Tag Archives: fitness

Two Steps to a Beach Body

beach body Here is my guaranteed, two step plan for having a beach body. Step one: Go to the beach. Step two: You’re done. Your body is now on the beach, making it a beach body. Have a great time. Consider sunscreen.

I’m not saying that you have to wear sunscreen. Lots of people think it’s bad for you now. I don’t know. I think most dermatologists say you should, so I’m going to bring some.

I’m also going to take off my shirt and jump in the ocean. I do not have a six pack. I jiggle a lot. My daughter causes it padding, and she likes it. Do I love it? No. Would I like to have the magazine cover beach body? Sure. It would probably be fun to play slow-motion volleyball like the guys on Top Gun, but I’m realistic. It ain’t gonna happen.

To be honest, I’m not super happy with my level of fitness right now. After losing 80 pounds in 2013, I managed to slowly add another 10 in 2014. This process accelerated with a new appointment and changing priorities. All told, I’ve put 40 of the 80 pounds I lost back on. I’m having trouble with clothes fitting. I feel more lethargic, and last week when I was in Denver for a convention, the thin air and hills kicked my ass. I’ve struggled to maintain the good habits I formed. I want to get back to a healthier lifestyle again, and I’m confident I can. I ordered a new pair of running shoes, and I’ve been to the gym twice this week.

There was a time in my life I did not take off my shirt in public. Even on the beach, I was the king of the cut-off sleeves. No more. Maybe I’ve matured. Maybe I know that I don’t have to impress anyone. Maybe I just don’t care any more. Do I want to be more fit? Yes. Do I care if you think my body is suitable for the beach? Nope.

I’m not where I want to be in my fitness, but I’m working on it again. In the meantime, I might go to the beach, and guess what, I’ll take on Goose and Maverick any day of the week.

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2014 #AdventRun to Bethlehem

According to google maps, the journey along the Jordan River from Nazareth to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is 166 kilometers, or 103.2 miles.

According to google maps, the journey along the Jordan River from Nazareth to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is 166 kilometers, or 103.2 miles.

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In 2013, we had our first Advent Run/Walk to Bethlehem.  As a way to promote living well in the midst of a season that is notoriously difficult on healthy habits, we went on a run together.  The goal was to honor the journey of Mary and Joseph by running the 103 miles it takes to get from Nazareth to Bethlehem. We promoted the run through this blog and at The Pulpit Fiction Podcast.  We asked people to log in their runs and walks online, and shared updated results a few times between Thanksgiving and Epiphany.  The results were phenomenal.  Even though I bowed out early because of a terrible chest cold, the 2013 Advent Run had 23 different people log 67 different runs for a total of 255 miles.  The runs took place in 14 different states and London, England.  Our longest runner was Jessica, who ran 30 miles.  My Pulpit Fiction partner Eric ran 6 times for just over a marathon (27.2 miles). We reached our goal of 103 miles in just two weeks, so we created a challenge goal.  We decided to honor the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt (as told in the Gospel of Matthew) and go 333 miles.  We didn’t make that goal, but I think that is a good goal for 2014. Here’s how to participate: Follow this link, and then book mark it.  This year we added a “Group” option.  If you are a part of a church, club, or class that wants to participate in the #AdventRun, then tell people to enter their group name.  We’ll compile individual, group, and total miles. You won’t be able to register a run/walk until Thanksgiving – November 27.  We’ll keep it open until Epiphany – January 6. Follow The Fat Pastor on Facebook

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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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Guest Blogger: Beautiful Child of God #ShapedByGod

Rev. Sarah Renfro, former fashion model. Now preaching the good news of your body.

Rev. Sarah Renfro, former fashion model. Now preaching the good news of your body.

I discovered Rev. Sarah Renfro’s blog after she quoted a part of The Pulpit Fiction Podcast in a post.  I read her post because she quoted me, but was quickly drawn into her story.  Her blog is called Embodying the Divine: Body Image, Media, and Faith.  Sarah is a former fashion model, who is now a pastor preaching the good news of your body.  In her blog, she not only goes to phenomenal resources, but she expresses her struggles and joys as a pastor, woman of faith, Mom, wife, and Beautiful Child of God.  Her website also describes “body image workshops that dispel the myths of media and ‘ideal beauty’ in fashion magazines, and empower participants to claim their diverse and wonderful inner beauty given by God.”  

