Cycling Helped This Rider Feel Empowered During Her Eating Disorder Recovery

alexa stone
Cycling Helped This Woman HealCourtesy Alexa Stone

"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links."

Name: Alexa Stone
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Occupation: Marketing
Time Cycling: 2 years
Reason for Cycling:
I cycle because I absolutely love the way it makes me feel physically and emotionally. I have made so many amazing friendships through the community along the way.

I started cycling in the spring of 2021. I was interested in trying indoor cycling for a long time because it was popular online, and looked like a fun workout. But in all honesty, I had a poor relationship with exercise, because of an eating disorder, so I started simply for the calorie burn. I didn’t realize the many benefits I’d gain that go way beyond calories.

I quickly dove in head first to cycling and was riding five to six days a week from the beginning. I didn’t use any training plans, but I found the CycleBar app to be very helpful because it kept track of all of my class stats so I was able to see my performance growth over time.

I’ve struggled with my relationship with food and my body for as long as I can remember. I suffered from depression and an eating disorder that started about 10 years ago when I was in college. My life felt very out of control at the time, because I was navigating newfound independence, while also struggling with my parents’ divorce and changes in my financial stability.

All these factors ultimately led me to use food to cope. This resulted in many years of the vicious binge-and-restrict cycle that I just couldn’t seem to break and left me feeling completely depleted. I think I initially expected cycling to just be a workout to add into my routine to help with my dieting goals, which were very prevalent at the time, but it quickly became so much more important to me and wasn’t about dieting at all.

Taking spin classes at CycleBar started to slowly bring me back to life. Every day I look forward to my “me time” on the bike where I have 45 minutes away from the world in a dark room to focus on myself and do something that feels amazing for my body. The classes push me physically and I feel strong and powerful, but they are also emotionally therapeutic.

I’ve also found a loving and accepting community at CycleBar, something I hadn’t experienced since I was a kid, and have met many like-minded people who truly understand my struggles. I instantly bonded with one of the instructors who opened up to me about her own journey with an eating disorder. (She is the first person who helped me realize the severity of my eating disorder and encouraged me to seek out treatment.)

The friends I made through CycleBar have been incredibly supportive and encouraging through my treatment journey, and are still my biggest cheerleaders to this day. I’m honestly not sure if I would’ve had the courage to face recovery without them.

I currently cycle about four or five times a week. I do it for pure enjoyment because it feels amazing, so I don’t put any pressure on myself to stick to a certain routine. I don’t have any specific preparations other than ensuring I’m regularly nourishing myself and taking care of my body through the tools I’ve learned in eating disorder treatment.

Cycling is the first form of exercise I’ve found that I truly enjoy, ever since playing sports as a kid. It makes me feel confident, strong, purposeful, and powerful, and it has taught me life skills like worth ethic and perseverance that I carry with me through all of my day-to-day challenges. It has also brought me community and friendships that I never could have anticipated, and it has made me feel welcomed and accepted as I have moved to new cities and adjusted to new environments. I owe so much to cycling and I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

These tips have made my cycling journey a success:

1. Find a community

Getting involved in a community makes all the difference. Put yourself out there and be open to making friends throughout your journey.

2. Stay consistent

Consistency has really helped me with building up endurance and improving my form and skill level. I like to schedule classes as a regular part of my routine to keep me in a good rhythm!

3. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Just focus on doing your personal best. Sometimes we are our own harshest critic, and no one is paying attention if you need to sit down or if you miss a beat of a song in class. Listen to your body and what it needs in the moment, and slowly begin to push yourself more and more each day to new levels.

4. Just start

It’s not as scary to get started as you may think. I had thought about trying a spin class for so many years, but I was always intimidated. However, I learned that cyclists don’t have a “look” or mold that we have to fit into. Everyone is on their own journey and the only thing that is important is to be committed to bettering yourself, little by little every day.

Alexa’s Must-Have Gear

Tiem Slipstream Shoes: I love how supportive they feel to ride in and that they look like such a casual shoe when you’re walking around the studio. They come in such cute colors too!

Crz Yoga Workout Leggings: These are my all-time favorite leggings for my rides. They are extremely comfortable, great quality, and are a fraction of the price of high-end leggings.

Hydro Flask Water Bottle: The Hydro Flask will always be my favorite water bottle for indoor cycling. You just can’t beat a good large bottle that keeps your water cold and has a straw.

Apple Watch Series 8: I love my Apple Watch for keeping track of all my workouts. It’s a great tool and it gets the job done, and it’s cool to see my health data accumulate over time.

We want to hear how cycling changed you! Send your story and submit your photos to us via this web form. We’ll pick one each week to highlight on the site.

You Might Also Like