Crazy Personal Trainer, Drew Manning, Reveals What Happens To Your Body When You ‘Let Yourself Go’

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.


Share This Post:
    • kate lost 8+

      Exactly what happened to my ex boyfriend who looked like the fit Drew when I met him…and then like the fat one…he still looks like the fat one. We were horrendous for each other and as a result both gained weight over the course of the relationship-nearly 2 years…but man did he use to have a rocking body…gets me hot just thinking about it…but oh well…I lost my weight immediately once we broke up…8 pounds in the first week and did nothing differently than be without him…haha…I lost 200 pounds of jerk …lol. We get along better now…but ladies trust me if you are unhappy with a guy and gaining weight because of it…ditch him…seriously…and get you body back and you esteem. Blessings

      • Joe

        So you gained weight and it was his fault because he gained weight? Maybe it was the other way around.

      • Chris

        “but ladies trust me if you are unhappy with a guy and gaining weight because of it…ditch him…seriously…and get you body back and you esteem. Blessings”


      • Cru

        Y’know this reads as though you ruined him and gleefully moved on…

      • fredcdobbs

        1) If he was such a jerk, why are you still friends with him? Guess he wasn’t too bad. Maybe he feels the same way about you with his weight gain.
        2) Your grammar and spelling shows you need to put at least some energy and effort into mental growth. It’s great to have a nice bod, but balance is even greater.

    • kate lost 8+

      oh and feel free to out him if he is a cheater…I did…

      • Anon

        Men need a red flag for whatever you are.

    • Megan

      My man got fat and it’s such a double standard. When we met he was so hot, big pecs, six pack and big muscular butt, now he has man boobs, belly and flat ass. When I saw this article, I’m thinking to myself what happened?

      • eb

        What happened? I tell you what happened, HE ATE TOO MUCH!!!

    • Lori Andreas

      Am I insane or what? I think he looks WAY hotter in the chubby pic than the fit one. Maybe he just looks a little more real or something but the left guy looks like an boring, over-primping metro pinup boy and the guy on the right looks like an actual man. I say he, and more guys, should just be themselves. That’s much hotter than narcissistic mirror-gazing.

      • Jenny

        I totally agree with the above comment. He’s a really handsome guy, but looks way better in the photo on the right. I’d pick that guy any day. He looks like someone you could actually have a relationship with.

      • Raidergrode

        You have my vote that you are insane… To say he ‘looks more real’ being fat, and way over weight is insane. I have a friend who is also “over weight” we went on a cruse and she could’t even walk up the gangplank without stopping to catch her breath! I asked her what she was going to do in an emergency and we had to get off this boat fast? Her reply?…
        drowned!! Ya, that is healthy and very normal!!

      • Ben

        Lori and Jenny, I think I’m in love with you…

      • Lastango

        I think you’re on to something; when a guy looks like a photo in magazine, there’s a chance (a) he presumes the time you spend together is all about him, 24/7, and (b) you’ll be doing all the work in the relationship.

      • Greg

        I think you might just be trained to think fat is attractive then. I am a guy and I think he looks like a pig on the right and I definitely wouldn’t have a positive opinion of him just by looking. In the pick on the left I would think he is somebody that should pay a little less attention to himself.

      • Patricia S

        Heh, I’m glad someone else said it so I’m not alone! I’m *totally* with you Lori. He looks droolworthy in both pics but just give me my choice of the two and I’d lean toward the heavier one. He’s not grossly obese anyway, just chunky and there’s nothing ugly about that. You’re right though. The bigger size and chest hair makes him look more like a real man in the right pic, sorta fakey in the left one. May sound crazy to some of you but that’s how some of us women feel. If I wanted thin and hairless, I’d be into other women. LOL! :)

    • RJ

      So an article about an underreported psychological dynamic (men, weight and self image), leads you to a boyfriend-bashing response. Me thinks that boyfriend may have gotten the better part of the breakup.