I love her holistic approach to faith.  As a father of two young girls, I am deeply invested in Sarah’s message.  I want to share it with others, and encourage everyone to check out her blog, schedule her for a workshop, and like her facebook page.  That’s enough of my words about her.  Here’s her story: 

I was born and raised in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).  I was active in youth group and worship.  After high school, I left Kentucky to pursue modeling full-time, living in Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, and Europe for a bit.  I had the opportunity to see the world, but at the same time, the fashion industry is competitive and harsh.  I struggled with disordered eating and depression after constantly being told that I wasn’t good enough just as I was.  I wasn’t thin enough or blond enough or big-busted enough or . . . I was the one of one percent of the population who is in the magazines and catalogs and on billboards and in commercials; yet, I had low self-esteem and a negative body image.

During my travels, I did not maintain a faith community.  Oh sure, I attended on Easter and came home for Christmas, but that was about it.  I was not grounded in a church that reminded me that I was a child of God.  But deep down I knew.  So when I retired at age 21, I moved home, attended the University of Kentucky, and went to church.

I became a youth group sponsor and loved it!  I was invited to share my story from the fashion world for the first time, and I realized that I just might have something to say to young people about body image.

Fast-forward a few years, a failed marriage, and another stint in LA, and I came back home, finished college, and continued to work with the church.  I received my call to ministry soon thereafter.  At no time had I envisioned God calling a former Hollywood-type to the share the Word.  But alas.  Here I am.

So now I am a former model, ordained minister, married-again (to a minister), and mom to Miriam (almost three-years-old).  My passions about body image have only increased as I continue to lead workshops and retreats with youth and women.

Media reinforces over and over and over again that we are not okay just as we are.  That we are to subscribe to some “ideal beauty,” which is impossible to achieve and devalues the diversity of God’s creation.  There are many passages from the Bible on which I base the title of my website and workshops “Beautiful Child of God: Embodying the Divine.”  Perhaps, my favorite is how God created humankind in God’s own image (imago Dei), and called us not just good, but very good.

Most of us, women and men, young and old, of all colors and ethnicities, struggle with the reflection in the mirror.  Media has much to do with our dissatisfaction.  In my talks, I seek to expose the myths that reinforce negativity for capitalist gain, and I attempt to enforce the Truth that we are created beings, body and spirit, incarnated, imprinted with the Divine.

Robb asked how I came to use #ShapedByGod.  That was an idea by a friend and colleague, Rev. Sarah Taylor Peck, who mentioned it as Lenten discipline.  I immediately asked to join in her journey, because I believe we were molded out of the soil of the earth to be exactly who God shaped us to be.  Some tall and thin, most not so.  Some light skinned, most not.

When we look in the mirror, it is God whom we reflect.  It is the Divine spark that shines from our eyes and in our bodily actions and spirit-filled prayers.  We are shaped by God to be God’s hands and feet and ears and voice in the world.  We are not supposed to all have the same shape (tall and thin for women, “manly” and muscly for men), but we are to love the bodies that we were given, take care of them, and use them to bring about the Kin-dom of God.

There’s your sermon for the day, but I realize that this is easier said (or typed) than done.  I still struggle.  Fifteen years removed from modeling full-time, I can still pick my body apart if I let myself, even though I eat well and exercise.  But I try not to.  I try to love my whole self because I lead workshops about this type of thing (duh), I am mom to a daughter whom I desperately wish maintains the love of her belly, the good foods she eats, the exercise she gets, the joy she has in her body and spirit, and I am a child of God.  A beautiful child of God.  And so are you!

Thanks for letting me share a bit of my story.

