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FITNESS | How I Did It

Determined to Win a Weighty Battle

May 10, 1999|J.J. MATIS

In less than a year, I lost 50 pounds without dieting. Here's my story:

In September 1996, I was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. Doctors put me on temporary disability and recommended six weeks of hand therapy. During the fight with my employer over my disability, there were endless hearings and appeals. I became severely depressed. I was forced to move back in with my dad, my car was repossessed and I was unable to continue working on my master's in business administration.

In addition, while I was on temporary disability, my employer filled my position. By September 1997, I had gained 35 pounds and continued to gain. My clothes didn't fit, I had no energy and I was falling into a downward spiral of depression. The humiliation and embarrassment were becoming unbearable.

In March 1998, as I waited for my day in court (eventually, I decided to settle with my employer rather than prolong the battle), I decided to be responsible for what was happening to my body. On March 19, 1998, when I weighed 190 pounds, I bought a treadmill. I started walking for 20 minutes and worked my way up to walking at a fast pace (4.5 mph) for more than an hour. The results did not happen quickly.

By June, I was able to fit into some of my clothes. It wasn't until after six months of walking on my treadmill that I began to see major results. At this point, I had lost about 20 pounds.

I don't believe in dieting, so I merely ate less of whatever I wanted and walked on the treadmill at least four times a week. It's a system that worked for me.

People say the treadmill is a boring workout method. I disagree. I have lost 50 pounds in a year by walking and listening to my favorite music. All my clothes fit and people constantly comment on my weight loss. Plus I feel better and have more energy. It's an awesome feeling of accomplishment.

I believe the key elements that motivated me to lose the weight were my dedication and determination. I made getting on the treadmill as much a part of my morning routine as brushing my teeth. I was on it every morning promptly at 8. I also kept a journal, recording the amount of time I was on the treadmill, the calories I burned and distance I walked.

Today, I feel empowered by my experiences from 1996 to 1998. Now I can focus completely on getting my master's in marketing. Losing the weight has been enlightening--I'm able to be excited and enthusiastic about my future.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Vital Statistics

Name: J.J. Matis

Age: 29

Height: 5 feet, 6 inches

Occupation: Graduate student

Old weight: 190 pounds

New weight: 136 pounds

Time to get there: 11 months

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

How Did You Do It?

Do you have a story about how you lost weight and kept the pounds off? Or a story about how you learned to mountain climb or in-line skate, trained for a half-marathon or discovered a unique way of keeping fit, dealing with a nagging ailment or persevering with a fitness regimen despite some obstacles?

If so, we'd like to hear from you. Tell us your story in a 500-word essay listing what worked in terms of diet, exercise and encouragement, as well as any emotional and physical changes.

For weight-loss stories, send us full-body color photos of yourself, before and after. For other types of stories, send a color photo of yourself doing the activity you're writing about.

Send essay and photos to How I Did It, Health, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053. Include daytime and evening phone numbers. Submissions cannot be returned. And, please, no phone calls.

In addition to publication, winners will receive a Los Angeles Times Health section gym bag.

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