Fit To Fat To Fit: What a Jerk

On of viewer’s favorite lines in Steve and Tasha’s Fit To Fat To Fit episode was when Steve huffed and puffed (and wheezed) through his first workout. Personally, I was amazed at the resounding response, “now he knows how it feels”.

On the night the show initially aired, tweeted “for the love of god & humanity, plz someone gif him on his knees saying, “I did that to you?! What a jerk!”, so I made it my mission to capture that moment for her – and for others like her.

The Need For More Empathy

Steve PfiesterThe truth is, that is the very reason why Drew Manning did the initial experiment to begin with – because he knew he didn’t know how it felt to be overweight and out of shape. However, many trainers do indeed know how it feels. Some of the best trainers once used to be out of shape. Even if it was a long time ago, everyone has to start somewhere.

Sure, there are some freaks of nature who seem be just be born fit (we aren’t one of those!). There are people who grew up in sports all their lives and enjoy a good beating in the gym (again, that’s not me). However, even if someone used to be overweight or out of shape, people can still forget that feeling. I think Adonis (from the 3rd episode) experienced that. He seemed to be genuinely surprised at how bad he felt, and it wasn’t too long before the Fit To Fat To Fit experiment that he had an overweight 300lbs body.

The Book Behind the (Pfit) Cover

pectus excavatumEveryone judges everyone (to a certain degree). They may not act on it, or let it affect how they treat a person, but everyone makes a deduction based on how people look. Most people focus on how overweight people are judged, but fit people are judged just as much. It’s funny how many people have acted surprised when they discovered we actually care or that we have our own struggles with food or exercise. Making these deductions isn’t necessarily wrong, but letting it change the way you treat someone is.

I know one of the things Steve has struggled with after this show is when total strangers say “NOW you understand!”, because he has always felt like he has understood to some degree. Being an overweight kid, on a diet at an early age, he remembers being insecure and wearing a shirt at the beach. But I think the real reason he relates to his out of shape clients is because he was born with a congenital chest wall deformity, called pectus excavatum (pictured left).

While I’ve encouraged him to talk about this more, he’s always resisted because he didn’t want to use it as an excuse, nor is it fun to talk about having a “defect”. Nobody likes being “defective”.

steve pfiesterHowever, I feel his story can give people hope. Having this condition was more than just having a physical birth defect. The sunken chest always made it very difficult to breath during exercise, and even during normal activity. Since there is less room for the heart to pump and the lungs to expand, it has always made it difficult to catch his breath – especially during intense activity. This is very similar to how an obese person would feel during exercise, because their body fat also crowds their heart and lunges.

Most doctors say that sports may not be an option for someone born with this condition, but that didn’t stop Steve from playing baseball growing up and trying his best. Even though he still wore a shirt at the beach, he braved the traditional wrestling singlet uniform to follow in his dad’s foot steps to the wrestling team in high school. This is when he started waking up before school to workout in the garage on an old Weider weight set he bought at a neighborhood garage sale. Not only did he quickly discover that weight training would help disguise his pectus, but it would begin to strengthen his heart and lungs – as well as his self esteem.

Although Steve was never morbidly obese (nor would he ever truly believe he could fully identify), he has had similar symptoms of an obese person all his life and had his own set of obstacles to overcome. Physical limitations made fitness more challenging and his physical appearance affected his self-esteem. In many ways, it’s helped make him a great trainer – and the Fit To Fat To Fit experience made us both understand how much people need to feel understood.

The Body Doesn’t Tell The Full Story

do your bestEveryone has their own battle. For Steve, it was his pectus excavatum and for others it may be excess body fat, but the moral of the story is the same for everyone: 1.) to not judge a person by how they look now and 2.) to make the most of what you have in order to be the best version of the you God made. We’re not all dealt the perfect hand (or body), but we can most definitely do the best we can with what we have.

Even though Steve had always felt like he understood clients more than they even knew (between his pectus and his own struggles with food addictions), we are thrilled that people have connected with the show and believe he now understands maybe just a little more. It makes me think of why Jesus came to this earth. He didn’t come to empathize with us, he came so we would accept him, listen to him and trust him more.

Knowing Jesus has felt the pain of broken skin, hurtful words, rejection, lack of sleep, hunger, poverty and every temptation a man could have, somehow it makes trusting him easier – and maybe that is the most powerful response of this show.

If Steve had to go through the last year of experiencing weight gain, health issues, muscle loss, fatigue, extreme dieting, hardcore workouts and feeling like a failure so that people are more accepting of his direction and trust him more, then it’s all been SO worth it!    :)



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  1. Cornelia

    After the fit-2-fat show I googled to find out more about Pfiester. I am pleased to know that not only are you both a “witness for fitness” but a witness for the Messiah, Yeshua and living examples of what His saving Grace awards to those who believe in his Holy Word. May the Pfiester marriage, ministry and message continue to advance while Making HIM Known. ~ Shalom

  2. hamenopi

    I seriously laughed out loud when he said. “I’m a douche!”
    I feel the pain though, I used to be fit but let myself go. I kept putting it off and putting it off.

    But it not going to get any easier, not until you actually start doing it. So everybody, start doing it, Even if you can’t give 100%, at least give 1%. A penny a day comes out at $3.65 a year. That’s a heck of a lot better than nothing. Do Something!

    The energy flows to places it can grow. Be active and energy will flow into you. You’ll find your yesterday’s struggles will be tomorrow’s warm ups. Each victory can propel you forward and forward until you are trucking full speed toward your destination.

    Have faith in the process. It worked for Tasha, it worked for Steve, it’s working for me, and it will work for you.

    1. Bonnie Pfiester


      1. Andy

        Hi Steve. Apologies for this really late reply but I jus stumbled to ur page. I too have Pectus Excavatum& been training on/off with little result. Really put me in a really bad, insecure place/mindset. After readin ur story i instantly felt more confident again.
        Thanks for giving me the inspiration I needed.

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