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Matthew DeKler

This JYM Army member continues to fight hard – and win – against a history of obesity and health issues.

Matthew DeKler

Written by Matthew DeKler

I'm 43 years old and have struggled with my weight and diet my entire life. At my heaviest, I weighed 425 pounds.

When I was 28 years old, my doctor diagnosed me with type 2 diabetes and told me I had to lose weight. I think I was just so scared about having diabetes that I went ahead and lost 180 pounds – but not the right way. I was smoking cigarettes, and nicotine is a great appetite suppressant. But soon after I lost the weight, I started gaining it all back and was back up to 400 pounds. 

In my 30s, I started making life changes like getting involved in my church, quitting smoking, and I started losing weight again, this time 150 pounds. Everything was going well until I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Over the past eight years, I've had six procedures, the most recent in 2013, to help correct this issue. My heart specialist believes it's linked to my constant weight fluctuations.

In 2008, I met my wife, Trish. Over the next year and a half, as we planned the wedding, I let stress get the best of me and gained back all the weight I lost. I was so ashamed I let this happen again that I just shut down and stopped taking care of myself. My diabetes and eating were out of control. I stopped at Burger King on my way home from work almost every day and got enough food to feed three or four people. I would eat it all before Trish got home and take the empty bags to the dumpster so she wouldn’t know what I had done.

By 2014, my marriage was failing, mostly due to me. I wasn't taking care of myself, and I had no motivation to do anything but lie on the couch. I weighed more than 400 pounds yet again. I felt if I kept traveling the road I was on, my body would just give out and I would be dead.  The weight was choking the life out of me and I had enough.

I started looking for a diet and came across bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Stoppani, PhD, Chris Tuttle, Evan Centopani, CT Fletcher and Kai Greene.

I learned from these bodybuilders and started eating clean, weighing and measuring my food, and keeping track of macros. I did this for a couple of months with great success and started working out at a gym to step up my weight loss. This journey has been different than the other times — no matter what's going on in my personal life, I've stayed mentally strong and dedicated to my fitness goals.  When I'm not in the gym, I miss it.

A few months into this journey, I came across Jim Stoppani once again and his Pre JYM product. I saw a YouTube video by Mike McErlane on Pre JYM and it really changed my life. The more research I did, the more I was impressed with Jim's honesty, his supplements with no proprietary blends, how he helps people, answering questions on social media and doing the right thing.

I've been using Jim's supplement line for about a year now and I also joined the JYM Army on Facebook for additional diet help. Justin Kamb responded right away and told me exactly what to do: read Jim's Dieting 101 and use the macros of someone who is 230 pounds. I thought, "This is way too many calories, no way I can follow this." I've been overweight my entire life and he's telling me to eat more and I'll lose weight and body fat?

I couldn’t comprehend it, so for two weeks I did things my way and my body fat percentage didn’t drop. Then I decided to follow Jim's (and Justin’s) advice and go for it. Of course, over the next weeks and months, my weight and body fat percentage dropped. 

During my weight loss journey, I found out I had a shoulder injury and was diagnosed with bursitis, tendinitis, a partial tear of my rotator cuff and a labral tear. I couldn’t lift weights, at least not much with my upper body. In the past, these would be roadblocks, but now they were just obstacles to push through.

Since I couldn’t lift for my upper body, I did legs, cardio and things I could do and never quit. Now when I walk into the gym, I don’t feel soreness or pain from my last workout; I feel anger. I’m angry that I risked my health, marriage and made my family and friends worry if my obesity would take my life. I take this anger out on the treadmill, elliptical and weights. Throughout this journey, I've worked harder than I ever have and it's been well worth it — I have my wife and life back and couldn’t be happier.

This year I signed up for the Summer Shred Challenge, but unfortunately I had to get surgery for my shoulder injury in July. The Summer Shred Challenge wasn't just a contest; it meant much more than that to me. It was about taking my health and fitness to the next level, getting my story out there no matter how embarrassing it is so I could help someone else who is struggling. 

I worked for over 15 months not just on losing weight, but also learning how to eat and change my physique. I'm very proud of what I've accomplished: I've lost a total of 175 pounds; went from size 58 jeans to 38; from a 5XL shirt to a large. No weight-loss surgery – just healthy eating and busting it in the gym. I have by no means reached all my goals, but I will continue to fight to become both mentally and physically strong.

Trish and I went to the Mr. Olympia contest in Las Vegas this year. The first day at the Expo, I ran into Jim Stoppani. I really had to hold back the tears, as this man has been a huge influence in changing my life. He took the time to talk and took pictures with us. 

What do Jim Stoppani and the JYM brand mean to me? They mean everything. I've entrusted my nutrition and fitness goals to Jim and nobody else. It’s not just the supplements; it’s the honesty and the JYM Army, where you can be yourself and not be criticized for asking even the most basic questions.

One of the great things Jim always talks about is enjoying life: Yes, nutrition and fitness are important, but who wants to eat chicken and broccoli for the rest of their lives every single day? Enjoy life and the different foods the world has to offer. The JYM supplement line, Jim Stoppani and Mike McErlane have changed my life and I'm so grateful.



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