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Povich show to feature A-K men who lost weight

Rex Rutkoski

An Alle-Kiski Valley father and son are taking the story of their dramatic weight loss to a national audience.

Frank Manza, 47, of Harmar and his son Frank, who will be 21 in October, are among featured guests on Friday’s edition of Maury Povich’s syndicated television show, airing at 5 p.m. on Fox/WPGH.

The Manzas, who were chronicled Dec. 1 in a Valley News Dispatch feature story, lost almost a combined 400 pounds without surgery. They accomplished the feat by changing their eating habits and exercising.

The elder Manza can fit in one leg of his former size 64 pants.

His top weight, when he could find a scale that would give him an accurate total, was 427 pounds. He is at his goal weight of 205 pounds.

His son, who, at one point, weighed 472 pounds, now weighs between 275 and 280 pounds.

A 2001 graduate of Springdale High School, and former nose tackle on the football team, the younger Manza is a health and physical education major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, having switched majors from computer science.

The Manzas are an inspiration, says show spokesperson Gary Rosen.

“We love success stories, and this show (the title is ‘We Lost Over 1,000 Pounds And Today We Look Hot’) is all about success stories with dramatic weight loss,” Rosen says. Among guests are the”Subway Twins,” the brothers featured in new advertisements for Subway sandwiches.

Povich reminds that obesity is a major social issue in this country with which a lot of people struggle. “It’s great, not only for our guests, to share their fantastic success stories, but inspirational for our viewers at home watching,” Povich adds. “If there is a message to this show, it’s ‘If I did it, so can you.’ ”

Manza says he and his son hope their appearance will give encouragement to others. “I want people to know everyone doesn’t have to have an operation to lose weight. I’m healthier now, and I feel like a million bucks,” he says. “My doctor says I did it the healthy way: I did it slow, I ate right, and I exercised.”

“If someone wants it bad enough, they can do it. It’s nice to be able to show the world your accomplishments,” his son says. “It really was a very satisfying feeling to go on there. It made me feel like I had accomplished something great. My family and friends are really excited to watch it. My friends are throwing me a ‘Maury Party,’ so I just hope I look good on the show.”

His dad says they were treated well in New York City for the taping. They were flown there and given free lodging, transportation, meals and spending money. “I never felt like such a big shot in my life. I enjoyed every bit of it,” Manza says.

Father and son found Povich to be “a great guy.” “He made you feel very comfortable,” the younger Manza says.

“Maury tells the audience, ‘I want you to meet the new Frank,’ and I walk through a door that has my ‘before’ picture,” his dad says.

The Pittsburgh Pirates, learning that Manza was a major fan, sent a Pirates souvenir gift basket with him to present to Povich on air. Povich related to the audience that father and son, before their weight loss, had difficulty attending games because of the challenge of fitting in the seats. The host announced that they would be guests of the Pirates at a game.

The Manzas enjoyed the Pirates win over Chicago Saturday at PNC Park.

Before his weight loss, the elder Manza says one doctor referred to him as “a walking time bomb.”

“I was a single parent, and I raised my son myself. How we got fat is that every single day, we ate fast food. I didn’t like to cook,” he recalls. He says he was “terribly out of shape” for 12 years.

In his transition to a healthier lifestyle, Manza began dining at Subway four to five times per week. The sandwiches remain a regular part of his menu. Subway’s advertising agency has had discussions about possibly incorporating his story in its advertising messages.

Whatever happens, Manza assures “That guy in the ‘before’ photos is long gone.”

He recalls returning to a flea market where he is a vendor after his weight loss, and a long-time customer did not recognize him.

Manza: “He asked, ‘Whatever happened to that fat guy who used to be here. He was a nice guy.’ I told him, ‘You’ll never see him again.’ ”

Additional Information:

If you watch

What: Maury Povich Show.

When: 5 p.m. Friday.

Where: Fox/WPGH.


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