Monday, May 05, 2008

My Biggest Loser

I am writing this blog because I have to share how INCREDIBLY proud I am of my wonderful husband and the journey he has taken since last June to make himself healthy. 

When we dated, Matt was slim and trim. He still had his football-playing figure. He even played college football for a season at ETBU while we dated long distance. Below is a picture of us heading to our first date at the Underwood's wedding in July 2000. 

Once we got married and he went from being a waiter at Chili's, on his feet most hours of the day, to an 8-5 office job, naturally he began to gain a few pounds. By December 2003, he hit his max, we believe at over 300 pounds. Here is a picture of us at Christmas that year. 

Soon after that Christmas, he began Tae Kwon Do and lost a significant amount of weight, bringing him down to the mid-200's. But for some reason, we did not continue to attend that school and the interest was lost. The pounds again piled on. Matt's two favorite staples were and always will be pizza and ice cream - not good "dieting" foods. He was also very focused on his career and single-minded in pursuing success in it, so health was not his priority. Matt also hated any form of exercise that did not include some type of sport; he absolutely hated to run.

In my mind, having a health degree, I struggled with his lack of concern. It hurt my feelings in a way because I felt like it was his responsibility to do what he could to make sure he was around longer than the age of 40. He is also at risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease because both run in his family. At the age of 26, he already had high cholesterol. I saw it as selfish and uncaring to not make his health a priority. Most people who are overweight don't think of it as being selfish; they don't see how it can affect the lives of the ones they love. Losing Matt early scared me and I prayed for many years that he would desire to be healthy again. 

Once Chloe came along it became even more of a heart breaker for me to see him not care so much about his health because now he was responsible for her life as well. Here is a picture a few days after Chloe was born in December 2006... 

Matt had always talked about how much he enjoyed Tae Kwon Do and how he'd like to do it again someday. When we moved here in February 2007, we happened to move just down the street literally from the same Tae Kwon Do school that my brother-in-law, Jon, went to growing up. 

In June 2007, Matt received several hurtful comments from co-workers about his weight. They were saying these things in jest, but he internalizes words just like many people do, so he took them to heart. He realized his need to change so he signed up for TKD classes, three times a week for one hour each. He quickly realized that he was not conditioned to fight; he was slow and uncoordinated. He knew that in order to be up to par with the rest of the adult class, he had to do some homework. He slowly took up running on the treadmill; as much as he hated running, he knew it could get him results faster. Plus, he could do it at home. At that time I was still trying to lose my baby weight, the last lingering 10 pounds that would not go away. My friend, Rachel, asked if I'd like to do a half-marathon in November, so in July, I began to run again on my treadmill. I could barely go 10 minutes, but I began to see results right away. Matt and I kept each other accountable and I was always encouraged to see him run. When I didn't feel like doing it, I'd see him running and it'd spur me on to continue to get to my goal. 

Matt also watched more closely what types of food he ate and how much. He ate many of the same foods as always but cut back his portion sizes significantly. He also would opt for a healthy snack rather than running out for ice cream or candy. Don't get me wrong, we still have pizza and ice cream at least once a week, but instead of devouring a whole large pizza himself, we split a medium. He still eats his fries too, just half of them. And he has tried to cut down on eating out, so I try to have healthy meals for him at home as often as possible. He is also drinking a lot more water. And he has educated himself on knowing when and what to eat and also how to anticipate hunger so that he can plan to have a healthy snack ready. 

Matt began to have to cinch up his size 46 pants with his belt and his 3XL shirts were hanging off of him. He got comments at work a lot, but he was determined not to buy new clothes until he reached a certain point. Finally, I just bought him some cheap pants so that at least once or twice a week, he would not look so silly trying to keep his pants on. :) He wouldn't let me buy much though. He just kept shrinking and shrinking. 

In March, Matt proudly hit his goal and has lost 90 pounds since June! He has not ceased to have people come up to him to congratulate him and let him know how good he looks. People that he worked with years ago, see him now and rave about him. It has evidently gotten around the Wachovia campus here, which employes several hundred people! Our friends and family are so proud too. I knew people were noticing when my girlfriends started making comments about how good my husband looked! ;)

I have seen a HUGE change in Matt as well. His confidence has increased; his energy level is so much better. He has become an all around better father and husband since he now has it in him to love on Chloe and me when he gets home from a long day at work. He seems more balanced, if that makes sense, more calm and less stressed about issues with work or home. Our marriage has never been better either. I look forward to so many more years with him and praise the Lord for his transformation. I look forward to being active with him and finding hobbies that we both enjoy. I look forward to being good, healthy role models for our girls (yes, we are having another little girl in September!). The Lord has blessed me so much through this man He gave to me to love, honor, cherish, and respect. 

Here are a few pictures of the "after" Matt from our recent trip to the zoo:

Matt will be competing in the National Tae Kwon Do Championships in July, if a nagging injury doesn't keep him from it. And he continues to run a few times a week, going faster and farther. He also swims every once in a while and will probably do so more this summer with the pool opening. I still haven't convinced him to run a half-marathon with me (I was never able to run the one my friend invited me to). His thinking is, "Why the heck would I run 13.1 miles for no reason?" Evidently, he doesn't LOOOOOVE running yet. ;) But I am thankful he does it. 

I hope Matt's story encourages someone. He has definitely inspired me and continues to inspire me. He even holds me accountable to what I eat and how much I exercise. :) I never thought that would ever happen, but God is good and He is far more than capable of changing us. 


Jaclyn said...

WOW! He looks SO great!!!That is so inspiring, i know you are so proud of your handsome husband!!

Oh, and i didn't know y'alls first date was our wedding. How fun! y'all are dancing on our video looking awfully cute :)

Jon & Sally said...

Matt,Way to go!  Congratulations! the way...can you video record your Tae Kwon Do tournament in July?  I would love to watch it sometime! :)Inspired,Jon

Dawn said...

Congratulations, Matt!
You look GREAT--very inspiring for all of us, I'm sure.

Love to all,

Jules & Vern said...

How wonderful, Matt!! Every challenge I've known you to face, you've conquered it, and done it well. Here you go again. I'm so very happy for you and inspired, as well.

Jon & Sally said...

Whew-wee! When I saw Matt in those pictures at the bottom my jaw LITERALLY dropped. I seriously CAN HARDLY believe my eyes!!
I'm with my Mom though...every challenge Matt faces, he conquers with flying colors. I'm SUPER DUPER proud of you Matt! Way to go!!
Your wife and daughters are so blessed to have you! ...and healthy!!!
P.s. Jon wants to know where you got your super powers... like can you buy them at Academy or something?

Mary said...

WOW, what an awesome, inspirational story! Way to go Matt! Also congrats on the 2nd girl on the way!!:)

Scott and Kaye Birdsell said...

Like Sal, my jaw dropped and a "oh my goodness" came out when I saw the "after" photos!!

Amazing! Way to go, Matt! Your story is incredibly encouraging and motivating, too!


Tanner Jones said...

wow how fantastic :) I'm super glad to hear things. I am a good 60 lbs less than the biggest I got too. I probably felt all the pain he went through, just like Holly probably felt all the pain you went through. I still have my ups and downs, but I never got close to what I was before since. It was hard, but sooooo worth it! Go Matt!!! I'm super proud of you! Praise God for wives like ours who stick with us through the ... fattest of times :)