|Personal trainer Drew Manning participated in a Fit to Fat to Fit experiment. On the left, you can see him on day one of the challenge. On the right, you can see him at the six-month mark where he weighed 265 pounds. (Supplied) |
Drew Manning almost bit off more than he could chew.
The buff personal trainer deliberately stopped exercising and adopted a typical "American diet" for six months last year to gain weight and a greater insight into the plight of his obese clients.
Manning originally figured his admittedly zany idea would become little more than a physical transformation.
The lifelong fitness junkie never imagined that purposely packing on more than 70 pounds -- and then losing it -- would exact such a heavy emotional toll.
"It was a huge eye-opener and a very humbling experience to go through, honestly," Manning, 31, tells Sun Media in a phone interview from his home near Salt Lake City, Utah.
The 6-foot-2 trainer weighed 193 pounds on May 7, 2011, when he embarked on his now-famous fit-to-fat-to-fit experiment.
For six months, the married father of two young children avoided the gym and ate nothing but fast food and processed fare. It wasn't long before Manning's Adonis-like physique was nothing more than a memory -- his washboard abs washed out under a layer of flab.
"It was fun in the beginning eating those foods," he admits. "And then slowly over the months I just felt so lethargic and gross all the time. I did not feel good at all."
His self-confidence plummeted along with his energy levels, putting a strain on his family life.
At the six-month mark, on Nov. 5, 2011, Manning weighed 265 pounds.
He then went to work losing the excess poundage in the same amount of time it took to put it on.
That included reversing two "powerful addictions" he had developed -- Mountain Dew and Cinnamon Toast Crunch -- which was easier said than done.
"It was hell for the first two weeks," he recalls. "I had the headaches, the withdrawal symptoms that people go through when they first start a diet. But then your body does adjust."
Manning admits there were times he had doubts about whether he'd even be able to get back into stellar shape again.
"The weight doesn't drop instantly," he adds. "It takes a long time."
But he persevered -- with support from his wife, friends and an online community of people following him through his website at fit2fat2fit.com.
Manning's 52-week journey ended this past May 5, when he weighed in at 190 pounds.
"My body is back to where it was," he notes. "The only difference is I did get some stretch marks on my love handles, which I can live with."
But Manning, who was monitored by a doctor during the whole ordeal, isn't quite the same person underneath his buff exterior.
"My wife says I'm a better version of the old me. I'm more humanized now," adds the former medical technician, who has done the U.S. talk show circuit and just released his book titled Fit2Fat2Fit: The Unexpected Lessons from Gaining and Losing 75 lbs on Purpose. "I'm definitely more empathetic. It (obesity) is not just physical, a lack of willpower, and laziness. That's not exactly the case. There's a lot more to it. I understand that now."
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