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I’ve lost 70 pounds, but I’m still The Fat Pastor

I high-fived my doctor today.  I had my annual physical.  It was a year and a day after stepping on the scale at that same doctor’s office and reading that I weighed 329 pounds.  Today my doctor looked back at what I weighed last year.  When he saw that I today I weighed 259, he gave me a high-five.

I have gone through a transformation in the last year.  I have transformed my habits.  I have transformed my priorities.  In so doing, I have transformed my body.  More than this, I have experienced spiritual transformation.  I pray more.  I study the Bible more.  I have discovered that when I am more disciplined in my eating and exercising, I am also more disciplined as a follower of Jesus Christ.  I am still transforming.  I am striving every day to Love God, Live Well, and Do Good.

I have lost 70 pounds in 366 days, but let me be clear – I am still The Fat Pastor.  For one thing, I am still overweight.  One year ago I was 34% body fat.  Today I am 25% body fat.  That is a great improvement, but it is still too high.  I literally have too much fat on my body.

Yet even if I lose another 70 pounds, have 7% body fat, and can run a marathon in under 3:00:00, there will always be fat that I can trim from my life.  I am, like John Wesley said, moving onward to perfection.  Until I am there, I will be laden with fat.

The difference between fat and fit is choices.  I make fat choices when I choose a mindless television show instead of time in study.  I choose fat when I spend too much time on facebook instead of cultivating relationships.  I choose fat when I refuse to help a neighbor.  I am fat when I objectify a woman.  I am fat when I contribute to an unjust society. I am fat when I forget the needs of the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the oppressed.  I am fat when I am blind to racism, sexism, homophobia, or any other way that humans try to divide and separate and subjugate.

I’m trying not to be fat any more.  I’m trying real hard.  I draw strength from the love and support of family and friends.  I draw strength from the encouragement of a remarkable facebook “following.”  I draw strength from the words of the prophets that remind me that God’s love and God’s promise of a new day is something for which we can all strive.  I draw strength from the Church as the Body of Christ in the world.  Above all, I draw strength from the grace of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.  I draw strength from knowing that it is not my strength on which I must rely.

Jesus said “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”

I try to love God.  I worship, and I pray, and I read and listen to God’s Word.  I come to Table of Grace.  I fall down in confession, and I rise up with the Holy Spirit.  I try to live well, because I take seriously the oft-forgotten command to love yourself.  I try to do good, because it is through doing good for others that we best express our love of neighbor.

I am The Fat Pastor.  I’m trying not to be. With God as my strength and my salvation, I will be The Fit Pastor someday.  Until then, I’ll keep on my journey of transformation.  Thank you for going on this journey with me.

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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.

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Fat is not the opposite of thin

Left: This picture was taken in December, 2011. Right: Taken in June, 2012, immediately after finishing my first 5K.

Fat is not the opposite of thin.  At least in my way of thinking, it’s not.  When I created this blog and started calling myself The Fat Pastor, I did so with the intent of changing the name someday.  I never wanted to change the name of the blog to The Thin Pastor.

To me, fat is the opposite of fit, and fitness has little to do with the size of one’s body.  Fitness is a state of mind.  It is not about diets, weight loss, and scales.  I’ve lost about 35 pounds since February, and I celebrate that, but my celebration isn’t about the weight loss.  It is because I’ve changed my mindset.  I celebrate the lifestyle change that has taken place in my family.  All the other stuff is great.  I love the looser fitting clothes, the lower number on the scale, the lower cholesterol, and improved resting heart rate, but those things are byproducts of a more important transformation.

Fatness is a state of mind that goes beyond the shape and size of my body.  When I was fat, I didn’t care what I ate.  I made unhealthy choices at restaurants.  I ate too much at home.  I snacked when I wasn’t hungry.  I satisfied every craving.  When I was fat I slept in instead of going to the gym.  Excuses not to exercise were easy to come by.  When I was fat, I acted fat and I ate fat.

