Matt & Denise : Success Story

What prompted the change

Matt’s entire family has been overweight for as long as he can remember. They have all gone on diets and lost and gained weight just like every other person in the world. Unfortunately these weight problems have lead to numerous health problems for most of them. His brother is 30 years old and has had back surgery and his gallbladder removed. His mother is 58 and has had back surgery and is tired most of the time. His father’s list is much longer: gallbladder removed, 20+ eye surgeries, Carpal Tunnel surgery on both wrists, 4 back surgeries, 3 angioplasties, diabetes, deterioration of the spine and numerous other problems. Denise's mom is in her mid-40s and has had as many problems as Matt’s dad, if not more, including a couple strokes, diabetes and congestive heart failure.

Last year Matt turned 27 and Denise turned 25. Towards the end of 2003 they were talking about their future together and what life would be like if they didn't take better care of themselves. Both decided they didn't want to end up like their parents in bad health. At their age and weight we were all but guaranteed to run into major health problems as they grew older. Matt had found SparkPeople in early December 2003 and checked it out quite a bit. Finally at the end of the year he decided he would start this life changing process on 1/1/04. Within hours of my signing up for SparkPeople, Denise decided it was time to make changed in her life as well.

Conquering strategy

There are several things that have worked well for Matt and Denise. First and foremost, deciding from the very beginning that this was a life change and not a diet made all the difference in the world. His entire life, Matt has treated diets as a way to LOSE weight, not a way to GAIN health. Why set a goal where you're trying to lose something when the goal can revolve around gaining something? As he’s grown older, Matt has changed his outlook on life many times and now realizes there is a positive light to every aspect of life. It's just a matter of finding those positive points. So, from the very beginning they have told people they are not on a diet, but are changing their lifestyle to a healthier one.

Not far behind the lifestyle change is the fact that doing this together as a couple has been the most awesome experience for both of them. Denise and Matt talk about SparkPeople and health issues throughout the day now. They have no kids or anyone in the house, so they have no temptations brought on by others in the house. They encourage each other every step of the way and do what they can to help one another achieve all our goals, even if they’re not health related. Because Matt started at such a heavy weight they’ve never viewed the weight loss and lifestyle change as a competition, in fact it’s been more of a team effort the whole time. By helping one another there is never any sabotage, there is never any jealousy; there is only help and joyfulness in watching each another succeed along the way.

So far the two conquering strategies have been more spiritual and dealt with the psychological aspect of life and health. On a more physical and technical level the SparkPeople System itself has helped Matt and Denise achieve every goal they set. The two embraced SparkPeople’s guidelines from the very beginning and followed its suggestions every step of the way. Whether it’s calorie counting or goal setting, if SparkPeople suggested it, we tried it, and succeeded. Seeing the results from this started leading them into further exploration of what SparkPeople is all about. As Matt and Denise progressed and learned more about the site, they started getting more involved with the message boards, discussions and e-mails with the staff (particularly Chris Downie and Coach Joe). Before they knew it they not only tracked food every day, but posted on the boards every day and even started their own journals to share with the community. They make sure to post in the journal(s) at least once per day unless some weird circumstance comes up.

How SparkPeople helped

Everything SparkPeople suggested helped Matt and Denise in every way. First, it taught them the importance of a healthy balanced diet and not some fad or gimmick such as Atkins or South Beach. Second, it provided the physical tools to track information in an easy, logical manner that made it possible to see their progress without a mirror. People ask them how they did it, they tell them SparkPeople. They ask Matt and Denise, “What’s SparkPeople?” and they tell them a healthy way to live. Between the two, they have got at least 10 others to sign up for SparkPeople and will continue to.

The SparkPeople Community is an integral part of the success. Embracing the community and taking advantage not only of the staff's knowledge, but the knowledge of other users. In just a couple months Matt and Denise were able to learn so much from others that they quickly became people that others look to for advice and encouragement. That's one of the best feelings in the world - to know that your actions help others to make their life better. “WOW! I mean, we are just living our life, and sharing it with others,” says Matt. They are honored to have all the involvement and accolades from those at SparkPeople.

Noticeable improvements

In six months (1/1/04 - 6/30/04) here's a list of some improvements we've seen:

    1) Lost 74 lbs
    2) Dropped from size 42 pants to size 34
    3) Dropped from XXL shirt to Large or Medium
    4) Total of 17 inches from waist, hips, and neck
    5) Run faster in sports and don't get winded as fast (more endurance)
    6) Have more energy
    7) I was already confident in myself, but now I have more confidence than ever
    8) I'm happier

    1) Lost 37 lbs
    2) Dropped from size 12/14 waist to size 4/5
    3) Dropped from L/XL shirts to XS/S
    4) Gained a lot of muscle and strength
    5) Gained unbelievable amount of confidence
    6) Sleeps better
    7) Healthier skin and hair
    8) Wider variety of tastes in food. Used to be extremely picky, now is willing to taste more foods

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Weight Before: 265 lbs.
Weight After: 191 lbs.

Weight Before: 170 lbs.
Weight After: 133 lbs.

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