    • Voice_of_Reason

      So Kate, Your advice for women who put on a few pounds when they are in a relationship is to blame their boyfriend and leave them? Ladies, please don’t take her advice. Think for yourself.

    • Really Me

      He’s 31 for gosh sakes. Right at the top end of the fittest part of your life. Good luck trying that crap when you’re 50 or 60!

      • amanda

        my mom’s 50 and lost 20 pounds just from changing her diet, and not to some vegan super diet either. i think you just need some encouragement. as long as you stick with changes you make than you’ll see progress. it might not seem as much as you want at first, but believe in yourself and give it time.

      • Lynn Manning

        Of course it gets a little harder with age but I’d love for you to check out the blog. We post transformations of every day people that followed him “back to fit”. One of the recent posts was a woman in her 60′s that lost over 100 lbs (is now size 6). I love her story because she reiterates “no excuses”. ;)

    • Luke

      He gained around 70 pounds in 6 months and lost it in the same amount of time that does not prove anything. His motivation was purely money and it is backed up by his book and recent publicity. I would like to see him sit around on a couch for 3 years and gain the weight slowly, lose all of the muscle he had underneath the fat and then try to get into his same routine…..look at the “fat” picture you can see there is still a large amount of muscle underneath all of it. I do not agree with story of experiencing the negative side effects of being obese for this short of time.

      • King

        You just can’t give him props for anything can you? He done more than most are even willing to do in order to see how it feels and it seems like he got the picture at least somewhat. He’s not just some freak of nature that stays fit no matter what he has to work for it and that story can help a lot of people. Quit being a Debbie downer you asshole. He doesn’t have to be a piece of shit just like you in order to do something good.

      • Greg

        I think this is a good point. He did not loose that much of his muscle mass in 6 months. I quit running for a year and within a few weeks was back to running 4 miles again. But it took me about 4 or 5 months to be able to run 4 miles when I first started. That said, I do think he is learning more about how it feels to look bad and feel tired and lazy.

      • kumar

        I do agree with your view. In general people become fat over several years and this causes slow change in emotion too which I think difficult to change back. Fat and emotional are always related.

      • mommy2eandl

        So what if he really did do this for the money! I can bet your bottom dollar that he will never look at an obese woman or man the same again. He has first hand experience of how we live, are viewed.

        I just recently lost 15 pounds but still have a long way go to. Now that
        Drew has walked a mile in my shoes, I would give almost anything to be able to have him as my personal trainer!!

      • Donkey Kong

        So we are supposed to feel sorry for the slobs who eat cheetos and cheese steaks on the couch and gain weight slowly? God bless America.

    • Jay

      He looks kind of gay in the left picture, and like a regular guy on the right.

      • Tim C

        You know what they say about homophobes, they are hiding repressed feelings.

      • hotcoc

        I agree I hate this little ego tripping gay mofo’s that need mens attention to feel good about themselves homo

    • Lastango

      I really admire Drew Manning’s creativity. He went on a personal journey so he could have a new experience, learned something useful about the effect on his psyche and family life, and now he’s sharing it. Good on him!

      • Amy

        Totally agree! I always thought about taking up smoking so I can try quitting and see for myself how hard it is… but I would never actually start. Just an interesting experiment and I’m glad to see he came out better at the end of it.

    • PJ

      Interesting article but you really should proofread before publishing. The errors are very distracting and unprofessional!

      • dick trickle

        go fist yourself fat a@#!

      • STD treatment

        What a worthless human being you’re turning out to be… You really live up to your “name”, Dick.

        I advise you to find something meaningful in your life, before you end up doing blow off a male hookers junk.

    • Dave

      There an incredible amount of self pity on this website. Stop complaining about him, “doing something you can’t do” and go try to do it. If its not working for you for whatever reason, age, lack of muscle, hormones, whatever, you have two options: sit in front of the computer and bitch, or put MORE in to it.

