Breathing heavily after climbing stairs, and buying bigger and bigger clothes were reason enough to make Matthew Burger, 48, of Springport, decide to make some changes in his life. He’s now 70 pounds lighter, feels great and has a new outlook on his health. Take a look at how he did it.
What made you want to change your lifestyle?
Great question. Frankly, I did not like the way I looked or felt. I did not like the way my clothes fit. I couldn’t move well. I would breathe heavily climbing a flight of stairs, my belt buckle would hurt my stomach, and much more. The biggest motivator was the way I looked. It was pretty bad.
How did you start your journey?
It took weeks of talking myself into committing. People in the area are on the diet I’m on, including my wife, my mother-in-law, and several friends. I was seeing their outstanding results and knew the program was effective. Plus, I knew the program was easy to execute. Once I committed, getting started was pretty easy for me. My wife is a coach in the program so I had the benefit of living with my program coach and simply telling her I’m ready to do it.
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What dietary changes did you make?
In short, I made significant dietary changes. I had very little to no dietary discipline and would eat all of the wrong food: comfort food with no balance. As with most reputable weight loss programs, it is about lifestyle change. I’m still in the losing phase of the program and it is all related to dietary change. The weight loss phase of the program can be broadly summarized as a low calorie, high protein intake. It requires eating six times per day; five “fuelings” and one “lean and green” which is a properly portioned lean meat and three vegetables. The portion size is determined by the particular meat and vegetable. The fuelings are program foods that include a lot of different things, such as bars, shakes, cereals, cookies, brownies, a lot of different options. Each fueling is approximately 110 calories and 11-13 grams of protein.
Do you exercise?
There are different programs available, depending on your level of activity. They also have a program for nursing moms. My lifestyle is not too active at this point so the program I’m on does not account for exercise. However, if I wanted to add exercise, I could change the program to one for more active people. It simply adds more calories since you are burning more calories through physical activity.
What were some of the challenges you faced?
I’m still in the loss phase of the program so the challenges are presented daily. The biggest challenge is fending off the temptation to eat pizza and french fries and just maintaining discipline within the program, in general.
What are your future goals?
From a weight-loss perspective, my initial goal was to get to 250 lbs. I started at 336 lbs on Jan. 3. Now that I am 15 lbs from my initial goal after 14 weeks, I will be re-evaluating where I want to be. I’m guessing in the 220 – 230 range. I’ll evaluate at every goal. From a bigger picture perspective, I want to be off of my blood pressure medication (I think I’m close). I want to be able to use this program and my weight loss as an example of the good things that come from commitment and discipline, for my middle school football players. I want to be able to wear an Albion College pullover at my son’s football games and look good, not like I’m draped in a parachute. I want to be referred to as the guy over there in the blue hat, not the big guy over there. I want to be healthy and happy.
What advice do you have?
Nothing of consequence comes easy. Those on top of the mountain were not placed there. Regardless of the path or program you choose, it takes commitment and dedication. I tell my football players that the pride of accomplishment will far exceed the pain of the effort. Discipline breeds results and results breed discipline. Set up small, near-term goals that support your overall goal and don’t be bashful about celebrating them. My first near-term goal was to be below 300 lbs. If you have a bad day, so what, keep slugging and don’t let it derail what you want to accomplish. I am a huge John Wooden fan and love John Wooden quotes. He said, “ Success travels in the company of very hard work. There is no trick, no easy way.”