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Body Image: Fit2Fat2Fit

October 26, 2011

THE BEGINNING: May 7, 2011

weight loss successWaist: 34.5″ Chest: 42″ Neck: 17″ Hips: 39.5″ Biceps: 17″ Weight: 193 lbs. Height: 6’2″

WEEK 24: October 22, 2011

Week 24 picWaist: 47.5″ Chest: 46″ Neck: 19″ Hips: 50.5″ Biceps: 17″ Weight: 264.8 lbs Height: 6’2″

This is Drew Manning, a personal trainer who has undertaken a project to go from Fit…to Fat…and back to Fit. For 6 months, he has been eating unhealthily and not exercising (a drastic change from his prior healthy active lifestyle), and then will spend the next 6 months working to become fit and healthy again. And why on earth would he do this to himself? “To experience for himself what it’s like to be overweight, how tough it is to lose weight, and ultimately show others how to get fit.”

My goal is to inspire people to get fit, teach them how to do it and give them hope that it IS possible to get fit and stay fit. I want to share my comprehensive fitness knowledge with my followers so that they can know how to lose weight successfully, even though for many it’s going to be a struggle. People that are overweight have to overcome both physical and emotional barriers when it comes to losing weight. I hope to have a better understanding of this through my experience over the next year.

Now, this is obviously an extreme way for somebody to learn about weight loss and the physical and emotional impacts of being overweight. And, at first, I was kind of disgusted by the whole idea. From Tyra donning a fat suit to see how “terrible” it is to be a “fat” person in public (be prepared to read more about this ridiculousness in my Friday post), to Morgan Spurlock personally exploring the consequences on his health of a diet of only fast food in “Supersize Me,” I feel like these experiments have become tiresome and degrading. (I even tried one myself out of necessity one summer while living in West Virginia, where until I tried to only eat from the dollar store, and let me tell you–do not try this at home folks! I put on over 10 lbs in 2 weeks…) But then I started to read the blog that Drew Manning is keeping, and I must admit that I became intrigued and impressed. He is chronicling his experiences in a very detailed and personalized way, focusing on “Physical,” “Mental,” “Emotional,” and “A-ha! Moments” (all extremely important and inter-related facets of the weight loss and weight gain process) and infusing his observations with wit and compassion, instead of the self-deprecation and sense of victimhood that usually seems to surround this sort of “social experiment.” He also is extremely dedicated to the project and to exposing himself to what those he works with suffer with. Drew has gone from 193 pounds 6 months ago to now (with only about two weeks before he begins the reverse transformation) being 264 pounds, and his “self-confidence has become depleted.” He even said himself that “It’s been very tough physically, mentally and emotionally to let myself go like this. The first couple of months were the hardest. I felt like I was going through withdrawals, just like any other addiction. I was jealous seeing people running, going to the gym, and being in shape.” While it is arguable that the entire premise of becoming “fat” in order to prove a point or “learn” about the “other” is problematic (especially when it constitutes actively making yourself unhealthy as the core of the process), the physical, emotional, and social implications of this undertaking are fascinating. I look forward to seeing the results, especially now that the final Fat2Fit portion of the process is beginning.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. TBM permalink
    October 26, 2011 3:32 pm

    I think this is a really interesting, and ultimately admirable, undertaking. I’m surprised that you have mixed feelings about it; from the blurb you posted (I didn’t click through to his blog) it seems he is not at all trying to “prove a point”, but rather to understand the people he works with as a personal trainer and thus more effectively help them. And I don’t really see what the problem is with learning about the “other”, when the other in this case are people who could benefit from the compassion and insight that this process is theoretically giving him.

  2. October 26, 2011 4:21 pm

    The problem is that he isn’t learning from the other but rather from a fabricated other that he is creating. If you read his blog he is coming from a place of pity for those who unlike him ‘feel they can’t/won’t change, and accept what they may lose due to their current lifestyle.’ This is a post about how being fat is making him a bad father and husband. I’m sorry but there is something paternalistic and forced here.

    “Now I know this is different for me than it is for others. I will have to get back in shape and this is all part of a journey that I’m documenting through this website, but the emotion is still real. I think others that are overweight must have similar “moments”. While I’ve personally experienced those individuals saying “enough is enough” and shedding the pounds, what makes me most sad is knowing there are people that feel they can’t/won’t change, and accept what they may lose due to their current lifestyle.”

    I am not trying to dismiss the merits of his undertaking but I do understand Hangry’s concerns that this could get orientalist fast/is already to a certain extent.

  3. Joe permalink
    October 26, 2011 4:59 pm

    very interesting! i think it is probably easier to put on the weight than to take it off (just my opinion though) so it will be neat to read about how he is doing during the reversal back to his healthy/fit self and what he learns from it and can teach others.

  4. October 26, 2011 10:59 pm

    I think what he’s doing is great. If he is, as I’ve read, a lifelong fit athlete, he did not have any prior knowledge of what a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle really feel like to the person living with them and he didn’t understand binges, food cravings and physiological changes like high blood pressure. By staging a six-month unhealthy lifestyle pattern he seems to already recognize how eating a dozen oreos leads to a dozen more, how an afternoon on the couch in front of the TV leads to an evening on the couch in front of the TV, etc. He also felt withdrawal symptoms from his usual lifestyle (e.g., envied people who were running, at the gym, etc.) as he forced himself to change to a different routine…just as someone forcing themselves to cook healthy meals and exercise feels a withdrawal from their customary junk foods and lack of physical activity. I think as he gets back into the fit stage of his project he will gain an even greater understanding of the difficulties of eliminating junk foods and making exercise a priority. I just wonder how his wife is handling it!

  5. October 27, 2011 1:08 am

    My wife and I both read the story of this guy and couldn’t get it off our minds. Maybe he’ll be able to lose the weight but he’ll never get the same body and health back because of all the damage he’s done.

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