“This is not a diet–it’s my life,” Noel Manning’s journey to health

By: Ellen Laws

Three years following an alarming doctor’s visit and a family intervention, Noel Manning, associate vice president of Communications and Marketing at Gardner-Webb, now weighs 60 pounds less and continues to take charge of his health. 

“My children told me, ‘Dad, we want you to be around. We’re kind of worried about you and worried about your health.’ That’s when I knew I had to make my lifestyle change,” said Manning.

Noel Manning, right, before his weight loss.
Noel Manning, right, before his weight loss.

His fast metabolism had always kept him from gaining weight when he was younger, but he slowly but steadily gained weight in his 30s and started having health problems. He started taking heavy doses of pills for high blood pressure and cholesterol related issues.

During a regular checkup in June 2012, Manning’s doctor told him that due to the 15 pounds he had gained earlier that year, he was in danger for diabetes and a list of other illnesses based on his blood work. His doctor told him that there wasn’t a quick fix or a magic pill that would allow him to get healthy and lose weight. The next day, after hearing the bad news from the doctor, his children finally had an intervention with him.

“My brother and I started encouraging him to exercise and lose weight. We both just knew he wasn’t as healthy as he should be,” said Kathryn Manning, Noel Manning’s daughter and Gardner-Webb sophomore.

Manning started walking for 30 minutes a day and gradually increased to an hour a day. He walked, weight trained and used MyFitnessPal, a free online calorie counter, in order to help him get healthy.

“My goal was to run a race with my son because he was a runner. I lost 65 pounds before I started running,” said Manning. “Once I ran my first 5k I learned that I love running.” Noel has continued running since that day.

Noel Manning, right, and his son after a race.
Noel Manning, right, and his son after a race.

“I’ve definitely noticed a change in his personality, and how much energy he has,” said Kathryn Manning. “We used to take walks as a family, and he would be always lagging behind. Now, we are the ones trying keeping up with him.”

Having already made a drastic change in his pill dosage, energy levels and general health, Manning continues to draw inspiration for his new lifestyle from his wife and kids. He has overcome many obstacles, from struggling to gain weight in his youth to struggling to lose it in adulthood.

“When you have a lot of weight on you people do look at you differently—sometimes not in a positive way. Some people can say some pretty nasty things to you, and I have been on both sides of that,” said Manning. The best advice I can give is to be patient and take it as slow as you need to because it is something that can become a change in your life,” said Manning.


  1. Thanks for sharing my story. I’ve discovered that most people can make a life change if they truly have the desire, and discipline to follow through. The road may not be easy, and it may be a long one – and reaching the goal (no matter what that may be) doesn’t happen without some type of conflict or challenge showing up in the path to overcome. Persevering through the adversity can make us stronger in the end. I’m thankful for the continued support I have on my ongoing health journey. #embracelife

  2. By watching Noel Thomas Manning start slowly along this journey, and, to see him win awards in running events, has shown me that anyone who has the determination to make a change in their life can do that. I know from experience that it has to be a part of your daily routine. It is a part of “never giving up” on what you can become in life. You can start at any age to become better. Congratulations Noel for inspiring so many.

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