My name is Matt Devore! I am 30 years old, coming at you live from St. George, Utah. I have the great opportunity and pleasure to share my story with you about how the sport of pickleball enabled me to lose an incredible 117 pounds, going from 490 to 373 pounds (and counting). It's been a journey that has completely transformed my life, and I hope it can inspire and motivate others who may be struggling with their weight or looking for ways to become more active in their lives. For me, it's been an incredible journey that has transformed my physical and mental health and emotional well-being.
All my life, I have been the token "funny big guy" who accepted the role and made the most of it. In doing so, I had many amazing experiences and never really let my size hold me back when it came to anything sports or competition related. Although I weighed 365 pounds in my senior year, I remained active by excelling in three sports. I was a three-year starter on the varsity football team, a decent player coming off the bench in basketball, and a state champion in baseball. Again, I feel like there wasn't too much holding me back because I was very active and young.
However, as it does with many people, the amount/type of food and the slow decline of activity and exercise over the years have done nothing but create worse habits and added more weight. Like many people who struggle with their weight, I had tried all sorts of diets and exercise programs over the years, but I never seemed to be able to stick with anything long-term. It wasn't until I discovered my pure love and passion for the sport of pickleball, which turned out to be the perfect combination of fun and fitness, that keeps me coming back for more. At first, I was hesitant. I had a lot of thoughts and questions that would run through my mind, such as, "would I be able to keep up with the other players?" or "would I have the stamina to play for more than a game or two?". Fortunately, as soon as I picked up that paddle, all my worries went away, and something just clicked. It brought me back to my competitive nature; I was hooked instantly, if not addicted, to playing pickleball.
As I played more and more pickleball, I started noticing changes in my body and how I felt physically and mentally. The weight began to come off, sticking to a diet became much easier, and I felt energized and more confident. It wasn't an easy journey. The first few times I played, I was gasping for breath within minutes. My joints ached, and I could barely keep up with the other players. Yet, I kept showing up, and things started to change slowly but surely. I began to build up my stamina, little by little. I started noticing that I could play for longer without feeling completely exhausted. My joints stopped hurting so much, and I could move more freely. Furthermore, I started to feel a sense of pride in what I was accomplishing day in and day out. Now, I am able to play pickleball for over two hours at a time, four to five days a week. It is a great feeling to see all my progress up until this point and know I am doing something positive for my health and, ultimately, my life.
My love for pickleball became my escape from the stresses of everyday life. I traded comfort eating after a stressful day to looking forward each day to getting outside and hitting the pickleball court. Every time I step on the court, I feel a sense of freedom that I hadn't experienced in years. As I continued to play, I also started to make changes in my diet and lifestyle. I started to eat healthier choices and started to track everything I was eating. I cut back on junk food and started drinking more water. The combination of playing pickleball and making these lifestyle changes had a profound impact on my health and body. When I went to the doctor for the first time after I started playing, I was shocked to learn that I had lost 117 pounds. I had gone from a whooping 490 pounds to 373 pounds in just eight months. It was a moment of overwhelming joy and pride, knowing that all the hard work was paying off.
The weight loss has been nothing short of amazing, but pickleball is so much more than that for me. It was about finding a community of people who supported and encouraged me on and off the court. I currently play 4.0-4.5 competition in numerous leagues (The City of St. George, The Picklr, & Misfit Pickleball) in Southern Utah, and the friendships I've made through pickleball have been some of the most meaningful relationships in my life. I've met people from all walks of life, from all different backgrounds and ages. But on the court, we're all just pickleball players, coming together to enjoy the game and each other's company.
Of course, there were challenges along the way. There were times when I didn't feel like playing or when I struggled with my weight loss. Nonetheless, pickleball has given me a new lease on life. I have more energy, confidence, and joy than ever before. I feel like I'm part of something bigger than myself, which is truly amazing.
In closing, I'm so grateful to have discovered pickleball and the incredible community of people who love the game. It's given me so much more than just weight loss - it's given me a new perspective on life and a sense of purpose. If you're looking for a new way to get fit and have fun, are an avid pickleball player, or looking for an opportunity to support others, I encourage you to pick up the paddle and get out there today. You never know; it might just change your life as it did mine.
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