IFBB Professional Matthew Schmidt was very gracious to share his incredible story with us where detailed the obstacles which he overcame leading up to his well-deserved 2019 NPC Nationals Overall victory recently. Schmidt is also a Police Officer from Texas, and he ran into several health problems on his way to becoming a champion. But it was clear that nothing was going to get in the way of his determination to defy the odds and come out on top at one of the biggest bodybuilding contests in the world.
So, without further ado, here’s the very inspirational story from the man himself…
My name is Matthew Schmidt, I’m 35 years old and a Police Officer in a nice suburb outside of Houston, TX. I was born and raised in Michigan. I went to 12 years of Catholic school and double majored in Criminal Justice and Sociology. During college, I played Rugby and Club Baseball. I was the MVP every single game on my college Rugby team for two seasons and was the leading point scorer both seasons. I also held the 2nd best batting average on the baseball team as well, which was unexpected by my teammates before they saw me play as they thought I was too big and muscle-bound.
After both baseball and rugby season’s I decided to compete in my first bodybuilding show (The Kalamazoo Show) my junior year of college in 2006. Weighing in at 188lbs, I placed 1st in the light heavyweight division out of 10 guys. Shortly after that show, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. UC can affect various portions of the colon. In more severe cases the entire colon and be affected, which happened to be the case for me.
The following two years I battled with UC and tried every medication in the book. The last one requiring me to sit in a hospital chair 3 times a week for 3 hours at a time with IV’s pumping a medication inside me. Nothing worked. I was already graduated in 2008 when it got to the point where my “urgencies” were so bad that it was hard to leave the house.
My chance of getting colon cancer was practically inevitable. I decided to consult with the top surgeon in the country for colorectal surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. The surgeon explained the procedure and advised that the plan would be to have my entire colon removed, and a temporary ileostomy bag would be in place for several months until the area was healed and he could reattach my small intestine to my rectum and remove the ileostomy bag. The surgeon also advised of the potential for complications and the possibility of having a permanent ileostomy bag.
My condition was so bad that I decided the take the risk and have the surgery. The surgery was supposed to consist of 2 operations.
One to remove the colon and put the bag on, and the second one to remove the bag and reattach my small intestine to my rectum.
Days after the first surgery I developed a terrible infection as well as Sepsis.
I ended up having 7 surgeries in 12 weeks, but I lived. Life went on with 8 feet less of intestines.
In 2011 I was hired by the Department of Homeland Security and have been working in law enforcement in Texas since then. During the last 8 years I’ve competed very successfully in several powerlifting and bodybuilding competitions. In 2014 I was ranked 5th in the country in the classic raw 220lb weight class with a 1906 total. I won the overall in every bodybuilding competition I did except 3 National level shows where I was consistently top 5.
In 2018 I was preparing for my 4th national level show in Miami at NPC Nationals. I was less than 2 weeks out when I had a bowel obstruction after eating too much broccoli; yes, broccoli. I was hospitalized for almost a week and was discharged after they sucked everything out of my stomach via an NG tube… (or so they thought they did). The stomach pain continued and increased for 2 more days. I then had an ambulance pick me up at my house and rush me to the emergency room. Scans revealed a perforated bowel. I was then rushed to the ICU for an emergency surgery. Unable to perform this surgery laparoscopically, the surgeon had to cut a 12-inch vertical incision down my stomach and remove a small portion of my small intestine.
Remarkably, the surgeon was able to reattach the small intestine without me requiring a temporary bag again. I lost almost 60lbs in approximately 2 weeks. My surgeon said I would never be able to compete again. Little did he know I planned on stepping back on stage at NPC Nationals in 2019 for some unfinished business. Driven beyond belief, my recovery began.
I put most of my weight back on within about 3-4 months.
From there I had 4 months to make as many improvements as I could while staying healthy and not rupturing my incision. I then decided to use the last 4 months (20 weeks) to start chiseling away at as soon to be my best condition to date.
NPC Nationals arrived and I was right where I wanted to be. The anticipation for prejudging was almost unbearable. I had dreamt of this day since I was lying in my hospital bed one year prior. After comparisons were made and my 30-second solo routine was performed, I was positioned in the center of first callouts and did not move from there. When I got off stage, I had people already congratulating me already. Hunter Labrada had a friend he helped prep in my weight class. I saw Hunter come backstage, vigorously looking around. I assumed he was looking for his friend. He made eye contact with me and eagerly waved me over.
When I approached Hunter he said, “You’re going to win the overall.”
I was just trying to process being the center of my weight class in the Heavyweights, and then Hunter throws this at me. He then gave me a couple of suggestions on some poses I hit and wanted me to make sure I incorporated those tweaks for the night show during the overall comparisons which he was assuming I would be performing in. I walked back to the condo with my sister and girlfriend to relax and process prejudging. I was lying in my girlfriend’s arms while she scratched my back. I began reflecting on the past year and everything I had gone through. At that time we both realized what was likely about to happen. My girlfriend then whispered, “I’m so proud of you.” Then I broke down. I didn’t even feel it coming, it was the weirdest thing…it just happened. I became emotional out of nowhere. I’ll never forget that moment.
During that moment my entire life replayed itself a hundred times. I thought of all the obstacles I had to overcome throughout my life, especially this past year. I thought of the 80 hour work weeks I did every single week of prep up until 1 week out from the show. I thought the grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and laundry I had to do during my 30-minute lunch breaks.
The interval sprints I had to get in as a second cardio session during my lunch breaks. I was an absolute machine for the last 11 months. Anyway, from there we just bought time until the finals which was in about 30 hours. At about 10 pm I earned my IFBB Pro card placing first in the Heavyweight division. Less than an hour later, Bob Cicherillo announced me as the Overall National Champion, unanimously decided by the judges.
I should also note that I always train alone and do my diet by myself”.
And there you have it… Matthew Schmidt’s story is truly inspiring seeing as he went through many struggles to get where he is today. We were fortunate enough for Schmidt to share with us his journey. So with that being said, we wish him all the best for good health and continued success in the sport of bodybuilding.