During Steve’s interview with US Weekly (page 54), he explained how he became more judgmental at first, but after he hit 231 pounds “it clicked”. In today’s blog I get to share Steve’s emotional roller coaster with you, address his struggles with both his body and his mind, and tell you why it was all so very worth it.
I have to admit, I never considered ourselves judgmental. Truthfully, we made it our mission to NOT be judgmental. The fitness industry already is intimidating enough so we’ve always worked hard to make people feel comfortable at our gym no matter their size, shape, race, gender, age or disability. We hated to see someone struggle with their weight, but we would never treat them any differently than a healthy fit person coming in the gym. A matter of fact, we might even treat them better in hopes of helping them.
However, during Steve’s “get fat” process, we were faced with feelings we never had before. While we do understand that Steve’s weight gain was NOT normal, the affects of unhealthy food and lack of exercise took a toll on his body – and his mind.
Here is a glimpse of the struggle during Steve’s journey to gain weight, and even a bigger struggle to gain a better understanding of overweight clients.
Painful and Exhausted
Steve’s joints became inflamed and he was in a great deal of pain every single day. A month hadn’t even passed before he had his first health scare. Since he was closely monitored by a medical team, he was getting extensive blood work on a regular basis. One of the tests showed he was suddenly pre diabetic. In addition to his body aching, now he was now pricking his finger throughout the day too.
Aches, pains and struggles continued. He was going to the chiropractor regularly to get cold laser therapy on his feet, heels and ankles. By the end of the weight gain, Steve was in a boot for Plantar Fasciitis, limping around like he’d never been in shape in his entire life. Embarrassed, miserable and grouchy. That was the new Steve.
Another major discovery was the fatigue. He had ZERO energy. It took everything he could do to muster up enough energy to go to work. As soon as he was done with his morning clients, he’d come home and climb back in bed for more rest time before he trained his afternoon clients. I lost my helpmate.
Steve was too tired to help around the house. He became lazy and sloppy. He’d leave dishes and proof of his feedings, like Rice Crispy Treat wrappers, laying around for me to pick up. Half the time he was simply to sick to his stomach to do anything, so it was hard to be upset with him. I could tell he clearly just didn’t feel good. Between his aching body and upset tummy, he just didn’t have it in him to be the husband I needed.
This is when Steve became more frustrated with people who actually chose this unhealthy lifestyle, because he realized just how horrible it can make you feel. He did this project to GAIN empathy, not to get judgmental – but that was exactly what was happening.
He became angry and bitter. When Steve would see an obese person, his first thought used to be how much he wished he could help them. Now his first thought was full of disgust and anger. He became enraged in his heart when he saw obese people scooting around stores in their personal scooters and watching them stand in line for fast food. Of course he can’t possibly know what that person has gone through, but as he’d watch someone who needed to be on a diet order a biggie size meal with a shake, it was easy to assume that they were just making poor decisions.
He hated these feelings and began to not like who he had become. He was disappointed in himself and ashamed – ashamed of his body, ashamed of his attitude. Just plain ashamed. He realized his problem was a real lack of the deep love God wants him to have for people.
He started praying for God to help him love these people, to show him how to love like God loves. He knew that he could never be as affective as he needed to be without having more love for people. No talent, no knowledge, no desire, no faith could be truly affective without love. This wasn’t a judgmental problem, it was a love problem.
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains,but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b]but do not have love, I gain nothing.” - 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
The Eye Opener
He did Fit To Fat To Fit because he loved the premise of the show, to help him understand clients more, but now he seemed to understand them even less. Did the project backfire? No, he just wasn’t done with the experiment yet. His mindset and heart would soon change.
Something clicked on his first day of back to fit. The empathy came. He barely made could make it through his first workout. He couldn’t breath, he felt like a failure. His client, Tasha, was blowing him away. He’s supposed to be the hero, the trainer, the leader. Instead, she was cheering him on. Where was this muscle memory people all talk about? It seemed it wasn’t anywhere to be found. Pride was completely gone. Doubt and discouragement took its place.
Steve was weak. His muscles couldn’t do what he needed them to do. His feet hurt and his lunges felt like they were going to explode. He was quickly filled with so much doubt. Despite his knowledge, he couldn’t help but wonder if he could really get back to fit or if the task was just too impossible. And that’s when he realized the whole experiment was worth it. He suddenly “got it”.
Steve struggled to gain the weight, but not the kind of struggle most people have during the gaining process. Most overweight people aren’t under a time crunch to cram enormous amounts of food down their throat to gain as much weight as they can. Steve’s struggle was much different. However, his struggle to return to fit was very real and it really opened his eyes to how his clients feel as they pursue a fitter lifestyle.
Back to Fit – Tired, Hungry & Emotional
The biggest struggle was with his energy – or the lack of it. He was now carrying nearly 50 extra pounds with him. Needless to say, just carrying that around alone was tiresome. Then there was the whole fact he was out of shape and constantly exhausted. The last thing he wanted to do is go to the gym. He wanted to go home and crash after work, not stay and do extra cardio. He would have much rather slept in, but instead, he’d set the alarm clock early to squeeze in a workout before church.
He had become accustomed to being a couch potato. He enjoyed our dates and having more play time. Ironically, those were the things he thought about. But, if he would recall, none of those times were fun because he was constantly tired and sick. Even our wedding anniversary was cut short because he was felt bad and it ended in a big argument with him feeling like I didn’t understand.
So what was he really giving up? Nothing! Sure, maybe he had more time, but this time was not quality time. That life was not a quality life.
The next big struggle was the diet. At first, salads tasted amazing. He really enjoyed being hungry again and food tasting good again. However, over time, it got old. He missed snacking at night. He missed our dates. Ironically, he missed the very foods that caused him to be sick to begin with. It wasn’t instant, but it was there haunting him the entire time.
Dieting wasn’t easier for Steve because he’s been fit before. His stomach wasn’t desensitized to hunger pains and he didn’t have super diet powers. He had to surrender to his flesh and deny it what it desired so he could get the results he wanted.
He quickly discovered he couldn’t lose the weight unless he counted calories in his LoseIt app just like he tells all his clients. All the same guidelines he gives clients also applied to him.
He also experienced bad weigh-ins just like anyone else. There were weeks he’d step on the scale and it didn’t budge. Oftentimes, that would be a day Tasha had a great weigh-in. He would come home and share his emotional struggle with me, asking me if he was doing anything wrong. I reminded him that weight loss doesn’t happen in a straight line. I had to tell him all the things he tells clients because emotions somehow distort the facts and even knowledge. It sounds crazy, but a little doubt can do a lot of damage.
However, he was determined not to give up and not to let his doubts stop keep him from trying even harder. Even with all his knowledge, it really didn’t matter when he was looking in the mirror at his out of shape body, which seemed slow to respond to the weight loss process.
Then there was the muscle gain – or lack of it. Not only was he weaker going back to the gym but the muscle was getting smaller. He had to lose weight so fast he was losing a lot of muscle. He teased saying the name of this show isn’t Fit To Fat To Skinny. He began to feel skinny-fat, and became even more discouraged.
What started out as what seemed to be a big fat failure, turned into a big fat eye opener and we can’t wait for you to see the whole 8 months unfold on national television.
Watch the rest of Steve and Tasha’s story on Fit To Fat To Fit on A&E Tuesday, January 26th 10/9c.
Watch Ray and JJ’s story now, which is playing throughout the week on A&E as well as online!