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Matt Dodge

A career in the military is this young man's dream – and he's doing everything he can in terms of training and nutrition to achieve it.

Matt Dodge

Written by Matt Dodge

My fitness journey began in July 2015 after graduating college with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. I decided I wanted to join the military for a career. I knew I was overweight, but I thought I was in shape because I would go to the campus rec center and lift weights. Little did I know…

When I met with the recruiter, he asked me to step on the scale — I weighed 250 pounds! He looked at me and said, "You're going to have to lose a lot of weight." It was at that moment that I started researching workouts, training plans, diet tips, etc. I found something that worked, but in early 2016, I hit a plateau and started going backwards.

That's when I came across Jim Stoppani’s Shortcut to Shred program. I decided to give it a shot in February of that year. Six weeks later, I felt invincible, but I still was not where I needed to be.

I started researching articles and videos by Jim for different exercises for muscle groups and decided to give those a shot. In September of 2016, I did Shortcut to Shred again, but this time I recorded my weights to keep better track of my strength progress. I made it through the holidays — the January rush at the gym — and in February of 2017, I did Shortcut to Shred again. I kept track of my weights and tried a diet with the newfound concept (to me!) of macronutrients, which did not go as well as I’d hoped.

I recently met with my recruiter to start the process of enlisting again, but this time I weighed in at 194 pounds with 14.2 percent body fat. I'm able to run again and surpass the requirements for my physical fitness test that I will have to take if I'm accepted.

The biggest motivation that kept me pushing through was the simple phrase one of my high school baseball coaches told me: “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” I refused to let failure define who I was. I decided that even if I was, for whatever reason, denied from the military, I would give this journey everything I had to see it through.

The biggest obstacle I had to face was being denied from the military the first time because of a prescription I had been on – they told me I had to be off of it for two years. I was devastated because I had worked so hard, but I had a choice: I could give up or I could come back stronger and be in even better shape when the two years was over. I came back swinging.

I really don't know where my fitness journey will take me, but I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. I love the way I feel and I don't think I could have done it without the help and knowledge of Jim Stoppani. To those looking to start a fitness journey, I have to say, once you start, do not give up. Everyone is different and your time will come. I have seen some people achieve their goals faster than others. Don't base your success on how long it takes. Base it on how you feel and your own goals. Stick with it and you will own it!


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