I Am Fat

WARNING – weight-related, fitness rant ahead. I promise not do do this often.

There. I said it. I’m fat.

That’s a hard reality to admit out loud. I’ve always hedged a bit by admitting that I’m a bit overweight, but it’s time to face hard facts. I’ve got to lose fifty pounds to get back down to a comfortable weight, and even then I’ll STILL be on the heavy side.

Here’s a comparison. The photo below shows two images of me and Laura. The one on the left was taken in the mid-1990’s. The one on the right was taken this past December.


So, you see, I wasn’t always this way. I know people gain weight as they age, but this is not good.

For most of my early life I was so skinny that people got worried. This photo from the early 1980’s shows how skinny I really was.

Tom Skinny

BTW, that’s a Freeze Warning t-shirt I’m wearing, the name of my old band from college days. That was from a climbing/rappelling trip on Glassy Mountain, long before the blight of Cliffs of Glassy overcame the mountain. Here are several more from that trip…


…and here’s one more shot from when Laura and I were dating in 1988.


Back in those days I was in great shape. I was running regularly. I rode my bike on an 18 mile circuit every other day. I even did a quick hike to the top of Table Rock and came back down at a flat-out run. I could hold myself parallel to the ground with just my hands, and could hold myself perpendicular to a pole with my arms. (I guess I could have been a pole dancer.) I was into all sorts of adventure sports, including biking, whitewater paddling, backpacking, and rock climbing.

So what happened?

In 1998 I left the classroom and took a district office job. No longer was I on my feet most of the day. I found myself behind a desk, and that didn’t help matters. However, that can’t count for all of it.

The biggest problem was lunch. I used it as an opportunity to get away from the office. Remember, I had the mental set of being skinny, so I wasn’t paying much attention to the nutritional value (or lack thereof) of lunch. I ate much more than I should have, and subsequently my weight blossomed.

Within ten years I gained forty pounds, then leveled off. While I recognized that I’d gained weight, I still thought of myself as that skinny person. With that mindset, I hadn’t changed any eating or exercise attitudes.

Then came stress.

The deaths of my brother-in-law and father hit me hard. The year after that Laura was diagnosed with cancer, and we fought that battle. Work was going south big time, and it seemed there was nothing I could do to correct that slide. I watched as my weight crept up another ten pounds.

Even then I was in denial. I had a couple of people I hadn’t seen in awhile react with shock at how much weight I’d gained. I chalked it up to their lack of tact. However, I started to notice that in group photos I was by far the widest one there. I was the most obese of my collection of friends, and I started to be embarrassed by any photo not taken from a flattering angle.

Lowcountry Unfiltered at Sparkleberry Swamp
Robintation Tree
Santa's Florida Sleigh

Retirement has been very good for me on multiple levels. Laura is doing great after her battle with cancer, and my stress has almost disappeared. As part of her rehabilitation she started going to the St. Francis HealThy Self fitness center. I started going with her to try to get back in shape. I had a trainer work with me on exercises specifically for kayak paddling. I also joined Planet Fitness so I would have a place near the house. I was, and still am working out at least four times a week.

As far as fitness, I was (and still am) feeling great. Upper body is excellent, and I’ve been able to go on long paddling trips without killing myself. Lower body is also great for walking and biking. It’s the middle that was still causing problems. After nearly a year of working out I hadn’t lost any weight.

I had addressed only one side of the diet/exercise equation. I was still eating as if I were going to the office and using food as an escape.

So, whatcha gonna do?

I decided to go the Weight Watchers™ Points Plus route, minus the actual Weight Watchers with all the meetings, etc. Right now I’m looking as it more as a way to gather data about my current eating trends, as well as a way to address some obvious problems. I’ve done some research and created several Google Docs to help track things and make resources available right away on my iPhone. I also downloaded an app to record the points.

It was eye-opening. Some items, such as my martinis, aren’t as bad as I had thought. Some, like the hash and rice plate I had for lunch last week, were horrible and blew my point totals completely out of whack. Overall, with some obvious exceptions, we had been eating healthy foods. The problem was that we were eating too much. We needed to scale back the portions.

I’m going to try to keep this up through the summer and see if I get any results. Laura has an app on her phone and is doing this along with me. If it doesn’t look like it’s working, we’ll keep the best practices of what we’ve learned, but decide on another method. We’ll see what happens.

I don’t expect to drop back down to my college weight, and don’t really want to. I’m not planning to run Table Rock again, and I’m past the point of wanting to put a heavy pack on my back and walk ten miles. If I can just get back down to where I was comfortable when I was teaching, I think I’d be happier and healthier.

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Comments (5)

  1. Ken Cothran

    Man, that’s one of those stories that I can say, “that’s me too!” Really honest and insightful. Thanks!

  2. Cathy Jo Nelson

    I did Weight watchers about 18 months ago and dropped 30 lbs. I kept most of it off, but I was not doing the exercise thing. Slowly it crept back. SO I got back on it, began going to the gym, and droped back to my new normal Weight Watchers gave me, this time with the added bonus of regular exercise. But I was growing increasingly dissatisfied with Weight Watchers. Points can’t be calculated for everything. A friend told me to check out MyFitnessPal (website and app.) It is free and calculates way more than weight watchers. When I saw my doggone sodium intake off the charts, I dropped all soda in April. It’s free and gives a better health profile overall. I need to take the plunge and begin doing measurements other than the scale in the bathroom. But I do like the app and how easy it is to track not only what I eat and drink, but also my exercise. It’s very motivating to have additional calories just from a spin class! My husband has also been on this journey with me. He began at 230, and he’s today 194. He had a large protruding belly that is almost GONE, and I don’t doubt that by summer’s end it will be gone. I dropped a size or two, but Im still frustrated. Middle aged+ women just do not lose like men. Anyway, good luck, and take a look at MyFitness Pal. It’s free, and I quite WW after two weeks of tracking both. (Sorry to sound like spam on this. Geesh!)

  3. Tom (Post author)

    Cathy, my brother also just recommended that app. I’ll take a look at it.

  4. Glynda

    Great, revealing blog Tom and I’m right here with you! Those couple of years with family deaths, then sickness, etc….I’ve crept steadily upwards – 25 pounds! That, plus what I needed to loose anyway – well, it’s time…….

  5. Ann

    Hey Tom, I’d also like to recommend the ValueDiary app. Tracks just like Weight Watcher Points, but is only a one time charge of about $5.99. Much better than a monthly fee for essentially the same product (my Ellenberg side coming out!)


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