Zwift Rides and a Plant-Based Diet Helped This Cyclist Lose 103 Pounds
10th July 2021

Name: Brian Farvour
Age: 38
Hometown: Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin
Occupation: Recruiter
Time Cycling: 3.5 years
Reason for Cycling: I’m a cyclist to stay healthy, both mentally and physically, and to enjoy a physical activity that can literally take me great distances in more ways than the miles I log week after week.

I was always a tall, skinny chap growing up (I’m 6-foot-7), and even though I put on a few pounds following my high school graduation, it was never anything drastic. This all changed once I started working desk jobs. Immediately, my eating habits spiraled out of control, and I consumed nothing but fast food and whatever restaurant was most convenient. Over the span of just a few years, my weight ballooned.

Though I was still able to move around and even engage in active hobbies like drumming, the added weight made me uncomfortable. I found that I was winded walking up a flight of stairs and had to eat Tums as if they were candy. These unpleasant things weren’t how they used to be in terms of my overall health and wellness.

One morning in early 2015 at the age of 32, out of sheer curiosity I stepped on the scale to see that I had gained over 100 pounds since graduating high school. It wasn’t a complete surprise following my change in lifestyle, but it left me feeling fairly self-conscious, depressed, and at an all-time low in terms of self-esteem. My weight topped out at 278 pounds.

I instantly started the process of trying to lose weight. First, I went through some Insanity workouts I found online, which lasted mere weeks before I fell off the wagon. I truly had no idea what I was doing, but I loved the feeling I got after each workout was done. It took a year before I decided to try again, this time via some simple body weight exercises I stumbled upon. This was truly the beginning of my weight loss journey.

In 2017, I had the choice between a kayak or a new bike for my birthday. It took a while to finally make the purchase, but I decided to go with the bike in early 2018. I loved cycling as a kid and whenever time would allow as an adult, so I became the owner of a new Trek bike. Although finding a few moments to get out on the road proved to be a daunting task with two very young children at home, I still enjoyed riding. Being on such a wonderful bike made my rides easier and easier.

In August 2018, I decided to put the Trek on my trainer in the basement, rendering it stationary. Now, there was seemingly no excuse not to ride. Every night I took to the bike for as long as I could last. Eventually, through some HIIT workouts I found on YouTube, I lost ten pounds by the end of the month, and my motivation spiked.

Brian’s must-have cycling gear

WHOOP strapThe membership-based WHOOP is, by far, beyond anything I’ve used when it comes to counting calories, tracking sleep, and seeing how much strain various activities have on my body. It’s become the perfect companion to my cycling endeavors and an excellent tool as I go about my days, seeing what even the most minute rise in heart rate will produce.

Cat-Ears cycling wind noise reducers — I’m a podcast junkie, especially on the bike, but when the wind starts rushing it can be extremely difficult to hear. They might look more like a cold-weather item, but not only are they a year-round tool, they absolutely help to cut down on the wind so I can enjoy the latest episode of The Adventure Stache!

Apple AirPods — For a long time, I struggled with the cord from my earbuds becoming something of a nuisance when I’d ride. This wireless option takes care of that.

Park Tool hex wrench set — With the amount of riding I do, things are always coming loose. Without these, everything on the bike would be wobbly, squeaky, and overall fairly unpleasant to use.

From there, I began to make changes to my diet. I knew changes overall would be gradual, but I recognized I’d get there eventually. I’ve gone from fast food and frozen pizzas nearly every day, due to my family’s busy schedule, to planning ahead when I can and making smarter nutrition choices.

I’ve shifted towards more of a plant-based diet, and I’ve learned how much I can take in while still maintaining my weight. I try to focus heavily on vegetables, followed closely by fruit. My staples are tomatoes, carrots, and broccoli. I’ve been inspired by cyclist Phil Gaimon’s “big bowl of health,” which is essentially a giant salad that I eat nearly every day. I’ll usually make a large protein shake a few times a week as well. I also cut out alcohol and sodas, with the exception of Zevia, a no-sugar beverage; that change has almost completely eliminated my horrendous acid reflux.

Currently, I ride between 200 and 300 miles a week. I ride in the morning before the rest of my family is awake and during the day when I can. Working from home makes it easy to squeeze in a quick Zwift session or an hour on the road during lunch. To keep things varied and interesting, I divide my time between Zwift and riding outdoors. I’d like to continue increasing my endurance. Going on long bikepacking trips is both a short and long-term goal.

I’ve never felt as in tune with my body as I do now. I can’t even begin to express enough thanks for how much cycling has changed my life for the better. I have more energy than I’ve ever had. As I approach 40, I am able to keep up with my kids.

In May of 2019, I hit one major goal: I reached a weight of 200 pounds. Several months later, I found myself back to my high school weight of 175 pounds once more, for a total loss of 103 pounds. I couldn’t be happier when I look to the future.

If I, of all people, can change my terrible eating habits and get myself moving, anyone can. The goal is within reach—it’s all about making a few adjustments to what you put into your body and finding a physical activity you enjoy.

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