Life Delivered a Wake-Up Call
"My life was very busy and hectic prior to dropping the weight and getting back into shape. I was always finding excuses why I couldn't get into the gym or why I couldn't do this or I couldn't do that. I allowed myself to be paralyzed in my mindset and developed this "I can't" mentality, which was never me in my early years. I had overcome childhood obesity, gotten into tremendous athletic shape, became a good athlete, then a fashion model, and then … life happened. I got stressed from business, work, relationships, and personal bodily injuries. I had a terrible snow skiing accident in the mid-2000s and messed up my back. In fact, I had some damaged spinal discs. It got hard to move around and food became a comfort for me – an escape. Unfortunately, with that escape, my health escaped me, and the weight just started compacting!
The turning point for me was in December 2013. I was at an all-time high of 408 lbs. I couldn't get around without a cane, and life was just miserable. I didn't even want to leave my place because I was so embarrassed of where I had allowed myself to go. So I knew I needed to make a drastic change. I started to watch my food intake and tried to start exercising through the pain, starting in January 2014. I got down to roughly 380-385 lbs. by April. It was in April that my life would make a change for the better. My best friend and business partner, Dan, called me up one night and said, 'Matt! You need to go try out for NBC's hit TV show, The Biggest Loser!' I thought, I have nothing to lose but weight. 'Okay, how do I try out?' He said, 'It's tomorrow morning, and you need to be there by 7:30am! I'll pick you up at 4:30 am so you'll be there early!' I was like, 'Umm ... okay. Sounds good.' So I did all the preliminary paperwork and preregistration online and went to the local Kinkos that night to print pictures they requested. Got up the next morning, went to the open casting call, and long story short, I was blessed to make it on Season 16 of The Biggest Loser. During my time on the show, it really helped me snap back into reality and allowed me to gain that 'I can do it' attitude again!
My goal originally when starting on my weight loss journey was to just be able to fully move around again. To have full mobility. Due to my weight (compacted by injuries and depression), I wasn't living a full life...my former fiancé even told me she wouldn't stay by my side any longer if I didn't make necessary changes, which hurt me more. I knew I needed to make changes if I wanted to have a full life again ... if I wanted to keep my former fiancé in my life, too. Because honestly, I was just going through the motions but I wasn't living. My goal was to gain my life and confidence back. To gain the person I knew I could be again. My goal was to thrive in life and not be a walking motionless zombie.
During my journey, I made many changes. It wasn't all at once, but became more of a forced situation once I was selected and blessed to be on The Biggest Loser. As I went through the process, I really developed the key to my weight loss and sustained the new lifestyle. There were 5 key elements to my success, and I came to call them 'The 5 Pillars of Transformation.' They are:
I started to get my mindset fixed and healed. I started improving my nutrition and making better choices. I didn't necessarily give up the foods I loved, but redesigned healthier versions with the help of The Biggest Loser nutritionist, Cheryl Forberg, my wonderful white light team, and our amazing friend and trainer, Jen Widerstrom! I really found pistachios were a wonderful snack and a positive addition to my nutrition regimen. I changed the way I worked out and exercised. I included some supplementation to help ensure I was getting the proper micro- and macro- nutrients that I needed daily. And the 5th pillar of transformation was accountability! That was the stabilizer in my life and allowed me to push through those hard times and long days where I just wanted to give up on myself. My team, friends, family, trainer, and wonderful friends I met during the show were there for me, holding me accountable, making sure I kept going and didn't stop!
I am a huge fan of pistachios! They are literally one of my favorite pastime treats and snacks! They really help me to stay on track with my nutritional program, more so than anything else, because I loved the taste, and they work perfectly for a healthy snack to fill me up. When I go to the movies, I sneak a zip lock bagful into the theaters and snack on them versus popcorn and other alternatives. I also include pistachios with my main meals and love adding them to my salads! They are a huge source of healthy fats and great filler for me. When I am craving something bad, salty or fried, I eat a handful of pistachios and it takes away the cravings within minutes!
This has changed my life tremendously. It keeps me on target with my body and weight loss goals. It's perfect for when I am starting a lower carb diet and keto diet, too! Pistachios are one of my main treats and, in fact, food of choice. I would have thought I was "nuts" prior to dropping the weight, thinking I could never eat pistachios and lose weight. It's amazing how much your mind changes when you get educated and learn what's good for you versus what's not. Pistachios will always be a part of my life from now until the end of my time here!"