John McCormick’s role of leading a global team means that he spends a lot of his time away from home. Whether he’s in the United lounge at the airport, aboard a plane, working in another country or at home in Winnetka, he is constantly pulled in multiple directions. A few years ago, McCormick made the decision to take control of the one direction he could: his health.
A data-driven and goal-oriented person, McCormick took a hard look at his numbers. In April of 2013, at 5’11”, he weighed in at 225 pounds. His BMI and his cholesterol were high. Over the years, he was constantly outgrowing his clothes, finally measuring in at a 38” waist. “I was a runner in high school and was super thin at 125 pounds. I hadn’t grown an inch in height since high school, but I had gained 100 pounds. That was not an achievement I wanted to hit.”
So, McCormick gave himself a goal. “I told myself that if I lost enough weight, I would buy a new racing bike.” 25 pounds into his 40-pound weight loss goal, he pulled the trigger on a new Bianchi Infinito CV. In true McCormick form, that purchase was made via an email, during a flight from Hong Kong. He picked up his bike from Higher Gear the next day.
While looking forward to a new bike was initially his incentive to lose weight, he found purchasing the bike to be a new source of motivation. “Owning the bike was an easy way to convince myself to ride. It’s an expensive bike.”
McCormick picked up his “new best friend,” as he referred to his Infinito, on July 12th, 2014. After that, he enjoyed a 451-day streak of working out in “some significant way,” whether it was “in the gym, on the road, running or riding.” There were many days where he would get off the plane and head straight into his workout. McCormick’s streak ended when his plane had to make an emergency landing in Iceland. “I was dressed to be in India,” he explains.
Before that streak ended, back in October of 2015, he did a reassessment. His weight was down to 164.5 pounds and his BMI was within a healthy range (22.58, where 18.5-24.9 is recommended). His waist measured 33 inches. “There was a new word in my vocabulary: MEDIUM! Before that, everything I owned was a large or extra-large. Now, I was giving clothing away for a good reason, not because I outgrew it.”
McCormick attributes his weight loss to a simple formula: Calories Out > Calories In. Cycling – and other forms of exercise – played a major role in his progress, but he also take a good look at the “Calories In” part of the equation. “MyFitnessPal guilted me into eating healthy.” McCormick says, before that, “I had no idea how many calories were in a slice of Lou Malnati’s pizza. Or in a gin and tonic. Or in a Hershey’s kiss. Most people don’t know. How would they know?”
After McCormick’s flight delay ended his 451-day streak – as in the day after – he picked up where he left off. He immediately began another streak. While he says he’s less fanatical about his goal of working out every day, he continues to work out every day because he looks forward to it. “I’ve achieved that balance that you want to get.”
“I am able to do it because I take the time to do it,” McCormick tells us. “It’s a priority. I schedule it like I schedule a meeting.”
All that consistency has led to results beyond the numbers. “There’s a value in the miles you ride, the weight that you lose, in eating better and in eating a little more healthy.” For McCormick, that value is found in his increased energy. “I feel good about getting out of bed. I feel good when I get home from a ride. I have more energy. I feel more awake and I sleep better.” On the medical front, his blood pressure and cholesterol are lower – “and I feel really good about that.” McCormick admits, “I have a high stress job. I’m doing this to help me to be around longer.”
While being around longer is a worthy goal, there’s no point if you’re not enjoying yourself. McCormick tells us, “The goal is to have fun with it. If I’m not having fun doing something, there’s no point in doing it.” In the fun category, McCormick’s cycling streak is exceeding expectations. “I have a whole lot of fun with cycling. I have a whole new group of friends.”
McCormick claims to be a “reluctant participant” in Higher Gear’s CompuTrainer Studio. (Given the number of smiling in-Studio selfies he’s posted on Strava, we don’t believe him). He is certainly a regular there. He had a strong performance in last season’s Specialized Cup and he’s always at the top of the leaderboard for our Course of the Week. In the summer, he a regular on our outdoor group rides.
When McCormick first starting joining our Saturday Morning Group Rides, he tells us: “I used to be the guy at the very back of the pack. I’d get dropped and pray for a red light so I could catch up.” But his consistency has really paid off. “If you ride a lot, you get to be in good cycling shape. Now, I’m the guy pulling at the front of those rides.” As he tells it, “riding is not only fun, but it turns out I’m really good at it.”
Despite having to miss most of the cyclocross season due to work travel, he had a strong performance on his Specialized Crux at the 2015 Rhythm and Blues Revue. “It was a cold, miserable Halloween day. I had mud on every inch of my body. I had a blast.” Earlier in the year, he rode himself into the Illinois State Championship jersey for Cat 5 racers at the ABR. And in July, McCormick turned his miles into Buffalo Bikes for World Bicycle Relief, when he was our top fundraiser for our second annual Gran Fondo Hundo. Lately, when he’s not in our Studio, he’s out on his new fat bike. Of his new Specialized Fatboy, he says, “I’m having fun with it. It’s created a whole new way to ride in the winter time, to be outside.”
All his successes and all the numbers he collects, like the – whether it’s on Strava, Garmin Connect, in our CompuTrainer Studio or on his own (new) Stages Power Meter – aren’t nearly as important to him as how much fun he is having, how is he feeling and the relationships he’s building through the sport. “It’s a personal competition with myself. And I am winning.”
Lately, wherever in the world McCormick finds himself – whether it’s at the United lounge at the airport, on a flight he frequents or meeting with colleagues overseas – people take a good look at him and ask, “Where is the rest of you?”
“I’m healthy,” McCormick tells us. “And it’s all been a tremendous amount of fun.” That, indeed, is winning.