinking to acquire the same effect) in the essay called My Dear Friend the Dirty, which the editors of Elephant Journal scooped up and devoured nearly 3 years ago.

My coach has since left me to pursue work with ‘better’ writers, those who are book-publishable-friendly and can afford her soaring hourly rates.

(And tolerate her sense of self-importance.)

I kept drinking the Dirties.

She used to say before reading one of my manuscripts:

“I’m eager to read me some Lisa Mae DeMasi.”

That translates to, this is going to make me laugh in parts but it has no depth or meaning.

I write when I can; back on the subject of my time spent in Cody. When I fell in love with toiling in the elements and fighting the boys to do the chores they hated. A 3-month period when Heartbreak was displaced by the cows and horses and mountains.

Saying goodbye to a foal in Cody at the Grin-N-Barrett Ranch, September ’95. My knee got torn up by a hit-and-run driver in Cody Central just days prior, necessitating my left leg remain immobilized. I’m styling a full leg immobilizer here before grease, dirt and tomato sauce made it visible. Wonder where my crutches were.

I wish I had gobs more time to write.

I chant every morning for a grant to fall from the sky and into my lap. Especially now since I can finally give meaning to my work. You know, having discovered the discovery, and feeling like a person again without all that “blind heartache weight.”

****************

The impact of loss scars the heart and you go on living your life ’cause you’re young and have to conform and can’t fall apart and you don’t realize those wounds are still there, throbbing raw, the fibers of tissue meshing over that open gap of mess. You don’t realize you mask that pain with the alcohol thirty fucking years later, that there’s a reason why you drink until the TV and the stand it rests on becomes unhinged.

You write and write and write. For seven years, straight, you do nothing but write and you’re told your writing has no depth or meaning. You keep writing because you’re still madly and blindly driven to it despite having lost all your assets and pockets are filled with nothing but dust and lint. You’re there writing, looking up the definition of a word online, fact checking, and you read, alcoholism is a well-documented pathological reaction to unresolved grief and glance down at the billionth line you just put in black and white and Jesus, the whole goddamn story comes clear.

****************

Adanna, a journal for women, about women, printed in its October editionWhy I Love Bike Commuting in Boston.

I no longer get to play chicken with city buses living in the Metrowest.

Damn, I miss it.

My work was also published in an Anthology last month, nestled inside other essays and poems by 50-something kick-ass women writers who are still enjoying sex with others and themselves. I flew out to attend and read at the launch in Santa Barbara, but never made it due to the fires.

Pick up a copy on Amazon and read it in the bathtub.

With rose pedals. And bubbly.

Unmasked: Women Write about Sex and Intimacy After 50

Time to go to spin class to burn away the remaining excess weight.

Where’s my low-calorie Gatorade.

Write to me at lisa dot demasi at gmail.