Overheard on CNN.com: Fitness trainer's intentional weight rollercoaster
June 6th, 2012
10:58 AM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Fitness trainer's intentional weight rollercoaster

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Since he revealed his re-svelte body on “Good Morning America” this week, “Fit2Fat2Fit” fitness trainer Drew Manning has sparked both inspiration and controversy about the lessons to be learned from his experiment. Readers on CNN were quick to participate in the conversation.

Manning, who lost 70 pounds just 6 months after he purposely gained it, has drawn praise from some. They said the strategy shows his desire to grow in understanding his clients’ weight loss struggles:

My wife says that unless you've walked a mile in some[one] else's shoes, you truly have no idea what is inside someone's head. Undoing a lifetime of bad habits and bad self talk is a huge undertaking. The trick or the truth is that people have to feel they are worth the effort and get their head in the game. My wife went from 203 pounds at 5' 1" to 149 [pounds] in 2 years and still is working hard to get to her goal and stay there. I love her no matter what, but she is so happy to be free of her extra poundage, free of the size war in her closet and her self confidence has definitely gone up. That is what makes me happy. Kudos to Drew Manning... now you know part of the rest of the story.

The point is that most people make excuses... He is an amazing inspiration. I can't believe how angry people are getting at this guy – at the end of the day you know you're being unhealthy, so please quit the complaining and finger-pointing and excuse making.

Seriously, what he did was outstanding.You can talk all you want - for a stunt like that to [be] successfully carried out is amazing enough.

Shawn Adams
From someone who has gone through the ups and downs of weight loss I commend this approach. As his wife said, it humanized him some. And for a personal trainer that is very important. While I seriously doubt I will ever get to that level of fitness, one can strive. If he can lose 70 pounds than so can I, and so can you. Good luck this summer, everyone.

Others said Manning's experience is an unrealistic evaluation of what weight loss attempts are like for most of us:

Look, what he did was interesting. However, it in no way replicates what many overweight people face. Thinking he is just an average guy who proved that something could be done is delusional. He had many more resources at hand than most. Also, most people working out at the gym for 45 minutes a day won't look like him. Some people put on weight through legitimate means, i.e., meds and low thyroid. Pretending you "get it" through something so artificial as these is insulting.

While I applaud his decision to get to know his clients' mindsets better, this could be dangerously misleading for some who think they can get from fat to ripped that fast. He has the advantage while fat of already having bulky, calorie-feasting muscles, which would enable him to work out much harder and burn much more calories at rest than a fat, non-buff person would. I think this needs to be mentioned before people get unreasonable expectations.

His story is inspiring, but he was also only overweight for 6 months. There's millions of Americans who have been out of shape for so long that exercising becomes painful or medically dangerous, creating a catch-22. And for some of those people, their condition IS genetic - any first year med student can tell you that. However, he is correct: many people will use genetics as a crutch to not improve their lifestyle. Because even if you cannot exercise regularly, you can still eat healthy, nutritious food in proper portion sizes. Healthy food isn't more expensive, despite popular belief. It's just less convenient.

Some readers used the comment space to share their own experiences and opinions about weight loss struggles:

What is easy to forget is that looking like [he] does is as much a matter of time as it is a matter of will power. As a college athlete, I used to work out 3 hours a day. I had time to do so. I was extraordinarily strong and had and extraordinary body... Now, with a full time job and children, I simply don't have time to work out 1 hour [a] day, five days a week (travel to the fitness center + extra shower all cost time). I am still stronger than average, but I will never make it back to my former self, whereas some one that works in a fitness center has time during the day to retain their look.

Whatever the man has been trying to prove, the only thing that should be remembered from his experiment, is that weight loss and physical fitness starts in the head not in the gym.

A surprising amount of the commentary centered around what celebrity readers believe Manning looks the most like:

In his fit pictures he reminds me of Ben Stiller, in a mix between his "Zoolander" character and his "Dodgeball" character.

He looks kind of like Jerry Seinfeld, but a tick better looking, isn't he?

The jury’s out on that one.

What do you think about Manning’s rapid weight gain and drastic loss? Is it a fair assessment of what most people face in the weight loss trenches? Share your opinion in the comments area below, or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

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Filed under: Body Image • Diet and Fitness • Exercise • Fitness • Obesity • Weight loss

soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. CIHS

    I believe his weight loss is unrealistic to an averege person who has reached a certain amount of extra pounds and has little to no knowlege about working out, and eating heathier. I have gained over 70 pounds in a matter of 10 months, now 4 years later I have only lost 40 pounds. It is just hard when you have no "time" to be at the gym for even 1 hour 3 times a week. You work all day, has a child to take care, a house and everything around it. He is a personal trainer, and has been one for quite some time, his body reacts better and faster, even with the 70 extra pounds. But I have to agree that if you want you can do it, but definatelly will take much longer than 6 months to an average person, who has carried the extra pounds for much longer than what he did. This was somehow inspiring for me to try harder and achieve my goal and loosing the other 30 lbs.

