Pedal power

Pedal power

Full-time mum Charmaine Coates, 33, lives in Minehead, Somerset, with her husband, Stuart, and their five children: Sophie, 15; Adam, 13; Nathaniel, eight; Callie, six; and Eleanor, two. Charmaine lost 9st 9½lb to reach her target weight at Laraine Smith’s Slimming World group in Minehead.

How did you discover cycling? I first started cycling in my teens when I was around a size 16. My dad was part of a cycling group with his work colleagues and I used to join them. It soon fizzled out when I met my husband, Stuart, at 17, and it wasn’t until I joined Slimming World in September 2009 that I decided to get back into it. My weight had been creeping up and up over the years – I put on more and more with each child – to the point where it became a case of now or never! At a size 28/30, I felt very self conscious when I first got back on my bike. I was really focused though – I knew Food Optimising would make the big difference and I also made achieving my Body Magic goals part of the plan right from the very start.

How do you make time? I head out in the evenings ataround 8pm, when Stuart’s home from work and the children are settled – a time when I used to fall asleep on the couch. Now I can’t sit still and feel agitated if I don’t go out on my bike! I started by cycling a couple of times a week, just around the block, and have gradually built up to an hour-long circuit three times a week.

Do you need any special kit? I already had a mountain bike, which cost about £80, gathering dust in the garage, so I cleaned it up and bought myself a helmet and reflective top for the darker nights. I also bought a gel seat, which makes riding much more comfortable, and a water bottle. To begin with I wore jogging pants – now I’m a size12, I’m happy wearing spandex pants!

How do you keep yourself motivated? As I lost the weight, I found it really motivating to see the number on the scales getting lower each week and all my hard work paying off! I’d visualise my weight loss in half stone blocks (which made it seem more achievable) and I’d tell myself I was only a few pounds from my next award. As a busy mum, I also enjoy the freedom and thinking space that cycling gives me – it’s a time I really look forward to. I can do lots more with my children now, too, like going on theme-park rides – something I used to feel I was missing out on. I’d tell them I was afraid of heights!

Where do you feel the fitness benefits? I’ve got shapelier legs, I feel much fitter and healthier generally and I don’t get as out of breath as I used to. I really love the feeling of my heart pumping and my pulse racing, feeling full of energy and having lots of stamina. I used to get really tired just walking the children to school – now I can easily walk for an hour, five days a week.

What’s your next fitness goal? Simply to maintain my level of fitness, health and weight. I don’t want to go back to the way I was and Image Therapy and the support network at Slimming World really help. Also, to continue doing more things as a family and make up for the things I’ve missed out on in the past. We love going out cycling together now. We live near the beach, so a couple of times a week we all cycle along the seafront. It’s lovely how cycling has become part of our lives.

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