NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Eric Manis was 282 pounds when he graduated high school. He was on the brink of a new beginning in his life, but moving forward he knew he wasn't healthy.
"I ran into a friend at the doctor's office who had no idea who I was," he said.
His journey began June of 2014. Years later he compiled a video of his progress.
"And when I reminded her, there was just this look, and I wish I could describe the look," Manis said. "But I knew it, it was like 'what happened to him?'"
His first semester of college he got serious about his fitness journey, and then he started to see results.
He made his journey public.
"I first posted about it then, I was like 'Hey guys, I know you haven't heard from me but I have lost 45 pounds, and I've started this journey.' I was just expecting a couple of people to say something but it really got an amazing response," he said.
Harnessing the power of social media, he started posting the videos, hoping to inspire others, to join him on his journey to health.
"It made me feel like I was making a difference," Manis said.
But he admits what many fitness success stories do not, that not only was it a difficult process, but when he hit a weight loss plateau, he hit a major setback.
"In about August of 2015 I started losing the weight in an unhealthy way. I stopped eating, I developed bulimia," he said.
A standstill in progress resulted in developing habits he would soon rely on the community he was inspiring to get him back on track.
"And I made a post one night, it was 3 a.m.," Manis said. "I was at Planet Fitness and said. 'Hey guys sometimes your demons get the best of you but you gotta keep going', and then some of the comments and I had a friend call me to say 'Keep going, keep going.'"
It was all he needed for another breakthrough.
"It really felt like I had the entire community behind me," he said. "I'm not going to let the scale tell me how I feel about myself, even if this is where I stop in the weight lose journey. I am happy because I have been a success."
So with the support from others he pushed past his darkest time, and when he hit his goal, he learned the most valuable lesson.
"And it was in that moment I realized I could help others," Manis said. "It wasn't about me anymore. It wasn't about my journey, it was about how I could use my journey to help and inspire others."
Which led to a social media empire, which he hopes to inspire others that if you set your mind to it, and have a little fun, you can not only survive, but thrive.
You can follow Manis' journey at his Facebook page.