    June 6, 2012 at 12:00 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NotBuyingIt

      The whole "I just don't have time" excuse simply points to a lack of knowledge of imagination. A jump rope costs less than $10 and 5-10min with one is a pretty decent workout. You have a floor, right? You could do pushups, situps, and a variety of other exercises that don't require even leaving the room you're in right now. Door frame pullup bar perhaps? Sure, it's not as good as a solid 30min lifting routine at the gym or a well paced 5k run, but it's better than nothing and it all adds up when what you're going for is burning more calories than you're consuming.

      June 6, 2012 at 12:29 | Report abuse |
    • Fred

      I never understood why people keep making an excuse about time, especially those with children. First, there's time management. I do most of my reading and TV watching now while exercising. As far as children being a time drain, their energy level alone should be making you move. I understand what he did is unrealistic for most people, but you don't need to be at a gym 5 days a week. Just spending time playing with your children will (hopefully) be burning off some calories, unless you're passing along a lethargy characteristic.

      June 6, 2012 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
    • imuneek

      Time is a complicated thing. Once you slack off, you lose your schedule, then your motivation. I once had a good record at the gym and completely blew it during finals' week at seminary. I canceled one personal training appointment, never made another one, and didn't go back to the gym for several months. When I did go back, it took me another 3 months to start over with another trainer. This time I vowed if I ever canceled an appointment, I'd reschedule it on the spot.

      I've gone through periods where I honestly DON'T have the time to make gym a priority. During those times it's vital to have the accountability of someone to "make" me go at least once.

      June 7, 2012 at 06:29 | Report abuse |
  2. Portland tony

    Actors do similar weight manipulation all the time. Tom Hanks comes to mind for his roles in "Cast Away" and the "The Green Mile". You have to admire the professionalism of those who can make the effort.

    June 6, 2012 at 12:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Lou

    I too am back working out and eating better after of few years of being away for the gym. It really is a state of mind and for those who once embraced the gym, it can be hard to go back because the experience does not really change. Three or four sets of 6 to 10 reps remains the same then and now. But stick with it for a week and feel how much better you are. You are NOT going to be six-pack Sam in a week or six months (for most of us), but it is your health that is at stake and all of the excuses not to work out are simply excuses. Walking around the block is better than just sitting there and you know that you have a spare hour for TV at some time during the day and you're lying to yourself if you say you don't. Just do it!

    June 6, 2012 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Martha

      so how long hav u been on them for and im gonna get some becuae im feelnig very fat and ugly im size 18 and i love sweets and choco like u to what do u think shall i get some.x

      September 11, 2012 at 20:13 | Report abuse |
  4. Daniel

    Sorry, to burst your bubble, but I lost 70 pounds in 4 months 2 years ago without a gym (and I am quite average), and my body's metabolism was crap. I'm 6' 2" and was 185 (the proper weight for my height) at age 19. Got a desk job when I was 19 and within a year had gained almost 100 pounds, topping out at 330 pounds by 28 or 29 (I'm 36 now). Went from a size 30 jeans to 38-40. Two years ago (age 34) I decided I wanted to lose weight and get more fit. And I did. I changed my eating habits, forced myself to do athletic activities. In 4 months I was 260 pounds. I picked up my old eating habits a bit and stopped losing, but I have never gained it back and I maintain my athletic activities. I recently decided I to want to be at least 210 so I went back to the needed eating habits and I have lost 10 pounds in the last 2 weeks or so.

    June 6, 2012 at 12:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Mel

    Too bad he didn't do a little more research before gaining the weight. He will have much more difficultly maintaining his weight now. When you initially gain weight you produce more fat cells that bloat with fat. The problem is when you lose the weight you never lose the extra fat cells (unless you get liposuction). The fat cells just shrink, but will remain in his body eagerly waiting to grab on to fat again. The best method is not to gain weight in the first place.

    June 6, 2012 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • NotBuyingIt

      I'm pretty sure he knew that already. Given the discipline it takes to maintain the sort of fitness level he's usually at, I'm guessing he'll be just fine.

      June 6, 2012 at 12:57 | Report abuse |
    • Mel

      I don't know....We can't stay in our 20's forever. Pretty soon he's going to be a chubby monkey-faced 40-year-old.

