Body Transformation: Matt Hart Turned Tragedy Into Triumph

Matt Hart found strength through loss and turned tragedy into a triumph!

Why I decided to transform

Never thought I would be a widower at 40-years-old. Honestly, I never thought it would happen to anyone I knew, but that is where I found myself after returning home from work on a Thursday evening in July 2012. No goodbyes. No I love you's. My wife of 16 years just vanished. The official ruling was an overdose of pain medication. She had just gotten surgery to remove her tonsils two days prior. The kids were off at grandma and grandpa's house while she recovered. I had returned to work so our home would be nice and quiet while she slept.

Truth be told, both my wife and I were in poor shape. We went from 200 and 140 pounds to 250 and 200 pounds each, respectively, between the times we started dating to the time she passed. My wife detested the very idea of exercising so she never worked out. The excess weight and inactivity contributed to my wife's sleep apnea, for which the ill-fated tonsillectomy was supposed to cure. I, on the other hand, had always worked out regularly since college, getting more than my gym membership money's worth. My pitfall was the diet. Working out gave me the green light to eat whatever I wanted—or so I thought.

You really start to re-evaluate your life when you realize you are all alone at 40 years old with two young kids. Being a single parent made me want to get in much better shape so I could be around for my children. I had managed to lose about 20 pounds by the time my birthday rolled around in March—simply from a lack of appetite. Even then, I thought I looked and felt pretty good at 230 pounds, so I'd planned to lose maybe another 10 or so. These days I put in serious work for progress.

Before /// 249 lbs
After /// 189 lbs
AGE 39 / HEIGHT 5'11" / BODY FAT 23%
AGE 42 / HEIGHT 5'11" / BODY FAT 10%
Post To Fitboard

My diet is much better now than it had been before. I continue to work out regularly. My overall health has improved greatly. Just this morning, I checked in at 189 pounds. I've lost 80 pounds since my heaviest weight, and I'm not even finished yet. My kids have been doing much better as well. Initially, my older son struggled through the first semester of school, but turned it around in the second semester. My younger son continued to perform well in school, and I even had the opportunity to coach him in both fall and spring football.

Perhaps the best change in my life came from being recently remarried. My late wife's best friend was there to help me after she passed. Our friendship grew into love, and last September we were married. She is the best thing to ever happen to me. I never could have done it without her. Life is funny that way. Just when you think things are under control, you get hit unexpectedly with a curveball.

For me, I've chosen to turn a tragedy into a triumph. I am / I will become a better father, a better husband, and a better me than I had ever been before.

How I accomplished my goals

The single most important change was a newfound approach to my diet, inspired by my wife. My wife is a soccer coach, a runner, and just overall incredibly fit. She taught me that "food is fuel." We all have our comfort foods and use food and cooking as glue to bring family and friends together. There's a time and place for such lavish occasions, but daily meals can be simpler, smaller, and healthier.

Gradually, this idea replaced my need to eat large, high-calorie meals. Dinner is no longer the focus of my evenings. In my family, we stay active and eat as needed. I also made sure to follow a proper supplement routine to help me accomplish my goals.

"I was able to stay motivated by focusing on my long-term goals, since it's easy to get discouraged if all you do is watch the scale every day. Support from both my wife and BodySpace encouraged me to continue my efforts."

As for my regular workouts, I incorporated early-morning runs before work and hit the gym during my lunch break. I wanted to retain my muscle mass while losing fat so I increased my cardio sessions and still left enough time to lift weights.

I was able to stay motivated by focusing on my long-term goals, since it's easy to get discouraged if all you do is watch the scale every day. Support from both my wife and BodySpace encouraged me to continue my efforts.

I documented my progress on BodySpace by posting regular progress photos and fitness updates. My wife even took me clothes shopping when my old wardrobe no longer fit. I liked the way she viewed me. For the first time in many years, I felt attractive again.

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Supplements that helped me through the journey

I searched through Bodybuilding.com for supplementation that would help me lose fat. This article helped light the way, and so I followed its recommendations. Specifically, I used the following:

With Meal 3

Diet plan that guided my transformation

Meal 1
Meal 2: Pre-workout Meal
Meal 3: Post-workout
Meal 4
  • chicken Lean Protein (Chicken or Fish)

    4 oz

  • Green Salad Green Salad

  • dressing Light Salad Dressing

    1 tbsp

Meal 5

Training regimen that kept me on track

I don't break my workouts into specific body parts for each day. I prefer to perform total body workouts. I usually try to make some kind of circuit and keep my heart rate elevated. I mix up the amount of weight and number of reps I perform. For example, some days I'll do heavy weights and low reps (3 sets of 8, for example).

Other days, I'll perform light weights at high reps (3 sets of 20, for example). I also like to mix in abdominal exercises between sets while I'm resting. Here is a sample of my weekly training:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7: Rest

What aspect challenged me the most

My new diet was the most challenging part of my transformation. I've always been active, played sports, and loved to exercise. With my high activity level, I've also always loved to eat as well.

I've educated myself about proper dieting, using the resources on Bodybuilding.com. I also have the support of my loving wife who approaches diet the same way I do now.

My future fitness plans

I plan to continue my active lifestyle and maintain my weight with my new diet. I have been a volunteer coach for many years, but I've also recently been hired by a local middle school as the head football coach. I plan to continue both my volunteer coaching and coaching at the middle school level.

It's important for me to give back to the community and help encourage a healthy lifestyle in our youth. My capacity now allows me to teach important life skills, such as self discipline, teamwork, and responsibility all while promoting physical exercise.

"Remember: Minimal progress is still progress. If you want something bad enough, you'll find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse."

Suggestions for aspiring transformers

I would like to applaud those who have started the transformation—it's a long, tough but rewarding road ahead. I'd also like to encourage those who've always been on the fence but to delay no longer. I have seen first hand the potentially tragic results that can occur by ignoring your physical health.

From my experiences, I've learned that improvements in one's physical health will lead directly to improvements in one's mental health, with self-esteem and self-perception.

It takes a fundamental change in the way you want to live your life. Only you can decide if you want to make a change. Remember: Minimal progress is still progress. If you want something bad enough, you'll find a way. If not, you'll find an excuse.

How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals

I have been a fan of Bodybuilding.com for many years. I follow all the articles and workout plans, bookmarking my favorite ones and returning to them periodically. Living here in Idaho, I thought it was awe-inspiring for a local man to have started this company in his garage and turned it into the behemoth it is today.

Bodybuilding.com has been very convenient for when I want to purchase supplements and my protein powders. In addition, I like that I can read reviews and receive competitive prices. Delivery is always quick and satisfying.

Posting my "before" picture on BodySpace provided the most motivation for me. I really put myself out there, but the progress photos helped me see the transformation through one photo at a time. It is amazing how a couple of compliments or "likes" from total strangers can boost your confidence. The BodySpace community is great and the people are all positive.

Everyone should click that "like" or post a positive comment for those individuals who are brave enough to post their pictures on such a public forum. You may never know how much that small gesture might mean to somebody.

Matt's Top 5 Gym Tracks

  1. Guns n Roses "Welcome to the Jungle"
  2. AC DC "Thunderstruck"
  3. Metallica "Enter Sandman"
  4. Motley Crue "Dr. Feelgood"
  5. Skid Row "Monkey Business"


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