How Melbourne couple went from overweight to super-fit

By Emma Reynolds

Matt Wolfs and Courtney Ley have lost more than 100kg between the two of them. Photos / Facebook
Matt Wolfs and Courtney Ley have lost more than 100kg between the two of them. Photos / Facebook

Before they met, this Melbourne couple were each struggling with their weight and mental health.

Courtney Ley was a size 18, weighed 100 kilograms and was too self-conscious to date, while Matt Wolfs was depressed, anxious and had developed type 2 diabetes after tipping the scales at 180kg.

Today, the super-fit pair have shed more than 100kg between them and are launching a podcast based on their successful joint personal training business. They fulfilled one last dream last Christmas when they got married in New York's Central Park, before celebrating with family back in Australia.

Matt's weight peaked at 180kg and Courtney's at 100kg. Photos / Facebook
Matt's weight peaked at 180kg and Courtney's at 100kg. Photos / Facebook

Both say they reached a low point before turning their lives around. "I started stacking on weight in my teens," 39-year-old Matt told news.com.au. "I became less and less active, I was eating junk food, I just ballooned out.

Between 18 and 28, I was about 120 kilos. I had super-XL pants and shirts - I was wearing parachutes.

"I was a health risk. I started getting ill. My vision was impaired, there was a funny taste in my mouth, I was craving sugar. When I told the doctor I couldn't see the TV, I was hospitalised as a type 2 diabetic."

The doctor told Matt he had to change, but he didn't really know how. At first, he put in a token effort at the gym before going home to eat chocolate and chips. Eventually, he started spending three hours, six days a week working out, but was still bingeing on junk food and alcohol at home.

"I was going in circles," he says. "I felt I was putting in the effort but all I was eating was crap. It sent my mental state downwards. I was depressed, anxious, almost bipolar. I wasn't good to be around. I was cutting myself, I couldn't even have a conversation with a female. I was in no state to be employed.

"I had a very bad day and thought about killing myself, was very close to doing it before I talked to my mum. It was the 'snap point', as Courtney calls it. I thought, I'm going to change this or die trying. I'm going to find out what the best version of myself is."

Matt started working with the trainer at his gym, improving his diet by eating more whole foods and returned to work in construction. "Over two-and-a-half years, 80kg just fell off," says the PT, who is now 100kg and mostly muscle. "I stopped thinking about it and just did it. I started thinking about the personal training thing, took the risk and quit my career. That was 2010. I met Courtney two years later."

The Melbourne couple help motivate each other to stay fit and healthy. Photo / Facebook
The Melbourne couple help motivate each other to stay fit and healthy. Photo / Facebook

His now wife arrived at Matt's gym aged 24, after spending her whole adult life battling with her weight. "I didn't start being really overweight until I was 18 and stopped playing sport," she told news.com.au. "I was about 100kg, now I sit around the 70-75kg mark. I had a fear of the scales. I still don't weigh myself but for different reasons. Your weight can fluctuate day to day. It wasn't giving an accurate idea of where I was progressing. A lot of my training involves lifting weights so by clothes were going down but my weight was not changing.

"At the time I was a bit fragile and it was playing with my emotions so I took it out of the equation. It's taken some time but I wouldn't change it for the world."

The couple met when Courtney visited Matt's gym four years ago, and he became her personal trainer. Photos / Facebook
The couple met when Courtney visited Matt's gym four years ago, and he became her personal trainer. Photos / Facebook

The 28-year-old, who went from a size 18 to a size ten and is still getting fitter, says she learnt to change her bad habits with help from Matt, who had been through the same journey.

"She did exceptionally well," says Matt. "She was committed, not perfect, it doesn't work that way, but she met me halfway. It blossomed from there.

"A confident Courtney's great to be around."

While they are different, the pair help each other with their weaknesses, and do the same for their clients since they started a joint business. Matt finds grocery shopping and cooking healthy food boring, and Courtney hates getting up to go to the gym - but when they have a bad day, they know the other will empathise and support them.

"It definitely makes our relationship stronger," says Courtney. "It's easier to live the lifestyle because we're together.

The pair now run their own personal training business and Courtney has gone from a size 18 to a size 10. Photo / Facebook
The pair now run their own personal training business and Courtney has gone from a size 18 to a size 10. Photo / Facebook

"We still go out for cheat meals and we love ice cream, but we keep each other honest."

The couple trains clients together, but one will take the lead with each individual, depending on their preferred style. They are launching a weight-loss podcast to share their simple, straightforward techniques for making small changes to achieve a healthy lifestyle, all based on their real-life experiences and those of their clients.

Courtney says thinking of the outcome motivates her. "I know it's going to hurt, but because I've been where I've been and struggled for so many years the thought of going back to that makes me get up

"I refuse to go back," says Matt, who has reversed his diabetes. "You'd rather the small sacrifice than going back to a life where you didn't want to leave the house. I've lived it."

MATT AND COURTNEY'S TIPS FOR SIMPLE HEALTH

• Forget the gimmicks, buzzwords and "10 days to great abs" promises and focus on exercise and eating unprocessed foods.

• Don't try to do it all at once, think long-term and make incremental, sustainable changes - starting with a small amount of exercise and building up.

• Even trainers need trainers, and few people do it alone, so find a buddy or a gym where you can work out with others.

• You don't have to be perfect: allow yourself occasional breaks and treats or you're more likely to binge.

• Learn from experience: Courtney is a sweet tooth so she adds some healthy sweet flavours to her every day food, such as a smoothie with blueberries or grapes in her salad.

• Be aware of your mental state and try to avoid comparing yourself to others on social media or emotional eating.

• Know what you struggle with, whether it's a fear of failure, fear of success or fear of food.

• Keep it simple - you don't need the latest fad diet, counting calories or getting the macronutrient balance right.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
Youthline: 0800 376 633
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
Samaritans 0800 726 666
If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

- news.com.au

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 28 May 2017 20:52:58 Processing Time: 658ms