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#AdventRun Run to Bethlehem Final

Advent Run FinalHere are the final results of the First Annual Fat Pastor/Pulpit Fiction Virtual Run to Bethlehem.  The results were originally announced on the Pulpit Fiction podcast.  Here are the final entries, from Thanksgiving Day until Epiphany.  Our orginal goal was to compile 107 miles, which is the distance between Nazareth and Bethlehem.  We reached that goal in about two weeks, so we extended a challenge goal.  We decided to go, as the Holy Family did in the Gospel of Matthew, all the way to Egypt.  We decided that 333 miles would be our second goal.  Since we extended the distance, we also extended the time frame to include Epiphany. As a group, we completed 255 miles.  This was enough to go from Nazareth to Bethlehem and back, but not enough to escape Herod.

23 different people made a total of 67 entries in our Advent Run.  There were entries from 14 different states plus London, England.

I was barely able to participate.  I ran in a 5-mile Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.  The next day I had a 103 fever, and wasn’t well until January.

I’ve gotten back into running now, but I’m hoping next year I’ll be able to participate more fully in our Advent Run.

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The Virtual Run to Bethlehem

According to google maps, the journey along the Jordan River from Nazareth to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is 166 kilometers, or 103.2 miles.

According to google maps, the journey along the Jordan River from Nazareth to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem is 166 kilometers, or 103.2 miles.

This Advent, I am going to run to Bethlehem, but I need your help.  As a way to encourage people to Live Well, I’ve started a new virtual running event.  From November 28 until December 25, I want to run the virtual journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  According to Google Maps, this is a 106 mile journey.  For me to run the 106 miles, I would have to average four miles a day.  While not impossible, it is an impractical goal.  So I’m enlisting help.

My Pulpit Fiction co-host and best friend Eric Fistler and I are going to do this together.  We are asking all of the Fat Pastor readers and Pulpit Fiction listeners to do the same.  If we can get a few people to do it with us, the 106 mile journey will be a lot easier.  In fact, I figure if there are ten people running, we might be able to make the return trip too.

If you want to participate in the Run to Bethlehem, just submit your time and distance on this google form.  We’ll compile the information and post our progress as we go along.  We’ll start tracking on Thanksgiving Day, and we’ll go until Christmas (maybe Epiphany)

If you’re on twitter, use the hashtag #AdventRun to post pictures or tag routes if you use something like Map My Run.

Also, don’t forget to use #BeChristInChristmas to share ways that you, your family, or your church is trying to be Christ in the life of your neighbors.

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More than “Before” and “After”

Everyone loves the “Before” and “After” pictures. Those are all well and good, but I will can never forget the “between” shots. It took time, support, hard work, and perseverance to lose 70 pounds, and transform my health. And now every day I work for the “Still.” Sometimes I think that one is the hardest of them all.

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October 17, 2013 · 4:47 pm

So, what do you do when you fall short of a goal?

Image

I created this meme in February, shortly after reaching my goal weight of 260, down from 329.  Now seven months later I have to ask myself another question: “What do you do when you fall short of the goal?”

Sunday was the Quad City Marathon.  At 7:30 a.m. on Sunday a few thousand people gathered at the starting line, which was just a few blocks from where I was sitting as I prepared for worship.

That was not the plan.

I was supposed to be out there.  I was supposed to be taking on my next great challenge.  I was supposed to be conquering the half-marathon.  Instead, I was in my office, going over my outline one last time, making sure I had my sermon ready.

I consider preaching a tremendous honor.  I always find it remarkable that over 200 people are willing to gather and listen to me talk for 20 minutes.  I understand that there is a lot more than that going on in worship, but it is still a very humbling experience.  As an Associate Pastor, I usually jump at the chance to preach.  It is probably my favorite thing to do in ministry.  Yet on this Sunday, I was a little disappointed.  I did not let this affect my preaching, but I knew I was only available to preach that Sunday because I had fallen short of a goal.

