Skip to main content

Fitness trainer gains and loses 70 pounds in 1 year -- on purpose

By Jacque Wilson, CNN
updated 9:54 AM EDT, Wed October 1, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fitness trainer Drew Manning wanted to better understand his clients' struggles
  • Manning gained 70 pounds on purpose so that he could lose it
  • Back at normal weight, he says the psychological aspect to dropping pounds is important

(CNN) -- When Drew Manning stepped out from behind the cardboard cutout of his former fat self on Monday, the audience of "Good Morning America" was appropriately shocked.

The fitness trainer's journey had come to an end after successfully losing more than 70 pounds -- six months after he purposely gained the same amount. "Like it never happened," host George Stephanopoulos said.

"Kind of," Manning said. Both Manning and his wife, Lynn, can attest that a lot actually has changed in the past year. While Manning's body may have returned to its six-pack heydays, his mind, in many ways, has not.

Always a fitness junkie, staying in shape comes naturally for Manning. He's that guy at the gym the rest of us love to hate, the one who likes to use his biceps for pumping iron instead of changing channels, and who prefers sucking down a spinach shake to indulging in a brownie sundae.

How to really lose weight
Low-carb vs. low-fat for weight loss
Social media helps woman drop 180 pounds

Because of that, Manning was a "judgmental" trainer, his wife says. "He would look at someone who was overweight and say, 'They must really be lazy.'

"I was convinced people used genetics or similar excuses as a crutch," Manning writes in his new book, "Fit2Fat2Fit." "You either wanted to be healthy or you didn't."

The link between fat and cancer

That point of view wasn't helping Manning help his clients. When he failed yet again to push someone over to the light side, he knew something was wrong. In order to better understand the struggles his clients were facing, he had to face them himself.

He gave up the gym and started consuming junk food, fast food and soda. In just six months, he went from 193 pounds with a 34-inch waist to 265 pounds with a 48-inch waist.

Lynn saw the difference in her husband in less time than that. He became lethargic, stopped helping around the house and was less than eager to play with their 2-year-old daughter.

"He was so insecure -- saying 'I'm so fat. I look so horrible,' constantly complaining about how he looks," she said.

Manning says he didn't realize the effects of his weight gain would be more than physical. It altered his relationships and his self-confidence. Returning to the gym after the Fit2Fat portion of his journey made him nervous. The fact that he had to do push-ups on his knees was almost humiliating.

"The biggest thing [I learned] is that it's not just about the physical. It's not just about the meal plan and the workouts and those things. The key is the mental and the emotional issues. I realized those issues are real."

Of course, Manning had his critics. Experts said that his stunt was dangerous. His blood pressure and cholesterol shot up with such dramatic weight gain. But Manning has no regrets. The followers on his website have encouraged him with their own tales of weight loss.

A fat girl gets naked

"We see the success stories of people losing all this weight, but it's more common now," he says. "To see someone do it in reverse on purpose -- it's mind blowing. A balance of craziness and inspiration."

Manning suffered through soda deprivation headaches and food cravings on his way back to fit. The journey was easier for him than for most, he'll admit, but he's eager now to provide tips for others to follow in his footsteps.

Power walker loses 150 pounds

Lynn is just glad to have her husband back, maybe a bit better than he was before. Before Fit2Fat2Fit, the self-described foodie wife would make treats, and Manning wouldn't even look at them.

"Now he craves them," she says with a laugh. "It might be cruel, but I like that. I like that he's humanized."

CNN's Ashley Strickland contributed to this story.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Weekly Weigh-In
updated 7:17 AM EST, Mon January 20, 2014
Heather Kern was afraid to walk to the end of the block. But that only inspired her to lose 125 pounds.
updated 9:32 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Jen Corn was the heaviest she had ever been. But when her mom and aunt offered to pay for surgery, she said no.
updated 2:59 PM EDT, Mon September 8, 2014
Angela Baldwin can pinpoint the day she changed the course of her life forever.
updated 10:20 AM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Yusuke Kirimoto was always overweight. But relatives calling him a sumo wrestler was the last straw.
updated 10:39 AM EDT, Mon July 14, 2014
Robert and Jessica Foster lost a total of 280 pounds after an emotional conversation. See their amazing transformation and how they got healthy.
updated 10:37 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014
Sarah Evans was miserable on her 30th birthday. She went on to lose 120 pounds.
updated 1:07 PM EDT, Mon April 28, 2014
Inspiration can come from unlikely places. Brian Flemming found the will to change his life in a drawing game.
updated 7:18 AM EDT, Mon March 24, 2014
Nina Osegueda was 19 and around 180 pounds when she remembers her boyfriend saying the thing no boyfriend is supposed to say.
updated 2:55 PM EDT, Mon September 1, 2014
At 27, I weighed 486 pounds and decided to have gastric bypass surgery. You might be thinking: "Oh, you took the easy way out." Not true.
updated 12:57 PM EST, Mon February 3, 2014
In the end, a coupon changed Torrie Creamer's life, helping her drop 145 pounds through grueling workouts.
updated 2:57 PM EDT, Tue March 18, 2014
Misty Shaffer lost 100 pounds to shock her husband when he returned from an overseas deployment.
updated 7:04 AM EST, Mon January 27, 2014
Gabi Rose wore maternity clothes for more than 12 years. Now she's a size 2. And her family has slimmed down too.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT