5 Reasons Why Drew Manning’s Fit2Fat2Fit Experiment Is Flawed

Fit2Fat2Fit Sounds Like A Good Idea

Drew Manning’s attempt to resonate with his client’s by deliberately gaining 70 pounds seems like a good idea. But, did he really accomplish what he set out to do?

Drew is the healthy, fit personal trainer that gained 70 pounds so that he would be better able to understand the struggles that his overweight clients were experiencing.  Drew recognized that he wasn’t as effective as he could be because he wasn’t able to relate to them. He decided an overweight, out of shape Drew would be able to feel their pain.

During the weight gain phase of his program he ate fast food and junk and didn’t work out.  He found that his energy lagged, he felt self-conscious about his appearance and experienced cravings for sodas and fast food.

Just this week he made an appearance on Good Morning America and looked just like he did a year ago before he gained the weight – muscular, healthy and tan.

The public’s reaction to this is all over the board.  Some think it’s great that he put himself through a dramatic weight gain – risking his own health – so that he could feel what it’s like to be overweight.  Other people say he couldn’t possibly know how they feel because he knew all along that he would be able to lose the weight and get back to his training routine.  And of course there are those that think that it was a money making stunt and the end result is that he is now rich, famous and has a book deal .

Is It Possible To Walk In Someone Else's Shoes?

It’s The Ole’ Walk A Mile In My Shoes Approach

Drew isn’t the first person to decide to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.  There are tons of stories about people that have lived the life of a homeless person for a period of time to have a better understanding of what that is really like.  Men have become women, white people have painted themselves black, brunettes have died their hair blond, and thin people have stuffed their clothes to appear to be overweight.

All of these people are trying to find out what it feels like to be a person who’s living a life more difficult than their own because of appearance, size, or ethnic background. Taking on the guise of another person is probably as close as we can become to knowing what it’s like to be someone else.  Let’s not kid ourselves. We may be a tad closer, but still too far away to matter.

Drew’s experiment enlightened him somewhat but the things that he was not able to experience may be more important than what he did.  There are five essentials that were not captured during the course of his Fit2Fat2Fit project which make it impossible for him to really know what it feels like to be in his client’ s skin.

1.  Overwhelming frustration.  Once Drew gained the 70 pounds it was not long before he began sizing back down to where he was before which spared him the frustration that comes from knowing that the ultimate challenge is to keep the weight off.  Losing weight and keeping it off is not typical for most dieters.  It’s estimated that 95% of people that lose weight gain it back and are faced with figuring out how to get rid of it – again!  The easy way is to reach for a quick trick like the Body By Vi 90 Day Challenge or Total Body Makeover program and the gain, lose, gain, lose cycle begins.

2. Limited knowledge about diet and nutrition.  People that are in the health and fitness industry don’t realize that people that aren’t don’t know what or how much they need to eat. If everyone had solid nutritional information and knew what worked there would be no such thing as the grapefruit, cabbage soup, Caveman, Belly Fat Cure or Park Avenue diets.

For the average person that wants to lose 70 pounds without going about it in a way that will hurt them down the road, there is a lot of trial and error unless they hire a nutritionist or wellness coach.  Not everyone is able to do that. A general lack of knowledge about nutrition can sabotage the best efforts.  Personal trainers, on the other hand, are very knowledgeable about diet and nutrition and have learned how to prepare kale and Brussels sprouts so they are palatable.

 3.  Lack of motivation – and time – to exercise. This is a close cousin to #2.  Workout junkies (like me and Drew) don’t completely understand why it’s so hard for people to get up and go to the gym before work, or go afterwards and postpone evening plans until we’re done. What if you love to read, paint, scrapbook, write, play the piano or watch movies?  Going to the gym or taking a walk after work takes time away from you being able to do the things that you love.

For those of us that enjoy taking fitness classes, running or bicycling, we’re spending our free time doing what we love.  If someone told me I had to sit and read a book for an hour and a half every morning before work – during the time that I’m usually working out – I wouldn’t be able to do it for very long either.

