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Success Story: From Obese Teen to Fitness Advocate


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!”

Fitness Town
Dai Manuel
healthy living
weight loss
Childhood Obesity
Before and After


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