Drop Pounds by Doing Good

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Connie Rios

Connie Rios's team raised $3,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society

"I got hooked on biking and shed 65 pounds."

"I was never active until I realized that I had to get healthier for the sake of my children," says Connie Rios, 36, of Mercedes, Texas. When a friend gave her a pass to her gym so the two could go to Spin class together, Rios discovered she had a passion for biking. The friends took four classes a week together. On weekends Rios would hit the gym alone. "They had day care so I could bring my kids, who were 5 and 6 then. That made it easy."

Rios dropped a few pounds, but the weight was coming off more slowly than she'd hoped. A few months later another friend suggested they form a team for Bike MS and do a two-day, 150-mile ride. "I didn't know anything about multiple sclerosis, but I thought the training would speed up my weight loss," she says. Shortly afterward she learned that a coworker's wife had MS. "When he told me about Melissa, I knew I had to ride for her."

To train for the event Rios added weight lifting and boxing classes to her fitness routine. She also participated in some 40-mile rides with her team, which now was made up of Rios and five guys from work. "It was a struggle," she admits. "My teammates hinted it might have to do with my diet." She started a food diary and wrote down everything she ate. "I learned there were days when I was taking in 4,000 calories -- and that was before dinner!" she says. To trim calories, Rios cut back on her portions and swapped fatty meats for lean ones. She lost 40 pounds before the ride.

"On both days of the ride, the distance was double what I'd ever done, so it was tough," she says. But Rios never lost her determination. "I'd tied a bandanna Melissa had given me around my saddlebag, just under my seat," she says. "She had written on it 'I walk stronger because you ride.' I felt like she was with me, pushing me along."

Since then Rios has shed another 20 pounds and completed eight Bike MS events. Her team has grown to 32 members. "My family is part of it, too," she says. "My husband drives our support van and my son, 11, and daughter, 9, hand out water and bananas. We used to be a sedentary family, but now we do short rides together to raise money for various charities. My daughter says, 'Mom, I want to be able to stand up and ride fast like you.'"

Connie's Tips

Find a workout buddy.
"When you exercise with someone they help motivate you."

Strap on a heart-rate monitor.
"You won't lose weight unless you work at a level where you're really burning calories and this tool helps you get there."

Be patient.
"You didn't pack on the pounds overnight, so they aren't going to come off that fast, either."

Continued on page 3:  Heather Micozzi


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