In May I finished a 10-mile run in Chicago.  It was a great experience.  I met my goal of finishing the race in under 100 minutes.  Shortly after the race, I decided that I could go farther.  I set a new goal – run the Quad City Half Marathon.  Up to that point, I had made a habit of crushing goals.  Finish a 5K? Did that in June 2012.  Run a full 5K without walking? October 2012.  Run a 5K in less than 30 minutes? March 2013.  I even won a running trophy in June, something that I had not even considered possible.  I watched the movie “Spirit of the Marathon,” and was convinced that there was nothing that could stop me from the September half-marathon.  “Who knows?” I thought with much gravitas. “After I knock of the half in September, the Chicago marathon will be doable in October.”

Then the summer happened.  Vacation, lack of regular schedule, and various excuses hit me.  The next thing I knew, I had lost a few minutes off of my 5K, gained 10 pounds, and running 13.1 miles seemed impossible again.  I had a pretty good winning streak going, but streaks were made to be snapped right?

It hurts, but this will not defeat me.  I had a setback, but I will continue.  Since writing about my backslide in the middle of the summer, I have gotten back to running and lifting more regularly.  I’m back down five pounds, meaning I’ve kept under my goal weight for seven months.  I have a chest cold right now, so I’m not pushing the cardio-vascular, but I’ve gained strength during my cold.  I signed up for another race next Saturday.  It’s an 8K (roughly 5 miles), a distance I’ve never done.  I’m probably going to run another 5K at the end of October, and my goal is to set another PR.

Getting back to my first question; I think the answer is remarkably similar to what I did all those times I reached my goals.  “What do you do when you reach a goal?” The answer was simple. “Celebrate.  Then catch your breath, lace ’em up, and set another goal.”  What should I do after falling short of my goal?  Reflect. Then forgive myself, lace ’em up, and set another goal.

I didn’t run the Half Marathon, but there will be another.  I’m pretty certain that The Chicago Marathon will be run in 2014, and Chicago is beautiful in October.

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September 26, 2013 · 4:34 pm

The anatomy of a backslide

y intersectionThis feels like a crucial moment.  Right now.  I feel as if I’ve reached a crossroads.

For the last 16 months I have experienced a spiritual and physical transformation.  From January 2012 through June 2013 I lost 80 pounds.  By paying closer attention to what I ate, and dramatically increasing my exercise, I transformed my body.  I went from size 44 pants to having some 38 pants feel big.  My XXXL t-shirts now look like garbage bags on me.  My doctor stopped my cholesterol medicine.  My blood pressure has gone down.  According to this chart, my resting heart-rate is “Excellent.”  As I have undergone this physical transformation, I have also experienced a spiritual renewal.  My writing, preaching, and prayer life improved.  I found new energy, focus, and drive.  I discovered my mission statement to Love God, Live Well, and Do Good.

My work at church blossomed with new relationships, avenues of ministry, and a vision to create a new participatory worship experience.  My blogging life expanded with the launching of the Pulpit Fiction podcast.  I was invited to speak at the Lion and Lamb Festival, and I felt a need to open a FP Shop.

As I got my personal discipline in order, it felt as if all the other pieces were falling into place as well.  People started asking me if I was going to change the name of this blog.  I kept the name for various reasons.  I never considered that one reason might have been the unconscious fear that this was all temporary.

The world of weight loss and fitness is littered with stories of people losing weight, transforming their bodies, saving their very lives, only to backslide. Many people have shared stories with me about their own adventures in yo-yo weight loss.  I promised myself that it would not happen to me.   Last summer I had an extended plateau.  This was expected.  After losing about 30 pounds in three months, I spent the summer months gaining 2 pounds.  When school started in the fall, I rededicated myself to working out and tracking my calories, and I promptly lost another 40.  When I reached my first goal weight of 260, I kept going.  At the end of the school year, I dipped under 250.

Then the backslide started. This is how it happened:

The school year ended, disrupting my routine.  During the school year, my workout time was built into my day.  I dropped my daughter off at school, I went to the gym, then I went to work.  Four days a week I had a built in date with the gym.  I ran three days a week for nine months. As I approached my first 10-mile race at the end of May, I was running about 15 miles a week.