4.  Temptation to fall back into old (bad) habits.  – Drew’s natural inclination is to go back to doing the things he did before he gained the weight. That’s good news for Drew.  When he slips back into his old habits he’ll lose weight and body fat, and gain muscle mass.  He’ll eat nutritious meals and get plenty of exercise daily.  The behaviors he’s established over the years will get him back to where he was before he gained the weight.  What if the old habits are a soda, bag of chips and remote control? Going back to the old behaviors is going to be a problem.

5.  Fear that the weight will return.  People that successfully lose weight live in fear of gaining it back. Checking the scale, counting calories, logging foods in the phone app becomes an obsession.  A missed workout or a cookie binge can lead to guilt, depression and self-loathing.  Getting a handle on living life in a new and different way after losing weight is an enormous challenge for people.  For someone that has gained the weight back and is starting over – remember that’s about 95% – their life revolves around the next slip up.

Am I Being Too Hard On Drew?

I think Drew’s heart is in the right place but at the same time I think that the Fit2Fat2Fit ‘I want to feel what you feel’ project over simplifies broader issues and doesn’t do justice to the challenge of the life long behavior change that’s required for weight loss and management.

Drew’s back to being who he is and doing what he does best.  His client’s haven’t changed either.  They will continue to struggle daily with their decision to go to the gym instead of spending that time doing what they love.

What do you think?  Does Drew Manning get it now or did he attempt to do the impossible?


  1. I think this was very well said, and I agree with a lot of the points that were made concerning Drew Manning and his project. I think going through a process where someone has struggled with the battled of the bulge, the emotional and mental difficulties that overweight people go through on a daily bases is not even comparable to a personal trainer that woke up one morning and said,”hey i have and idea!” Ill gain weight, lose it and claim to have an understanding to what these people go through everyday. I doubt it. This is a guy who has been in tip top shape his whole life, just because he was overweight for a measly six months and then had the experience and the means to lose it just as quickly is sort of a cop out. How does that compare to someone who’s been struggling with food and weight they re whole life? When it comes down to it I don’t think drew manning did this out of the kindness of his heart, I think this was just a means to get his name and face out there and to make $$. I heard he even quit his job. So basically his full time “job” was to eat healthy and exercise and then document it! Makes losing that weight a little bit easier and getting paid to do it, well that s just the icing on the cake! So do I think Drew Manning is some kind of hero for the overweight? Hardly. Id rather see someone who’s actually struggled with they’re weight their whole lives and lose it! That’s impressive. Not some guy who’s never had to struggle and just wants an ego boost!

    • Jane, I totally agree with you. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt – a little- but at the end of the day he is as clueless as he was when he started only now he thinks he understands something he doesn’t. Maybe he is worse off. I can’t figure out what he’s doing in the personal training business really. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Absolutely well said. Moreover, given he has actually felt the addiction, it will be interesting to see how he does in the coming years.

    • Thank you and I agree about the addiction issue. I was wondering about that as well. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Marylyn says:

    I agree with Jane. You are talking about “apples & oranges”. From a person who struggles with weight, he can’t understand. Life kicks in, people have variables that cause us to struggle with weight. Yes, we all would love to be a personal trainer and know the ins and outs of losing weight. I personally had weight issues, growing up I was super skinny, my nickname was “Olive Oil” (Popeye’s girlfriend or love interest LOL) and my mother would struggle with finding pants that were either long enough or the waist would fit for me. When I started having children I started getting birth control shots and I gained 60 pounds, and for my height and frame that was too much. Every since then I have lost and gained, lost and gained and now finally I have a grasp of what I need to do to lose the weight. It has been a struggle and I am finally at the weight I need to be. Drew’s motivate may have been done with good intentions, but honestly he can’t understand my life long battle with weight!

  4. Jonathan says:

    The author never said he would completely understand what it’s like to be overweight, he only said he was going to try to understand. If I wanted to feel what it was like to run a marathon, I could of course, run a marathon. If that was not feasible, I could run a 5K or even a 10K in an attempt to understand. When I finished, I could not honestly say I fully understood the pain associated with running all 26.2 miles, but I would better understand vs. having never run any distance. Let’s give the guy some credit. After all, look at the thousands who have followed his plan and lost tons of weight. If nothing else, he has inspired others to lose weight and get healthy.

