Blubber: a story of staying pudgy

This follow-up to my non-viral post, the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever written to people on the Internet, is really more of a prequel, which makes this a lot like whatever happened with the Star Wars movies.

How did I get to the point of not loving me? That sounds too inclusive. It’s not all of me, just the physical me, so no big deal.

It took a while to get here, but let me let you join me on the journey.

I wasn’t always pudgy. No. There were pre-pudge glory years of an eon past.

Domination to Deflation

The year was 1990. The place, my hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee. The setting was the Knox County area elementary field day. You can sense the excitement and anticipation in the stands, filled to overflowing with hundreds of kids stupefied by classmates hopping around in potato sacks.

I didn’t participate in an honorable mention event, though, people of the Internet. I was fast. No lie. Like a Nick Cage movie to DVD fast.

My event was the 100-yard dash. I owned it, probably due to the stellar coaching of my PE teacher who was none other than Kenny Chesney’s dad. I never met Kenny. But, add 100ish pounds to the blue chair sittin’ fella holding the pirate flag and chilled rum concoction, and that’s Kenny’s dad.

A slight slip on some loose gravel at the sound of the starting gun meant I had ground to make up. But I already told you. I was fast. I won that race in 1990.

I’d never win another one (until I had kids and totally dominate).

The following year at our school field day/qualifying meet of the now-defunct Giffin Elementary, I came in third place. I didn’t trip or even go down it sprinter ESPN 30 for 30 style with a pulled a hammy. I just lost because I was slower than other people.

So what happened? How was my glory so short-lived? Were my socks too high (not possible, it was ’91)? Was my shirt tucked too tightly into the elastic waistband of my shorts? I need to know why!

It’s pretty simple, actually. Corn dogs.

Corn dogs and mashed potatoes and chicken-and-dumplings and Dr. Pepper and Cheese Wiz and copious amounts of banana pudding.

My heart didn’t quit on me that field day. My metabolism did.

That may not be 100% accurate, scientifically speaking, but it feels right, so let’s run with it.

I was an active kid. Riding my bike around the hood, playing basketball, baseball, 1.5 years of football (apparently it’s full contact, not a fan), tennis. But such frivolous activity couldn’t compete with my soul-deep desire for biscuits and gravy and milk…always milk.

Fashionably Unfit

My speed faded as fast as MySpace. But something else happened, an inexplicable phenomenon that was beyond my control.

Silk shirts happened.

Button up silk shirts, to be exact. I was given a couple as gifts, probably along with socks and a serving of gravy at Christmastime.

I wore them. Proudly apparently, since, living on in my parent’s house is a school picture of me in the multi-striped silky of fifth grade rivaled only by Joseph’s coat of many colors. That shirt, as fly as it was, couldn’t hide a couple of new features I was sporting.

  1. A less defined chin. Sure to capture the admiration of all lady people, my neck was growing upward. Strange.
  2. A mysterious case of gynecomastia.

In other words, my face was getting chubby. Also, what’s gynecomastia, you ask? It’s serious, people.

Maybe you know this condition by its street name…man-boob. What causes this mystery illness? Turns out it’s the same root cause of slowness.

Corn dogs and mashed potatoes and chicken-and-dumplings and Dr. Pepper and Cheese Wiz and copious amounts of banana pudding. Did I fail to mention that there is no cheese in Cheese Whiz? It’s just whiz.

Some dudes put on weight in their bellies and it never hits their chests. Others carry the excess in their posteriors or thighs–if only, my friends. My stowaway luggage fits nicely into the ever-so-obvious pectoral region, not to mention my face and tummy. Such is the pattern my fourth-grade self experienced for the first time.

Want proof that I’m still pudgy? My lovely, supportive, sensitive wife just professed her love the other day saying, “I’ve never even seen an ab on you.”

Just one. That’s all the poor girl wants. She isn’t greedy.

I’d like to give her that ab show–just the one. No more, lest I become vain and call down the Lawd’s wrath.

For Better or Fat

To be fair, I wasn’t ripped, as they say, when my bride and I said our death vows. I wasn’t fat, but I wasn’t svelte. I was pudgy…say it again with me – pudgy. Even the word sounds fat.

Early on in our wedded bliss, we moved to California where people tend to be fit. If not they just own it and wear tighter pants. Kudos to you, California.

