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Published May 02, 2013, 11:30 PM

Holt: College student drops 150 pounds

FARGO – Matt Larson wears a black bracelet on his left wrist that says “Anything is possible.” The college student proved that to himself by losing almost half his body weight through diet and exercise.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

FARGO – Matt Larson wears a black bracelet on his left wrist that says “Anything is possible.”

The college student proved that to himself by losing almost half his body weight through diet and exercise.

The motto’s helped keep him going. “I feel like if I can do this, I can pretty much do anything,” he says.

Matt, a 20-year-old economics major at North Dakota State University, says he was always the “fat kid” growing up, but it got worse when he started college.

“I told myself going in that I wasn’t going to gain the ‘freshman 15.’ Then you get to college, and you’ve got the dining center right there and you’re in the dorm all the time. It went from the freshman 15 to the freshman 40,” he says.

Matt’s weight gain through his teens came to a head when he weighed himself at NDSU’s Wellness Center.

“The scale only goes to 360. And I was almost too big for that scale. I was like 359,” he says.

At nearly 360 pounds, and without changing his diet, he started running – two miles a day, five days a week, on his parents’ treadmill at their Fargo home.

After losing the first 40, he suffered a series of setbacks.

His doctor made a less-than-encouraging remark (“320-pound people aren’t runners”), he developed a stress fracture in his foot, and he stopped losing weight.

Instead of throwing in the towel, he used each situation as fuel.

Matt started doing P90X, returned to running as soon as he was able to, and turned to his family and friends for nutritional guidance.

“I was terrified to switch my diet, to be honest. I mean, I love to eat,” he says.

But his new approach to food eventually became habit.

He tries to eat five small meals a day, the biggest at breakfast, usually some combination of eggs, Greek yogurt, oatmeal and wheat toast.

In Matt’s backpack, you’ll find apples, grapes, almonds and jerky to fuel him when he’s on campus. He saves dining out (pizza and Mexican food are favorites) for the weekends.

“For a while, I tried to be ‘perfect,’ but I discovered you can’t be successful and live with yourself when you’re doing that,” he says.

Now weighing a little over 200 pounds, Matt will run the Fargo Marathon half marathon this month with a friend from both high school and college.

“It’s 13 miles, and two years ago, I could barely run one,” he says. “I felt like if I could do that, it’d show myself how far I’ve come.”

He fits incremental training in around his class and work schedules. Last summer, he’d get up at 5:30 a.m. to go for a run before his morning shift at 7.

At the Northport Hornbacher’s, where he works, Matt’s been getting comments and compliments from customers.

“Complete strangers will ask me if I’ve lost weight,” he says.

Though it’s hard to look at old pictures of himself, remembering how he felt then motivates him to stick to the lifestyle he’s created.

“If I could say one thing to my former self, I’d tell him, ‘Start today, because you won’t regret it. It’s all worth it,’ ” he says.

Do you have a weight-loss story to tell? Email me at mholt@forumcomm.com.

Forum reporter Meredith Holt has lost 105 pounds since May 2010. She will share stories of her weight-loss journey in her column, which runs the first and third Friday of each month in SheSays. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5590.

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