Tag Archives: family

I’ve gained 10 pounds, and I’m okay with it.

20140203-095440.jpgAfter spending a year losing 80 pounds, I have spent the last year putting back on 10.  And I’m okay with that.  I was extremely proud of the transformation I experienced in 2012.  From seeing the scale tip 329 to weighing in at 249, I changed more than my body.  In fact, the transformation I experienced was never about my body alone.  It was about how I felt and how I lived.

My joy came from more than a before and after photo.  It came from knowing that my life span had probably been significantly extended.  It came from the energy with which I woke every morning.  It came from being able to run a 5K in under 27 minutes, and dreams of finishing a marathon that suddenly seemed within reach.  It came from living a more disciplined life, one that was full of more healthy choices, and habits that were life-giving. Above all, my joy came from my daughters, one of whom told me, “I’m glad you are healthier and your belly is smaller, but don’t make it go away completely, I like a little softness to snuggle.”

before between after stillMy fitness journey has been well chronicled on this site.  I started this blog in October 2008, when I tipped the scale at 301 pounds.  I said from day one that the journey was about more than weight, but it was that moment staring at a milestone I never wanted to cross that pushed me to start – and name – this blog.

Since losing 80 pounds, I decided to keep calling myself the “Fat Pastor,” because I knew that fitness wasn’t a destination to reach.  It is a life.  The name of this blog reminds me every day to make fit choices.  And that’s why I’m okay with having gained back 10-15 pounds over the last year.  In my mind fitness is not linked directly to my weight.

Some might think I’m just making excuses, but at some point over the last year, I made a conscious decision – not to gain weight back – but to spend less time at the gym, and more time with my youngest daughter.

Without going into too many details, my wife went back to work part-time this September, and I was left with a choice.  I could work out while my daughter was at preschool two times a week, or I could bring her to the gym with me two days a week, and allow the nursery care there to take her.

Another way of putting it, I could have:

  • Two days a week at the gym, two mornings with my daughter.
  • Three days a week at the gym, and zero mornings with my daughter.

It was an easy choice.  For the last year, I’ve spent two mornings a week with my three-year-old.  Sometimes she goes with me to visit shut-ins.  Sometimes she comes with me to the office.  Most of the time, she sits in my lap, on my chair.  She watches cartoons. I read.  She rubs my cheek.  I smell her hair.  At random times we are interrupted by spontaneous tickle fights, or overwhelmed by a sudden need for a bear hug.  We play Uno, or Memory. We put together puzzles or read books.

So yeah, I have put on a few pounds.  My 5K time has gotten a couple minutes slower.  The size 36 pants I got last spring have stayed in the closet.  But every Sunday night I would kiss her goodnight and ask her, “Do you know what tomorrow is?”  And she would smile and shout, “Daddy-Daughter morning!”

I wouldn’t trade those 10 pounds for anything in the world.  I can get back to running more often.  I intend to get refocused this summer, and I hope to run a marathon in September.

Pretty soon she is going to go to school all day, and we won’t have Daddy-Daughter mornings any more.  We’ll have Saturdays, but Saturdays are family days.  For Daddy-Daughter mornings, this was it.  This was the only year I could spend this kind of time with her – probably forever.

For me, fitness is about choices.  It is about making healthy, life-giving choices.  My body has a little more fat on it this April than it did last year, but I’m pretty certain that I’m as fit as I’ve ever been.  

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Filed under Blogging, Fitness

What is your favorite hour of the week?

What is your favorite hour of the week?  I asked this question the other day on my facebook page after pondering it myself for a few days.  A week is made up of 168 hours.  With 7-8 hours of sleep a night (bed around midnight, up around 7), that leaves about 120 waking hours a week.  Don’t worry, I used a calculator to figure it out.

Of those 120 hours, I couldn’t come up with one hour that I could define as my favorite, but I could think of a few every week that I genuinely cherish.

Sunday 8 a.m. -12 p.m. – Worship.

Riverside United Methodist Church in Moline, Illinois

Riverside United Methodist Church in Moline, Illinois

Okay, so it’s more than one hour, and it’s work.  And it’s not always knock-your-socks-off, Holy-Spirit-filled, blow-the-doors-off-the-church worship.  But sometimes it is.  Sometimes the choir settles me into a peace that I wasn’t expecting.  Sometimes the preaching inspires me to think about things in a new way.  Sometimes the praise band gets me swaying and clapping my hands.  Sometimes the kids singing or dancing fills my heart with unspeakable joy.  Sometimes when I kneel at the altar with my wife and daughters, I am moved to tears of joy and sorrow, and I am empowered by God to be a better man.  Sometimes I break the bread and share the cup and I know that I am in the very presence of Jesus Christ.  Yeah, sometimes worship is just another hour.  Most of the time it is so much more.

