As he grew up, overeating had consequences. I couldn’t walk a single block without losing my breath,” he says. I had difficulty sleeping at night due to developing sleep apnea. I would stop breathing almost once a minute every hour I would sleep.” He felt helpless. At 18 years old, he weighed 231kg—his waist was 66 inches, and he wore a 6XL. His mother had undergone bariatric surgery; seeing her results, he decided to have gastric bypass surgery. “I consider my mother to be the strongest person I know,” he says, “and if she could do this, so could I.”
The surgery limited how much food or liquid he could consume before he felt full; it’s a weight-loss technique in and of itself. But Archipolo wanted to go farther. Healing from the surgery took months, during which he relied on protein shakes and fresh fruit. He aimed for a high-protein diet with lots of chicken. After he recovered, he joined Retro Fitness and found a personal trainer, who guided him through lots of full-body, high-intensity cardio work.
“Each day was difficult, as I was attempting to do something that I’ve never done before,” he says. He wasn’t motivated every day; sometimes he woke up exhausted from the day before. But he visualised reaching his goals. “I was determined to not be beaten mentally,” he says. “I never gave up when it would have been understandable if I did.”
In four years, he dropped 127Kg. “I feel amazing and grateful that health is no longer an issue for me,” he says. He’s able to wear standard clothing now, and has had relationships since he started losing weight. With new confidence, he’s started working at a gym, selling memberships and personal training, and says he’s taken his auto sales to the next level.
“I discovered who I am as a person throughout this entire process,” he says. “I learned how to work hard—I wasn’t going to out-lift or out-run anyone, but I made it my mission not to be outworked.” He’s working toward cutting weight and increasing his endurance so he can run in the 2020 New York City Marathon this November.
Over the last few years, Archipolo has learned a lot about perseverance. He quotes Napoleon Hill: “Keep digging. You may be only 3 feet from gold.” When he started, he was forced to imagine a different future for himself; now, visualising what he wants is second nature. Seeing what you want and disregarding everything else as just roadblocks, he says, worked for him. “You will want to quit,” he says. “Maybe even scream and cry. But I promise if you hold on, it will all be worth it.”
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health