Before I go into detail of how Ciclozone has been not only my physical/strength coach but my mental health and well being support, let me give you a bit of background as to who I was vs who I am today. I am a woman who has had many childhood traumas and types of abuses to overcome, I have the incredible fortune of having 2 children, one of which however is classed as severely mentally impaired along with being severely autistic and safe to say at times that has been very stressful. As so many of us do, I ate my emotions because it’s generally the only thing I felt in control of (how far from the truth can you get!) I am 5ft 10 and my maximum weight topped 18st 4lbs!! Mortified and disgusted doesn’t begin to describe how I felt. So again like many of us, I yo-yo’d through all the different diets, I knew it was time to stop this unhealthy path and lifestyle that was ultimately stopping me from living. It took a lot of courage but I thought “Let’s try some exercise”!!
Scroll ahead a year and a half with a weight loss of 7stone (98lbs or 44kg) and now I’m being treated for an eating disorder along with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Still trying to lose more weight because at 11st 4lbs according to the Dr’s charts I’m still overweight! I had 10% body fat, brought about amenorrhea as my body was trying to keep going, I was a size 6 (trying hard to get to a size 4 which in USA is size 0). How did I get here? Well, I became obsessive with the exercise that had helped me lose weight, I swam 3 miles a day, took part in 2 spin classes a day plus additional bike riding, gym classes. I generally spent 6 hours a day in the gym and then started taking part in Triathlons. In my head, the weight on the scale told me I was still overweight. Here I am now at the other end of the spectrum and having to get off this unhealthy path that is also stopping me from living.
Jump through time with me once more, 4 years of counselling later and I am participating in training 5 days a week for 2 hours, some would still say too much but for me it seemed a healthy balance. I still enjoyed my cycling but now as a single parent did not feel I should be road cycling as who would look after the children if anything happened to me? Thankfully I was still able to enjoy spin classes and so started training with our Beast on the Bike, none other than the infamous Mr. Mel Thomas QPM. When the COVID pandemic hit whilst everyone else was panic purchasing toilet roll, I was panic buying an indoor bike just a cheap and cheerful one to continue riding. Everywhere went into lockdown but thankfully Mel put on free sessions via facebook and Club la Santa which I took part in that made me feel like I was still part of the spin family I knew. Darren Lee and Mel did a ride together that I thoroughly enjoyed and found that Darren was also giving up his time and providing free classes that I started taking part in also. It didn’t take me long to run this bike in a bit too much and didn’t feel like it was providing me with the resistance I felt I needed, hence I treated myself to my Keiser M3i as I’d used this brand of bike for many years. Throughout these rides I was given the information of the exciting news that an app was coming, of course I was totally up for that especially with these two phenomenal trainers. Ciclozone was born and I felt like an expectant relative in the waiting room at its birth. I was among the first to sign up as I’d already felt the benefit of these “testing” sessions, the encouragement and mental support that doing your best was enough and the physical increase in strength and capability. Little did I know at the time that there was a plethora of fantastic coaches on the app, all very different in their approaches, one making me laugh throughout, one making me work hard through gentle and motivational coaching but all soon had me realizing this is a sports family wanting every single rider to reach their own best potential through the process.
My Ciclozone journey started with an FTP of approx. 230 which I already knew from doing actual tests with Mel at the gym. In the beginning there wasn’t as much analytical data or structured tools such as “beat the Class”, studio leader boards etc but there was always data and for me like people at slimming clubs getting there 7lb loss certificates, each time I got a little higher average watts it would be my own little star chart. I pushed up to 245 reasonably quickly and stayed around that for a while, dropping back to 209 after having the dreaded COVID but not for too long and back to 245 with a steady increase to 260 and hovering anywhere around 2.7 – 3w/kg average. There came a period of time I had such a physical and mental block on being able to move past this point and felt every ride was a battle, my mind would not let my body do what I knew it was physically capable of achieving. A lot was going on in my life at this point, my disabled child aged 26 was moving into his own supported living housing, I was peri-menopausal, I had a cervical smear that showed pre-cancerous cells and had a minor operation to remove them, it was the 1st anniversary of my Dad’s death (he was one of my childhood abusers) and all the emotion that threw up and in general the rise and fall of life was in full ebb and flow. I got on my bike everyday and rode a Ciclozone session regardless of the battle because this app is about my wellbeing, my sanity, my enjoyment, my self improvement, my strength and the facebook members group were my support and mentors. I pushed every peddle stroke and was reminded that doing something was better than nothing and eventually I rode over the metaphorical mountain and started riding better both physically and mentally and got to 270 ftp.
Time travel again with me to November 2022 I’d been going great on my rides, beating the classes sometimes by 20% generally riding around 3.3w/kg and suddenly I’m back to where I was before, but physically unable to finish most of the rides, totally out of breath, physically whacked, heart rate increases, permanent fatigue and in pain with my arms and legs. I went to the Doctor who because of my physicality was shocked to see that I had very significant pitting oedema in both legs and in my arms too! It was immediately voiced that the most likely cause of this was either heart failure or ovarian cancer! I was put on the two week urgent care pathway which actually took over 3 months in total and had a whole variety of CT scans, heart tests, blood tests, Echocardiograms. The only issues that were found were gallstones, minor Mitral regurgitation of a heart valve and pelvic lining issues. None of which were going to be causing this oedema. My mental stress and emotional stress were very difficult to keep under control especially as I was put under Doctors orders to not exercise to the level that I currently was. I had worked hard to get to where I was and it felt like a huge set back, but dutifully and for my health I put my ftp back to 245. All the Ciclozone family on the members group gave me support, motivation, at times sensible chastisement for pushing too hard but riding was always my means to some semblance of normality. Thankfully it turned out to be nothing more than an extremely rare reaction to the Hormone replacement therapy I was on. I stopped taking that immediately and began the recovery process, both actually with my health and physically on the bike.
So let us jump forward again a few more months, although unlike the pop band Busted I will not take you to the year 3000 but to Current date October 2023, I still have some residual trapped fluid that causes issues with my legs and hands but is 85% better and will be a slow process to full recovery. My Ciclozone journey, however has surpassed previous bests and I am currently on my best FTP at 285 and I have recently hit on several occasions my personal best of 3.7w/kg and 256 avg watts plus being able to add running to the end of my cycle sessions (Go me). Each session that I do on the app provides my mind and my physicality with enough of a push, test, endorphin rush to acknowledge that I have worked hard and no need to exceed sensible limits of exercise and therefore leaves me in a much healthier and balanced place. During my Ciclozone journey I have had amazing wins, I have lost 10lbs, at least 1-2 dress sizes, around 15” over my whole body but those are not what I would classify as my success. I also have more muscle definition, lots more physical strength and power on the bike, more energy for the whole day, better sleep, an increase of 55w on my FTP and a whole 1w/kg increase in output and a much healthier attitude to exercise and my mental wellbeing, this is the more important method for me to measure my success and the success of the science of the app. If I was to pick the most important of my gains it would not be about my dress size or weight but most definitely proudest that I am STRONG, mind, body and spirit.
I have days where physically I feel totally spent and find the rides hard and days where I smash them but I always work my days around getting on my bike, getting on the Ciclozone app, chatting to the Ciclozone family, doing something for me, recognising all days are different, emotionally, hormonally and so on but getting on my bike regardless of the ride I have, never putting it off and getting those endorphins flowing for positivity is the best way we can love/care and take of ourselves and Ciclozone is my perfect training partner for this as they care too.