      June 6, 2012 at 19:17 | Report abuse |
    • LFM

      Fat cells generally do not form after puberty. So while yes, fat cells do grow and shrink, I doubt it will hurt him in the long run.

      June 7, 2012 at 06:49 | Report abuse |
  6. Andrew

    one word: MovNat. Check it out. Change your life.

    June 6, 2012 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. JQP1172

    Althought I commend him for his effort he only got a SMALL taste of what it is like to be obese. Why you ask? Look at his obese pic, even in the obese pic he has remnants of being very fit. This is in contrast to a person who is obese and has never been fit or has been fit in the past but is and has been obese for many, many years. Having a fit, athletic background and getting obese for such a short period of time allowed him to "get back in shape" much easier.

    Trust me I know. I am someone who has had numerous up and downs with weight and fitness. My heaviest was 315 lbs and I was around there for many years. I am on the other side of the mountain now (& for the last 4+ years) at 185 lbs and a 6-pack but I can guarantee you that because I was out of shape for so long it was harder for me than the trainer in the article.

    BUT harder or not, it is possible so to all those who are trying and get discouraged keep the faith. If you put in the hard work, over time your body WILL change for the positive.

    June 6, 2012 at 13:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. dave

    In all my reading on this guy I haven't once heard him say "See! I did it, so you can lose 70 lbs in 6 months too!" He admits freely that he had an easier time with it than most people will. But he now understands better the physical and mental obstacles that people deal with in trying to get in shape. The truth is, anyone CAN do what he did physically–probably not in 6 months but probably in a year or so. Of course in 6 months of not exercising, his muscles didn't completely disappear, so getting back to his original state was certainly easier than a normal person's journey will be. But the main obstacle for anyone is in your head. And I think this experience taught him that the obstacles in your mind are for real–and being super-overweight is a defeating place to be. You have to have a full mental overhaul in order to get your mind in a state that's ready to make the sacrifices needed. And many just can't get over that hurdle. Or if they do, they lose steam somewhere along the way. The hope with this guy is that maybe other personal trainers and fitness gurus will learn from his experience and see that it's not just that people are weak. Being overweight changes you on the inside and you have to overcome that before any change will take place on the outside.

    June 6, 2012 at 13:13 | Report abuse | Reply
    • SuperSue

      Well said, Dave.

      June 7, 2012 at 21:18 | Report abuse |
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    June 6, 2012 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jake

    As a personal trainer, it's true that this guy has a level of knowledge and resources that most overweight people don't have. And since maintaining his body is pretty much his job (or at least a huge part of his job) he obviously has a lot more time to commit to it then your average 45-hours-a-week desk monkey. And his body, coming off a high level of physical fitness, had an easier time dropping pounds then someone who's been heavy their entire life. All of that is true.

    But with it said – all it means is that he had it much easier then an actual overweight person would. It doesn't mean losing that amount of weight is impossible for an average person. You're probably going to have to struggle with it much more and work at it much harder then this guy did, and it's probably going to take you much longer. But just because something is difficult doesn't mean it's impossible. It can be done.

    June 6, 2012 at 13:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JQP1172

      See the last sentence in my post above...you are correct, it can be done.

      You know what though, it is sad to say but I believe a good trainer will encourage his morbidly obese clients to seek professional mental counseling during the process as well as at the end when all the weight is lost. I can personally attest to the fact that losing the weight (135+ lbs lost) was actually easier than letting go of the demons. In other words, no matter what marathon I can now run and what I now look like in the mirror, I still have trouble putting down that "fat" person that stares back at me in the mirror.

      June 6, 2012 at 13:57 | Report abuse |
    • Jake

      I think that can be very good advice, especially for a client who has been overweight since childhood. Emotional and/or social issues attached to eating habits are pretty common, and so are body-image issues that are hard to shake. There's no shame in a person seeking psychological help to work through these problems and change their mindset.

      June 6, 2012 at 14:10 | Report abuse |
  11. ak2k

    This guy really went the extra mile to reach out to his clients and understand their road blocks. I'm thoroughly impressed at his commitment to his career and his clients.

