February 2024 Rider of the Month,
Erin Sterenson

ElliptiGO’s February Rider of the Month, Erin Sterenson, was active all her life. At a young age, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, which required careful monitoring of her blood sugars, multiple insulin injections daily and a focus on her diet and exercise. Unfortunately, Erin’s attempt to manage her illness “perfectly” nearly derailed her dreams and threatened her life.

Erin grew up in New Jersey and earned a biology degree from Villanova University. She went to medical school, where she met her husband, Jim, at Drexel University College of Medicine. She jokes that she stays with him “even though he rides a bike with a seat!” Erin and Jim moved to Minnesota in 2008 to do their psychiatry residencies at Mayo Clinic. Erin went on to complete a fellowship in consultation-liaison psychiatry in 2013 and, in 2020, earned a master’s degree in healthcare ethics at Creighton University. Today, Erin works from home for the University of Pittsburgh, running a telehealth consult service and elective for senior residents.

Though she and Jim were both sure they’d be in the Midwest for no more than four years, 15 years and two houses later, they continue to call Minnesota home. They share their home and lives with a mini Bernedoodle named Maggie, a standard Bernedoodle dubbed Teddy and two cats, Athena and Milo.

As a kid, Erin played baseball and softball and competed in gymnastics and swimming. As an adult, she spent a lot of time at the gym, spending hours on the elliptical trainers. But she says that unlike many other ElliptiGOers, she was never a runner. “I hate running, and I’m terrible at it. If you see me running, be concerned — something has gone terribly wrong!” she jokes.

One day in 2016, she saw someone riding an ElliptiGO around her neighborhood. She’d never gone on a test ride, but, given her love for the elliptical machines at the gym, she knew she had to have one. Erin recalls, “I told my husband, ‘I want that!’” Months later, when she saw a big box under the Christmas tree, she was certain Jim had gotten her a refrigerator, as they were in the process of remodeling and they had planned to purchase a new fridge. Erin wasn’t exactly thrilled about getting a refrigerator for Christmas, but she was prepared to feign excitement.

She shares that when she opened the box and found a red 8C, “I simultaneously felt immense joy and tremendous relief. I’m fairly certain I jumped up and down and screamed like a child! To this day, that is the best gift I have ever received.”

Since then, she’s expanded her collection. She keeps her original 8C on the Fluid 365 Stationary Trainer. “I love the trainer!” she says, noting that it’s her favorite accessory and the perfect excuse to watch hours of trashy Netflix shows. Erin also has an e8C, a black 11R and a limited-edition Meb 8S, which is the elliptical bike she uses most often.

But though Erin fell in love with ElliptiGO bikes at first sight, she says that her evolution as an ElliptiGO rider was anything but linear and easy.

At 8 years old, when Erin was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, she remembers promising herself that she’d never let diabetes stop her from doing anything. From that young age, she took her diagnosis very seriously. She says, “I thrived on people telling me I was such a ‘good diabetic’ and marveling that I never ‘cheated’ on the diet.” But that perfectionistic streak, coupled with the focus on food, exercise and weight to manage her disease, proved to be the ideal breeding ground for Erin to develop and hide an eating disorder. “In fact, many of my disordered behaviors were encouraged,” Erin notes, “because they seemed appropriate for the management of diabetes.”

Erin recalls that her diagnosis changed her relationship with food. She was no longer eating in response to hunger cues or stopping because she was full.  Instead, when and what she ate was dictated by her blood sugars and insulin.  Even as a child, she exercised to manage her blood sugars and recalls being encouraged to do her Mousercise workout tape after dinner. As Erin grew into an adolescent, exercising after eating was not just about preventing high blood sugars but had become a way to manage her weight. In high school, she began to overexercise and restrict her eating even more. “Over time, my relationship with food and exercise became more and more unhealthy — rooted in the belief that food and exercise were not for fun or pleasure but, rather, for the management of blood sugars and weight,” she says.

For decades, Erin was able to function this way. She managed to keep her eating disorder hidden. But, with time, her body became less tolerant of the abuse she forced it to endure.

It was when she was accepted to medical school that Erin realized she needed to get healthier before embarking on this next chapter of her life. She deferred her acceptance and moved home with her parents, with a plan to start medical school the following year. Erin explains, “I incorrectly assumed that, away from the stress of school, I’d ‘get over’ the eating disorder.” But she only became more entrenched in the illness. After several months, Erin was forced to admit that she was sick and needed help.

Before starting medical school, Erin entered treatment. Over the years, she has been in inpatient/residential treatment nine times, with some admissions lasting three months. She’s had to take medical leave from medical school, fellowship and from multiple jobs. Now it has been six years since Erin’s last admission. “This is the longest I have ever gone without treatment — and I have no intention of going back,” Erin declares.

However, Erin found herself struggling with ElliptiGO rides. “Even years after being solidly in recovery from my eating disorder, I found myself frustrated at my inability to do long rides like my peers,” she shares. She was consumed by the overwhelming thought that diabetes had won and was stopping her from doing what she loved.

She had seen fellow ElliptiGO riders talking about fueling for rides, but this was something she’d never considered. To this point, she would eat before or during a ride only if her blood sugar was low. “I’m embarrassed to say that it hadn’t even occurred to me that I needed to eat before riding if my blood sugar was fine,” she admits. At the age of 41, this physician and diabetic for more than 30 years asked her dietician if she needed to eat for rides if her blood sugar wasn’t low. The answer was a resounding YES.

