Dai Manuel: From Fat to Fit Why I Do What I Do

Dai Manuel’s Why: From Fat to Fit Why I Do What I Do

I was an obese teenager…

There, I said it.  It’s hard for me to admit but for a better part of 7 years of my life, I battled the war on the bulge.

At the age of 14, at a height of 5 feet 6 inches, I had a 38” waist and tipped the scale at nearly 200 pounds.  According to the Body Mass Index, I was morbidly obese.  How did I get there?

Well, that was the easy part.  Like many kids, I spent much of my days from the ages of 8 to 15 playing video games, watching TV and eating whatever I wanted.  I wasn't healthy, and worst of all, I wasn't educated on what I was doing to my body both inside and out.


Along with some of the health complications I bore, one of the hardest things to deal with as an obese teenager were the stigmas that come with being overweight. Children are mean, but teenagers are cruel.  I lived with constant ridicule from my peers,  overwhelmed with embarrassment when changing for gym class, and dealing with the snickering of children I’d pass in the playground were just a few of the scenes that I replay in my mind when I think back to my early years.  I never wore shorts in the summertime and I always wore baggy clothing in trying to camouflage my protruding belly.

At the age of 14, one Sunday morning, I looked at myself in the mirror. Thoughts of suicide and self-loathing filled me and I broke down sobbing. With blood-shot eyes and a tear-soaked tee-shirt, I thought “enough is enough!” and that was it — and I’ve never looked back. From that point on my life changed forever. The secret was the empowerment in realizing and accepting I was in complete control of me. 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.

What I learned while on the journey…

I've never gone back to that place, but I don’t forget what it was like.  It helps me relate to those people who face weight challenges.  I know how it feels to have people stare at you; I know what it’s like having to say “no” to the summer social and pool parties; I know what it’s like when out of breath after walking up a flight of stairs or the difficulty with simple tasks like tying my shoes – it’s the little things that seem the hardest to do… but never forget, you're not alone.

My passions now are to…

My passion is to engage and challenge people in living healthy, more active lifestyles.  With increasing obesity rates and a lack of focus and education on preventive medicine, our country is facing a health epidemic.  The solution starts with parents modeling a healthy active lifestyle for their children to follow.  Everyone needs the inspiration to change and someone to hold them accountable to their fitness goals.  It’s my promise to offer inspiration, education, equipment, and training – specifically supporting families – so that childhood obesity is no longer an issue in our country.

Remember, 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. 

…it’s with that in mind that I do what I do.

Through education and support, I’m committed to helping both the young and old of today learn the benefits of healthy, active living. Together, childhood obesity will no longer be an issue facing our world.

To get a little sense for who I am, here's an interview I did with the Whole Food Project:

Formerly Chief Operating Officer and partner of Fitness Town Inc, I helped our teams help our clients in 8 retail stores and 2 commercial divisions. Raised in Bowmanville, Ontario, I now live with my 2 children and loving wife, Christie, in Vancouver, B.C. With my spare time, I'm an active member of Toastmasters and when not honing my public speaking skills, I live out my passion for writing and sharing best health and fitness practices as the editor of DaiManuel.com.

On Business: “3 tips to get you into entrepreneurial shape”

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  1. Hope your new high-intensity yoga workout is going well;) Your enthusiasm and passion for life and fitness shines through in your words as always. If someone could only capture your smile in a photo it would be perfect;)


    • Thanks, Jon! Yoga… I would have never thought I’d find myself agreeing with your comment, but yes, its high intensity. You should go check out a class in Kelowna. You’ll love how you feel afterwards. hope you are well and talk to you soon.

  2. Dai – you have a great attitude and passion for fitness. Thanks for sharing and motivating!

  3. Merely wanna input that you have a very nice website , I the style and design it really stands out.

  4. Hi Dai

    I like your ATTITUDE that to me is what counts,


    Bray TM 4488 District 71 Ireland

  5. Great site man! I really like your passion for fitness and well being! Look forward to training with you some day soon at Clarke’s house!

  6. Chris Hartridge

    Thanks for sharing your ‘why’ Dai. I can totally relate. When I was in high school my nickname was ‘Doughboy’. Fast forward a few years and my wife and I share your passion for engaging people to live happy, active and healthy lifestyles. Our fitness studio in Quesnel is a place where lives change. Keep up YOUR good work!

