For most of his life, Matthew Galit was on the move—it was all that Galit, a 34-year-old police offer from Walnut Creek, California, had ever known. An unfortunate side-effect of constant travel, however, was that it gave him little to no time to focus on himself, his health, or his nutrition. As a result, he accepted the steady creep of weight gain as just an inevitable consequence.
“Before my lifestyle change, I was a full-time college student who held a full-time job at the same time,” Galit says. “I would work during the day then go to class at night. I would arrive home so late that I would not have time to make dinner. So, I was eating out at least five days out of the week. My place had a 24-hour Subway and Carl’s Jr. a few blocks away, so I would eat at either location for dinner.”
This behavior led Galit’s weight to peak at nearly 300 pounds by the time he was 26 years old. In February of 2011, however, Galit reached a turning point—one that arrived suddenly when he’d simply bent over to tie his shoe. “I stood up and realized I was out of breath. I felt so terrible and ashamed that this was now a difficult chore for me physically. I knew right then and there that I had to make some serious changes.”
Beyond just wanting to get healthier, Galit long had another goal in mind: He wanted to become a police officer. As a bigger guy, however, he’d always put that dream on the back burner, knowing he’d never pass the physical.
To put himself on the right path, Galit started with his diet, creating a straightforward rule he would refuse to break: “I told myself I wouldn’t eat anywhere that had a drive-thru,” he says. Immediately, this rule forced Galit into re-thinking every meal: He’d even check menu options before dining out with friends.
“I had to be way more disciplined with what I was eating when I was around them,” he says. “I didn’t want to go back to my bad habits.” Beyond dropping the drive-thru, Galit also downloaded the MyFitnessPal app for nutritional assistance, which he used to track calories and remain in a deficit to lose weight. He also tracked his macros, including fat, carbs, and protein, to ensure he stayed within a healthy range while losing weight.
Galit says he started to see results on the scale in as little as four weeks. Beyond the weight loss, he also had more energy for school, work, and the rest of his day. After a few more weeks, he began incorporating a gym routine that consisted of a mix of cardio and weight lifting several days a week.
Of course, Galit also had his bad days, he admits, which included slipping back into old habits, eating things he shouldn’t have, and forgoing a workout or two. But he stayed on track overall by being honest with himself and remembering his goal to one day fit into a police officer’s uniform. And he made real sacrifices to get there.
“I had to make these habits become second nature,” he says. “To overcome this hurdle, I had to be really cognizant of putting myself into situations where I would break my rules. For example, I stopped going to the gym located beside a fast food restaurant. Instead, I traveled 15 minutes further to visit a gym that didn’t have fast-food restaurants in the vicinity.”
By staying consistent, Galit eventually dropped 100 pounds, going from his heaviest at 300 down to his new weight of 200 pounds. But it wasn’t just about the weight, he notes: It was about improving his overall health and wellbeing. “Reaching my current weight felt great,” he says. “I also used to have sleep apnea. I would have to sleep with a CPAP machine to assist with my breathing at night. When I lost my weight, I no longer had the sleeping condition and did not require the machine at night.”
And then another thing happened: Galit took—and passed—his police exam.“I have a sense of accomplishment whenever I look myself in the mirror or whenever I put on my uniform. Living a healthy lifestyle helped me reach my personal and career goals,” he says. “Mentally, I gained a ton of confidence in myself. That confidence goes really far and can affect every facet of your life.”
That idea plays into what he thinks is the real key ingredient for anyone trying to get back in shape. “Always keep reminding yourself of that reason,” he says. “When you decide you want to lose weight, you need to realize that you have to make some major changes to your daily habits. Accept that fact that you will be living your everyday life in a different way.”