Fleet Feet Get Fit team is fast out of the gate

Ten professionals and 10 teams are competing in the 2014 Get Fit Challenge, a spinoff of IB’s popular Fittest Executive Challenge. Who will earn the healthiest marks? Follow along on Facebook and then find out at the In Business Expo & Conference on Oct. 22. This week, IB checks in with Matt Anderson, owner of Fleet Feet Sports Madison, which is competing in the team challenge. Anderson’s co-workers Matthew Reller, Curtis Hall, and Taylor Key round out the team.

June 17, 5 a.m. Fitness challenge day 123. I am lying in bed after a night of thunderstorm warnings and tornado sirens, contemplating the possibility of getting in my weekly bike ride.

Okay, I can’t ride. Do I get a free pass due to the weather?

I suppose I should do a substitute workout … that means I have to get up now and drive to Harbor … maybe I can run tonight … I hate running at night … I don’t want to get out of bed … I’ll just really watch what I eat today … ugh, now I feel guilty!

My mind has worked this way since I was young and playing sports or getting ready for the upcoming football, basketball, or track season. This self-encouragement continued after college; however, it slowly became less of a priority after I got a “real job” and came home exhausted and unmotivated. Luckily, I stumbled onto running and found that a three-mile run burned enough calories to keep me at my “playing weight.” Unfortunately, that playing weight of 195 was not ideal when I wasn’t actually playing anything.

Then a funny thing happened. I really started to enjoy running and started going more often. I also met my wife, Jessica, and dragged her out on a few runs. As is her style, she jumped in with both feet and ran three marathons that first year (not really recommended!). We moved to Sacramento, Calif., discovered Fleet Feet Sports, moved back to Madison to open Fleet Feet Sports Madison, and nine years later we’re still hooked on running and the impact it has on people.

During this time, my fitness level varied. I was in Ironman shape one year and then didn’t touch my bike the next. Marathon shape another year and barely 5K shape the next. With the invitation to compete in the Get Fit Challenge, I felt motivated to make a more permanent change and stop the fluctuation in my weight and fitness level. Being a team sports guy, I was also very motivated to go into this challenge with three guys I knew would go all in and guilt me into keeping up. Guilt can be a powerful motivator.



What I discovered is that, while I have always maintained a fairly solid fitness base, I had never really concentrated on food. I had read a lot about exercise and diet and even dabbled in “eating better,” which typically lasted about a week. After hearing Dr. Fortney speak at the Get Fit Challenge kickoff meeting, I took home the idea that eating better didn’t mean a total overhaul but rather more simple changes, like trying to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables per day. With this as my direction, I focused more on diet, and it has made a bigger impact on my weight and fitness levels than a strict exercise plan ever did.

My secret tool for the challenge has been the app MyFitnessPal. I don’t have any stock or other ownership interest in this app, but I wish I did because I’ve been telling everyone about it. I began using it to keep a simple food diary to see what I ate and what I needed to change. After a few days, it became a new obsession — sort of like a video game with me as the character. I started to treat calories like Mario Brothers coins. When I work out I get bonus coins that I can redeem for food — yes, even beer! If I do not work out, I typically run out of coins right around dinner, which means — gasp — no beer! (Yes, beer is my weakness.)

The best part of this app is that it is easy to use and you can even analyze what changes you should make to your diet (more fiber, more protein, etc.) based on your goals and the food you are eating. This has helped me identify foods I like that can replace such evils as chips and soda.

I’m happy to report that my new “playing weight” is a much more comfortable 180 to 185, and that the new diet has stuck. I now find myself disappointed when there are not carrots in the fridge! Even more important to me is that my teammates in the challenge, Curtis, Matt, and Taylor, have also made these changes and have made even bigger strides toward their fitness goals.

They are going to need it when Fleet Feet Sports Sun Prairie opens this fall! (Sorry, one shameless plug!)

Happy running!

Meet all of the competitors here, and see who wins at the In Business Expo & Conference.

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