Drew Manning, a fitness fanatic and personal trainer, never really understood what it was like to be fat or to struggle with cravings.
“I figured people were lazy and didn’t care about themselves,” the 30-year-old from Eagle Mountain, Utah tells CityNews.ca.
But he gets it now after forcing himself to gain more than 70 pounds, as part of his mission to show people how to get back in shape.
“I have a better understanding of how hard it is to really give up [fatty] foods and to really motivate yourself,” he said.
On May 7, Manning stopped exercising and eating a healthy diet to pack on the pounds for six months with a goal of later losing all that weight in the following six months.
His body went from a lean, mean machine of 193 pounds to 265 pounds. His waist expanded to 48 inches from 34 inches.
Tens of thousands of people from all over the world have been participating in his journey via his website and social media.
Michael Ferrer, a Toronto-based personal trainer says for the untrained, every-day person, it can be inspiring and righteous — but to a professional, it is just a farce.
“I wouldn’t do it, not intentionally,” said Ferrer, the 2011 Canadian National Bodybuilding Champion.
As a bodybuilder, Ferrer is used to naturally gaining weight and having to lose it for his competitions.
He said that Manning has muscle underneath him that many overweight people do not, which will make it easier for him to burn off the weight.
He added that while Manning’s experiment is a good marketing tool it’s neither good for your body nor your heart.
To gain weight, Manning would take on food challenges, where online viewers would vote on extreme foods for him to eat. He said he would eat anything from a bucket of chicken to a dozen doughnuts to a nine-by-thirteen-inch cake.
Manning, who also works as a medical technician, said the experiment has physically taken a toll on his health. The doctor that monitors Manning’s progress told him that his kidneys and liver resemble those of an alcoholic, even though he doesn’t drink.
“Knowing that people were going to change their lifestyles because of this whole journey — it was worth all the risks and all the health ramifications out there,” said Manning.
There were a lot of moments where he wanted to give up because he didn’t like what he was doing to his body. For example, he wasn’t able to keep up with his daughter, who likes to run around, without feeling winded or tired. And his wife was noticing that he was snoring at night.
“I get scared sometimes and wonder if I will really be able to get back to where I was,” Manning said.
Still, he is confident that he will lose all the weight because he has the motivation from his followers: “I feel honoured to see people writing in telling me how it has changed their lives and how it has inspired them.“
Many have pledged to join him in getting fit by following his specific meal plans and work outs posted on his blog fit2fat2fit.com.
Matt Storms is a follower from Sandy, Utah, who has lost 13 pounds since he joined Manning. He plans to lose 72 pounds over the next six months.
“It has given me the motivation to cut weight and to get on path,” he said during an interview.
Storms used to be in the U.S. military. After he left, he gained weight and wasn’t motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle.
“I saw Drew and said, ‘if he can lose it I will jump on board with him’,” said Storms.
Manning has now started his journey back to a healthier life. His six-month splurge of eating fattening and processed foods came to a stop on Nov. 5. He is providing regular updates on his progress on his blog.