What really happens to our bodies and our minds when we gain weight? Personal trainer, Drew Manning embarked on a really unhealthy journey last year to get obese so he could find out. Today he marked the end of his journey by revealing his back-to-fit self. Through it all, it’s pretty fascinating to learn what really happens to our mental and physical health when we “let ourselves go.”
The 31-year-old personal trainer and self-professed fitness addict gained 75 pounds in six months (on purpose!) to better understand how his clients feel. He stopped exercising and started consuming a very unhealthy diet of things like white bread, sugary cereals and soda. He then lost the weight in another six months so he could prove that other people could get fit, too.
He also blogged about his journey and just released a book about it called Fit2Fat2Fit: The Unexpected Lessons from Gaining and Losing 75 lbs on Purpose. Today he appeared on Good Morning America to reveal his new back-to-fit body and discuss what really happened to him mentally, physically and emotionally during his unfit, obese months. All of which is interesting because these same changes (or similar ones) also happen to anyone who gains a significant number of pounds or maintains an unhealthy weight.
Physically, he started the experiment with a 34.5-inch waist weighing 193 pounds. Six months later, he had a 48-inch waist and topped the scales at 265 pounds. Aside from his clothes not fitting, he found himself getting winded easily, while his blood glucose levels and blood pressure soared.
Manning’s wife, Lynn, was surprised at the personality and emotional changes, too, stating that his self-confidence “completely went away” and he was “becoming lethargic, lazy, not helping around the house.”
In addition to becoming lazy and depressed, Manning also said his role as a father changed negatively, along with his relationship with his wife.
Manning admitted to GMA that the emotional changes were difficult:
I was in denial at first until she kept pointing out the things I was doing. But I did become lazier. […] I had less energy so I did become exhausted and I kept seeing how it affected our relationship because of that. And so that’s where the biggest surprise was, the emotional [part].
He even said earlier on CNN that the judgment from others and his own lack of self-confidence surprised him, because he wasn’t “that fit guy” anymore. One day when he loaded his grocery cart with sugary cereals and soft drinks, he caught three women staring at him with looks of disapproval. He said he wanted to tell them: “I’m doing this as an experiment! I used to be a fit guy, not the fat guy.”
So much has been written about women, body image, and how we tend to equate our self-worth with our physical selves. But Manning reveals that guys face the same struggles. Right or wrong, weight, fitness, body image and self-esteem are all significant issues for men, too. Perhaps even more so because men like to equate masculinity to muscles.
As Michael Addis, professor of psychology at Clark University and author of Invisible Men told CNN that it’s all in their upbringing and social pressures:
Men are still taught as boys that the body is something that is designed to be a perfectly performing machine, not something to be cared for and nurtured. But men base self-esteem on body image and weight.
Surely, this experiment will make Manning better able to relate to clients and hopefully help people who are obese see the mental and physical damages they are doing to themselves.