By Rebecca Drew
THIS INSPIRATIONAL man tipped the scales at more than THIRTY-FIVE-AND-A-HALF-STONE and gave up on his education because he couldn’t walk around campus or fit behind a desk but was spurred onto shed the pounds after a horrifying ASTHMA ATTACK left him needing to be RESUSCITATED.
John Arpino (25) from Queens, New York, USA, was diagnosed with severe asthma and allergies soon after he was born after he suffered meconium aspiration during labour. John’s list of foods that he couldn’t eat was endless and included; nuts, fish, shellfish, chicken and turkey and he also suffered with environmental allergies, and still does today.
Due to this, John missed out on being able to play with friends and couldn’t take part in sports without having an asthma attack and spent a lot of time in hospital. At two-years-old he was put on the steroid prednisone to treat his asthma which he took until he was 18 and caused him to gain weight.
At 35st 10lb and with a 70in waist, John was bullied at high school for his size because he struggled to walk and was given a key to the lift as he was unable to take the stairs and wasn’t able to take part in PE. When school finished, John let his weight hold him back and didn’t go to university because he feared he wouldn’t be able to walk around campus or fit behind the desks.
John had no confidence and couldn’t wear the same clothes that others did and ended up despising himself for who he was and what he looked like but in 2015 he had the wakeup call of his life.
His asthma reacted to a vapour rub and his airways restricted, causing him to have a major asthma attack where he was unable to breathe or speak and John’s parents had to call an ambulance. Scared for his life, John ‘code blued’ meaning he needed resuscitating but none of the paramedics who attended were ALS certified so they couldn’t administer adrenaline, epinephrine.
As he was put on a stretcher the paramedics apologised to him as he slipped out of consciousness. Waking up in hospital later, John vowed to turn his life around and to lose the weight so he started going to the gym six days a week and managed to lose 5st 10lb on his own but his asthma kept holding him back and he was put on steroids again whenever he had an attack.
Not wanting to fall back into his old habits and after much deliberation, John made the brave decision to have gastric sleeve surgery in November 2016 as a tool to further his weight loss.
Now at 18st 13lb and with a 38in waist, John goes to the gym five to six days a week and feels like a new person. He looks forward to getting out of bed in the morning, he no longer worries about being able to fit in chairs and can visit theme parks without worry.
He’s even started to work towards his childhood dream of becoming a professional wrestler, and it’s all thanks to his incredible transformation.
“After birth I was quickly diagnosed with severe asthma and allergies which kept me from doing a lot of activities a normal child would be doing. I couldn’t go out and play with friends, if I tried to participate in sports I would end up with an attack, I was allergic to a long list of foods, which kept my diet very limited,” said John.
“Due to my severe asthma a huge portion of my life was spent in paediatric ICU, I had to miss a lot of school, and missed many holidays and family events from my long hospital stays. I was put on prednisone at a young age for my asthma that ballooned me to over 35-stone.
“I was constantly bullied from a young age until I graduated high school, I couldn’t walk around school because of my weight, I had to be given a key to the elevator in school because I couldn’t walk up and down the stairs, and I had to write book reports instead of participating in gym class.
“I hated life, I hated who I was, how I looked in the mirror, how I couldn’t fit into the clothes other kids were wearing, I had zero confidence or self-esteem.
“I was sitting in my house, I had what seemed like a normal cold. I put some vapour rub on my chest, I was getting ready to sit down and watch the Mets take on the Dodgers in the 2015 ALDS. My asthma reacted to the Vick’s and my airways constricted, I had a massive asthma attack.
“I couldn’t take a breath, it was like every bit of air was trapped inside my lungs while the weight of the whole world rested upon my chest. I couldn’t speak, sweat started to pour from every part of my body. Somehow I was able to scream for my parents to call an ambulance.
“I remember being petrified. It seemed like an eternity before paramedics arrived. When they did, there wasn’t much they could do, no one on the scene was ALS certified, meaning they couldn’t give me epinephrine. As they got me on a stretcher and began to wheel me out, a paramedic looked at me and said: ‘I’m so sorry’, I was going to die in my house at 22 years old.
“I remember being put in the back of the ambulance, I began going in and out of consciousness, I remember looking at the clock above the door of the ambulance and praying to God and to my grandmother who had recently passed that February for another chance, I knew I had messed up.
“My life was spared so it was time to make those changes I promised. I joined a pulmonary rehab in October of that year because I was so out of shape and my asthma was so bad I couldn’t go to a regular gym.
“I had lost more than five-and-a-half-stone on my own, but my asthma kept from losing anymore as every time I’d have an attack I’d be put back on steroids which would result in a weight gain.
“That’s when I made the choice to have to have gastric sleeve. At first my family and I were very much against the procedure because I thought it was the ‘easy way out’ and I thought people would judge me for it, but after a lot of research and doctor’s visits I decided it was the only thing that could help me, so I had the procedure done, and I promised myself I would use it as the tool it was made to be, and not as the short cut so many people think it is.
“Yes I am a totally different person now, I love life, I love challenges and I love proving myself and other people wrong and rewriting my life story.
“My heath has improved dramatically, I no longer have high blood pressure or sleep apnoea, and my asthma is pretty much non-existent.”
For John, the hardest thing about his weight loss journey was believing that he could actually lose weight after thinking for so many years that he wouldn’t be able to.
Despite his initial concerns, John shares his incredible transformation on Instagram under the handle, @jarps_journey and loves inspiring his 17K followers every day.
“I wasn’t a fan of the Instagram weight loss community before this, I just thought it was a bunch of people showing off accomplishments I’d never get to. I didn’t create my page, my friend made the Instagram password and told me to use it as a tool to keep myself accountable and keep a journal for myself,” said John.
“Honestly it’s the greatest feeling in the world being able to inspire others because I know when I was at my lowest, I needed someone like my current self to guide me, to show me things were possible when I didn’t think they were.
“My major goal in life is to help show everyone that the ‘impossible’ doesn’t exist, and you can truly have anything you want in life and pursue every single dream and break every goal, that’s the only thing that matters to me.”
Since losing weight, John is now training to be a professional wrestler and he shared his words of advice to others.
“I joined a very reputable local school called the New York Wrestling Connection Training Academy where I am trained by former WWE NXT superstar, Bull James and many graduates have gone on to work for companies like WWE, Impact Wrestling, New Japan, Ring of Honor, and AEW,” said John.
“I train three times a week, I’ve wrestled five matches on local shows and it’s the greatest thrill of my life. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m so blessed to say I am doing it now.
“It’s going to get really hard before it gets easier, but if you stay accountable to your actions and you put in the hard work, and if you trust the process and stay true to yourself you can do anything.
“Your current situation is not your final destination.”
For more information see www.instagram.com/jarps_journey