My 75-Pound Weight Loss Journey

Growing up on the Upper East Side, I attended an elite private school where everything was based solely on appearance. Standing at just five feet and around one hundred and sixty pounds, one can only imagine how I dreaded going to school everyday. High school definitely was not an enjoyable journey. Being called “meatball” and “Shamu” by my peers and even my own gym teacher forced me to run in-between the lockers to avoid constant bullying by my peers. For my senior prom, I had no date and I will never forget looking EVERYWHERE to find a size 16 dress. To get that zipper closed was torture but for some reason I kept on eating and didn’t care to exercise.
For my freshman and sophomore years of college, I attended the University of Michigan. Everyone was so excited to rush a sorority, go to formals and exercise to look their best, but for some reason I was so excited to see what the new flavor of the day was at Ben and Jerry’s! During my sophomore year I developed a horrible anxiety disorder and for a short amount of time I could barely leave the house. After seeing a therapist for a short amount of time, I realized there was no way that the therapist could overcome my anxiety for me. Nobody could conquer my fear of flying, eating out in restaurants, sitting in public arenas, etc. I was in the driver’s seat of my life and nobody could change me, I was the only one who could change myself.

I transferred from The University of Michigan to NYU after my Sophomore year and suddenly something amazing happened. I went out one night and this guy who I had liked for a long time asked my friend out – who was a very nasty girl. However, she had an amazing body. I on the other hand, had a great personality, was a kind person, and a great friend but nobody could see all of these wonderful characteristics because they were masked under the seventy-five pounds that I had to shed. Unfortunately I realized that the external masks the internal and the society that I was living in judged people solely on appearance. Seeing this awful girl with a skinny body get asked out by this guy who I had liked for such a long time, inspired a change. I realized that just as nobody could overcome my anxiety for me, nobody could shed this weight for me either. I was in the driver’s seat of my body as well and now everything was in my control.
I love music. It inspires me. On a spring morning, nearly six years ago, I took a walk to The Alice and Wonderland statue in Central Park. Every week my dad used to bring me to that statue and tell me to climb to the top like the other kids but I was too afraid. But now, I walked to this spot and listened to the song “Fearless” by Taylor Swift and told myself that I could conquer new heights and climb to the top of whatever I wished if I put myself in the driver’s seat and show everyone the Marisa beneath these extra seventy-five pounds.
Through my own nutrition and fitness research on eating and exercising, I shed seventy-five pounds in one year. I went from a size sixteen to a double zero. I will never forget buying my first size double zero dress and starting to cry hysterically. The sense of accomplishment is a feeling that I have never felt with anything else in my life.

As soon as I shed the seventy-five pounds I walked by the SoulCycle East 83rd street location. With all of my fitness research I had read so many astonishing articles about SoulCycle but still after shedding my weight and overcoming my anxiety I was so nervous to walk into a class. I remember walking into the 83rd street location and walking out with some apparel a few times and then finally I told myself, “Marisa, you accomplished so much, you can definitely do a SoulCycle class as well.” I will never forget shaking as I walked into the candlelit studio but the words of the teacher began to bring me back to my journey just that one year before.

Suddenly I realized that each SoulCycle class is a short repetition of the journey that I took with my weight. Those forty-five minutes a day during my SoulCycle classes allow me to detach myself from any obligations and remind me of the challenge I took upon myself to change my life six years ago. Now when I go to SoulCycle, I don’t go to lose weight, I go to remind myself of my personal journey. SoulCycle applies to everything I do in my daily life. Everything is a journey and a climb and you just need to put one foot in front of the other and be the driver of your own bike so that you can aspire to inspire others. When I took the journey to find my inner soul that was masked by the extra seventy-five pounds that I was carrying six years ago, I never could have imagined being able to come somewhere that would remind me of the challenge everyday and allow me to have this emotional connection of revisiting the journey of finding my soul everyday. I will never forget Amanda M saying “There is no such thing as failing in a SoulCycle studio.”

When you go through a weight transformation such as I did, hearing such positive reinforcement is something that means more than anything one can imagine. After completing my first SoulCycle class, which took place only a few blocks from my high school where I was bullied, I walked by those daunting metal doors that I dreaded walking to every morning and gave a big smile and realized that if one makes up their mind to take a journey and find their soul then they can really accomplish anything in life because happiness starts with knowing who you are and finding yourself and nobody else. However, this change is only good if we share it with others so they too can find their inner souls.
I have now decided that because the healthy journey that I decided to take upon myself six years ago has made such a positive influence in my life I want to dedicate my legacy in this world to helping others who struggle with weight and body image achieve their personal goals. I am committed to curing childhood obesity and giving others the confidence I gained from my weight loss.

This article first appeared on the SoulCycle blog two years ago. Marisa is now partnered with BurnThis on our Digital Summer Challenge and is an expert Wellness Programmer, with a packed calendar of events in the Hamptons.  To learn more about Marisa’s programming, visit her website

My 75-Pound Weight Loss Journey

By Marisa Hochberg, Wellness Event Programmer