Annual Conference and Vacation Bible School.  In addition to the lack of routine, I had two major events disrupt my whole schedule.  These two week-long events in June took up an inordinate amount of my time.  I could have gotten to the gym before sessions.  I could have gone for runs after VBS.  I didn’t.  Instead I spent two weeks active, but with virtually no cardio vascular exercise.

I stopped tracking.  Lose It! is a great tool for counting calories, but it is a pain.  My weight loss started almost immediately after using it.  Last summer I stopped using it for awhile, and stopped losing weight almost immediately.

I didn’t gain weight.  After two weeks of not working out and not using Lose It, and amazing thing happened.  I actually dropped a couple of pounds.

At the Railroad Days 5K, I placed second in my age group with a time of 26:28.

At the Railroad Days 5K, I placed second in my age group with a time of 26:28.

I ran fast.  Since June 1, I’ve run four times.  One of those runs was a 5K that I finished in 26:28, my personal best.  I also won a prize for my age group in that race, a first for me.  I ran another 5K on the treadmill this week in about 26:30.  It turns out that my fitness level is at a place that it could sustain a short break.

The Fourth of July.  Two cookouts.  Lots of bratwurst, chips, baked beans, creamy cole slaw, chips, cookies, pop, beer, and chips.  Did I mention that I ate a lot of chips in the last week?

The combination of events created in me a sense of complacency.  After almost a year and a half of changing habits, it took about four weeks for me to slip.  This morning I found that I have gained 10 pounds in the last two weeks.  What’s worse than the weight is how I feel.  For the first time in months, I feel fat.  I feel tired.  I feel like making bad choices.  I feel like staying home is easier than going for a run.  I feel like getting a quarter-pounder is better than making myself a grilled chicken salad.  I put off getting up early to get to the gym.  I put off tracking my food, and working hard to stay under budget.  I put off working on refocusing the mission of this blog.  I put off planning a new way to experience worship.  I put off trying to change the world and settled for less.  It has only been a couple of weeks, but it ends today.

I share this because I’ve been told I inspire people.  I am constantly humbled when people say that to me.  Today I offer not inspiration, but a warning.  Backsliding happens.  It happens slowly, sometimes imperceptibly.  It happens when we get busy, or when routine gets disrupted.  It happens even when we’re feeling fine, and all outwards signs indicate everything is going well.

Right now I’m struggling.  I’m tired.  I’m a little worried.  Yet I never thought this would be easy.  I’m not ready to give up now.  I’m not going back to the person I was, for I have been made new by the power of the Holy Spirit.  I’m confessing my weakness, and I’m praying for guidance and endurance.  I believe God can still use me despite my recent backslide.  God’s still working on me.  God and I have new goals and a new plan.  Today, right now, I have a new chance to love God, live well, and do good.

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Run, Robb, Run!

Running has become a huge part of my life.  Running in official races has been one of the most important factors my transformation.  Since February 2012, I have have gone from 325 pounds to 250 pounds.  In June 2012 I ran my first 5K in just under 36 minutes.  I ran three more in 2012, trimming minutes off of each of my times.  Throughout the winter, I continued to train.  In March 2013 I knocked off almost 5 minutes from my personal best.  All of these races have come within the span of a year.  Eventually this crazy rate of improvement will slow down.

June 2012 – Susan G Kommen Race for the Cure – 36:00 (12 minute mile)

July 2012 – Firecracker 5K – 35:15 (just under 12 minute mile)

August 2012 – Crimestoppers 5K – 33:47 (11 minute mile)

October 2012 – Lagomarcino’s Cocoa Beano 5K – 31:40 (just over 10 minute mile)

March 2013 – St. Patrick’s Day 5K – 26:52 (under a 9 minute mile)

May 2013 – Soldier Field 10 Mile – 1:38.30 (10 minute mile)

The Soldier Field 10 was the most rewarding run yet.  After crossing the finish line I was able to pause for a moment and reflect on what I had just accomplished.  When I registered for the race in January, I had set a goal of finishing in 1:50.00.  By the time of the race, I had moved my goal up to 1:40.00.  I knew that a 10-minute-mile pace was going to be tough.  It was tough, but I made it.

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