    June 6, 2012 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Keith

    I think what the guy did is incredible and is far from delusional. I think what he disclosed in his book about weight gain and it becoming pychological is the biggest obstacle to overcome. Most people who are overweight or have just put on pounds over the years seek either excuses or the "silver bullet" (ways to lose weight). They will say what they can't do while never researching the options before them. First and foremost, weight lost -weight management has to become a part of daily life routine just as you shower and brush yoru teeth (no one has to remind you to do that – it's an acquired behavior). Once people realize that you control your body, then you can control your weight. Albeit a stretch that the average person could look like the trainer, it is defintely not a stretch to imagine yourself looking fit. If you program your mind (like you program yoru computer, phne or DVR) to eat healthy, drink water and do some physical activity (3-4 times per week for 45 mins) the weight lost is possible. Imagine getting in the floor and doing as many push ups and sit ups as you can between commercials of your favorite TV program(s). imagine watching 2 – 30 min shows which yields about 20 mins of actual show and 10 mins of commercials, you could do as many as 40 push ups and 40 sit ups(imagine that). Weight lost/weight managment is possible if a person commits themselves mind, body and soul and remember that there is no such thing as a quick fix.

    June 6, 2012 at 15:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. jstout511

    I'm not convinced that the middle picture is he. Even if it were, most people do not have the time and resources that Manning has available to him.. And his notoriety gave him motivation most others don't have either.

    June 6, 2012 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Chris

      You could have done 10 push-ups instead of writing that comment... and so could I have...
      Push-ups are inexpensive, can be done most anywhere, and take little time.

      June 7, 2012 at 13:29 | Report abuse |
  14. Michelle

    I have a full time job & 4 kids. At my heaviest, I weighed 180 lbs after my last pregnancy, I stayed that way for 2 years... I finally had the mindset that I wanted to lose weight after being unhappy with my body thanks to all the "skinny is in" advertisements.
    It took me a year but I lost 40 lbs. I just had to put in 30 mins a day (sure I skipped some days) before bed and change my eating habits. I still have a little more that i'd like to lose and have been looking for that little push. I think this guy has given it to me, so THANK YOU!

    June 6, 2012 at 17:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. mmi16

    Let him pull off the same stunt when he is over 60!

    June 7, 2012 at 04:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. JW

    Stop whining people....stop eating junk, turn the TV OFF, get your behinds up off the couch, go outside and get some oxygen and just MOVE!!!! And stop crying about it!!! You'll feel a WHOLE lot better.

    June 7, 2012 at 06:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. alan

    I did what the guy did only I went from fat to fatter and stayed that way.

    June 7, 2012 at 18:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. dani

    hes pretty much just showing people that it IS possible. now making someone put their mind and all into it is a different story.

    June 8, 2012 at 13:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. lisaww3ew

    I liked the Mollycoddle the Ultra-Dainty Albino Bunny
    Life is shot..BbWmatch/'ó'/r/ g.. believes that "Size is only a Number,Love is more than body size...we all wanna find true love.

    June 8, 2012 at 23:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Erika

    It's called will power. Yes, he had readily available resources but he remained dedicated. Being that he was probably in the gym all day, everyday for those 6 monthes sped up the process. But if you want to lose weight, you can and will. The process will just be longer depending on the amount of weight you want to lose and if you have the will power to do so.

    June 13, 2012 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. Runa

    fish oil is very good and so are vitamins but take them after or berfoe a meal. eat fish and or chicken everyday and drink milk twice a day. you should also be seeking professional coaching right now if your serious about joining football such as training with them right now. you need to learn proper technique for any exercising involving football. you should also workout twice a day, early in the morning and in the evening except the weekends for recovery. these is only the basics.

    September 12, 2012 at 06:49 | Report abuse | Reply
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    November 28, 2012 at 11:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. sofia

    did he lose his razor while he was fat?

    April 3, 2013 at 20:11 | Report abuse | Reply
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    June 22, 2013 at 17:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. loveandcoffeeshops

    I don't think the intention was to say "you can also lose all your weight in 7 months" and I think reading into it in that way is not appropriate.

    Some people may have less time to commit to the gym, etc. because of family obligations. What this man did was to try to understand better the psyche of *why* people have trouble of getting into shape... not the physical requirements and time for getting into shape.

    There are plenty of people who are out of shape and spend their extra hours by the TV or with video games or other areas, and elect not to go to the gym for many reasons, including self-confidence, lethargy from food choices, stress, etc. He obviously didn't adopt a typical way of losing OR gaining wait in this exercise – both were sped up and were part of his profession.

    Bottom line: he's not using himself as an "I can do this too!" but a way to better understand the mental hurdles for the majority of people whom he helps (there's nothing in here about him denouncing people with real medical issues, etc.)

    August 14, 2013 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Chad

    With the right workout, diet and supplement plan you can achive your goals. Check out http://www.rfsupplements.com for great info and prices on the top supplements

    October 15, 2013 at 10:52 | Report abuse | Reply

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