Erin says, “I’ve had type 1 diabetes for more than three decades, and I’d forgotten that food isn’t the enemy — it does more than affect blood sugars and cause weight gain. Food is fuel.”  

Erin realized that part of being a successful rider was listening to her body and providing it with energy. She focused on becoming a better rider—a healthier rider. She notes, “I looked at this like a science experiment, learning, through a lot of trial and error, how to fuel my body with food.”

Her experiment has paid off. With proper fueling, Erin began to ride distances she’d only dreamed of. “I felt powerful. For the first time since my diagnosis with diabetes, I felt in control of my body,” she says.

Erin says that 2023 was her best ElliptiGO year so far. She rode more miles, more elevation, more hours and longer rides than ever before. She participated in organized rides, both locally and across the country, and she took pride in accomplishing goals that had previously seemed impossible.

A year ago, Erin attended her first ElliptiGO event. Erin says, “My life has been forever changed. I have found ‘my people.’ Though we all come from such diverse backgrounds and our ages vary tremendously, our mutual love of ElliptiGO somehow allows us to form strong friendships and lifelong bonds. I have met the most amazing people through the ElliptiGO community.”

After traveling across the country to participate in ElliptiGO events, Erin recently started a Facebook group for ElliptiGOers of the Midwest. She hopes to form a local community of riders and is looking forward to meeting at organized rides and, perhaps, a midwestern ElliptiGO day! If you live in the region, you’re invited to join the group.

Today, Erin says, “I am motivated to stay healthy for a variety of reasons and the ElliptiGO community is among the top!”

Erin, thank you for sharing your story and for being a vibrant and enthusiastic member of the ElliptiGO family! Your transparency is sure to help others, and your recovery will inspire many more. Cheers to your continued good health and to more great ElliptiGO rides!

Nearly 30 million people will experience an eating disorder during their lifetimes. If you’re concerned about your eating, if you want to support a loved one with an eating disorder, or if you just want to learn more, visit the National Eating Disorders Association at

You can contact ElliptiGO with nominations to Rider of the Month or share your own story. It may just be the next feature!

19 Responses

  1. Bob Rowden says:

    Great GOing, Erin! It was fun getting to know you this year and being on the same Sept Challenge Team! Go Team RadiGOactives!

  2. Cathy Fowler says:

    Hugs to my 2023 EDIM partner! Thanks for sharing your story and experience! You’re an inspiration! ❤️

  3. Erin Whiting says:

    Hi Erin! I loved reading your story and learning about your journey! Thank you for having the courage to share and inspire! I am thankful that your husband was smart enough to put an ElliptiGO under the tree versus a refrigerator – haha! I did my undergrad at Creighton – Go Blue Jays! My bro in law Clay, who is in this group as well, went to Med School there!
    The ElliptiGO community is really special and I always love to read about the amazing customers we are blessed to have! Here’s to many more ElliptiGO adventures and our health and well-being!

    • Erin Sterenson says:

      Thank you, Erin! What a small world! In addition to Creighton, we also share the best name! Obviously! We eventually did get the fridge but it was not gifted to me! LOL! Looking forward to meeting you!

  4. Kathi says:

    Erin – congratulations on being rider of the month. What a fabulous story and message! Looking forward to GOing with you often in 2024 and having as much fun , fitness and adventures as possible!

    Kathi Karen

  5. Mac says:

    Congratulations Erin!!!

  6. Jane Cremer says:

    Awesome & amazing! Way2GO Erin!! 🎉
    Your journey is inspiring & your joyful spirit is contagious! You’re an absolute blast to hang out with & I’m looking forward to many more fun times!! Cheers to you, my friend!! 💋

  7. Kim Rose says:

    Woohoo yay Erin!!!! So well deserved!

  8. Dainah Graham says:

    Congratulations Erin. I’m glad to be one of “your people”! I look forward to riding again with you soon.

  9. Kevin Rassier says:

    Erin, congratulations on your perseverance and continued strive to stay healthy. Very impressive story! Hope to meet you for a ride this summer in the neighborhood!

  10. Erin, congratulations on your dedication and perseverance to stay healthy. Quite an inspiration to us all! Hope to see you on the trails this summer in the neighborhood!

  11. Didi Schenck says:

    What an amazing journey and I’m so glad it’s brought you to us!

  12. Katie Blau says:

    Way to never give up on your goals and get help! ❤️

  13. Andy Chan says:

    Great story, Erin! Takes great courage to share all those details. You can be an inspiration to many…so keep sharing your story!

  14. Eric Stacey says:

    Very inspiring story, Erin !!
    I’m so glad you stuck with it !
    I bought my 8-C in 2012 at age 63. I’ve had a ball exposing it to neighbors and riding in parades and at the 2015 National Senior Games in Minneapolis/St.Paul. Best investment I’ve ever made! Helped me feel healthier than ever, enabling me to start running 5k races at age 65.
    What part of Minnesota do you live in?

  15. Carol Galgano says:

    GO GO GO Erin 🦾🦾🦾!!!! Congratulations to you!!!! 🎉🎉🎉

  16. Jeanne Wilson says:

    Congratulations Erin on being rider of the month. Hope to meet you one day soon!

Leave a Reply