415-pound Type 2 Diabetic Sheds Weight To Become Fitness Coach Matt Toohey had always been on the heavy side, even as a college baseball player. When injuries ended his career after just one season at Herkimer County Community College in New York, he quit working out and buried his frustrations in food. His weight ballooned to 415 pounds.
Sitting on the couch one day, Toohey realized his vision was blurry. He’d been excessively thirsty and went to the bathroom frequently as well. Based on what he’d learned in a college health class, and comparing notes with his mom who was studying to be a nurse, Toohey wondered if he had Type 2 diabetes.
His doctor confirmed the diagnosis. His blood sugar was 350 and “had been high for a while,” he was told. His blood pressure was dangerously high as well.
Scared that his health was spiraling out of control, Toohey followed the diet his doctor put him on and began monitoring his blood sugar as instructed. He lost 50 pounds. But it wasn’t long before the stress of college life got in the way. He put the weight right back on again.
After transferring to Coastal Carolina University near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to complete his bachelor’s degree in sports management, Toohey had met Adam Rice, who was planning to open a fitness-training facility. Toohey was initially too self-conscious to join Rice’s gym, ISI Elite Training. But after walking around his neighborhood brought his weight down into the 360-pound range, he decided to take the plunge.
“I was hesitant to even try,” he admits now, two and a half years later. “I didn’t know if I could keep up.”
Rice placed Toohey in a small-group workout program focused on high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises to get his heart rate up. He put Toohey on a diet of lean, clean proteins and insisted he text him a photo of every single meal.
“I basically ate the same thing every day,” he said, explaining that it seemed easier to establish a routine of always knowing what to buy and how to prepare it. For breakfast, he’d have two boiled eggs and cottage cheese. Lunch and dinner were a chicken breast, brown rice, green beans and cottage cheese. Morning and afternoon snacks were grapes and an apple though sometimes he’d have a cheese stick instead.
“The results were insane,” Toohey says now. He lost 30 pounds in one month, 75 pounds in three months and 100 pounds in five months. He reached his goal weight in less than a year, losing a total of 150 pounds.
His grandmother, arriving for a visit in South Carolina after not having seen him for a year, “literally burst into tears upon seeing me,” he said. “It was one of the proudest moments in my life.”
Toohey, now 28, said his blood sugar has returned to normal and has stayed that way. He no longer has sugar or protein in his urine, either.
Toohey credits the “huge family atmosphere” at ISI for his success. And now he’s part of the team, serving as a head performance coach at the company’s new facility in Aynor, South Carolina. He loves helping others reach their goals, whether it’s weight loss or building muscle.
“My lifestyle has completely changed,” he says. Whereas he once was reluctant to work out, even as a college athlete, “now they literally have to lock the doors to keep me out of the gym.”