Name: Michael Arkous
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York
Occupation: Certified Personal Trainer
Weight Before: 335 pounds
Weight After: 220 pounds
Duration: 1 year
Michael Arkous, a 25-year-old personal trainer from Brooklyn, New York, isn't much different than many Americans. Entering his early twenties, Arkous tipped the scales at over 300 pounds. "I wasn't happy with myself," explains Arkous who suffered from low self esteem and high blood pressure. This led him to one day say to himself, "I've got to change my life." With that decision, the journey began, but staying on track wouldn't be easy.
Arkous would first have to reverse childhood habits. Prior to this decision, he says, he "was not active at all." Even in the summer when other kids would play sports, Arkous says he would "just stay in [his] air-conditioned room with [his] food and watching TV." To break these habits, he asked a longtime friend for help. The friend suggested he start playing basketball and running around a nearby track. Unfortunately, Arkous says his conditioning levels were so poor that he "couldn't run around the track." Undeterred, he walked around the track until the day he was finally able to jog the distance. However, in spite of performing as much as "about three hours a day" of cardio work, the weight loss results weren't quite what he had hoped for.
He quickly realized he'd also have to change his diet and says he decided "to manually educate [himself] on proper nutrition." Arkous stopped eating fast food, pizza, and candy bars. The moment he began to notice a difference? "When I cut the soda out, things went pretty well from there," Arkous notes. He began exercising portion control and opted for foods lower in sodium and free of preservatives. His new diet consisted of lean meats, turkey burgers, whole wheat pasta, grilled chicken, fruits, and vegetables. The results came quick as Arkous dropped an amazing 60 pounds, which gave him the confidence he needed to join a gym and work with a personal trainer who introduced him to resistance training. "I saw a trainer for an hour twice a week and I actually upped my cardio" by running around the track and biking for as much as three hours daily, explains Arkous.
After a year of tireless effort, Arkous shed an incredible 115 pounds and ignited a passion for health and fitness. That passion has led Arkous to become a NASM Certified Personal Trainer with PES and CES credentials, among others. He also intends on pursuing a career in physical therapy. Standing taller and more self confident than ever before, old friends routinely tell him he looks completely different as he's transitioned from wearing 4XL to XL shirts, and dropped 10 inches around his waist. When reflecting on his transformation, he attributes "75% [to] diet [and] the rest exercise," cautioning that "you can't outdo a bad diet no matter how much training you do." His training consists of bodyweight exercises, multi-joint movements, balance-stabilizing exercises, and continuing to run around the track where the journey began. Sometimes people run away from their problems, but Arkous' transformation is proof that staying on track is often all that's necessary to succeed.