Am I still overweight? Absolutely.  I’m 6 foot 2 inches, and weight 290.  The ideal weight for my height is between 170-200.  Honestly, I cannot picture myself at 200 pounds. Am I still fat?  Sometimes.  But not nearly as fat as I was.  Now, I am able to resist foods that are empty of nutrition.  There is an open bag of Doritoes in our kitchen (a visiting friend bought it and left it there).  The life expectancy of an open bag of Doritoes last year at this time would have been about 18 hours.  It has been untouched for six days.  At restaurants I order dinner salads.  At home I cook more salmon, fewer boxed items, and rarely take seconds.   On the Fourth of July, I got up at 7 a.m. just to run a 5K.  My perfect birthday had to include a trip to the gym.

Do I still make unhealthy choices sometimes? Of course.  I have too many refills of cereal at night.  I could probably do without the handful of M&Ms with my popcorn during movies.

People have been asking me, “So are you going to change the name of your blog?”  I don’t know.  I don’t feel like it is the right time.  I have made a lot of changes, but I’m still striving to live well and do good.  Will I ever arrive, and feel the need to change the blog?  I don’t know.  I know it’s not about a number I’m trying to reach on a scale, or a time I’m trying to beat in a 5K, or a weight I’m trying to lift on the bench press.

When will I be the Fit Pastor, and not the Fat Pastor?  I’m not sure, but I like the path I’m on.  I’ll just keep taking it one step at a time, walking humbly with my God.  I love the fact that so many are on this journey with me.  I appreciate every reader, commenter, facebook “fan,” and twitter follower.

We follow a God that is in the business of transforming lives, and through those lives God transforms communities, nations, and the world.  I know that God can transform me from fat to fit.  I want to be more than a witness.  I want to be the evidence.

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The Fat Pastor Goes to Washington

The last time I was in Washington DC, I was 12 years old.  Even then I was a history geek and remember the chills when I first entered the Lincoln Memorial.  I remember standing in front of the Gettysburg Address.  I read it out loud, unafraid if anyone thought I was crazy.  It was the first time I read it, and I was in awe.  Now I am 34, and last night when I walked into the Lincoln Memorial, the chills came back.  I stood in front of those words and read them aloud again.  Tears rolled down my cheeks.

My giant head makes it hard to see Abe, but I’m using a pretty old camera phone.

I’m in Washington DC for the 2012 Young Clergy Leadership Forum hosted by the General Board of Church and Society.  It is an awesome privilege to be here among 51 other clergy from over 30 Annual Conferences.  I’ve already met some terrific people.  I got into Washington yesterday afternoon and spent about four hours just walking around the mall.  I think my goosebumps tally was four, and my tears came twice.

I think the most emotional part of my night though, was when I approached the Martin Luther King memorial.  It is set up so that as you come to it from the Lincoln Memorial, you have to walk in between a few huge stones.  The opening between the stones is aligned with the Jefferson Memorial, creating a beautiful geographic juxtaposition.  I stood with Lincoln, the man that helped save the Union, behind me and with Thomas Jefferson, the man that wrote “all men are created equal” directly in front of me.  In between is the rock that reads “Out of the Mountain of Despair, a Stone of Hope.”  It was quite powerful to think about the promises that were offered by Jefferson, the tragic work of Lincoln, and the dream of King.  I paused and read some of King’s quotes that adorn the memorial.  I sat by the water and pondered his dream.  Surely there is much work to be done, but I am awestruck at how far we have come.  The mountain of despair remains daunting, but the stone of hope is sure.

The Jefferson Memorial can be seen through the rocks of the Martin Luther King Memorial


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In Case You Missed It

All I can say after the last week of activity on The Fat Pastor is, “wow.”   On November 15, I posted the blog called “Err on the Side of Grace.”  My faceb0ok status that day told my 72 followers that the blog had just reached 70,000 views.  A few days later I posted “Congratulations Coach,” my commentary on the Penn State tragedy.  A few days later I sent that into a newspaper in hopes of being selected as their “Guest Sports Columnist,” a gig which would have given me a sports column every five weeks for an unknown amount of time.

Then one night I decided to create a picture.  I worked on it for a few hours.  I agonized over the wording of it (I had about four different versions before going with the Micah 6:8 version).  I posted it, shared it and then something amazing happened.  In the 12 days since posting it, over 68,000 people have come to The Fat Pastor.  It took one day for December 2011 to be the second busiest month on this blog.  In this short time period I’ve added over 800 FB fans and 125 email subscribers.  The picture I created has been shared 837 times.