    • You’re right Jonathan. He really did all that he could do to understand what his client’s were going through. It’s impossible for any of us to know what it’s like to be someone else. Good for him for trying. I appreciate your commenting on Drew’s behalf.

    • Marylyn says:

      I agree with you Jonathan, I’m not totally disagreeing with Drew because now he can understand how his clients are struggling to lose weight. Its not easy and until you are in their shoes, sort of speak, you can’t understand. I’m glad he is bringing awareness to obesity and losing weight.

  5. I am about halfway through his book. In my case, unlike his, I don’t eat zingers or sugared cereal, soda or even fruit juice. But I do eat sweets, although it’s usually a couple of 1/2 servings a day; so I felt like whoa, I never through caution to the wind and eat what I want… that’s what is so frustrating to gain weight when you don’t pig out on a regular basis. I can gain 5 lbs in two days on less than 4000 calories, but I can’t cut out white stuff completely enough to get thin. So I felt “how can he identify? Does he gain weight on moderation?” But everyone is different and I suppose I should just ignore that.

    His wife wrote a section on how she felt about his weight gain and basically said she would consider divorcing him if it kept up, not only because of how he looked (yes, that was a consideration, albeit not the major one), but his attitude of hopelessness. I hope he never has a chronic health issue, because she’ll be out the door.

    One thing I am impressed with was his plan. It was brilliant, it got him noticed and made him a niche in the fitness genre.

    • Wow. I love your comment. It is very insightful and the wife’s point of vies is quite revealing. You’re right that it got him noticed. Whether or not it will have any impact on his clients remains to be seen. Thanks for you comment, Jenny!

  6. I am seeing a lot of disturbing posts here. I have been relatively fat my entire life, except for the short 6 month section where i went to bootcamp for 3 of those months and then gained all of the weight back. But now I am 6’0″ at 200 pounds and pretty lean. For 17 years my body fat was 29% or higher, but i changed my habits, started eating right and did what had to be done to get what i wanted. It was HARD. But I made the change.

    What this man has done isn’t rediculous at all. Yes, it is easier for him to get on a diet program and stick to it because he is more knowledgeable and has better habits than the rest of us, but he isn’t a freakin superhuman. His body isnt made up of something alien. He became obese and lost it the correct way. Just like almost every other person can. (I say almost because there are some people with disorders or glandular problems) For most of us it is just Laziness.

    Its easy for us to look at him and say “Well he has good habits, so it was easy for him”, or “He was already fit before so he knew he could do it.” All of that is a load of garbage. While it’s true he has good habits and confidence, he wasn’t born with those. He developed them. Through hard work. Yes, he may enjoy that work, but that doesn’t mean he had to do less of it than the rest of us.

    You HAVE to make a choice. If you want to get fit then you have to put in the work. You have to change your habits. Don’t say “poor pitiful me, everyone else has it soo much easier…” Make a change, and stick to it. Change doesnt happen overnight. If you truly want to get fit then it can take a long time. You have to decide if it is important enough. If it is not that important, and you would rather watch your movies and read your book and eat your chips, then that is 100% fine too. Do what makes you happy. But i can tell you from experience that coming to places like this, and jumping on the bandwagon of “It is so much harder for me than it was for him”, is not going to make you happy or help you reach any of your goals.

    Go and be happy, whether that means being fit, or thin, or fat, or any other size and shape. Don’t waste your life envying what other people have.

    P.S. (to Jennyct)You cant gain 5lbs in 2 days eating less than 4000 calories unless you have a medical issue or that weight is mostly water, food in your stomach, or waste. 1 lb of fat represents 3,500 calories. Alot of people think they have gained 5 lbs of fat just because they had alot of salt and are retaining water. you should mostly look at inches, not weight, when you are starting out.

    • John – I certainly appreciate your comments and congratulations to you for changing your habits to experience a healthier lifestyle. There has been some good banter in the comment section about Drew’s experiment. Thanks for throwing your thoughts into the mix.

      You are right on track when you say do what makes you happy. Maybe our society is simply too hung up on how people look and what size they are. Thanks for sharing your comments on this blog.

  7. William says:

    You forgot being fat long enough that when you lose all the weight, you still feel fat in your head. He could never know what that’s like.