I was in seminary and working at a church. Seminary is code for, I’m putting on 30 pounds and you can’t stop me. At 6-feet tall, I was a soft 225 pounds. It wasn’t handsome, burly, or any other manly adjective. The buttons on my shirt were sweating, and I was sweating. Lots of sweating.

Something had to give, mainly because my wife had a hard time looking at me. Mind you, when she did look she couldn’t miss me. So I started running and not eating crap. What happened?

I lost 40 pounds. My gynecomastia was cured! It’s a miracle!!

Yes, science is a miracle. Does that make me a doctor? I don’t know. You be the judge of that.

As a doctor, I discovered that the secret to not being fat is exercise and an appropriate diet (not a crazy can’t keep it up diet, just a healthy way of eating and being). **Disclaimer** Yes, there are actual medical conditions that make weight management difficult.** End disclaimer.

But, even after dropping the weight of a 3-yr-old, did Lindsey see that ab?? Nope. Pay closer attention.

What Now?

I’m working on the pudge purge. Persistence is the name of the game. I’ve made so many plans and set so many lofty goals that I don’t care to do either again. Persistence, though, she’s a gift. Show up each day. Say no to the kids’ scraps from dinner and from eating one of everything that goes in their lunch because that’s eating four extra lunches.

I don’t even like the saying “progress, not perfection” because then I feel crappy that my progress isn’t progressive enough. That’s why I say persistence. I’m becoming the guy who shows up each day. Who says no to the doughnut, even after taking a bite and feeling the shame that leads to spitting it out.

Here’s to the journey. Of course, you’ll be at the top of the list of folks I let know when the elusive abdominal comes out of hibernation.

The most vulnerable thing I have ever written to people on the Internet

Computer generated depiction of what I’d look like as Chris Hemsworth playing Thor

I don’t know how to say it or where to start.

It’s incredibly uncomfortable to write.

Here goes — body image has been a big thing for me for a long time.

No turning back.

I used to be thin. Yeah, six was a good age.

But something happened. All the corndogs and bologna just stayed around, as is affixed to my body until death do us part. Weird. If only science had been around in the 80s and early 90s.

Since then, I’ve dreaded summer. Pool time. The beach.

Why say it now, Patrick? Why here? Why trust me with it?

Well, trusted Internet blog reader person, putting myself out there will bring accountability. The incomparable Seth Godin talks about the importance of publishing, putting words out there for people to read or not. The important part is hitting the publish button.

So now you have the weighty responsibility of helping hold me accountable with eating and exercise and endurance training and exciting runs and excruciating foam roller sessions.

Not looking for perfection. The goal is to show up each day. See you tomorrow. Not literally. This is the Internet.

Every man’s question

Photo by Chad Witbooi from Pexels

Deep down, some deeper than others, every man wonders if he’s good enough.

Good enough at what, for who or what? All of it.

Dad. Husband. Worker. Role model. Single and unashamed. Physiquer–because we all know the dad bod thing is a lie that some sweet wife made up to make her unfit husband feel less bad. God bless that woman.

This question of sufficiency is inescapable. Undoubtedly it’s there for women as well, but my expertise is in being a man. Feeling the doubts and insufficiencies and insecurities.

For some it leads to posturing; for others, it’s retreating. Many lean in and try to get better, be better, do better. But even when confident that I am hidden with Christ and acceptable to the Father, lingering still is that tug on my coattail–You’re not. You can’t. You won’t.

Learning to quiet the voice and imprison the thoughts has been one of the toughest lessons yet. It makes sense that the voices grow in proportion to the level of responsibility one has.

As we seek to show compassion and grace to one another, don’t forget yourself.

Brennan Manning writes of this tension:

They [disciples of Jesus] are fed up with themselves, sick of their own mediocrity, disgusted by their own inconsistency, bored by their own monotony. They would never judge any other of God’s children with the savage self-condemnation with which they crush themselves.

The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, 152

Manning speaks of Jesus followers plagued by self-hatred, not just in religious matters, but across all slants of life. The word for my brothers is this: Only “to the extent that we allow the compassion of the Lord to invade our hearts” are we freed from “that self-hatred that we are now even ashamed of.”

Open the gate, dear son, that the Lord’s compassion might storm and captivate your soul. His energy is your energy. His sufficiency is your sufficiency.