    • Diego

      I’ve been chunky for the last 10 years…at some moments more than others…and most recently I hit 236.5, and I’m 6ft tall. 3 weeks ago I started a VERY strict diet and exercise routine and I’m at 223 as of this morning. I do not have tons of muscle mass, I have tons of fat A$$ mass. Granted, I’m 32, but I have flabby arms and can’t do a pull up, yet. So, to say that he was only able to do this because he was fit before is false. ALL IT TAKES IS THE BALLS (or female equivalent) to take control of your life. If you don’t know how to cook, learn. If you don’t know how to work out, learn. If you don’t know what to eat, learn.

      • mandie

        I love this and fully agree! It take a lot of work, support, and motivation to be healthy. Most of this has to come from yourself in order to be able to continue when the going gets tough. Don’t sit around making excuses or feeling bad about your situation! Get out there and change it! I believe in youuuuuu!!!!!

      • Diego

        @mandie, Thanks! I’m trying!!!! I’ve been making excuses like the rest of these people on here for years. I don’t have time, it’s raining, my foot hurts, my back hurts, my knee hurts, I have a cold, the Miami Heat is playing tonight, I want to read, blah blah blah blah…. I’m waking up at the same exact time I always have and I’m still going to bed at the same time I always have. My schedule has not changed that much. I go to work at 9, I get home at 6-7. As soon as I get home I put on my shoes and leave the apt. If there’s a game on TV, I DVR it and go run. I do, however, have to plan ahead with the meals. The days of ordering sushi, pizza, italian, colombian, mexican, etc… are OVER until I see 185 on the scale. Once achieved, I can relax and increase my calories to about 2300/day. Right now I’m at 1500 minus my workouts so I’m probably netting a little over 1200/day. 1 pound of body fat = 3500 calories. You do the math.

    • Ruth

      Thats very interesting. Ive been a lean 181 and a stocky and string 245. I tell you what. I was miserable at 181. There is no 1, works for everyone, solution. You do what makes you happy.

    • Ruth

      Err…. Correction “string = strong”.

    • Sabs

      It’s so sad to see the reinforcement of negative stereotypes of overweight people. Being overweight does not mean that you are lazy or less of a parent. The psychological aspect that really needs research is not just what happens to a person mentally when you’re overweight, but how to find the motivation within yourself to become healthy. And, no its not always enough to know of the diseases that result from weight gain. It’s a complicated issue, and this guy seems to be wagging his finger.

      • Joe G

        I’m guessing you are fat and out of shape. Your comment just shows that you want permission to be so. The simple fact is that if you know you are at an unhealthy weight and the only way to get there is through work, and you choose not to put in the work, you are lazy.

        Rex is right. Just do it and quit being a namby pamby.

        If you don’t think having energy, being alert, and confident in yourself does not improve your ability to be a good parent then you are nuts. It doesn’t replace the love in your heart which is also important, but it helps the ancillary requirements of being physically and mentally present instead of being in a constant blood sugar yo-yo state of physicality.

        Your psychological motivation should come from looking in the mirror and being unhappy with what you see. Also, being around to watch your kids grow up and being there for them instead of dying early from atherosclerosis or diabetes should be all the psychological motivation anyone needs.

        Excuses, excuses. It’s not easy, but then nothing worth having is easy.

      • tony smith

        Thank you! This was a very troubling article. It did not raise one CRITICAL question about his journey whatsoever. Everyone growing up has questions about self-esteem. Although this is tougher for larger individuals, they too can learn to love themselves. This was his first experience as a larger individual, and he brought his own baggage about weight to the project. If I see people staring at me, I don’t want to tell them anything. Why – I don’t give a flying f@ck about how people view me. They don’t pay my bills. I don’t need them for love. I have a successful life. Grow up!

