LIVING INSTEAD OF EXISTING
How electric bikes gave her a new life
In February of 2012, Rhonda Martin was sad, lonely and isolated. Weighing in at 457 pounds, she could barely walk 150 steps without having to take a break. She had no social interaction with people. “My life was very limited,” she says.
She tried dieting, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and any fad diet that came along. She was hoping for a quick fix, a magic bullet. When she didn’t see immediate results, she gave up. She had some success with some, sometimes losing 30–40 pounds, then she’d think, “Okay, I got this!” but then end up falling back into her old ways and gaining the weight back, sometimes even more.
Despondent over this, knowing that her health could spiral soon, she knew she had to do something. She was 40 and went to work, then went home, merely existing as she recalls. She was unable to do simple things like grocery shopping.
She made a resolution to change. She wanted to start living again instead of just existing. She started drinking two protein shakes a day and eating three small meals. She bought a pedometer and challenged herself to walk 100 more steps each day than the day before. One more powerful thing she did was to tell people that she was trying to lose weight, which gave her accountability. This was a key point, something she didn’t do before, because in the past she didn’t want people to know if she failed in her attempt.
One day she and her husband Chuck were at a Green Expo and saw Pedego electric bikes. She never knew that electric bikes existed, but she tried one and convinced Chuck to try it too, and that same day they went out and bought two of them!
Electric bikes allowed her to ride with less fatigue and get out and have fun! At last, she had found the thing she loved to do. The roads near her home in El Cajon, California, near San Diego, are very hilly. She and her husband Chuck would load the bikes onto the car and take them to nearby Coronado where the bike paths were flat. They started with six-mile rides and kept building from there.
That bit of activity juiced her. It was something she truly enjoyed, and the weight started coming off. She was becoming active and started to love life. She started working out with a trainer, adding in strength training and cardio circuits three days a week. She was building strength and endurance she never had before and gaining confidence that she could try new things.
In a scant two years, she’d lost 270 pounds. Her trainer suggested she train for a sprint triathlon. Though she’d never been particularly athletic as a kid nor active in any sport, she had been consistently riding her bike and swimming. She was still hesitant, because she didn’t consider herself a runner, but her supportive trainer convinced her that she could do it.
FROM SEDENTARY TO TRIATHLETE
By gaining confidence because she kept hitting her goals, Rhonda didn’t just complete one sprint triathlon; she ran 3 1/2 marathons, did four sprint triathlons and one aquabike (combined endurance race that involves a 1.2-mile swim and a 56-mile bike ride)!
Triathlons and other races like 10Ks are now her thing. She loves to travel and take “racecations,” combining going to a destination (recently, she went to Alaska) to race and explore. This year she ran her first 5K and set a new personal record. Her goal was to run it at a 12-minute-mile pace, but she actually averaged an even more impressive 11:30. Says Rhonda, “If I’m able to set the goals, put in the work and achieve these medals, anybody can!”
She started a Facebook page called “Living Instead of Existing,” where she shares her latest news, triumphs and inspiration. She receives notes every day from people who are inspired to take action and make a change to a healthier lifestyle. She’s made a bunch of new friends, including one that has encouraged her to travel to more triathlons and races in different locales.
Rhonda admits that so much of this is outside of her comfort zone, but she’s inspired and so grateful to be living life and wants to live it to the fullest. “Stepping out of my comfort zone has been something that is very hard for me, but every time I’ve done it, it’s changed my life!” She’s now maintained her bodyweight for three years, down fully 277 pounds and in the best shape of her life.
She is now officially sponsored by Raleigh, and they set her and her husband up with Raleigh electric bikes. Hers is a Redux iE that she’s named, appropriately, Onyx. It’s her daily driver that she uses to commute to work. When Larry Pizzi from Raleigh found out she was competing in triathlons, he helped her with a Raleigh Capri as well.
Her commute is 18 miles each way to and from work every day. “To commute by electric bike to work is the only way for me. It helps me get ready for my day. It helps me get rid of the stress on the way home. It’s just been amazing for me.” She added that she gets to work faster by bike than she would by car in traffic, which relieves even more stress.
She’s registered for three more triathlons this year, and next March she’s going to Kona to compete in an international race with some friends who are new to triathlons.
She’s been able to keep her weight where she wants it, not by diet but by lifestyle. “I’ve found a healthy lifestyle I like to live!”