My Success Story: From Obese Teen to Fitness Advocate

by Dai Manuel

June 15, 2012 / Category: Fitness Community

Fitness never came naturally to me. Growing up I wasn't an athlete, was relatively inactive and led a sedentary lifestyle. I was nine years old when I started putting the weight on and like many children today, I spent long hours in front of screens. TV, video games, movies and the computer, coupled with sugary treats, pop, chips and other snacks, became my after school past-time. Fast forward a few years and 50 pounds later, my 5 foot 6 inch frame weighed in excess of 220 lbs with a 42 inch waist. I was now a stat - another morbidly obese teenager.

Before I share my story with you, please realize I don't blame anyone for my situation. There's nothing unique or isolated about my story, although it was a catalyst for who I became 20 years later. At the age of 14 I woke up one morning, had a shower like I did every morning, but this morning was different. I normally avoided mirrors whenever I could, but not that day. As I stepped from the shower I caught myself in the mirror. I saw my protruding belly, chubby cheeks and multiple chins, my gaze wandering until eventually ending in a standoff, staring face-to-face with what I had become. As I looked into my own eyes, I started to sob, shedding uncontainable tears. It was that exact moment, my turning point, when I came to a stark realization that something had to change.

With blood-shot eyes and a tear-soaked face, I thought “enough is enough!” and that was it — I’ve never looked back. From that point, on my life changed forever. The self-empowerment lay in realizing and accepting I was in complete control and everything I did came down to a decision.  Through self-education on nutrition, health and fitness, I learned what I needed to do; I started to mountain bike daily, joined a gym and did little daily things that focused on improving my overall health and well-being.

I’ve never gone back to that place, but I’ll never forget what it was like to be there. It helps me relate with those people who are faced with weight challenges. I know how it feels to have people stare at you; I know what it’s like saying “no” to the summer pool parties; I know what it’s like to be out-of-breath after walking up a flight of stairs or the difficulty with simple tasks like tying my shoes. If you’re stuggling like I did, please remember you are not alone.

Today, my passion is to engage and challenge people to live healthy, more active lifestyles. Specifically, I look to help educate and end the childhood obesity epidemic that plagues so many in North America. As the chief operating officer of Fitness Town, a fitness retail chain that offers Life Fitness equipment, I have the pleasure of helping people find the tools to make that change every day.

With every waking moment there exists an opportunity to make a lifelong change that can impact not only your life, but the lives of those around you. 

Just remember, "Always keep moving!”

Dai Manuel