So now I have this new following, and I can’t help but think, “I’ve written some good stuff before that picture.”  It also kind of bothers me that the most popular blog I’ve ever written “Happy Holidays,” is also the sharpest, angriest blog I’ve ever written.  I’ve written 197 other blogs, and some of them (I think) have been pretty good. 

So this post is for all the new followers.  Consider it my “Greatet Hits.”  They might not be the most popular blogs I’ve written, but they are a few that tell the full story of what this site is all about.

And it Was Still Hot – Where the Wild Things Are was my favorite book as a boy, and this was my reflection about the movie before it was released.

Doug Rees – My wife and I saw Doug in a very intimate concert, and had a great time.  It was a night of great music, and the beginning of a friendship.

Why Church? 

Why I love baseball 

Come to the feast – What does it mean to “do this in remembrance of me”?

10 years later in a 9/12 world – A reflection on the 10th anniversary of 9/11

Translators Needed – To speak the gospel to a new generation, we need to know the language.

USA! USA! – A response to the death of Osama Bin Laden

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Why the Fat Pastor?

Someone posed this question to me – “Why do you call yourself the Fat Pastor?”  Well, I have a few reasons.

First of all, because I am a pastor.  A lot of what I do on this blog is write about God and the Church.  I offer my thoughts, or what I have called “my nebulous theology.”  As a pastor, I am interested in sharing God’s message of love, redemption and grace.  I think there is a lot of noise out there that contributes to a lot of confused people.  I try to offer my view of God because, in my boldness, I think it might be helpful.

Since starting this blog, I have been given much encouragement from people that have received gifts from my words to know that I indeed have something to offer.  I’ve had about 40,000 views, and get about 50-100 a day.  This is not a huge site, but some people tell me they like it.  So right away, in the title of my blog, people know that I am coming from a pastoral perspective.  I am, and always will be,  a pastor.

I am many other things too, and I write about the many things I enjoy.  But one thing I am is overweight.  It’s a fact that I cannot ignore.  Every time I try to put on a tie, every time I tie my shoes, every time I get out of breath after light exertion, I am reminded of this fact.  I am 6′ 2″, and at my last weigh-in, I’m 320 pounds.  That’s grossly overweight.  I named this blog in 2008 when I was shocked to find out my weight had topped 300 pounds, and it has generally gone the wrong way ever since.  I’ve always been big.  I was never the “fat kid” growing up, but I don’t think anyone has ever described me as skinny.  I’m athletic, and actually healthy in a lot of ways, but my belly is certainly bigger than it should be.

I call myself the Fat Pastor on this blog first and foremost because its true.  But I also use the word “Fat” to try and breathe a little brevity into what I am doing.  I have always had a self-depricating sense of humor.  People tend to think of pastors in one of two ways.  Some have an automatic sense of distrust.  This is something that we, as pastors, have earned well.  There are far too many of us that abuse our authority, and misuse the trust we are given.  There are also people that tend to think of pastors as almost otherworldly.  By calling myself the Fat Pastor, I am attempting to diffuse either extreme.

I’m just a regular guy.  I have struggles.  I sin.  I have a sense of humor.  I like sports – perhaps too much.  I like eating – definately way too much.  I like beer and wine and scotch, but not in excess.  I like some vulgar music and raunchy comedies and dirty jokes.  I am not perfect.  I’m fat.  I don’t want to be, but I am.  I don’t work out nearly as much as I should, and I eat way more than I ought.  It doesn’t make me a bad person.  Does it make me a hypocrite?  Some would say so.  But I am who I am.  I want to be better, and I’m striving to live well and do good in the world.

I am gifted.  I have failures.  I am a sinner.  I am a saint.  It’s who I am.  And I would bet it is who you are too.

I am the Fat Pastor.  This is my blog.  I hope you like it.  If you do, share it with others.  If you don’t, I’ll love you anyway.

For an update on how I’m trying to change, check out the #Fat2Fit page.

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