4 months agoby Info Circuit

Summer Moak inspires her dad to get healthy

Adopting healthy habits is easier when you do it as a family

This is article is part of Stride, the UnitedHealth Group healthy living program for employees that encourages us to stress less, move more, eat better and lose weight. 

Summer Moak is a world-class cyclist streaking her way across the globe as part of the Rally UHC racing team. She burns up to 3,000 calories a day riding 300 miles a week. In her first season, she is already winning races.

Let’s face it – most of us are never going to be in shape like this 20-year-old pro athlete.

But most of us can relate to her dad.

Spencer Moak struggled with his weight. He’d come home tired from work as an energy company executive and fall asleep on the couch watching TV. Heaping piles of McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A and other fast food were a family staple – his cholesterol and blood pressure were through the roof.

Then about nine years ago, he and his wife made a random, fateful decision that changed the health of the whole family. They enrolled 11-year-old Summer in a cycling camp – and she took to it immediately.

“I would ride around like any other kid – I just liked riding my bike,” Summer said. “But at camp I was beating a lot of the boys, and I started thinking, ‘Maybe I am good at this.’”

“Nobody expected her to be that fast,” her dad said.

Not long after that, Summer and her mom, an avid runner, invited Spencer to join them for a ride.

“The first time we really went out, we went three miles, and I was so mad at Summer and her mom for taking me so far – because then we had to turn around and ride back three miles,” Spencer said with a laugh. “It was brutal.”

But he went for a few more rides with them that week – and Spencer lost a few pounds.

“I said, ‘OK, let’s try to lose a few more,’” Spencer said. “We cut out the fast food, started eating a lot better, more vegetables, more portion control.”

The more they biked and the better they ate, the more weight Spencer lost – 80 pounds in about nine months.

He had never really done anything outside, but he changed,” Summer said. “We weren’t just riding together, we were spending time together.”

Over the years, he kept peddling to keep up with Summer.

“It’s kind of humbling when your 15-year-old is kicking your butt,” Spencer said.

These days, Spencer swells with pride for his daughter, who now competes on the world stage as a full-time athlete. She’s proud of him, too.

It all started with a simple bike ride, and then some small decisions to exercise a little and eat healthier food,” Summer says. “Cycling changed my life and it saved his.”