Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Fat to Fit – A Real Fight

Drew Manning: one year ago, 6 months, now
I have recently been seeing and reading a lot about a man who purposefully gained weight only to lose it again.  He is Drew Manning, a personal trainer who decided to go about this in an effort to better understand and sympathize with his clients who were trying to lose weight.  He calls it “Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit”.  He gained 70 pounds by not going to the gym and eating very unhealthy foods.  He then applied what he already knew to lose the 70 pounds in only six months.  While I appreciate his effort and respect the fact that he actually accomplished it, I don’t think he can fully sympathize with his overweight clients.  Most overweight or obese people are unwillingly, or at least not purposefully, overweight and unhealthy.  They’ve never been at a healthy weight and don’t know how good it can feel and what higher quality life they are missing out on.  That is why it is typically very hard for most people to lose weight and get healthy. 

I, on the other hand, was never fit before I was fat.  I know exactly what it feels like to hate, or at least dislike, what you see in the mirror but not know what to do or how to go about changing it.  I had to struggle for years with my weight and my health before I finally figured it out.  I did not have the foresight of Manning, I had to learn how to read labels, how to fit exercise into my schedule, and how to love my body for what it could do and not what it looked like.  The path to getting there was tough and at times ugly, but it was well worth it.  Here is my story – the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful.

As a child I was very active in sports, so I did not spend much time in front of the TV.  But, I did spend a lot of time in the car and on-the-go.  We rarely had sit-down meals during the week – instead opting for French fries from the drive-thru or stopping at a chain restaurant between games and jobs in the evening.  I can remember eating lots of PopTarts, frozen cheese sticks, and pasta and rice from a box.  I would make a box of pasta and eat the entire thing while I was home alone.  I had no idea that my personal serving actually consisted of four servings.  I had no clue the amount of sugar and saturated fats I was putting in my body.  I did not know what it meant to read a nutrition label. 

As I reached my teen years, I began to feel uncomfortable with my body.  I had stretch marks on my inner thighs and I outweighed my friends by at least 30 pounds.  As I said, I was athletic, so I was never obese, but I was overweight.  I can remember trying to strategically tuck my shirt in a way that would hide my belly.  In 8th grade, my class took a trip to Biloxi, MS.  For months before the trip, I dreaded the one day on the itinerary that would be spent on an island.  I hated shopping for that bathing suit – I knew no matter what I got I couldn’t hide from teenage boys and the petite cheerleaders that would look so much cuter than I.  I can also remember going to Opryland (back when it was a theme park and not a mall).  In high school, we would go as a group and we would have the opportunity to sit in the lap of the boy we liked on some of the rides.  I can remember feeling devastated on one trip when I was actually bigger than the boy I liked and felt ashamed to have to actually sit in his lap.  I remember one Christmas season when we made Chex party mix (you poured butter over cereal, pretzels, and nuts and baked it) for the holiday.  My mother had gone out for the evening and I decided to snack on some of the party mix.  I couldn’t stop myself and ended up eating way too much and felt sick.  I laid down for bed but I felt awful – full of shame, regret, and disgust.  I got up and tried to make myself throw up.  Luckily I couldn’t do it, but I tried so hard to gag myself, I woke up the next morning with broken blood vessels around my eyes. 

Me in my teens and me now
Being overweight and unhealthy is a very lonely, unhappy, miserable place to be.  You are disgusted with yourself, but too ashamed to ask for help.  Luckily in college I matured and gained respect for myself – my body, my future, and my inner and outer beauty.  I learned how to read nutrition labels.  I researched how foods and beverages affect the body.  I personally went from being able to jog no more than a quarter mile to running 20-30 miles a week.  I discovered that lifting weights isn’t just for buff athletes – it’s essential for everyone.  It may have taken me years to get here, but I am now in the best shape of my life.  I don’t workout to impress anyone or to improve my outer beauty.  I workout because I love the feeling of empowerment afterward.  And I eat healthfully because I know its fuel for my body and mind – nothing tastes better than that.  I love knowing I am adding to the quality and quantity of my life. 

I may not have been able to lose 70 pounds in six months like Manning did, but I did lose 50 pounds over several years and I gained my life.  My path wasn’t as clean cut as his, but I feel I fought much harder.  And my fight has equipped me with the tools, the resources, and the sympathy to now help others fight the same fight and win.  If you’ve ever felt disgusted, ashamed, or embarrassed about your weight or health, now is the time to fight.  I’ve been where you are and together we will gain your life.  Go to to see all the ways I can help you and those you love.  Obesity is 100% preventable and soon you will be able to tell your story – the good, the bad, and definitely the beautiful!

This is also the time to prevent our children from having to fight obesity.  On June 18th, I will be hosting a nutrition & wellness camp for kids.  Kids of all ages will learn about eating well & getting plenty of exercise.  They will learn how to read nutrition labels and even how to shop at a real grocery store.  They will also get a tour of the brand new Athletic & Wellness Center at BGA.  This is an opportunity not to be missed.  Go to to register. 

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