By Marise Boehs

Photos top to bottom: Working at the gym. Riding int the neighborhood. A trip of a lifetime- GAP & C&O – Pittsburg to DC.

I’ve been an avid trail bike rider for a number of years. I’ve ridden long miles over multiple days on trails across the US. In April of this year I retired from my daily newspaper job so I could ride as much and whenever I wanted.

Over Labor Day Weekend I went to a Kansas trail with some of my younger cousins to ride. About 15 miles in on the first day I got severe cramps and light headedness – so bad I had to call the EMTs to come get me off the trail. Two bags of IV fluids and a couple of hours in the ER and I was up and going again. Fortunately I did not damage myself physically.

This was a wakeup call for sure. I was about to have my 75th birthday. I was 30 pounds overweight and not very strong. I knew I had to change or give up riding trails and long distances.

When I got home, I hired a personal trainer and got to work. Four months later, I am two thirds to my weight goal and much stronger. I’ve learned new nutrition habits, how to stand up straight and breathe and how to rest and recover.

It’s an ongoing journey I’d like to share.

Back Story

I have struggled with weight loss and gain most of my adult life. Through 30 years of alcohol abuse and drug addiction my body has been sickly thin at times and bloated beyond comfort at others. In May of 1988, after two treatment centers and years of AA meetings, I decided to give sobriety a chance. What followed was emotional and economic stability leading to steady weight gain.

In the fall of 1997, at 180 pounds I was the heaviest I’d ever been. I tried Weight Watchers, and within a couple of years, reached my lifetime goal of 135. Having achieved the goal, I was tired of counting points and tracking steps, consequently over the next couple of years my weight crept up 20 pounds. Then I discovered the joy of trail riding on a Road Scholar trip to the Katy Trail in Missouri.

Sadly, I was too heavy to do the 30-50 mile days in the program, but they had a SAG wagon. When I couldn’t ride any further, I could get in the van. I came from that trip absolutely in love with trail riding.

I knew I was too heavy to successfully ride the miles scheduled on any trip I looked at. So once again I began to diet and exercise. This time I ate a keto diet and rode my bike for training. This worked, and I was fairly quickly back to my weight goal. In September of 2017, I flew to Pittsburg and met a Road Scholar group again. We rode from Pittsburg to Washington D.C. on the GAP and C&O Canal. Up on over the Continental Divide. A ride of a lifetime!

I’ve since been back to the Katy Trail twice and have ridden the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota and the Flint Hills Nature Trail in Kansas several times as well.

Wake Up Call

Saturday morning, September 2, was a beautiful, bright, sunshiny day with hardly any wind in Ottawa, Kansas. I was waiting for some of my riding family to arrive to ride with me for the day. We had planned this trip for months and were all excited for the day to arrive.

I was fat again and eating low carb food. That morning I ate low carb cereal and drank protein coffee, filled my two water bottles and was ready the ride.

We rode out and enjoyed the trail, stopping every mile or so to marvel at the beauty and sip some water. About 15 miles into the ride, cramps hit both of my legs in the inner thighs. I was in pain and unable to pedal. I got off my bike to ease my legs and nearly passed out. I knew I would need help getting off the trail.

I called 911.  Shortly the EMTs where there in a pickup truck. They sat me in the front seat and carefully backed out of the trail to the ambulance. As soon as I was stabilized, they started IV fluids, and the cramps began to ease.

New Plan

I came home, joined a gym, and hired Blake Mullen as my personal trainer. I was greatly intimidated and really really did not want to do any of it. The first day with him was September 11, and the gym was having a 9-11 Step Climbing Event. He put me on a huge, scary Stairmaster and it was not fun. But I did it and went through the other exercises he had for me. Then I went back in two days to do it again. And again in couple of days. Now I am at the gym 4 days a week.

I track my food on a phone app, trying to eat 900-1200 calories with 50% of those calories coming from protein. I walk at least 10,000 steps a day and burn enough calories to leave a 500 deficit between calories eaten and calories burned. (It takes 3500 calories to burn a pound of fat.) Being mindful each day is the key to success. Today I am 9 pounds from my goal.

What’s Next?

June 2, 2024 I will be back on the Katy Trail for a 6 day, 230 mile ride. All the miles, every day is the goal! I have a blog if you wish to follow my story. (

Side note: Thankfully, sobriety has not had the same on again off again scenario as weight loss. I have been clean and sober since May 11, 1988. Blessed and grateful.

Marise Boehs is a freelance writer, photographer and graphic designer. Recently retired from 25+ years in the newspaper arena, she fills her days with walks around her quiet Norman  neighborhood, bike riding, working out at the gym, all the while looking for new and interesting work projects.