Monday 8-10 a.m. – Daddy Lucy Day.

Again, not just one hour, but these are two great hours.  Monday is my Sabbath, which I guard with great resilience because it is Daddy-Lucy Day.  There’s even a Daddy-Lucy Day theme song, which is remarkably similar to the Howdy Doody Song.  My wife gets up in the morning and lets me sleep in, which is a remarkable gift.  She then takes our daughter kindergarten and volunteers there all morning.  This means I get to get two-year-old Lucy up in the morning.  I take her first back to my bed, where we snuggle for as much as an hour.  Then we go downstairs and I make coffee and breakfast.  We sit together and read some books, and watch some Sesame Street or Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  Sometimes we are out of our pajamas when Sarah gets home.  Sometimes we’re not.  She never get annoyed if the pile of laundry has not been folded, and smiles at us even if the kitchen sink still has dirty dishes.  Those things can be done during a different, less favorite hour.  Incidentally, I think this time would be on the list of all four of us.  Ellie loves having Mommy with her at school, and my wife loves working with the students.  It might be Mrs. Larson’s favorite time of the week too (because Sarah is not only an amazing wife and mother, but an incredibly gifted teacher).

Monday 7-8 p.m. – Volleyball.

When we fist moved to Moline, we were asked to be a part of a co-ed C-League Volleyball team.  The team of four couples – all with kids under 6 – have become our best friends.  We play hard, but we have a great time.  We have an almost perfect mix of competitive spirit and light-heartedness that makes it fun.  We like to win, but if we don’t we still have a great time.  Plus, we’ve improved a lot over the last couple of years.  Next Monday we are playing in the league’s Final Four!

Tuesday 6-8 p.m. Dinner with Friends

Our best friends and their kids come over every Tuesday for dinner. We say grace together, share a meal, then spend an hour or so talking and drinking wine while the kids play. The kids cry, they don’t like their vegetables, they make messes, they don’t share, they fight. We correct them. We don’t judge each other. We clean up. We hug. We share our lives; confess our failures; and celebrate our mundane, everyday triumphs.  We laugh and know that next week we are going to do it at their house, and it will be one of the best couple of hours of the week.

Wednesday 5:30-8:00 p.m. – Wednesday Night Alive.

Dinner is at church. After dinner the kids go do music ministries or to the nursery. I lead a Bible study. Leading Bible study is one of my favorite things to do. We sit in couches and chairs and open up the Scriptures to each other. Then we watch the Spirit move.

Friday 1 p.m-? – Hy Vee Salad Bar

One of the highlights of my week has become the Hy-Vee Salad Bar. I bring my computer, books, and a notepad. I eat a healthy, delicious meal. I work. I blog. I read. I drink coffee. I am at my most productive around people.  I leave full, but always happy that I passed on the fried egg rolls and pizza. The most unhealthy thing I have at lunch is the cream soup – which is always delicious.

How awesome is this outfit on this guy doing the Warrior One pose on my.yoga-vidya.org?  I'm so wearing that to my next yoga class.

How awesome is this guy doing the Warrior One pose on my.yoga-vidya.org? I’m so wearing that to my next yoga class.

Saturday 11-12 – Yoga

The early part of Saturday is pretty great too, but if at all possible, Saturday morning is going to include Yoga with our favorite instructor Sara. Yoga has become an important practice in our lives. Afterwards we feel stronger, healthier, and refreshed. My flexibility has improved tremendously, and much pain that I was developing from running has abated. It is also a wonderful hour of prayer and reflection as I whisper, “Come Holy Spirit” and breathe. I have had a couple of remarkable spiritual experiences during yoga practice. It is a powerful act of merging my spiritual and physical health.

Okay, so I had a few more than one favorite hour of the week. When I posted my question on Facebook, I received a variety of answers.  Many involved times of quiet rest, or even sleep.  A few picked the first hour of the weekend, or the first hour of the day.  One said “the present one.”  The first response was from C, who said, “What a great question! Seems innocuous, but might actually get to the heart of a person!” I think she’s right. People say all the time, “I don’t have time for…” The fact is, we have 120 hours a week and the way we fill them tells us about our priorities. Yes, life can get in the way sometimes. Circumstances can dictate choices that we wouldn’t otherwise make. But sometimes I fear we allow “I don’t have time for…” to be a convenient excuse.

