Here's the skinny: I've been near 300 lbs. for years and need to lose weight. I'm married to a wonderful lady, and we have a family. One of our boys often asks if I'll run with him. I've always had to tell him, "No." In August of '09, my wife learned about a couch-to-5k running program, and I agreed to try it with her. This blog chronicles our progress on that training program. I hope I'll soon be able to surprise my son by telling him, "Yes, I'll go running with you!"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Long, dark winter

I've been away (mentally) for too long.  The pressure of finishing grad school is really getting to me. I've only taken one short run in the past three months.  Health issues are starting to press again.  Weight is still hovering on a plateau, though, so that's the only good news (beside the fact that I'm still upright and taking nourishment).  I've really come to hate the short days of winter, so am glad to see spring finally here (and even a bit early in our area).  I'm in a funk I just can't shake.

I have only 11 weeks of classes left, though I think I have a break in there somewhere for Independence Day.  I walk in May, but am not very excited about it (but that's another story).

Stress levels at home are high.  My fuse has been short, and I feel like a prisoner in my own home: every evening is defined by needing to do homework.  Unfortunately, I get distracted far too easily, putting me behind, and that adds to the stress.


The only thing that has kept me going is knowing that Mrs. F and I will be taking a canoe trip together in May, to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary.  It will be our first four-day weekend together, without the kids (and without a schedule of family or friends to visit) in ten or more years.  We're headed up into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA for short).  We'll put in as early as we can on a Friday morning, and paddle out on the following Monday.

Mrs. F has continued running.  She was already faster than me while we were doing the C25K program.  Now, I don't stand a chance of running with her again.  She's up to six miles, and I think I'd struggle through one now.  I don't want her to feel bad about it, but it just makes it so much harder for me.  This was really working when she and I were getting up and squeezing our half-hour in early in the morning.  With longer runs and longer times now, however, it's best for her to run mid-afternoon, right after the kids get home from school.  That's right before I get home from work, and I simply have no energy to run at that time.

I ran across an article in Newsweek (online) about Lesley Kinzel, who blogs at  She was featured because of all of the recent discussions on childhood obesity.  She was overweight as a child, and it became central to her self-identity at a very young age.  In reading her story, I realized the same was true for me: from an early age, I was always "the fat kid", and that became how I see myself.  I was always "the fat kid", and, even as an adult, I still see myself as "the fat kid".

The real kicker is that I actuall dropped to a healthy weight for a while.  During my senior year in high school, I was studying karate and was biking everywhere.  Looking back on photos now, I see that I looked pretty good, but I still saw myself as "the fat kid".  How is it that we can get a self-image so far ingrained into our being that it becomes the permanent filter through which we see ourselves and our lives?

I have no clue what I weighed when that picture was taken.  All I now know is that I look at it and I want to cry.  Had I only been able to see myself as I was, versus how I perceived myself to be, it might have helped me keep the weight off.

About four years later I was around 230 lbs.  A year or two after that, I was 260 lbs.
Yet, to me, I felt no different at 260 lbs. than I did when that photo was taken.

Even now, as I hover just under 290 lbs., I feel just as fat as I've always felt--sometimes even bigger--even though I know my peak weight was 348 lbs!

There's a lot of pain tied up inside somewhere.  I hate being "the fat kid".  Right now, however, I have no energy or motivation to go out there and fight for a change.

This is how I looked during the summer of 2009, before I started the C25K program.  I can see the difference between the pictures, but my mind has always seen me the same way, regardless of how large I was. When Mrs. F posts family picutres online today, I still cringe.  I don't like the way I look.  I never have liked the way I look, because I remember that no one likes "the fat kid".

Here we were after our second 5k, the Howard Lake Turkey Tagalong.  This is after completing C25K and proving I could run over three miles.  Yet, I still see myself as "the fat boy". How can I ever reprogram that image? How can I ever get beyond that identity? I know many of you will think of your own journeys, and the things that worked for you.  I thought I had found a new life, but being "the fat boy" has been like a boat anchor.  The way I figure it, I'll  probably need to start C25K all over again, because I don't know if I can even run a mile at this point.  The bike has been in the garage, too.

