“I guess you could say I was raised in an active household… there was always something going on, or someone coming to visit,” says Matt. “There was always work to be done and there wasn’t time to sit around relaxing and eating.”
Matt was in great shape in high school and like many young kids with rocketing metabolisms, he could eat anything. However, once he moved out of his parents’ home, Matt began to see his weight increase.
The seeds of unhealthy eating may have been planted in high school when his weight fluctuated dramatically by his own doing for sports.
As a freshman, Matt weighed 180 pounds for football season. When wrestling season came along, he lost weight dramatically, getting down to 119 pounds. Matt says he was “a cranky hot mess for the rest of the season.”
After wrestling, Matt put it all back on and then some for football, moving up to 200 pounds, repeating the cycle for the next three years.
While Matt worked out after high school, he turned to supplements to help gain muscle. He turned to shakes, creatine and ephedra (before it was publicly skewered).
“I wrecked my heart, body and metabolism with all that crap because I didn’t know enough about them and didn’t do the research first.”
It was at this point Matt moved away from fitness and stopped caring about what he ate. Then he fell into an extremely unhealthy lifestyle of drinking energy drinks all night while playing video games and continuing during the day to stay awake at work. Unbelievably, this lifestyle continued for several years.
Two years ago Matt moved to Kansas City, thinking it could be a fresh start and a way to reinvigorate his desire to be healthy. But what he found was a mutually enabling relationship with a new roommate.
“We both came from similar upbringings and both had big appetites and bad eating habits and played off each other whenever one or the other of us were hungry.”
Fast forward to May 2011, Matt weighed 254 pounds when he started his current diet and workout. In seven short months, he was down to 189 pounds. What brought these dramatic results in a relatively short period of time? A wake-up call from a photo on Facebook.
“Facebook is great, as long as you aren’t 80+ pounds overweight, and if you are, you at least have some old photos of when you weren’t that way,” says Matt. “I think something in my brain just flipped. I immediately stopped going to fast food restaurants, stopped drinking pop and beer completely, and cut out any food from my diet I deemed unhealthy.”
His first step was to take up an offer from his mother to try a health supplement drink called Zija, which he attributes, at least in part, to his uncle’s 50-pound weight loss.
“My mom has been a nurse for 30 years, so she is my go-to person about all health issues.”
Maybe the best advice Matt’s mother gave him was to stop skipping breakfast. In order to get a healthy dose of convenient protein in the morning Matt did some taste-testing with various protein bars.
“I bought all the protein bars I thought looked or sounded good and tried a new one every day for the next week and a half. I hated them all ‘til I got to the Zone Perfect caramel bar!
The Zone bar provided Matt a healthy substitute for one of his weaknesses: Snickers. Add to that a banana or orange and a Cran-Energy drink, and that’s his usual breakfast. For lunch Matt eats what he calls his “ pill cocktail” of daily vitamins, supplements and a Zija drink as a meal replacement, which also curbs his appetite.
“Then for dinner, I can literally eat anything I want,” says Matt. “Which is what I look forward to every day and helps me maintain the diet. Notice I didn’t say ‘everything.’”
For snacks and fulfilling his sweet tooth, Matt has Special K fruit crisp snacks, mandarin orange fruit cups and apple sauce at his disposal.
Matt’s workout has been the Insanity Workout Program.
“I tried going to gyms, running on a treadmill at home, I even tried the P90X workout program four times, but could never shed any real weight.”
About six months ago, Matt’s cousin texted cryptically about getting insane, which was a reference to the Insanity Workout. While a little hesitant at first, Matt gave it a try. After some early shin problems, Matt bought new cross-training shoes and did some stretching. With the challenges of pain and even some stomach issues from the intensity, Matt found it naturally helped him with better eating habits.
While Matt has lost 65 pounds, he still enjoys the occasional indulgence.
“My absolute favorite thing to eat in the world is my mom or grandma’s ‘Texas Hash’ which is basically meaty queso dip. It is the one thing I cannot resist having bowl after bowl of. Second to that would have to be my grandma’s cheesy jalapeno corn.”
Matt attributes his success to a total mental commitment to losing weight. He also believes we’re all better off with a coach or partner to inspire and encourage us towards our goal.
“I knew it was important to try and remove any obstacles that would prevent me from reaching it. But, it wasn’t until I realized I had to do it for myself and that no one else was going to do it for me, that I started working towards and achieved my goal!”
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