What matters in your life? What do you love about your life? If you don’t have enough “favorite hours” of the week, then maybe it is time to take a hard look at things and start asking some tough questions. Loving God, living well, and doing good should lead to a life that is joyful and full of meaning. This doesn’t mean that we don’t have stress, but if we can hold onto those “favorite hours” then the stress becomes bearable.  I invite you to reflect on this question, and as you start to come up with answers, see if there is a common thread or theme.  See if there are ways you can multiply those hours.  Cultivate “favorite hours,” even if it has to start with “favorite fifteen minutes.”  Cherish the time you have, and guard your Sabbath rest.

My week is full of friends, food, family, and the Spirit. My life isn’t perfect, and I’m far from it, but when I look at the “favorite hours” of my week I realize that I am incredibly blessed.  I hope you are too.

I want to thank Natalie Bannon, who inspired this question in my heart. She writes a blog called Modern Mind Old Soul. Follow her on Twitter @NatalieBannon

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Filed under Personal Reflection

Dude looks like a lady

The Fat Pastor at Hy-Vee

Okay, so maybe the title for this blog is hyperbolic, but when I went grocery shopping on Sunday evening with my nails painted hot pink, I felt a little odd.  And maybe it was just my imagination running away with me (another song allusion) but I felt like I had a few strange looks.  Its okay, I think I would have looked at me strangely too.  Picture this for a moment – a 6 foot 2 inch man with a big belly, a 56 inch chest and athletic-looking arms and legs wearing a pair of gym shorts, flip-flops, and a t-shirt, pushing a shopping cart with a 11-month old baby in it.  Then you see him reach for a bunch of bananas and you see it – hot pink fingernails, a few with purple glitter too.

I had to be a strange sight.  It was strange for me too.  Whenever I forgot that my fingernails were painted, I would see them out of the corner of my eye and have a double take – at my own hands!  It made me wonder, why?  What is so disconcerting about a man that – on the surface at least – is 100% masculine wearing fingernail polish (and what, I might add, does it mean to be 100% masculine?  Is that even a real thing?).

I mean seriously, was I somehow less manly because I was wearing fingernail polish?  Would someone see me wonder about my sexuality?  What if they connected my fingernails and the clergy sticker on my car?  Would they deem me unfit for the ordained ministry?  Nevermind the fact that my two most recent hobbies are playing football and boxing.  Did the color of my fingernails somehow change me?

To be honest, I don’t have the answers to all of these questions.  I’m not sure why I felt so out of place. Why does something as menial as finger nail polish seem to matter?  Why was I sure to remove it before I went into church on Monday?  It made me wonder about all sorts of gender issues.  What makes one thing feminine and another thing masculine?  Who defines these things?  It seems like some traits of gender are more about society than biology, but I think there are important evolutionary differences between our genders.  And why does crossing those gender lines make us so uncomfortable?  It made me think briefly of Jesus telling Martha to come and sit with him and the guys – breaking down important gender barriers. Like I said, the whole thing made my head spin a little, and I have more questions then answers.

The fact is, going out in public with my nails painted was probably one of the “manliest” things I’ve ever done.  My four-year-old daughter painted them.  When she approached me, the conversation went something like this:

“Daddy, I know that boys usually don’t where fingernail polish, but I think you should try new things.  You should try finger nail polish and see if you like it.”  She expertly used my own words against me.  I have told her dozens of times that it is good to try new things – whether it is food, games, or meeting new friends, I tell her all the time, “it is good to try new things.”  So how could I argue with her?

So I let her crawl up on my lap, and I helped her paint my nails.  Of course she picked out the loudest color possible.  She did a great job.  She was so careful and so proud of how great my nails looked afterward.  Later that day I was washing my hands, and she told me, “be careful Daddy, don’t wash the polish off.”  So I told her that I would probably take it off pretty soon.  She looked at me and said, “But I want you to wear it to church so everyone can see.”  I promised her that I would leave it on for the rest of the day.

That night when I was going to the grocery store, I was going to bring both girls.  I figured she would provide great coverage for me.  But then she decided to go with my wife, so it was just me, the baby, and my hot pink nails at the Hy-Vee.

Afterwards, I felt strange sense of pride.  I realized how silly it was to feel bad about how my nails looked.  It made my daughter happy, and she might always remember that lesson, “its good to try new things.”  I reinforced it to her in a very powerful way.  The next morning I told her, “Well, I tried it, but I don’t think I like it.”  She was a little disappointed that I wasn’t going to leave it on until next Sunday, but she respected that I at least gave it a try.  Plus there was a small consolation – I bumped into the head usher of our church at Hy-Vee, and he promised that he would “tell everybody.”


Filed under Personal Reflection