    • I totally hear you on the ‘doughboy’ nickname. i had that one too for a spell. ah well, it’s where we came from and has helped shaped us into the people we are today. i appreciate you taking the time to make the comment. You on Facebook?

  7. I hope to just get to normal. What a hoss to go competitive. Just linked to your site as a success story to help stay motivated.

  8. Oh, and a question: As far as I know, CrossFit hasn’t offered certification specifically for dealing with obese clients. Is that right?

    Also just wanted you to know it’s a coincidence I’ve got the same WordPress theme as you–I just found your site today and had picked it out about a week ago…weird.

    • Thanks for the comments and taking the time to drop me a note. As far as I know, there’s no courses specifically targeted at helping/dealing with Obese clients yet. That being said I know that the nutrition courses and mobility courses would be beneficial in teaching specifics that would be helpful with dealing with obese clients.

  9. Hi Dai, thanks for all the motivation you have given me over the few throw downs that I have attended, many more to follow. Now if I could only figure out how to get the notifications earlier hehe!!!! See you soon at the next throw down

    • Hersh, it is great having you join us at the Sunday Throwdowns. Thank you for always bring a big heart, smile and positive attitude that inspires all of us to work harder and harder. See you at the next Sunday Funday Throwdown!

  10. Really interesting story – I really enjoyed this Dai.

  11. kind and great trainer

  12. Amazing transformation. Your clients must be inspired by you!

  13. I love to see these transformations as i’ve done the same myself and it’s awesome how much better I feel. More energy, can wear good clothes where before I didn’t look good in anything, much more confident.. so many benefits 🙂

  14. I have been watching YouTube videos and reading about your story all night and am feeling inspired. What a fantastic accomplishment! I currently live in Bowmanville and felt even more of a connection with you when I heard you grew up here. All the best for your continued success!

    • Laura, it’s a pleasure to e-meet you. thank you for stopping by and leaving a few comments. Can’t believe how small a world it is… that you’re a fellow Bowmanvillian to boot! 😉 let me know if you have any questions… hope to see you in the Whole Life Fitness Manifesto tribe some day soon.

  15. Hi Dai, I am on the hunt for a motivational fitness guru to give me sound, expert advice and I’m feeling like you might be the One 🙂 You mentioned in your video that when you cut out Aspartame altogether, you lost the little bit of a mid-section in 3 weeks. I have the same problem – I eat a low-carb, paleo-style (not 100%) diet, workout regularly and consider myself fitter than the average person. However, I have that small amount of fat around the mid-section. I do chew a lot of gum with Aspartame – about 15 – 20 pieces a day. It’s so high because I’ll chew 2 pieces at a time and generally get sick of chewing after 30 – 45 minutes and will spit it out and then half an hour later will want to chew again. It breaks up the monotony of my desk job because I have to sit there all day. Anyway, my question is, do you think the aspartame could be the culprit and that I should cut that out?
    Thank you and looking forward to getting to know you better!

    • Hi Sandee! thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I have an autoimmune disease (called neutropenia). based on that diagnosis along with a few food sensitivities, I’ve figured out what acts as a trigger and tend to eat foods that reduce inflammation rather than create it. So, got rid of sugars (for the most part), dairy (for the most part) and gluten along with artificial sweeteners and preservatives.

      I think it might be worth exploring and trying to see how it is going without aspartame for a month and noting how you feel. Also, what’s your water intake and sleep patterns like? Do you drink a lot of coffees and such? Cortisol plays into midriff fat retention as well. (If you are looking for a good read, check out Dr. Taubes book ‘Why we get fat’.

  16. Johnny Zachariah

    Dai Manuel is a master manipulater. He never tells you how he bullied a middle eastern man in the past. Don’t drink his Kool aid

  17. Truly inspirational stuff, keep up the hard work and quality content!

  18. Great work. I like your stuff. Keep it up

  19. Very inspiring information. I need to get more committed and motivated when it comes to my fitness journey. Your blog is very inspirational.
    Thanks for the post.

  20. your hard work is great !!

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