International Transformation Of The Month: Assem Arafa

Assem lost 100 pounds in less than two years. He did it by dedicating himself to a healthy diet and breaking records every day. Now, he’s using his love of fitness to drive others toward better health.

Name: Assem Mohamed Arafa
Email:, BodySpace: AssemArafa
Country: Cairo, Egypt

Assem Mohamed Arafa Assem Mohamed Arafa
AGE 18
282 lbs
AGE 20
175 lbs

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Why I Got Started

I decided to change my body shape because I felt I would be in real danger as an adult. I weighed 128 kg (282 pounds) when I was 18 years old. I knew that was too much.

I tried to lose weight many times when I was younger, but couldn't handle the diet. I loved food so much, junk food especially. I couldn't sleep unless my stomach was full. My doctor said that if I continued with my bad eating habits, I would definitely suffer from high blood pressure and maybe type 2 diabetes. These warnings were especially frightening because both hypertension and diabetes run in my family.

Two years ago, I joined my university's rugby team. I couldn't finish the whole practice. I couldn't run for 5 km and I couldn't do 20 push-ups. It was that moment when I decided to do something about my fitness. I knew I had to change my eating habits and train hard to lose weight. I loved my team members so much and loved the sport. I felt that the only way I could stay on the team was by losing weight and becoming more fit.

How I Did It

Running was my key to success. I bought good running shoes, headphones, and a whiteboard. I started setting weekly, short-term goals. My goals were divided into three categories: weight loss, following a diet, and breaking my running records. When I started, I knew I could only run 5 km (3.1 miles) without stopping. So, each time I went running, I added 200-300 meters. I kept doing this for five months while doing push-ups and sit-ups.

In that time, I lost 28 kgs (62 pounds) and increased my running distance and speed to 15 km (9.3 miles) in 90 minutes. My weight-loss goals helped, too. I was so happy when I hit 99 kgs (217 pounds). I made a promise to myself that I'd never see three digits on the scale again.

After I lost my initial weight, I felt I needed to hit the gym. I started my workout running 2-3 kilometers. Then, I would do full-body workouts using moderate weights for many reps. I kept doing this for another six months, but made sure to break my records every time I lifted or went running. After almost a year, I lost another 38 kgs (40 pounds) and could run 20 kms (12.5 miles) in two and a half hours.

After my final exams, I went home for vacation and took a two-month break from the gym. I kept my healthy eating habits and still ran 2-3 times per week. I returned to school the following semester and began a whole new level of training with the rugby team. My body was finally ready for the big challenge.

With the rugby team, I started doing sprints instead of long-distances runs. I also began lifting heavy weights and focusing on one or two muscle groups each day instead of full-body workouts. This change came at the perfect time. I kept training like this for another five months. My weight dropped even more, to 85 kgs (187 pounds) and my body fat fell to 13 percent.

After all my hard work, I feel healthy and ready for any challenge. It's the best feeling ever. I am eager to keep going with the same intensity I started with. Who knows who I might be or how I will look next year?

Suggestions for Others

I lost almost 50 kilograms (110 pounds) in a year and half. I couldn't have done it without staying positive and being disciplined. Discipline is the real key for success. With it, you can start from point zero and achieve some great goals. Always look for motivational quotes, stories, and great body transformations for motivation.

Never compare yourself to what you were last year. Train as hard as you can every day. Break records to become stronger and stronger. And last, never think you are done. It's a long journey—enjoy it and be eager for more. I may have lost 50 kilos, but it's not the end. I still have many physical goals to reach Insha' Allah (by God's will) and to accomplish.

This is my favorite motivational quotation: "Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever."

Country-specific Details

Egyptian youth are full of enthusiasm to change. They are looking to better themselves through exchanging culture and education, and involving themselves in decision making for social development.

We, the young people in Egypt, are active, intelligent and we love our country very much. We are waiting for any chance to serve our beloved country Egypt. Of course, we face a lot of problems, but these will not affect us.

There is a great trend in Egypt toward public sports like marathons, cycling events, and boot camps. The youth become more athletic each year and are more cautious about what they eat. I dream of owning my own gym so I can help people get fit and feel healthy.