Left: December, 2011.  Middle: June 2012, immediately after first 5K. Right: January 2013.

Left: December, 2011. Middle: June 2012, immediately after first 5K. Right: January 2013.

  • October, 2008 – Started the blog, named it The Fat Pastor after being shocked at weighing 301 at the doctor.
  • March 2011 – I answer the question, “Why do you call yourself The Fat Pastor?”
  • February 13, 2012 – Weigh in at doctor is 329, and decide to begin using Lose It! I keep track of everything I eat, and it begins to pay off quickly, losing the first 10 pounds in a week.
  • April 27, 2012 – Weigh in at gym at 298.5, under 300 for the first time in four years.
  • June 7, 2012 – Susan G Komen Race for the Cure 5K – Finish in about 36:00, right at my goal of a 12 minute mile pace. I wrote this blog: “First in my weight class”
  • June 14, 2012 – Weigh 288 at the gym.  Making it 40 pounds lost.  Also the beginning of four months of no weight loss.
  • July, 2012 – I am inspired by a saying, and create this meme: “The workout begins when you want to quit.”
  • July 4, 2012 – On the hottest fourth of July in Moline’s history, I run the Firecracker 5K in 35:15, slightly faster in much worse conditions then my first 5k.
  • August 4, 2012 – I ran the Crimestoppers 5K in 33:47, beating my goal of an 11 minute mile pace.
  • September 2012 – Daughter’s kindergarten starts, which means some weeks include 4 workouts, instead of topping at 3.
  • October 16, 2012 – I weigh in at 292.  Frustrated by four months of stagnant weight, I start doing using Lose It! again.  Drop four pounds in a week.
  • October 27, 2012 – Run the fourth 5K of the year.  My unofficial time was 31:40.  I walked a total of three steps while drinking water, and finished strong.  This was the first time that at the end of 3.1 miles I thought I could keep going.
  • November 14, 2012 – Agree to run the Soldier Field 10-Mile on May 25.  It is six months and a week away, and I haven’t gone past 3.1 miles in years.  The longest run I’ve ever done was a 5-mile St. Patrick’s Day run in St. Louis in 2004.  I’m already wondering what I’ve gotten myself into.
  • January 18, 2013 – Ran 5 miles in 51:00, making the thought of a 10 mile run more real.  I’ve made it half way, and have four months to train.  Weighed 265.
  • January 29, 2013 – Ran a 5K on the treadmill in 29:40, breaking goal of under 30:00.
  • February 8, 2013 – Weigh in after workout: 259, reaching goal that was set on February 24, 2012.
  • March 16, 2013 – Ran in the Davenport Saint Patrick’s Day 5K. Goal was to complete first official 5K in under 30:00.  Finished in 26:52.  The second 2.5 K was faster than the first 2.5 K.
  • April 24, 2013 – Ran a treadmill 5K in 26:00.  Weighed in at 249 pounds.  I do not think that I have weighed this much since college.
  • May 25, 2013 – Ran the Soldier Field 10-Miler in 1:38:30, just under my goal of 100 minutes.
  • June 22, 2013 – Ran the Railroad Days 5K in 26:28.  The conditions were tough, and my preparation was poor, but I still kept my PR streak alive.  I had taken about two weeks off at the end of the school year, and had two mediocre runs the week of the 5K.  Plus, the night before the race I stayed up way too late at a youth event and made some poor eating choices (Ruffles and French Onion Dip is my Kryptonite).  During the race I kept telling myself, “Stop making excuses, and keep making progress.”  In the end I was rewarded with my first running “trophy.”  I finished second in the Men’s 35-39 division, and won a railroad spike.
  • Thanksgiving, 2013 – I ran in a Five mile Turkey Trot.  I finished in 47:42.  I was happy with my time, especially given the fact that I was probably sick at the time.  The next day I had a 103 degree fever, and was sick off-and-on for all of December.  I didn’t run again until January.  Over that time, I put on a few pounds and really lost some cardiovascular endurance.
  • Advent 2013 – I barely participated in the first Virtual Run to Bethlehem.  23 people combined to run 255 miles together between Thanksgiving and Epiphany.  I contributed 5 miles.  My Pulpit Fiction partner Eric added 27.  I’m hoping to top him next year.
  • February 7, 2014 – I ran four miles on the treadmill in 39:20.  Still trying to regain what I lost over Christmas.
  • April 2014 – I’ve gained 10 pounds, and I’m okay with it.
  • May, 2014 – I ran the Live For Lupus Half Marathon.  Afterwards, I felt that a marathon is within reach.
  • Pulled muscle.  Worst after-race party ever.

