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Name: Michael "The Artwork" Arkous
Before Weight: 330 pounds
How I Gained It: I was picked on in school and had no real friends there. I was hurt and angry all the time. My grades suffered and that made me the big, fat, stupid kid. I comforted myself with pizza, fast foods, sweets and soda. There were times that I would eat an entire pizza in one sitting. I scraped through elementary and high school, living a pretty solitary life, my only trusted company being my family and a few kids who lived on my block. When teenage years came, girls were out of the question. Who would like me? My weight had affected every aspect of my life.
Breaking Point: I woke one morning in total despair. I was an adult and I had nothing. I knew that my weight was a big part of the problem, so I decided to do something about it.
How I Lost It: I started off by playing at the basketball court with my good friend. We went every day, no matter what the weather was. I had no stamina at first, but slowly it started to get better. I also started walking around the track, and eventually started to run the track. My ability to exercise was getting better each day. I counted calories and added fresh vegetables and fruits to my diet. And I kept exercising.
When I reached a plateau in my weight loss, I changed things up with my exercise regimen. I knew cardio was a key factor, so I did jumping jacks and cycled on the exercise bike in my basement when I couldn't go to the park. In one year, I lost 100 pounds, with no professional help and without any commercial diet plans or pills.
It inspired me to make a career out of my success. I was able to work independently and become a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) certified personal trainer. I learned a lot about the biology and chemistry of how to get and maintain a healthy, fit body. Before my life change, I felt I had nothing to bring to the job market. And now, everything I learn I put into practice with myself, my clients. We are all works in progress, and I choose to progress in a positive way.
At age 25, I am fit and healthy. I have committed myself to helping others achieve their fitness goals. I know from personal experience that physical fitness influences every aspect of life. I feel more knowledgeable and confident. I can fit into "normal" sized clothes. Most importantly, I can help others who feel hopeless about their body issues.
After Weight: 230 pounds The Huffington Post publishes photographs as they are submitted to us by our readers.
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