Father of three has lost more than 100 pounds since starting to run.
NAME: Matt Tanner
HOMETOWN: Vail, Arizona
FAMILY: My wife, Delora, and three kids, Rebecca (10), Emilee (6), and Cameron (3)
What prompted you to start working out?
It got to a point where it was really hard to go out and do the things I love--hunting, hiking, and fishing. I was getting out of breath while trying to tie my shoes standing up. The biggest moment, though, was when I saw a friend I hadn't seen in a while. He said "Boy, you are fat!" I laughed it off. But it stung a bit. About one month later, I saw a photo of myself and saw for the first time how old and fat I looked. I knew it was time to get something done. My wife never said anything about my weight. I knew she thought about it. But she always loved me for who I am. But once I started, she helped me. And I know that she likes the new me and I like myself more.
How did you start?
Before all that other stuff, my wife bought a treadmill and it sat and collected dust. We would dry clothes on it. The outfitting season was over, and I hadn't lost the weight I usually did over the season. In fact, I'd actually gotten up over 300 pounds for the first time. I looked at that treadmill and decided I would give it a go. I didn't even put my shoes on--I wore socks--just because I didn't think I was really going to do it. But I walked and walked and walked. I started out with 20 minutes a day for a week. I walked at 2.5 mph, then pushed myself to 3.5 miles per hour. After the week, I burnt holes in a few pairs of socks and decided to go for 30 minutes with shoes on. Eventually, I started running a little bit. But I was still mostly walking.
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What was the biggest hurdle to working out and how did you get over it?
After I started running, the pounding gave me the worst headaches. It would take hours to get over them. Knowing the next day I was going to do it all again took a huge amount of will power that I didn't think I had. I just fought myself every day. When I would try to talk myself out of running, I would do something really hard, like try to break one of the records I had set previously--like running a fast mile or seeing how long I could go without stopping. The headaches eventually stopped, and running feels so much easier now.
What's the most rewarding part of your running life?
Seeing the changes in my body. At first the weight just melted off. I remember the day last April when I ran one mile without stopping. I don't remember how long it took, but I remember the holler I let out when I finished. My wife and kids came in to see what happened, and I just smiled for about 10 minutes feeling victorious. I don't think anything has been as sweet as that. Now I can run faster than I thought would be possible. And I am doing things without breathing hard that would have killed me just a year ago. I have had a few friends start their own weight-loss journeys after seeing mine. That is really cool. This whole thing makes me want to help others feel the way I feel--the freedom from all that extra baggage. Being able to get so much more done and having the energy to do it is amazing. I thought that by running all the time, I would just be worn out and not want to do anything. But it's just the opposite. I can do more now than ever.
What is your weight-loss goal?
My first goal was 250. I got there pretty fast. Then I aimed for 220, which would mean I'd dropped 25 percent of my original weight. My next goal was 200. It felt like forever to get to 199.9, but that was a happy day; it meant that I'd shed 33 percent of my starting weight. Now my goal is 180 pounds. I'm 6'1". I know what I have to do to get it. But this one takes way more focus. I have been under 200 for three months now. My low is 191.7 and I hover between 191 and 195. I decided May is the month to see where I can get it. I don't expect to get the 13 pounds, but I will see 185!
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What's the secret to your weight-loss success?
I am not a structured guy. I didn't want to do Weight Watchers or a fad diet. Once I learned that if you burn more calories than you take in, you'll lose weight, I started with 400 calories for breakfast, 500 calories for lunch, and 800 calories for dinner. At first, when I cheated, I would get on the treadmill and burn off every calorie I ate--no matter how long it took. Some days I'd have to walk an extra two hours. Then I started eating carrots when I couldn't take the hunger any more. (I ate a lot of carrots!) I always have one cheat day per week. But I limit my calories to 2,500 to 2,800. (Try incorporating these 20 Best Foods for Weight Loss into your diet.)
What kinds of changes did you make to what you ate and how you ate?
The biggest change was that I no longer drink my calories. Before, I drank Dr. Pepper like it was running out. I'd have 50 to 100 ounces a day. I haven't had a real Dr. Pepper since March of last year. I am trying to eliminate diet sodas, but with my mild caffeine addiction it's a bit tough. I eat a lot more fruit; apples and bananas are staples, as are Greek yogurt and string cheese. I try to eat only lean meat and have eggs for dinner at least once a week. I never ate many veggies before, but now I eat them every day. I still am a dessert lover, and that is something I look forward to having on my cheat day. I really try not to eat any until that day. I bet my body thinks I am crazy now and wonders where all the sugar went. But I feel so much better. I know it's a better way to live.
What strategies have not worked for you for weight loss?
For the last couple months, settling for status quo and staying the same hasn't worked. It's so easy to say, "Look how far I came. I have done so much already." Everybody who sees me tells me how good I look, and it gets in my head. But I have real goals I want to hit with running now, like running a 5-K in under 20 minutes. I know getting down to 180 and the work it will take will most likely get me to that goal I want so badly. (BEWARE: These 8 Biggest Weight Loss Mistakes could be keeping you from reaching your fitness goals.)
What's your favorite motivational quote?
"The easiest calories to burn are the ones you don't put in your mouth."
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What advice would you give to someone else who is just starting out?
Just do something every day. Take the time to get in a workout--whether it's running, walking, or whatever. Just get something done. And remember: Weight loss has a lot more to do with what is done in the kitchen, not in the gym. As long as you eat less than you burn, you'll lose weight. Now, I weigh less than I did in junior high school. And it's awesome.
What's your favorite piece of gear?
My GPS watch. And I do really like getting new shoes. It feels pretty good to wear out a pair knowing it takes around 500 miles to do that. And knowing that I have done that almost three times now is just amazing to me.
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What do you love about running? My favorite is being almost done with a really hard run and knowing I have what it takes finish strong.
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