    Pulled muscle. Worst after-race party ever.

    July 2014 – Pulled a calf muscle on mile 3 of the Bix 7 Mile run in Davenport.  After about a month off, I’m back to running.  Now that my daughter is in preschool, I’m hoping the routine will get me back on the treadmill three times a week.

  • September 20, 2014 – The Knockout Hunger 5K.  I haven’t done an official 5K in a long time.  I’m not expecting  a personal best. I’m just hoping to feel good afterwards.


From October 2012

All my life, I’ve been on the hefty side.  I was an offensive lineman in high school and college.  I’ve never been a great athlete, or had an Abercrombie-like physique, but I grew up healthy and active.  In college, I played a year of football, and a lot of basketball and lacrosse (but I always preferred to be on the ‘shirts’ team).  Even through seminary, I took regular long walks, played on softball and basketball teams, went to a gym regularly and remained in decent shape. My first driver’s license listed me at 6’2″ 235 pounds, and when I graduated seminary I was about 260.  After becoming a senior pastor in a small town, I promptly put on about 30 pounds.  I stopped going to the gym.  I no longer played on any teams.  I sat a lot, and ate a lot. When I started my blog in 2008, I weighed Three Oh One.

For three years writing this blog, I would exercise  in streaks.  I would workout regularly for a few months, get stronger, and stop putting on weight (I seldom had any weight loss to speak of).  Then I would get sick, or get really busy, and I’d find excuses to stop going to the gym for months at a time.  In the meantime, my cholesterol remained high, my weight would creep up, and my health suffered.

In October 2011, I joined a gym here in Moline.  When I started, I couldn’t jog on the treadmill for two minutes without terrible pain in my feet, ankles, and chest.  For three months, I was in a great routine of going to the gym three times a week.  Yet in February 2012, I went to the doctor and found myself staring at a scale that read 329.

Once again, I rededicated myself to getting healthy.  This time I had a tool.  With the Lose It! app on my nook and computer, I started tracking everything I ate.  I realized that the last four years was simply a steady increase in weight and size.  When I would exercise, the increase would stop, but I never did any significant weight loss because I never significantly changed the way I ate.

I made both qualitative and quantitative changes.  I took seconds less often.  I chose grilled chicken over hamburgers.  I ate dinner salads at restaurants.  I logged everything, and found myself craving salmon instead of burgers, and vegetables instead of french fries.  When I stayed under my caloric allowance, I lost weight.  In three months, I lost about 40 pounds.  I went to the doctor again, and found that for the first time in my adult life, I was in the healthy range in cholesterol.  My clothes fit again.  I felt better and stronger.  For the first time in my life, I had clothes that were too big on me.  I have some jeans from last winter that look absolutely ridiculous.

Since dropping down to 288, I stopped paying such close attention.  I stopped using Lose It! and kept working out.  For the last four months, I stopped the weight loss.  I realized that this wasn’t a problem I had conquered once and for all.  I still have a lot of weight to lose, and I want to lose it.  I’ve started using Lose It again.  Since keeping track, I’ve been under my caloric budget for 13 of 14 days.  It feels good again.

