Jan. 20th. Inauguration Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. day, George Burns’ birthday — and my birthday.

 It also happens to be the first day on my journey to better my body through pizza. I traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida to meet with Matt McClellan, owner of Tour De Pizza and inventor of the Pizza Diet. In 2009, Matt developed and demonstrated a 30-day pizza diet by losing 25 pounds in 30 days through portion control and exercise. That’s right! Matt ate only pizza, and not only lost the weight, but bettered his health overall by lowering his cholesterol 86 points and his body fat by 10 percent.

If Matt’s name sounds familiar to PMQ Pizza Magazine readers, that’s because he was the subject for our cover story in May 2010. Matt now owns two Tour De Pizza stores in St. Petersburg and his restaurant motto is a pizza for every BODY.

Like Matt, I have experienced great success in the past with other workout and diet routines. But for me, the hardest part, as most of us know, is maintaining the new look and lifestyle. Tired of yo-yo dieting, I looked into other options. That's when I found Matt’s diet from an old issue of PMQ Pizza Magazine. I was intrigued, but needed to know more. So I decided to take a trip down to Florida to get the skinny (pun intended). Matt went into detail about his motives to prove pizza is not the terrible food some in the media are claiming it to be.. It just so happens, the day before my trip, a new study came out claiming our children are eating too much pizza. With this new fuel to light his fire, Matt took me on a whirlwind tour of the ins and outs of his first, 2009 diet, which he has now modified to help him become a professional body builder.

 Matt then invited me to his pizzeria, where he showed me the staples of the diet he began on a challenge from a newspaper reporter in 2009. With so many different recipes and pizza options, I didn’t tire of my favorite food over my four-day stay in the Tampa Bay area. Matt introduced me to a few new pizza recipes specialized to offer greater options, variety and nutritional coverage for meals. My favorite, and one that covers my craving for a hearty breakfast, was his delicious breakfast pizza with eggbeaters, ham, bacon, sausage and a cheddar/Colby cheese mix. I love pizza, but wasn't keen on having a slice of pepperoni first thing in the morning.

Matt then took me across the street to meet his trainer for the past year, Jay Sherinsky of Fitness RX Studios, LLC. Jay proceeded to poke, pull and prod me on every end of my stocky physique. This fitness guru gave me a thorough physical assessment, body- fat test and determined the “macros” (macronutrients) that I need to achieve my goal. Basically, you have to track your carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber. You are allotted a certain amount of these nutrients per day — more on workout days. Just stay within the numbers, Jay assured me, and you will succeed.

With my new game plan in mind and a renewed enthusiasm for reshaping my body and life, I boarded the plane home to Oxford, Mississippi and PMQ Headquarters. I wasn’t returning to my old life. Instead, I’ve taken on a new mind set and motivation. I am doing this for myself, first and foremost. But if I can help Matt prove that pizza is not the enemy and help the industry I love so much, then I say let's do it!

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