Fitness in OKC: A on note from the author on the dangers of eating too many cheeseburgers

Fitness in the 405

This month, I’ve written an extensive feature about fitness opportunities in Oklahoma City. Buried in the end of the article, is a “note from the author” that I am particularly pleased with, as it is a true telling of what happens when you eat like an utter slob for a year and then see a picture of yourself on Christmas morning and have a mini breakdown because you are shaped like an egg, you’re buying new pants at Target because your good pants don’t fit and get exhausted tying your shoes… Thought I would share the sentiment here on my blog as well. Please check out the whole, in addition to the note from the author here.

Here’s how it happened.

Last year, I did a story on destination dining in the towns surrounding Oklahoma City. The research involved eating some of the finest and fattiest cheeseburgers, French fries, fried chicken, fried okra, chicken fried steaks, pasta, tacos, brisket, ribs, pie, fried pie and every other delicious artery-clogging, night-sweat-inducing delectable that the Sooner State had to offer. So enjoyable was the gluttonous, sodium- and sugar-packed expedition that even after the story’s publication, what I now ruefully refer to as “The Year of the Cheeseburger” continued. “I’m just enjoying myself,” I’d think in some far-flung, neon-lit burger shack, before popping another onion ring or 12 into my mouth. “The food in Oklahoma is really good … [slurp of soda] What’s this place got for dessert?”

Six months later, I found myself in the lobby of Edmond’s popular fitness class Orange Theory, talking with one of their cheerful instructors. “How can we help you?” he asked enthusiastically. My sweatpants cinched at my waistline like a noose. I was out of breath for no reason and where once there was hair, I feared that I’d soon be growing French fries.

“I’ve been eating …” I said. He simply nodded, giving me space to continue. “… A lot.”

The trainer put a sympathetic hand on my shoulder and assured me that they’d get me back in shape. If I could savagely chomp my way across the state, then so, too, could I hike, bike, run, row, spin and stretch my way back into my old sweatpants – and more importantly, to a state of health suitable for a man a year shy of 40.  I don’t recall much about my first Orange Theory class; only that at some point, I’m fairly sure I “saw the light.” After the class was out, it took quite a while to formulate words. I was on my way. “The Year of the Cheeseburger” had come to an end.

For two months, I took on fitness classes and outdoor activities across the metro. And like our dive-iest restaurants, each has something that makes it special. The Pilates chairs at Beyond Fitness worked my core so intensely that for two days, my lower torso ceased to function. At Western Boxing Gym, I learned that there is great catharsis in punching a heavy bag, but punching a heavy bag for an hour makes you feel like you’ve been punched. At Cycle Bar, I learned that if you push yourself hard enough, you won’t even notice Justin Bieber playing through the sound system, and at Orange Theory, if you make yourself uncomfortable as they encourage you to do, eventually you will be able to fit into your old sweatpants. I learned that outdoor activities in Oklahoma, such as kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and hiking, are a lot more fun if you can do them without wheezing. And most importantly, I learned that nothing tastes better after a Saturday morning workout than a cheeseburger and a beer. Especially since you’ve earned it.

An Adventure to The Galapagos with International Expeditions

I got to spend two weeks in March as well as my 39th birthday in the Galapagos Islands with International Expeditions. Experiencing the wildlife and sparse volcanic terrain of the Galapagos offers a glimpse as to what the world might be like if humans had never set foot on it. Birds, equal parts enormous and awkward waddling about, tortoise the size of (small) cars and unimaginable marine life make for tremendous wildlife encounters and crossing the earth’s midpoint at the equator was certainly a celebratory experience. Read more about my experiences in the Galapagos at and about the extra-ordinary International Expeditions here at 


Enjoy the photos below. More articles are to come.

Frigatebirds in the Galapagos

sea lions at sunset

Blue Footed Boobie

Giant Tortoise

playful sea lion

Sombrero Chino

Golden Rays

sunset in the Galapagos



Matt Payne Photography — Digital Wallpaper — Turner Falls Waterfall

Turner Falls is one of the most beautiful spots in all of Oklahoma. With its blue/green water and dramatic falls, it is also one of the most visited, which can make it more amusement park and less natural respite. Fortunately, on this fall day, I had a pretty uninterrupted view of the fall and this stranger wasn’t too bothered by the creepy dude snapping shots behind her and I was grateful that she was able to sit still long enough to slow the shutter speed in order to blur the water. If you get a chance to head to Turner Falls this winter, do it. Less folks and when you have the place all to yourself, it is truly magical. Until then, enjoy this image and check out the rest of my webpage including upcoming travel writing workshops!




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The Mountain Gorillas of Rwanda: A hike to visit one of the world’s greatest creatures

While this is a new article, it has been several years since I actually had the privilege to hike into the ran forest of Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda to visit these gorillas. I still remember the experience with such remarkable clarity. The musty smell, the way the rain seemed to stop as you came into their presence. The odd way that fear melts away to closer you get to a beast that could kill you in seconds. I remember asking a fellow traveler if there was a chance in the world we would see something in nature so profound. The answer thus far, despite many thousands of miles and adventures, is a resounding no. I hope in my lifetime I can make it back. Read more about the experience here.

Mountain Gorilla, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda

Mountain Gorilla, Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda


Matt Payne Photography — Free Digital Wallpaper — Grand Teton Horses – Link below the blog post

For my first three days in Jackson Hole, at least as far as I was concerned, The Tetons existed only in theory. It was fall and the famed range had been shrowded in moody, low clouds. While it was a thrill to enjoy the park’s resident moose and thunderous herds of bison and elk in relative solitude given the off season, the idea of leaving without at least a glimpse of the peaks felt akin to going to a movie theater only to experience the popcorn. Thankfully, the morning of my departure, the clouds finally rose and as they departed so too did the Snake River’s role as the area’s primary attraction.

As a photographer, the Tetons are empowering to photograph but also wildly humbling. The range’s scope is such that one struggles to find a shot that a better version hasn’t already appeared on countless postcards and posters for a century. Fortunately, on this day, when the clouds broke, I stumbled upon this group of horses grazing in front of some low fog, revealing only the mountain’s peaks. I’d found the shot that I was looking for. The Tetons did exist and did so in a grand fashion. It was time to enjoy the movie.

I hope you enjoy the image as much as I enjoyed taking it!






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