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.
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.