News | January 26, 2016


Student uses weight-loss journey to inspire others

3 - minute read

Editor’s note: FGCU junior Caitlyn Mannherz, 26, was one of six people featured in People magazine’s “Half Their Size” issue in January for their dramatic weight loss stories. An Honors student with a focus on biology and pre-med, she shed 140 pounds over four-plus years. FGCU360 asked her to write in her own words about her journey, her experience being thrust into a national spotlight and her commitment to help others.

Caitlyn gets her hair and makeup done for her People magazine photo shoot in New York City.
Caitlyn gets some pampering for her People magazine photo shoot in New York City.

I completely turned my life around about 5 years ago. At 21 years old, I weighed 275 pounds and was diagnosed with the onset of type 2 diabetes. After graduating from high school with a 1.6 GPA and failing my first two semesters in college, I felt as though my life had no purpose.

By the grace of God I stumbled upon a book that helped me understand the power of my own thoughts — “I See Your Dream Job” by Sue Frederick. It helped me to see the common thread that ran through my life and unveil my passions. There is a spiritual side of reality that we can all access if we pay attention. This book provided a framework to help me gain the confidence that I needed to take the bold step of changing my life. I was always intrigued with the unseen forces of nature, so it was no surprise that a book about spiritual significance caught my attention. I started to see how the coincidences in my life were lining up for something greater.

I went on a spiritual and nutritional rampage of research that transformed my body, seemingly overnight. I lost 140 pounds through clean eating, meditation and the practice of daily positive affirmations. What I didn’t expect was how much my attitude would change as well. I became happy, and it overflowed into every aspect of my life.

I returned to college at 22 and received my associate’s degree with a 3.9 GPA from the County College of Morris (CCM) in New Jersey. CCM elected me as scholarship recipient of the year and asked that I speak at its annual scholarship gala. In 2015, I transferred to FGCU as a biology major, and the opportunities started appearing from everywhere. The Fort Myers News-Press heard my story and featured me in an article about weight loss; then People magazine reached out to include me in their annual “Half Their Size” issue.

lost 140 pounds through clean eating, meditation and the practice of daily positive affirmations.
Caitlyn lost 140 pounds through clean eating, meditation and the practice of daily positive affirmations.

In all honesty, the experience made me realize how far I’ve come and I’m incredibly grateful. Lots of people sent submissions for People’s “Half Their Size” issue, but I was one of six they chose. That part blew me away. I was nervous. I was apprehensive. It was overwhelming and required a certain degree of vulnerability. I had to send before and after photos and put pictures of myself out on the Internet that weren’t exactly flattering. Having done it, I’m so glad I did.

I credit these accomplishments to aligning with my “higher” self. If you asked me five years ago what I thought about meditation, visualization and gratitude I would have thought you were crazy. But I proved to myself firsthand that it works. By clearing out clutter and eliminating distractions, I made room for those little miracles that bring opportunities seemingly unexpectedly. I have received job opportunities, scholarships, and improved relationships with family and friends that made people very curious about what I was doing.

I now have a wellness coaching business where I help people envision the best version of themselves. My mission is to improve the quality of the human experience for as many people as possible. When you envision the best version of yourself, the opportunities present themselves. I envisioned a platform to share my experiences and had full faith in its attainment. I am gratefully enjoying the fruits of these efforts as each opportunity appears in miraculous ways.

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