A&E,  Fat To Fit To Fat

Fit To Fat To Fit: Steve’s Surprising Struggle

US Weekly Fit To Fat To FitDuring 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

IMG_5395Adding sugar to Steve’s system was like poison. We’ve always believed this to be true, but we never knew just how poisonous it could be.

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.

IMG_0820Steve 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.

steve pfiesterHe 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.

STEVE FIT TO FAT TO FITSomething 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


IMG_6020The 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.


Steve and Bonnie PfiesterThe 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.


Steve and Bonnie PfiesterHe 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.

He discovered Tasha and Steve both struggled with many of the same emotions. It didn’t seem to matter who was the trainer or the client. The struggle was just as real for both of them.

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.

Ray and JJWatch Ray and JJ’s story now, which is playing throughout the week on A&E as well as online!

Fit To Fat To Fit


Owner of Lift Vero and motivational "pfitness, pfood and pfaith" blogger in Vero Beach, Florida.


  • Chick

    And like I said i like the Idea of this show but i don’t see how getting fat for a few weeks and then going right back to who u were b4 can help u understand someone who has struggled with fat for Years.

    • Bonnie Pfiester

      to be honest, we didn’t see the benefit to it in the beginning either – but it absolutely did help. We experienced first hand how eating poorly made you feel poorly. I realized there are people who desire to do things to show their love to their spouses but simply don’t have the energy to do it because of how bad they feel. We learned that even with all the knowledge we had, when you are that out of shape you easily get filled with so much doubt. Steve didn’t expect to have so much doubt – but he did. The task was so overwhelming he felt so defeated – even before he began.

      So, it wasn’t so much about just gaining the weight, but feeling the affects of the unhealthy diet and the journey back to fit again. By the time steve was done gaining the weight, he was in a walking boot for plantar fasciitis, he had so much joint pain, fatigue, he was out of breath just climbing 1 flight of stairs. We were shocked how fast he deteriorated, but the most enlightening thing was how tough it was to workout 45lbs overweight, to diet so hard and still feel fat, to stay focused and to feel defeated and doubtful – but still press on. So so soooo many lessons learned. Thankful for the whole experience.

  • Chick

    I have to say I’m the fattest person in my family. I’m also the healthiest eater. My sister in less than half my size and she gets chest pains and I have to lecture her on her diet. My bf is also less than half my size. He was pre diabetic and I taught him how to eat better and got his sugar under control by feeding him what I eat. Inside I’m healthy as a top pure breed race horse. I just don’t like sweets. When i was pregnant because of my size they constantly monitored me for gestational diabetes and high blood pressure. Both my sugar and and pressure remained better than all the skinny people in my life. So. It’s not always about food. I’m more active than the skinny people in my life. I know that for me to lose weight I have to really workout. A lot. That’s why I started to. I have started to lose weight. I just hate when it’s always blamed on food. Just cuz I’m fat doesn’t mean I’m a pig. I love the idea of this show but I would like to see someone like myself who is healthy but needs that extra motivation. I think it would give people like me the extra motivation to figure it out and do something about it. I’m so tired of seeing fat people who are fast because they eat junk food. I feel like that’s a no brainer and not helpful to those of us that don’t “choose” to be fat. Because it’s hard to be surrounded by people who are way less healthier than oneself but are so much skinnier.

    • Bonnie Pfiester

      You are not the norm. 🙂 The fact is, most Americans are overweight because they do eat poorly. But our weight isn’t determined on just WHAT we eat, but how much we eat. Many of our members at our gym eat really health the majority of the time, they just eat too much to actually lose weight. They may not really pig out, they just eat as much as they burn. I’d encourage you to use the LoseIt app an start logging your food. It can help you SO Much!! That’s what Tasha and Steve used to manage their calories and helps us find calories we are eating that put us over our limit to reach our goal.

      You are SO right! You don’t have to be thin to be healthy. I know some super healthy people who are overweight – and healthier than many of their skinny friends. Track your calories for 7 days straight and see what you find. I bet you’ll learn so much, drop a few pounds and have a new boost of motivation! 🙂 Thanks for writing!! <3

  • Desiree

    I have to say Steve looked better the first two months of gaining. Younger in his face. Not as many wrinkles. I’m half way through the show but I personally thought he looked better with some extra weight on him. Plus healthy food shouldn’t be bland. You can make delicious healthy food.

    • Bonnie Pfiester

      The truth is, you have to eat fewer calories (less) than you burn. Did you count calories every day for a few weeks? I’ve never had one person not lose weight counting calories. But, we had many people fail just trying to “eat less”. If you haven’t tracked calories using an app like LoseIt, definitely try it. That’s how Steve and Tasha got their results. They tracked every calorie and we’ve had 100% results with every person who did it 😉 it’s not easy. But it’s worth It!

  • Cissy

    I think this sounds like it was great learning experience for Steve! I believe most folks really do try, but change doesn’t happen overnight, and it can be difficult/frustrating at times.

    Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
    Or stumbles along the road.
    Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
    Or stumbled beneath the same load.

    There may be tears in his soles that hurt
    Though hidden away from view.
    The burden he bears placed on your back
    May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

    From “Judge Softly” by Mary T. Lathrap

  • Kathleen Stolze Hinson

    What Steve did was truly an inspiration to us all. I can’t imagine how hard it was for him to gain all that weight in order to help another person. God definitely had His hand in this. God is good all of the time. You just have to put your trust in Him and He will lead you through any storm. And for Bonnie to deal with it too, you definitely are a trooper. God bless you both.

  • Sarah

    Bonnie, I, too really enjoyed this blog. Justin and I are really excited to see Steve on Tuesday night on A&E! It is such an encouragement to hear that your marriage is strong enough to face such a trial, a 3 braided cord is not easily broken 🙂 it takes 3; husband, wife, and God to make a marriage last.

  • Necole

    Bonnie I sincerely appreciate your honesty. I have been on both sides so I totally understand what the client goes through. It is nice to see him willing to at least see what it is like to battle that kind of weight. I kept weight on for years because I have battled myself emotionally on and off. I was not labeled as depressed, but was on my way. When you lose hope in yourself, it does not matter what anybody says to try and help. You have to have a come to Jesus meeting with yourself. It doesn’t happen overnight either. I have my DVR set to record the series. I look forward to seeing Steve and his client be victorious.

  • Lauren

    Thank you so much for this blog. It was insightful and powerful. What it must have been like for you Bonnie must have been just as emotional. It takes a strong person to do what Steve did….put his health on the line to not only help others, but get a deeper understanding of himself and to even deepen his faith. God Bless you both for your love of others.

  • johnac23

    God Bless both of you for all you do for fitness and helping others! I love the show it is a major emotional roller coaster not only for the client but for the trainer to be able to step in the clients shoes! The feeling of hopelessness,depression and not loving oneself is so powerfu.Its a journey that shows that having that faith in God and oneself anything is possible,it’s definitely not easy but loving and accepting yourself is a giant step toward achieving your goals and making the impossible possible!

  • Tony Bedard

    God bless you Steve and Bonnie for having strong faith and actively pursuing your goals through the most powerful resource of wisdom, hope and love…our almighty living God

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