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An Eating Plan, a Bike, and Old Spice: The Sequel

In this update to Pastor Jon Heydenreich's 2014 Wellness Voice, Jon faced his fear of biking up long hills and entered one of the toughest hillclimbs in the world. Jon says that without the initial push from Portico, his weight loss, and his increased exercise routine, "none of this would have happened."

Pastor Jon Heydenreich
Faith Lutheran Church
Andover, Massachusetts
January 2015

In 2013, I lost over 50 pounds by changing the way I ate — whole foods, nothing with a face, limited oil, limited fat, and no dairy. My cholesterol level dropped from 225 to 139. I also ramped up my cycling to about 6,000 miles that year.

In 2014, I continued the eating plan, although less diligently — probably 70-80%. My weight had peaked around 255. By 2014, I dropped as low as 185 but usually stayed in the 190s. I cycled another 6,000 miles.

The major news was in cycling. For years I was afraid to cycle up long hills. Many times I could not manage. They were too much for me — and they were just hills! So in 2014, I entered some mountain races here in New England. The big race was the Mount Washington Auto Road Bicycle Hillclimb, known as one of the hardest hillclimbs in the world. The race is 7.6 miles at an average pitch of 12%, and sections at 18% and 22%.

My goal was to finish without stopping. I trained from March through August — an arduous process. But I didn’t train for the race-day weather: It was a pleasant 60 degrees at the start, but we had 30-50 mph winds, and a windchill of 32 degrees for some portions of the race. Some cyclists were actually being blown over by the gusts!

Of 630 entrants, 510 finished. I was one of the 55 finishers over the age of 58, and one of 60 "Clydesdales" (over 190 pounds) to finish. Needless to write, I was in the bottom 10%, but it was a wonderful blessing given where I had been just two years earlier. Without the weight loss and the push, push from Portico, none of this would have happened.

My mantra is that God has blessed us with potential far greater than we realize. In August 2015, you will find me with the old "fat" (for a cyclist!) guys at the starting line on Mount Washington, aiming to go a half hour faster. You go when you can…

Here's Jon climbing the mountain.

A view from the top.

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