Alisha Taubman attempted to take her own life when the battle with weight caused her world to spiral out of control. Zwift helped her take it back.
The world is swirling around you uncontrollably like you are descending a mountain pass on a bike with no breaks. Trees, grass, the road speeding in and out of view, then a sudden stop as you unavoidably catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. You don’t like what you see, again, and to you, there is only one way to quiet the rush through your mind.
She struggled with weight and body image throughout her childhood. Twenty-four-year-old Alisha Taubman was never a sporty kid growing up on the Isle of Man. “I was chubby right the way through school,” she states, “and would have chosen to skip class over doing sports.”
Poor Self-Esteem Caused Alisha to Avoid Everyone and Everything
It had a massive impact on Alisha’s self-esteem and how she looked at herself, and her life. Sports weren’t the only thing she avoided. “I’ve been bullied for my weight and resorted to wearing baggy clothes to try to feel more comfortable,” she explains. She didn’t go to the high school senior prom.
“I was so self-conscious about wearing a tight dress,” the humiliation comes out, “and I wouldn’t be able to find someone to go with because of the way I looked.” The battle with self-esteem limited her socially, and she avoided being around other people because she “never had confidence and couldn’t fit in.”
Rapidly Declining Mental Health Led to a Day of Desperation
Alisha’s body image had a massive impact on her mental health. The rapid decline led to a vicious cycle of anti-depressants and even more weight gain. On May 26, 2021, the out-of-control circle of desperation became too much to bear. She silenced the rush in her head by attempting to take her own life.
Alisha woke to stare at a hospital ceiling, and the first thoughts to enter her mind were of the failures that found her there. “One of the biggest was how different life could’ve been for me if I had lost some weight,” she confides. Alisha had missed out on so many things, like wearing nice clothes or swimming with friends, lost so many years, it was the main reason for her depression.
At that moment, Alisha decided that if she were going to stay alive, she would have to do it right this time. “I wanted to make a new me because the old me wasn’t happy,” she shares. The first step to becoming a new Alisha was to lose all of the weight.
Zwift Was the First Step Toward Doing it Right This Time
While recovering in the hospital, a friend visited Alisha, and they had a good conversation about things. Alisha’s friend mentioned Zwift. “I couldn’t even think about the future at this point,” she admits. Her friend assured Alisha that there was a future, and if she made a few changes in her life, things would get better with the support of her loved ones.
After a few weeks of recovery and a lot of thinking, Alisha invested in her first turbo. “I felt I had nothing left to lose, and anything was worth a try,” she concedes, “and that’s when Zwift became a part of my life.”
That’s also when the desperate rush crept back into her consciousness. The old Alisha thought, “I will never be fit and healthy, and those people I see out on their bikes are a different breed doing something I will ever be able to do.”
After the first few Zwift rides, Alisha noticed the positive impact on her mental and physical health, and the negative ruminations were gone. Alisha recalls, “It was the main driving force to get out of the hospital and onto the road to recovery.”
Alisha’s Words of Motivation
Onto the Virtual Road to Recovery—She Lost 140 Pounds!
A friend gave her a bike they bought second-hand for 100 (British) pounds. She runs Zwift on an iPad perched atop the freezer in a dimly lit room in the back of her home.
Since being discharged from the hospital, Alisha has ridden 1,200 miles over 72 hours. Alisha has lost 64 kg—that’s over 140 pounds!
“Virtual cycling has had, without doubt, the most significant impact on my success,” stating, “the community has been amazing in my battle to lose weight.” Alisha has tried all the fad diets and exercise trends, and nothing has ever worked before. “I find virtual cycling so enjoyable and sustainable,” she affirms, “and I know it will be a long-term success.”
Alisha still has good and bad days, but the change in her life is already a success. “Without virtual cycling and the community support, my life would be in a very different place right now,” she laments.
The impact it has on her mental health is the thing that keeps her going. “I still struggle every day,” Alisha shares, “and often, the only peace that I find is when I’m pedaling.”
Virtual Cycling Credited with Turning Alisha’s Life Around
Due to virtual cycling, Alisha’s entire lifestyle has changed. It has given her the drive and determination to lead a better, healthier life. From what she eats to her daily activity, every choice she makes with the desire to live a full life. “I feel so much more confident due to the weight I’ve lost,” she notes excitedly, “and I’m no longer ashamed when I look at my reflection in the mirror.”
Virtual cycling’s impact on Alisha’s life has ignited the determination to fight, make positive decisions, and set future goals. “I dress differently, I walk differently, and I’m not afraid to make a fool of myself anymore,” she explains, “because I feel so much more comfortable in my skin.” She owes a lot to virtual cycling, and her future goals include trying to give back.
Alisha intends to use her newfound passion for good. She is setting targets for the future that include charity rides, in the real and virtual world, as a way of maintaining her fitness and helping others. “I would like to create a charity to assist people with mental health struggles,” like her, “and I will use cycling and share with others how virtual cycling has changed my life.”
Conclusion—View is Sweet From the Top of the Mountain
Alisha has come a long way and realizes that many mountains are still to climb. “I used to look up a hill and think how I’d love to do that,” she recalls, “but I’ll never know what that view looks like.”
Walking out the door, through the halls of her school, and past a rack of skinny clothes were mountains to climb, but no more. “I feel I can do anything I put my mind to,” she excitedly exclaims, “because I accomplished the one thing I thought I would never achieve.”
Now you know what the view looks like, Alisha. Isn’t it sweet? The reflection in the mirror—that too!
Your Words of Motivation?
What do you say or do during the dark times to shed light on the situation? Comment below! Your fellow virtual cyclists want to know.
For more inspiration stories highlighting the extraordinary ordinary individuals of virtual cycling check out the Community Page of the ZOM!
Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit. Chris is committed to helping others with his bike through its work and the pages of his site.
In the summer of 2022, he rode 3,900 miles from San Francisco to New York to support the charity he founded, TheDIRTDadFund. His “Gain Cave” resides on the North Fork of Long Island, where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two independent children.
You will read him promoting his passion on the pages of Cycling Weekly, Cycling News, road.cc, Zwift Insider, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!