The remarkable thing is, I feel like when I am disciplined in my eating, I am more disciplined in other areas as well.  When I control my appetite, and don’t succumb to every craving, there is a positive ripple effect that is far-reaching.  I know a lot of this has been about weight, and a number on a scale.  I know that the scale is only part of the story, but for me it is an important part.  I feel good.  I am still fat.  I still make fat decisions all the time, but I’m working on it.  God is working in me.

For four years I’ve been The Fat Pastor.  At times that has been more true than others.  Right now I believe I am closer to being The Fit Pastor then I have ever been.  I appreciate the support of my friends on facebook, my twitter followers, the people of my congregation, my friends, my family, and my amazing wife.  I don’t know if I’ll ever change the name of this blog.  I’m sure there will always be fat in my life that I would like to trim.  With the Holy Spirit strengthening me, I have trimmed a lot of fat already.

I will always be striving to live well and do good.  Thanks for striving with me.

Fat is not the opposite of thin.

20 responses to “#Fat2Fit

  1. Yvonne

    Good luck. As you get older the weight doesn’t come off as easy and when you get my age it is even worse. The skin doesn’t shrink back either. I have tried a new diet the winter and it seems to work. It is called the 17 day diet. The idea is if you continue to eat less the body will say ok I ‘ll adjust and live on less. They maintain you need to keep it guessing. So for 17 days you have chicken fish certain fruits and certain vegetables. then the next 17 days you have that one day and the next day you add some meat or pork more fruits and veggies and a starch like peas corn or potatoes before 2:00pm. they maintain no fruit or starch after 2, because the body just stores it. All the while you do 17 minutes of cartio exercise per day. Then the 3rd 17 weeks you add more foods but 300 mins of exercise per week. At this time you limit the protein to a serving size. If you have not lost all the weight you want to loose you start over with the first 17 day set. the book is only available online but it has been interesting, and I have lost weight. Good luck.
    Love ya,

  2. Anna

    It can be done!!! The woman who writes this blog is a friend of mine, and she is also an opera singer (and yes, she got “fat lady sings” jokes when she started her weight loss journey):


    She wanted to lose over a hundred pounds and she did it and has maintained it. It CAN be done.

    Also, she is the person who got me started running. She did the Couch to 5k program, and I was so impressed I tried it myself.

    God’s blessings to you on your journey!

  3. Hey Pastor! As a fellow minister I know exactly where you are…I’ve been there! Since the spring I have be able to lose 70lbs! I was well over 310lbs. I would love to share with you exactly what I did!

  4. Sara

    Whatever Duane did, talk to him….

  5. Nutrition can be a discipline just like exercise. I have been having great success with an onlne fitness/nutrition calculator that helps me stay in the right numbers and have lost 16 pounds in 6 weeks. The mindfulness of recording each thing you eat really helps. Check out http://www.myfitnesspal.com – and it’s free!

  6. Hello, I just saw your blog linked on a Facebook post of another pastor friend and colleague of mine. Congratulations on taking all these steps. I am working to lose fifty pounds. I see many giving advice and you know what is working. If you’d like mutual support and accountability (provided that you don’t already have a sound system in place) I’d be happy to email back and forth with you. I was 270 at my worst and I lost down to 239. I gained back to 245 over Thanksgiving, but I’m back on the horse and doing well. It is a daily struggle.

    You are doing it though. Congratulations. I pray God’s strength within you will help you continue and forgive yourself when you slip up.

    Peace of Christ,
    Dwight McCormick

  7. @ Dwight… I gave Pastor Robb some info that you may be interested in as well! I have lost 70lbs and moving toward dropping a total of 100lbs.
    I currently work with others to help them move to healthier lifestyles. What prompted my weight loss, was my will to live! I have also decided to go into the Chaplaincy (US Army) after I complete seminary.

