Name: Michael Bailey
Hometown: Chandler, Ariz.
Weight Before: 270 lbs
Weight After: 170 lbs
Growing up in El Paso, Texas, Michael Bailey was always big; as a boy he wore "husky" size clothes. A move to Arizona with his family offered a new start, but the weight stuck through his teens. It wasn't until fi ve years ago, though, that Bailey, now 23, became truly obese.
With a pregnant girlfriend to care for, he packed on serious sympathy pounds. "My girl was pretty sedentary during her pregnancy, and I put on weight with her," he says. After the baby was born, Bailey found it hard to abandon his less-than-fi t lifestyle. When the couple separated a few months later, his diet and exercise habits only got worse, and Bailey hit 270 pounds, his heaviest weight ever. "I was at rock bottom," he says.
That's when Bailey's father, Les, convinced him it was time to make a change. Bailey agreed. But he had no idea how to transform the painful emotions that fueled his downward spiral into something positive. At his father's urging, he went out for a few runs. And although he could barely do a half mile at first, a funny thing happened. He started feeling better about himself. As he grew stronger and lost a few pounds, he ventured into the gym, using light weights and machines as best he could . At home, he started cooking for himself rather than ordering less-healthy delivery fare. He also cut out all alcohol, fatty foods, and high-calorie drinks.
Twelve months later, Bailey's emotion-fueled dedication had paid off. He'd slimmed down to 190 pounds. "Suddenly, I was healthier and thinner than my skinniest and lightest buddies," he says.
Not content with just being leaner, Bailey decided it was time to put on some muscle. A growing affi nity for the UFC drove him to mixed martial arts. In 2007, he started jiu-jitsu lessons, and easily shed another 20 pounds. "I'd watched UFC fi ghts before, and that's what I was most interested in trying," he says. "So that's where I directed my training."
Last November, Bailey made his amateur Muay Thai debut, winning by unanimous decision in a onematch fi ght. His fi rst MMA match, in January, didn't go so well; Bailey lost by decision. But that didn't dampen his spirit, or his passion for working out. Bailey even quit his customer service gig and got a job at his local gym. Now, he's pursuing a degree in exercise and wellness at Arizona State University, and he plans to become a personal trainer.
Looking back, Bailey credits his family, trainers, and coaches for being the driving forces that helped him fi nally get fi t. Now he's hoping he can inspire others to make the same kind of change. "In order to meet your goals, you have to stay motivated," he says. "If I could do it, I know anybody can."
Michael's Tips for Success:
"Believe in yourself. It may be easier to say no and take the easy way out, but nobody's ever going to hand you what you need. Think of the future and make the most of every day."