I have been a close friend of Ariel’s for many years. Ariel had an ongoing battle with his weight during most of his teenage years. It wasn’t until he hit 300 pounds that he realized it’s time for a change. Ariel worked hard every single day and lost a total of 140 pounds in 1 year! I had the honor to be a part of his transformation. This inspiring interview will show you that anything is possible and there are no secrets other than hard work. Not only has Ariel’s weight changed but his entire life has as well. He is way more positive, confident and happier than ever before.
Enjoy the interview!
1 – Tell us a little bit about yourself before your transformation.
All my life I had been very overweight. Through elementary and my early years of high school, I had been subject to ridicule because of my weight. That wasn’t the case so much as I got older and the people around me matured, but it was always in the back of my mind. I think being overweight led to my motivation levels being low. I didn’t feel great about myself mainly because of the way I looked and it led to me not caring enough about school or diet. That is one regret I have about myself pre-weight loss. I shouldn’t have let my physical appearance be a barometer for my motivation levels.
2 – What inspired you to decide to make the change?
Around the age of 19, I weighed about 300 lbs and never felt worse about myself physically and mentally. I was very unhappy with the way I looked and was concerned about my long-term health. I was constantly reminded of my weight too. Whether it be from small, backhanded jokes that people might think are harmless but really do stick with you, or just trying to walk for more than 5 minutes without feeling out of breath or starting to sweat, there were always reminders. You almost start placing restrictions on how you live your life. For example, you would never have caught me at a pool or beach back then because there was no way I was going to take off my shirt in front of people. You wouldn’t have caught me at a club because there was no way I could wear a nice shirt without feeling like I look awful wearing it. It gets to a point where you get sick and tired of it. People say that it’s what’s on the inside that truly counts, but I believe it depends on the person. I might not have shown it because I never wanted to seem weak or shy, but I was never the most self-confident guy and my weight was the main reason. Something needed to change.
I began exercising on my own at a gym regularly. I exercised 5 times a week and followed a strict diet plan. In 12 months, I went from 300 lbs to about 160 lbs.
3 – What stopped you from giving up, because it can get very tough both mentally and physically?
The main thing that helped keep me going and kept my motivation high was the consistent stream of results I saw. I was losing 15-20 lbs/month and I literally felt myself getting lighter and feeling more energetic. I noticed my appetite shrinking and my energy levels increasing. I was finding that every couple of weeks, I was able to train just a little bit harder and for longer than in weeks prior. I was sleeping better and apparently I stopped snoring too!
4 – Did you get encouragement from friends and family? Did that help during the process?
The encouragement and support I received from my friends and family was overwhelming and was a huge boost as well. Seeing the results for yourself is one thing, but when you have your family and friends who don’t see you on a daily basis telling you how much you’ve changed and how incredible you look, it is a huge boost. Every time I saw a friend or family member they would remind me of how awesome I look. That was one of the biggest things because when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror every day, it’s hard to see the changes but when you run into people who only see you here and there, you’re reminded of the progress you’re making. The best part is seeing the people who used to give you a hard time for being overweight and their reactions to your transformation.
5 – In terms of dieting, what exactly did you change-up to achieve such incredible results, did you seek for professional help or through your own work?
At first I kind of started dieting and exercising on my own. A couple of weeks in, I specifically remember talking to Nate about what kind of diet changes I can make to maximize my results. He recommended and gave me a book named “The 4 Hour Body” by Timothy Ferriss. I followed the “Slow Carb Diet” from one of the chapters in the book with some slight modifications as recommended by Nate and my own personal preferences.
Basically, every meal consisted of a lean source of protein (chicken, fish, eggs), highly nutritious vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, green beans) and high fiber legumes (lentils, assorted beans). Every morning I had a grapefruit (the only fruit I allowed myself to eat) and a cup of black coffee with cinnamon. Now, to this day, I would rather drink rocket fuel than ever consume that combination of citrus fruit and bitter coffee with cinnamon. It was awful, but Nate told me it would kick-start my metabolism in the morning, so I rolled with it. I drank nothing but water and snacked on vegetables such as celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots etc… I omitted fruits, soft drinks, juice, dairy, junk food and most starches from my diet completely. Although it seems like (and is) a very restrictive diet, I was allowed one cheat day per week. Every Saturday, I would literally eat myself into a food coma. I would concoct crazy combinations of foods that, if eaten daily, might lead to numerous heart and blood issues. The benefits of this are numerous: 1) You give yourself a release from the diet every week. You have a day to look forward to at the end of the week where you know you can eat absolutely anything and everything you desire. 2) It almost makes you not want to cheat for another week and 3) I always found it served as a reminder to myself of how eating those kinds of foods made me feel physically in contrast to how I feel when eating clean, healthy foods.
Another great thing about the cheat day is that I would gain anywhere from 3 to 7 lbs but I would burn it all off within about 2 days of exercise. Your metabolism speeds up to such an extreme and your body becomes so resistant to those foreign, unhealthy foods that it rejects them and there is no negative effect on your body… Except for some minor tummy troubles the next day, of course. Ha ha.
6 – What are some of the benefits you got from the whole experience?
More than anything, it gave my self-esteem and confidence levels a huge boost. Now more than ever, I am very confident and I feel very comfortable in my own skin. I can shop at any store. I don’t have to worry about if they carry an XXL size or whether an article of clothing will make me look slimmer/bigger. I’m not embarrassed about ordering 2 plates of food at a restaurant(yes, I eat a lot now. More so than before). Another benefit is that I developed a love for exercising. While the body definitely needs at least one rest day/week, I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even enjoy my rest days. I just want to get back in the gym! I know for sure that I’ll be exercising regularly for the rest of my life because I’ve developed a true love for it.
7 – Many people go to the gym routinely, but still don’t see results in their weight loss. What exactly did you do to stay active and also have a productive experience in the gym?
I train(ed) in Muay Thai/Kickboxing 5-6 times/week at H2O MMA. I’m one of those people who can’t just hit the treadmill for 30-60 minutes because I get bored. I need a fun, interactive workout and kickboxing offers precisely that for me.
8 – If you were able to go back in time before you made the change what advice would you give yourself?
I probably would have told myself to sign up at H2O earlier than I did. Ha ha.
9 – Do you have any advice for those who are stuck and don’t know where to start?
Believe you can do it. I struggled with weight issues my whole life and I know it may seem like it’s an insurmountable climb to the top but it isn’t. The payoff is unlike anything else. It’s an incredible feeling knowing you put your 100% into something and being rewarded with real results. What’s a few months of hard work if the end result is extending your time on earth? Seems like a worthwhile trade-off to me.
10 – I know you’ve been training in kickboxing religiously, do you plan on competing any time soon? If so, does it inspire you to work harder knowing that you have already achieved so much?
I am competing for the first time Saturday, November 23rd at the Kixx Montreal Open. I have bigger plans in mind in terms of my future in competitive Muay Thai/Kickboxing and that is what drives me to continually improve and get better. I want to be the best I can possibly be.
If you have an inspirational story and want it told please email me at [email protected]