As a kid, Matt Bickel was overweight and lacked confidence. His parents divorced when he was young, he grew up poor, and girls were never interested in him. Food was the one thing that never turned him down, he recalls.
It wasn’t until recently that Bickel—who has weighed as much as 450 lb.—realized food had become a psychological addiction. When he reached the point where he couldn’t think of a single comfort food that would make him happy, he finally admitted he had a problem. He told his wife he wanted to try and be healthy.
In addition to cleaning up his eating habits, Bickel walked into his first CrossFit gym two years ago. When he saw everyone doing burpees, he was horrified. But within a month, he was drawn in by the camaraderie forged through shared suffering, and now he’s a dedicated member of CrossFit LoDo in Denver, Colorado—and he can’t imagine his life without fitness.
“You could literally tie me to the wall and I would rip the freaking wall down to get to the gym. There is nothing that will stop me from getting fit,” he says.
Bickel’s chief passion in life has long been marijuana—he is a highly successful master grower, cultivator and consultant. Now his focus has shifted.
“When I take a look into my fitness world and what I’ve learned, I see this epidemic that’s just so black and white. It is obesity, it is diabetes, it is complex carbs killing people. I see the lack of movement shutting people’s bodies down.”
He added: “This has been an ass-kicking for 37 years that I’m finally getting on top of for the first time ever.”