      • Lynn Manning

        I actually wanted you to know that Drew and I think you are right. The article (and the shows) can’t really show what he gained from the journey. Also, the word lazy isn’t really even the right term to describe how my husband changed. I was telling someone last night it wasn’t that he’s “lazy”.. that’s just a quick and easy way to say he “lost his energy, became moody, depressed, and just couldn’t do much”. I KNOW Drew though.. he’s not a lazy person and that’s the big difference. I think sometimes we classify someone who is overweight as “lazy” when in reality I think most just don’t have the energy, confidence, or will power sometimes (or at least that’s what I saw in my husband). For those that read the blog or book or have talked to us in person the biggest thing he stressed is that it’s a huge emotional and mental battle to overcome and he didn’t realize that until he started the journey. He says that’s the more important/key then the physical. Just wanted you to know that, and sorry if you found the journey offensive because that’s not what we were trying to prove. In fact, Drew admits all the time that he was “wrong before”… “it’s much more then meets the eye when it comes to losing weight because we only focus on crunches and what we eat instead of the emotional and mental hurdles too”. Take care! Lynn Manning (Drew Manning’s wife)

    • Rex

      What a bunch of whiners. Yes, Lazy whiners. I know because I am/Was one of you. I’m 50 & I’m doing it too. Stop shoving Starch/sugar/processed garbage down your Pie hole. Get off the couch. Take a walk. Take control of yourself.
      This guy is no different than all of us. He just chose his course & did the work. Good for him. I’m not stopping either. I was 240, now I’m 215, soon I’ll be 200. Then I’ll be 190. my goal. Yes it is hard. Yes it hurts a little/lot. Just do it!

      • Diego

        @Rex, that’s right….keep going bro. I was at almost 240 only 3 weeks ago and this morning I saw 223 on the scale. It’s hard work, but the modern american diet of sugar, salt and fat will destroy anyone. I’ll let off the gas when I see 18x on the scale…until then…full speed ahead. Good luck with your mission Rex.

    • Rider

      I lost 54 lbs in 8 months with a diet change and riding a bicycle twice a week-was not hard to do-you just have to stick to it.

    • 53Fit

      Get the documentary, “Forks over knives,” the movie will open your
      eyes on how unhealthy Americans are eating. I’m 53 and I have a 29 inch
      waist and muscular physique. I pass for someone on their late 30s.
      I eat whole foods, no junk or process food. The problem with many
      people is that they are lazy and weak, lazy to educate themselves and
      too weak to avoid junk foods. Honestly, it’s hard work. Well, being fat
      is easy, taking the easy path to anything has many trappings. Your choice!

      • Jackson5

        Honestly it’s not hard work. It’s living life. People don’t want to take responsibility for anything, including their own health. People are ridiculous.

    • Jordan

      Has anyone considered maybe it was not shaving his chest that caused all these emotional problems? MEN: SHAVE YOUR CHEST IF YOU WANT TO BE NORMAL

      • Diego

        Shave your chest?!?! Metrosexual is sooooo 1999. I’m a furry man…with no hair on my head and a ton on my chest! lol We’ll see who’s laughing in the next ice age…not my clan!

    • tony smith

      I”m bigger than he became. I am older than he is. My blood pressure is normal. My glucose level is pristine. My cholesterol and lipid counts are excellent. The doctor said I actually needed to eat MORE cholesterol, since we need a certain amount for cell development. I walk everyday. I eat good foods. I have always been big – since childhood. Obesity is largely genetic. Stop blaming people and open your ears and eyes. Listen. Read. Stop projecting your own beliefs into this subject. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Shameful that a so-called health expert does not understand this.

      • razor boy

        The exception does not make the rule.

      • jesis

        this story is about his point of view on what he saw, the fact that your story is not like that doesnt mean every fat person is healthy like you. most of them have a lot of health problems, and for sure mental problems caused by low self confidence.

