When I called Drew Manning, he answered the phone noticeably winded, with a couple of apologies about how he’d just run down the stairs and was currently under the weather.
This might not seem out of character for most people, but for Drew, it’s far from anything he’s ever known. Almost six months ago, Drew had a body most men dream about and women fawn over. His 6’2″ frame weighed 193 pounds, weight that had very little to do with fat and very much to do with a chiseled frame. Today, Drew weighs 263 pounds and his body resembles that of a couch potato.
This past spring, the part-time personal trainer realized he’d been fit and healthy his entire life, and while he helps many clients find their way to fitness, he’s never really walked in their shoes.
“My passion is fitness and I wanted to find more people to influence,” Drew told us in a recent interview. “What if I got fat and showed people how to get in shape? It could be a good learning experience.”
So Drew embarked on a journey that some DIR fans have called idiotic, ridiculous, and crazy. Since May 7, 2011, Drew has intentionally gained 68 pounds, and is documenting the entire experience on his site Fit2Fat2Fit. This is certainly not a permanent lifestyle change for the husband and father, as two weeks from now he’ll turn things around and start working to lose the weight and regain his fit body.
The plan is to also document the entire journey back to fit, as Drew will share all of his meal plans and fitness regimens on his site. “If I can get even a few people to live healthier because of [this] it will be worth it,” he told us. “You’ll be able to see exactly what I’m doing with full access to meal plans and workouts.”
Some have criticized the initiative, including both of his doctors (who he has worked with closely). However, in talking with Drew, his motives are genuine and impressive to a point. Sure, he’s putting years of healthy living aside and endangering his health, but what he’ll have learned from this and be able to put back in to his clients will be invaluable.
Aside from the striking physical change in Drew’s body, medically his body has also taken quite a beating. He now has high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and a waist measurement of 47.5″ (up from 34.5″), three of the five risk factors for metabolic syndrome, which puts him 200% more likely to have cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.
In the beginning, Drew says he was excited about the possibility of eating without restriction. “I was excited to just eat candy and donuts,” he told us. However, it didn’t take long for him to realize the effect these processed foods were having on his body. “The way I felt after eating them made me feel gross.” He’s also discovered that these foods can be addictive, as he told us he never thought of processed foods being addictive. “There’s a mental aspect. It’s eye-opening.”
You could tell Drew was pleased to see that his Fit2Fat2Fit journey wasn’t interfering with the health of his wife and daughter too much. He said “I’ve never seen my wife eat so healthy or workout so hard!” When it comes to meal time, he said he usually prepares two meals – something like boxed macaroni and cheese for himself and a healthier meal for his wife and daughter. Although he admits that “sometimes it’s easier” to let everyone eat the same thing.
He’s also not used to being without the energy needed to play with his daughter when she’s ready for play time. In a post called Moments of Truth, Drew wrote “This is probably something I’ve been creeping towards for awhile, and a true “A ha” moment finally occurred. Courtesy of my daughter, of course.” The emotional toll of his journey finally caught up with him. “In truth, I can’t really say I’ve been truly depressed so far during this crazy journey. I’ve had moments of sadness, self-consciousness, or lack of confidence, but I can’t say I’ve been near to shedding tears. Until now…”
“After 15 “laps” around the kitchen, I was winded and my chafing (TMI anyone?) had started to become a problem. Thinking twice about trying to get her to understand why chafing is a bad thing I stopped running around. My daughter was just getting started. It started innocent enough – cute little chants of “Daddy, run with me” filled the room. After telling her that I was too tired, the cute chants turned into screams. Clearly trained by her mother, she then employed the “puppy dog look”. When her cute expression did nothing to provide me extra energy, the look turned to tears. And beyond thinking about trying to run, or soothing her, I felt a deep disgust – at what I’d become. At what I was losing as a result of what I’d been gaining in weight.”
One commenter on his site, Dave, left this note of encouragement in response to the Moments of Truth post: “Remember this when you first get back to the gym and the treadmill seems harder than you remember.
By the end of October Drew will embark on the much more difficult arm of his journey, trying to lose the almost 70 pounds he’s gained, rebuild his muscle and endurance, and his proclivity to choose a bag of baby carrots over a bag of Cheetos.