Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fit to Fat to Fit

When I first saw this story in the media, I initially wrote it off as just an attempt for this trainer to gain notoriety. However, when I took the time to read his story, I actually found it quite impactful.

What fascinated me about Drew Manning’s journey from “Fit 2 Fat 2 Fit,” was his reason for doing it. You see, Manning was admittedly a “judgmental” trainer. He assumed that all obese people were “lazy,” and simply did not take responsibility for their health, but what he experienced first-hand was a far more painful and emotionally grueling battle. Embarking on a six-month journey that deliberately added 72 pounds to his frame and 14 inches to his waistline, Manning learned that obesity, in addition to its many physical complications, is accompanied by extreme mental and emotional side effects. During his experiment, where he shunned exercise and consumed excessive amounts of junk food, Manning went from being the buff super-trainer, full of energy, life and motivation, to suffering from lethargy, low self-esteem, and a lack of desire to engage in every-day activities that previously brought him joy─ like playing with his 2-year-old daughter. In short, his experiment brought him fresh insight into the minds of people that struggle constantly with obesity.

Now don’t get me wrong, I realize that there are plenty of lazy people out there, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Just as there are those who have medical conditions that make it extremely difficult for them to lose weight. The key that I am pointing out is the ever-present relationship between obesity, lethargy, lack of motivation and even depression, which perpetuates in a vicious cycle of poor health habits.

Of course, I’m not recommending that we join Manning in shunning the gym and eating Twinkies as a path to enlightenment, but I do think that the lesson he learned is one that we can all glean from.

The lesson?

Obesity is not only a physical health challenge that is wreaking havoc on our society; it’s an epidemic that is destroying the emotional health and stability of more than a third of the U.S. population. You see, obesity is more than just the battle of the bulge; it’s a battle of the mind. But I believe it’s a battle that can be won, not by introducing more government regulation, but by understanding that the fight begins with a renewing of the mind. Whether you’re personally battling obesity or you’re a physician, trainer, nutritionist or educator providing support for clients trying to overcome obesity, it will require a combination of daily encouragement, motivation and sound dietary and fitness instruction. As Manning put it…

“It's not just about the physical. It's not just about the meal plan and the workouts and those things. The key is the mental and the emotional issues. I realized those issues are real.”