      • Jackson5

        You’re bigger than he became? I don’t know exactly what you mean by that but if it’s how it sounds, you’re probably not as healthy as you think you are. Blood tests are only a small part of your health picture, and the ability to walk isn’t exactly a groundbreaking achievement. Maybe YOU should re-evaluate what your body is supposed to be able to do (you can use most children over 3 as an example) and then try to learn something about how to get there… or you can just whine about your genetics and PROVE TO THE WORLD that obesity isn’t at all related to personal lifestyle choices.

    • fredcdobbs

      That’s because the best looking guys are gay and stay in shape and the straight ones are fat with big ol beer bellies and sit and watch football. That’s basically how you can guess who’s gay and who’s straight.

    • Richard

      Big deal, he’s a 31 year old personal trainer. Try taking off the weight after you put in a 10 hour day and have to come home to feed the kids.
      After he gained 72 pounds he should have tried working at a factory or a 7-Eleven and THEN tried to lose the weight.

      • L


      • Lynn Manning

        Just found this article from someone that ran into us yesterday. Just wanted you to know that my husband did work a full time job as a neuromonitoring tech where he’d drive over 3 1/2 hours one way to work (yes, he got up at 4:30). Then he’d come home and 3-4 nights a week coach little league part time, personal train part time, plus we have two kids (a 1 year old and a 3 year old). He still lost the weight with that schedule. If you look at the site you’ll see all the meal plans and workouts are designed for a normal family that’s busy just like you. ;) Lynn Manning (wife of that crazy trainer)

    • Jb

      What an amazing thing! Perhaps I am reading into his motives, but it seems like a compassionate undertaking on his part. He could have written a different sort of book, but living out this concept came at a high personal cost. (I might add that his wife deserves some credit for putting up with his experiment!)

    • joe P

      I cant believe how idiots are on this list ! Do you honestly think he looks better fat than lean and mean with muscle !

      • Patricia S.

        No, obviously the guy on the right would never get on a magazine cover, but that doesn’t mean he’s unattractive. I just think the right pic looks a lot more manly and less concerned with looking pretty. I like that in a man. It’s not all about looks. Maybe you have a problem with women who refuse to be that shallow and bow down in admiration to the guy who’s “lean and mean with muscle” but that’s your problem. Not all of us get all weak in the knees for that. Different strokes… get over it.

    • Jose

      I’m 49 y/o guy who had enough of being fat so my doc recommended I try weight watchers for men and since I have an iPad / iPhone he recommended installing an app called ” my fitness pal” to keep track of calories then top it all -I had a lower back injury earlier. A friend has a personal trainer ( lucky a**hole) and the trainer recommended I start doing yoga ( don’t laugh yoga is not for hippies or women it’s a hard workout!) . It’s shocking how many calories we consume daily and all the junk we consume. I shocked myself with all the crap I was eating. Fast forward I lost 30 pounds and it continues to drop, got rid of the junk food at home and I know what eat when I go out – yes including McDonalds and Starbucks . It’s hard work but if I did it anyone can – it’s all about replacing the junk with better more nutritious food and have portion control then try to at least get 20 – 30 minutes of movement (anything actually) per day. Just an FYI almost all restaurants now have a lighter calorie menus with no loss in flavor. Good luck to all guys out there and don’t give up on yoursel.

    • MzHartz

      I applaud his efforts to understand what his clients are going through.

      There is one thing you can’t simulate though: motivation.

      When he was heavy, his motivation to get fit was to be “the fit guy” again. He knew he could do it. But most people in that position have never been the fit type, and there’s always the voice in the back of your mind telling you you’re too fat/lazy/out of shape to ever be as fit as him.

      That little voice is always there for anyone who has never been one of the fit people, and I hope he keeps that in mind and doesn’t just think that he’s been there now.

    • Georgesmith

      Personal trainer are very useful to make the people healthier.they are very helpful to avoid the weight gain. it makes people healthier and happier in future.

    • bob

      me gusta noviembre