Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness and nutrition courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
Growing up, Ellie Marie Manacchio realized that she didn’t look like her peers.
“I was always the heavy kid in a room of super-thin friends,” she remembers. “My dad told me I was ‘big boned’ and that it was just our family’s genetics.” Manacchio came from a big Italian family — with big Italian appetites for pasta, pizza and other carb-heavy dishes. “I was bullied for being overweight and would eat to cope with my depression,” she says.
In eighth grade, Manacchio moved to a new school, but the fresh start she was hoping for never happened. In fact, the bullying only got worse, and she became so depressed that the school’s guidance counselor became concerned and called in her parents.
“I was at rock bottom, but I swore that I wouldn’t let anyone bully me again,” she says. “I was going to take control, get healthy and fit, and pull myself out of that depression.”
Starts and Stops
Manacchio started doing her mother’s old boot-camp and kickboxing workout videos in her basement every day. She read up about calories and tracked her food using measuring cups, a food scale and MyFitnessPal. She was on a roll and had lost a considerable amount of weight when a knee dislocation and subsequent surgery sidelined her efforts. “My eating habits again were out of control and the weight packed back on,” she says.
Concerned, her parents hired everyone they could think of who might help their daughter — a personal trainer, a holistic doctor, a nutritionist — but none of their advice or techniques seemed to stick or make a real difference for Manacchio.
Her Forever Plan
Finally, Manacchio found a solution that worked for her and made sense: tracking her macros.
“I could be more flexible with my food choices, and I stopped labeling foods as ‘off-limits,’” she says. “And as long as [a food] fit within my macros, I could enjoy things I loved in moderation.”
Manacchio also changed things up with her workouts, reducing the amount of cardio she was doing while increasing the frequency of her resistance training.
Within eight months, Manacchio had lost the weight and was so excited about her new trajectory that she hired a coach to help her prep for a bikini competition. “I was petrified of stepping onstage in a bikini and having my body judged, but I wanted to see if it was even possible to get that toned and lean,” she says. As it turns out, it was very possible: Manacchio competed in that show as well as two others, one of which qualified her for the NPC Nationals in 2019.
Manacchio is now a certified nutritionist and NASM-certified personal trainer, and her current goal is to earn her IFBB pro card. “I have helped hundreds of women reclaim their lives, confidence and happiness by achieving their fitness goals in the most sustainable manner possible,” she says.
Ellie Marie Manacchio/ Huntington Beach, California
Weight before/after: 180/110
Dress size before/after: 14/2
Occupation: Online nutrition and fitness coach
Ellie Marie’s Favorites
Mantra: All I need to do is start; the rest will come.
Advice: Make and meet small goals, such as drinking more water or getting more sleep. When added together, these small victories lead to your bigger goal.
Move: Romanian deadlifts
Meal: Chipotle chicken fajita bowls: leafy greens, black beans, sauteed peppers and onions, grilled chicken, salsa, avocado and a dollop of light sour cream. For a tortilla-like crunch, I add finely chopped fresh cabbage.