A few years ago, Aldy Montufar decided that he was tired of the yo-yo relationship that he had with his weight and his health. He’d set out to lose a few pounds here and there, but he’d always put it back on. Montufar, 37, a musician and teacher who runs a performing arts studio in Gilbert, Arizona with his wife, says his diet was the biggest factor. “I was not keeping healthy habits consistently.” At his heaviest, Montufar estimates that he weighed somewhere around 230 pounds, and he didn’t like the way he felt. “Simple tasks seemed more difficult then they should. Clothes were not comfortable, and I didn’t feel attractive.”
One day, Montufar saw an ad for a weight loss challenge at a local gym located less than a mile away from his home. It was the middle of summer, he had plenty of time (the school wasn’t in session), and the classes would be free if he won the challenge. Montufar felt inspired to sign up, and this time, he was determined not lose his momentum. “I just kept going. I didn’t want to lose all the hard work I had put in,” he says. “I learned how to eat healthy, stay active, and saw how this could truly be a lifestyle change for longevity.” Here’s how Montufar got back in shape.
You mentioned having a yo-yo relationship with weight loss for a long time. What helped you finally break out of that pattern?
Essentially the workouts were body weight training and HIIT. I did that for about 3 months with a really strict diet. Basically counting calories and making sure my macros (Protein, Carb, Fat) were on point. Eating at a caloric deficit of about 800 calories a day and working out 6 times a week. Meal prep is the key to my success. I ate a combination of lean proteins (chicken breast, fish, lean turkey), clean carbs (brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato), plenty of veggies (broccoli, green beans, asparagus, spinach), and some fats. After three months, I was down to about 185 pounds.
For the next five months, I kept the same HIIT-type workout, but started some light weight training, too. My diet was very similar, but introduced more healthy fats like nuts, avocado, and nut butters. Overall, my eating habits were still good, but I allowed for some cheat meals here and there. I also added things like lean ground beef, steaks, and more fruit, eating at a deficit or about 500 calories and working out five or six times a week. At that point, I was down to about 152 pounds and had reached my goal weight. I spent about two months maintaining, educating myself on how to maintain my physique. I ate more, learned about my TDEE (total daily energy expenditure), and tried to match my calorie intake to my burn rate.
Once you committed to working out regularly and eating healthier, how fast did the weight come off?
I think of it in two sections: The first three months I lost about 45 pounds. Then I lost an additional 33 pounds in about 5 months. I lost a total of about 78 pounds in 8 months. I’m in the best shape of my life and I feel great. I feel like a different person when it comes to my health, physique, appearance, and lifestyle.
It was a pretty rapid ride, so it was definitely shocking to a lot of people, but I also posted a lot about it on social media as a part of the “challenge” in the first few months. I had to get used to the reactions from people I hadn’t seen in person in a while. I feel more confident and comfortable in my skin. I’ve been told that I smile more and seem happier. I’ve been happily married this whole time and my wife has been an awesome supporter.
Now that you’ve reached the goal you set out for yourself, do you have a new goal in mind? Or are you just trying to maintain?
My ultimate goal is to continue to live a healthy and active lifestyle, but it’s something that I have to actively think about. I am not “finished.” Maintaining long-term and staying motivated is the hardest part. Short term, I would like to see how “fit” I can be: to reach my aesthetic goal of being lean and toned for as long as I can.
Having seen your transformation, you said people now come to you for advice. What do you tell them?
Something that I thought about a lot when I first started was: Think about your why. There must be a reason why everyone starts this. And again, for me, meal prep is key—you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. The real success, however, arrived when I changed my mindset of being on a “diet.” It’s no longer a diet—it’s just the way I eat now. You have to enjoy the food you eat, but it can be healthy at the same time. Thats the key to longevity. As far as training, you have to enjoy what you’re doing. I don’t think of working out as a punishment for what I ate, but as a celebration of what I can do. Corny, I know, but true.
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