Am I feeling sorry for myself? Is that all this is? Is it just a pity party? If it is, I wish I knew how to stop the music.  If this is a carnival ride, I want to get off. I'm madly envious of the success Mrs. F has achieved.  I just feel powerless to follow in her footsteps.  I'm back to feeling like I'll be trapped this way for the rest of my life, and I know that means it will be a shorter life.  That just feeds the depressive cycle.  I find myself craving more sweets and comfort foods because I'm feeling down.  I know they're no good for me, but I want them anyway.  I just want a little relief now--I'm not thinking about the long-term.  As I'm writing this, I'm beating myself up even more, because I realize how odd it must sound for a guy to be rambling on like this.  This struggle, and my self image, don't help me feel masculine.  Do other overweight guys simply never feel this way, or are they stronger than I so as to shrug it all off?  I wish it were possible for the old Simon and Garfunkel song to be true: "I am a rock. I am an island. / And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries."


  1. Simon and Garfunkel are stupid. You can be a strong man and still feel pain. What courage or honor is there in doing something that is easy to you? It's feeling the pain or fear and moving forward in spite of it. That's a strong man-- not someone who doesn't feel fear or pain.

    And being an island? Pshaw! Everyone needs support. Relationships are hard, but it's what we were made for and it's what makes life meaningful.

    I'll be praying that you get some positive momentum. Are you staying up late? If not, you've got more sun in the morning and could start up exercising in the morning before work again. I know that Marie would join you and it will be easier to do with her Garmin. But if she doesn't, this journey is about you and it's something you have to choose to do on your own for you even if no one else in your family is making healthy choices or supporting you. You can do it. You did it before and it was so rewarding. You can do it again.

    Your wife is an inspiration! I can see how you might be jealous of her success-- but she's worked her butt off for that success while running a household. That's no easy task.

    Do you have a heart rate monitor? If you don't, I recommend getting one. I think it will help you not to compete with anyone but yourself. Wouldn't it be awesome to have cold, hard data showing you that you were running x minutes a mile faster but your heart was not working as hard or it was actually lower than when you started? Just a thought!

    Get back on the trail!

  2. Glad to see you are back!!! You can do this :) I hope you have a great week! I think that sounds awesome about the canoe trip. My husband and I have not been alone on a vacation since our honeymoon about 9 years ago.

  3. Mr F: Honestly - about a week ago I was wondering what was going on since we hadn't heard from you in a while. I was delighted to see a new posting show up in my RSS reader today. I'm bummed, however, when I read your posting. While what you want to do may feel insurmountable, my guess is you can point to a variety of things (physical or mental) that you've done in your life that you didn't think you could do. Does the 5K fall into that category? Maybe a class? Raising kids? :-) I don't know or have your schedule, so the following may be easy for me to suggest - but maybe you just forget about running and focus on walking. I'm coming up on 4 years that I haven't been able to run. I'm amazed at how just going out for a walk changes my outlook.

    Best of luck and, while we know you've got a lot you're juggling, it is good to hear from you.


  4. My suggestion would be to take a long, deep drink of the Living Water.

  5. I was sorry to read about your struggles. I hope that the warmer weather and sunshine are clearing out those thoughts in your mind. You have been a huge inspiration for me on my own journey. I hope you will be able to goet back into a routine again that works for your schedule/life.

  6. Hey, this is ovenfried from the Active forum. Checked out your blog.

    One thing I can say is that when I started C25K back in September, you were a few weeks ahead of me. Your posts were SO inspiring and so informative, that I looked forward to them. Watching you and your wife go through it together was a terrific place for me to look ahead to my own possible future.

    Sometime in January after my first ever 5K, I dropped the ball. Stopped reading or posting on the forum. Resumed a somewhat awful diet of too many fried calories and sweets. Put on half the weight I had lost. Running wasn't in my mind anymore.

    Now the warmer weather is here, and it's much easier to get out. Days are getting longer, and I hope that since you blogged a few weeks ago, something has shifted back toward the road of wellness. Your ongoing story helped me keep going, and I hope that maybe you can come back to the group (I haven't had a chance to peruse the 19 pages of discussions to see if you are on there) and let us inspire to you start over fresh. And I think that the suggestion to walk is also excellent. Rather than focus on where you failed, divert your eyes to the future and the goals that you set for yourself last year. Your support system is still there.


  7. So who hasn't fallen off the wagon, or stubbed their big toe in life's journey? You are human and with that comes the opportunity to make the choices that you want to make. For yourself and no one else. If you want to pick up from where you left off, you can. Will it mean that you have to backtrack a bit to get there? Probably, but where will you be if you don't?

    As you've probably guessed, there are a lot of people in your corner. Not judging you, but cheering you on in your quest. People that recognize you have the determination and ability to do what you decide to do for yourself.

    "Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
    - T. S. Eliot

    So how far do you think you can go?


Curious? Surprised? Have some good tips? Please leave a comment for us here. We especially would love to hear about your successes, or to hear your words of encouragement. Knowing you're out there will help us to keep at it!