In 2010, at the age of 21, 5’4” FGCU junior Caitlyn Mannherz weighed in at 275 pounds. Her doctor told her she had type 2 diabetes. She struggled with anxiety, depression, fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome.
This month, she was featured in People magazine’s “Half their size” issue, which highlighted six people from around the country with inspiring weight-loss stories.
Now, Mannherz weighs 140 pounds, has her own wellness coaching business, and is studying Biology with a pre-professional track with the goal of becoming a Naturopathic doctor.
“I want to help people become better versions of themselves,” Mannherz told Eagle News, “every day when I look back at who I was, I acknowledge I am a better version of myself, but can also foresee an even better version of myself.”
Her transformation was far from easy. Being raised in a household that lived off of microwaveable meals and processed junk food, Mannherz never knew anything else.
In the fourth grade she failed her first class, and continued on that track until she graduated high school with a 1.6 GPA. Her first two semesters studying Nursing at the County College of Morris (CCM), New Jersey, she failed out.
“I didn’t like myself. I didn’t like what I saw.” Mannherz said.
It was her doctor’s diagnosis of diabetes that kicked Mannherz into gear. “I was sick of being sick,” she told People.
“Just because nobody had taught me how to be healthy, didn’t mean I couldn’t teach myself,” Mannherz said, “when you’re an adult, you can’t blame anybody else for the food you put in your mouth and the decisions you make.”
So, she taught herself how to be healthy. She started to watch what healthy-looking people were eating at restaurants, and what they had in their grocery carts. She used Pinterest to find healthy shopping lists and recipe ideas. She started to seek out fitness and health gurus on social media to learn everything she could about how to get healthy.
Within the first eight months of her journey, she dropped 40 pounds. She decided she was ready to go back to school. Back at CCM, she declared herself a business major and aced her first two semesters. She started to see value in herself and realized she could do anything she set her mind to.
She graduated with her Associate’s degree and a 3.9 GPA in 2014. By that point, her weight loss transformation had been completed and she had started to share her tips and experience with close friends and family, realizing that she could help people achieve the same success she had.
“You have to start to recognize the behaviors that got you to where you are,” Mannherz said, “and then, learn how to change them.”
It was a multiple step process with several obstacles for her to lose half her weight. While shedding pounds, she found she also had to shed unhealthy relationships and habits. She stopped going out a lot and experimented in the kitchen at home. She took the time to learn how to enjoy being alone; how to be alone without being lonely.
When discussing what it was like to end long-time friendships, Mannherz said, “It was hard! I literally went through break-ups with these people, but they say you are most like the five people you spend the most time with, so I had to make sure those people reflected the better version of myself I was trying to be. That they shared my same mentality.”
Mannherz shared some of the tools that contributed hugely to her success: calendars, following the right people on social media, positive affirmations, cost-effective food choices and reading.
“I love calendars. I would have one for food and one for school and another for how I was going to get everything done. It really helped me to change my habits and feel in control,” she said.
Following life coaches like Tony Robbins, celebrities like Oprah and motivational authors like Dr. Wayne Dyer helped Mannherz to learn about all the different ways one can motivate themselves, learn to love themselves, and just be positive.
“We spend so much time on social media, it makes sense to fill our news feeds with positivity. People who are out there to help others,” Mannherz said.
Positive affirmations are a tool that help people to believe the best of themselves. The idea is to tell oneself every day all of the things they want, but reminding themselves that they already are that. For example, “I am strong. I am happy. I am confident.” If you tell yourself these things every day, in the mirror, or in a notebook, or however, you will start to realize that you are those things and it does wonders to one’s self-esteem.
Being educated on where Farmer’s Markets are, and where to find cost-effective healthy foods is vital.
“Eating healthy can be expensive, which can be discouraging, but it doesn’t have to be,” said Mannherz.
Lastly, reading. When Mannherz started to spend a lot of time with herself, she started reading. Self-help books, health books, Twilight, anything.
“Reading allows you to see the world from somebody else’s point of view, and to learn. There’s no better gift. Reading probably helped me the most,” she said.
When asked what her biggest challenges were, Mannherz said not knowing how to cook was her biggest struggle, but with endless resources available online and in books, she knew she didn’t have an excuse to not learn.
Having been a student during the majority of her body and mind transformation, Mannherz says she knows better than anyone that it’s hard, but with proper motivation, it’s more than possible, and each person deserves to be the best version of themselves.
Mannherz can be reached at Facebook.