    Be Blessed


  8. Joanne Caradonna

    I am really encouraged my your honest assessment of how you are doing . ( I am a woman who needs to lose a 100 lbs . ) . Your objective critique of how you are doing , without a lot of body image issues mentioned ( that women are notorious for and with good reason ) , got me thinking that perhaps women would do better to find a male support partner , in our effort to lose weight . My dear husband has only 15 lbs. tops to lose , so he couldn’t keep me company on the journey very long before he was just another slim cheerleader ( not to under-value of that , at all ) . hmmm … something to consider . The fact that you are feeling healthier and stronger is obvious proof that you are on the right track . Do yourself the favour of not diluting this victory by negative thoughts about how you are looking . Healthier and stronger is what we all should be aiming for . The rest will fall into line with enough persistance . ( Failure can not stand in the face of persistance … not sure where I heard that ) . Btw , absolutely loved and shared your Happy Holiday blog … bout time someone spoke some sense on that issue . Definitely shared it . Thank you !

  9. Joanne,
    I was in your same place (needing to loose 100lbs). Send me an email, and I can share with you exactly what has worked for me. It has truly blessed me!

  10. fearless

    Check out http://www.wellnessmama.com and see if her nutrition style is for you. I’m finding that cutting out grains really helps keep the weight off. It isn’t juts “Low carb’ it is really about the science about how grains, wheat and processed foods affect your body

  11. @ Fearless… good post, along with grains, one should consider greatly reducing the amount of sugar and overall carb intake as well!

  12. I’ve been there too — lost 228 pounds and have managed to keep most of it off! 🙂 I have a blog about it ….. http://weighty-matters.blogspot.com ….. thanks!

  13. Peace, Brother.
    I, too am a fat pastor. People are kind in saying, “but you’re so tall.” However, the truth is in the blood pressure and cholesterol. At nearly 350# (6’7″) I started to reverse the trend. My goal is losing 10# a month. Two months down and I really improved the quality of my food, but still need to step up on the exercise. Appreciate you sharing.
    –Shane, a Presbyterian pastor

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  15. Ben

    I was looking up something random and found your blog. Brother, been there done that. I am a mainline preacher (Presbyterian) and was 360 lbs. at my biggest (I am 6’4). I played soccer as a kid but was always fat and my chosen profression was as a professional opera singer, but felt the call into ministry. 5.5 years ago I started losing weight and excercising ALOT. I am down about 135 lbs. of fat but have worked my butt off gaining about 40 lbs. of muscle. I am 265 with a body fat of around 14%.I don’t go for single digits because I need more meat and moisture on my frame to lift heavy. I am a competitve and champion strongman and powerlifter now who can run a 24 minute 5k. But I have learned a lot about body shape, muscle, fat, nutrition etc. and most of what you read out there is garbage. I would love to chat with you about it sometime and trade notes. I wasn’t saying all that to make me sound great, just to share my journey. I didn’t see a way of sending you an email except to post. Keep blogging, brother!

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  17. Good for you. I’ve struggled with the same challenge. My weight gain really hit while attending seminary in Minnesota and being caught off guard by the long–and sedentary–winter. Since retiring from the USAF, I’ve steadily gained weight and less than two months ago I started using the MediFast program. It’s essentially a very low carb program. It’s served me very well (35 pounds in less than 2 months, without upping my physical activity, which I keep intending to do as well). My 30 year old son has actually lost 80 pounds in four months, looks and feels great, and has resumed weight-lifting which he enjoyed during his college years. Thanks for being honest with folks and providing a good example for them!

  18. Blessings on your journey! There’s no way I would have lost this much weight without running. The Lose It! program has helped me too – just keeping track of what I eat is instrumental.

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  20. David Bernard Thornton

    Hello Fat Pastor, I am David, and I consider myself fat, so I am also a fat pastor. This is my first time reading a commentary written by you. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it is helpful as I am in the process of preparing perhaps two different sermons for Passion Sunday, next week. I see that both of us are in IL. I am in Chicago. I consider myself a compulsive eater. Currently not following any specific food plan. Blessings and peace, and keep on keeping on brother! David B. Thornton

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