In 2018, Matthew Morgan made a New Year’s resolution that sounded a lot like ones he made in the past: He vowed to lose weight. Then in February he had a minor heart attack. But instead of letting that derail his goals, it emphasized how he needed to stick with his healthy habits.
“I used it as motivation. I actually suffered a heart attack from having the extra weight,” the 41-year-old from Brunswick, Maryland told TODAY. “That was enough of a wake-up call that I needed to continue down the path that I was going rather than go back. Because the heart attack was the result of what I've pretty much done my whole life.”
A life of dieting
Morgan was overweight most of his life, but in high school and college he was in the marching band and that activity kept his weight a little bit lower.
“I've so-called dieted pretty much my whole life,” he said. “After college because I wasn't active and got stuck in a sedentary lifestyle — I wasn't exercising — the weight just kept coming on.”
At his heaviest, he weighed 330 pounds and that’s when he knew he had to take his health seriously. He started by tracking what he ate on the weight-loss app, Lose It!
“I would use the app to track every single thing that went in my mouth to the extent of having a food scale and weighing every single piece of food,” Morgan explained. “I would use the recipe builder on a portion of the Lose It! app to enter in all the ingredients for stuff I was cooking so that I could get an accurate count."
He also started to move more, first walking.
“It was difficult because you're going from a lifestyle where you're really sitting on the couch, sitting at work, sitting at home — not really moving a whole lot — to trying to be as active as possible,” he said.
But then Morgan stared listening to podcasts about people using running to help with their weight loss and he wondered if he, too, could run.
“Being someone that was overweight my whole life I assumed that I would never ever be able to run,” Morgan said. “Running is actually something I do for entertainment. Now if I find I’m bored or have a stressful day — you name it — I go out for a run.”
He runs four to five times a week for an average of 20 miles. Since making his resolution, Morgan lost 155 pounds to weigh 175 pounds. He’s run several half-marathons, though they have all been virtual due to COVID-19. He’s looking forward to someday running a half-marathon with others when conditions are safe. Morgan has learned that he can do anything as long as he is determined.
“If you would have told me that I would be running half-marathons in a couple of years, I would have told you that you were crazy,” he said. “Don’t let anyone tell you can't do something. Because if you put your mind to it you can do it.”
Morgan shared his advice on what helped him lose weight.
1. Be patient
“You don't gain weight overnight so you're not going to lose it overnight,” he said. “You have to have patience.”
2. Stick to healthy foods — most of the time.
About 80% of the time, Morgan stays within a strict calorie limit and eats healthy foods. Then 20% of the time he might enjoy a slice of pizza, a burger or a beer. He feels like this leads to a healthy and sustainable life.
“You can't cut out everything because you need to be able to adapt (eating) to your life and be able to live,” he said. “If you're going out with your friends and you want to have a drink you can't beat yourself up because you had one or two beers.”
3. Don’t listen to haters.
Some people will see someone succeeding at losing weight and criticize that person. But Morgan says it’s essential to listen to the positive people.
“You just have to learn to tune it out as difficult as it is because they’re going to be people who try to (criticize you),” he said.