The Feeling of Fat vs Fit

Mon, Aug 19, 2013

She wore black. If was slimming it wasn’t obvious. He was in brightly colored swim shorts which were gradually retreating down from the pressure of his Santa Claus inspired belly.

The pair walked ahead of us as we carried our float tubes back up the creek today. As harsh as it may sound, to call it a “waddle” would give you a better visual. These were big people and I’m not talking “lean muscle big.”

And they were by no means alone. The town was full of people actively challenging the limits of skins ability to stretch. But as we walked patiently behind this pair, looking for a chance to pass, I found myself pondering, “What must it feel like to be carrying this much fat?”

My home town of Golden, has become quite the weekend hot spot. Seems a good chunk of greater Denver has discovered this once sleepy little gem of a town and it’s become… Well, quite colorful.

And ever since the town chose to open the beautiful creek that cuts though town to tubers (where once it was only kayakers) they have come; in all shapes and sizes.

One thing I want to be clear about is that I was not having a negative inner dialogue or criticism of these two. It’s not like I was feeling superior and having a damning, “Come on, get it together,” bullshit pep-rally in my head.

Not at all.

I felt empathy. For while the shape and size of a person does not that person define, it can’t feel rewarding, fun or easy to be heavy like this. Hell, it just looks like hard work.

I think about how frail the human ego can be, mine included, and how hard it must be to be strolling around looking like the opposite of the cover of every magazine. I reflected on being on Venice beach last week with Mike Ryan, who attracts a steady stream of “aaaahhhhhh…” with his shirt off.

There’s a part of me that wonders if being huge is something you become used to. Like the story of the frog in the pot of boiling water, you get used to is when the fat is turned up, one pound at a time.

I had a good friend tell me, when I’d asked how he’d gotten to 300+ pounds, “I earned it. About one pound per month, for 15 years.” I did the math… and that’s 180 pounds. “Yep, that’s about right.,” I said.

I know for me, when I feel fat around the middle, it’s just uncomfortable. My ego pain aside, it feels heavy—like a thick winter sweater. It’s a stark contrast to how light and alive I feel when my middle is lean and trim.

When I eat too much or just get too full I feel so sluggish, tired and just beat. I hate that feeling. It reminds me of what I don’t like about food. And when I do it, I recall why I don’t do it. It makes me want to live on Full Strength for the next week!

So, emotional challenge aside, I can only guess that feeling of carrying this much fat must be something like my heavy feelings of fat and full—times some factor. Safe to say few are just so damned glad they’re packing an extra 120 l-b-s…

The Pain of Change

To be excessively heavy must come with several pain points. But change is the hardest, most difficult thing of all. If we’re suffering in our bodies and the only comfort we know is food, the more we suffer the more we sooth and the heavier we get.

Round and round it goes and eventually you can’t see your toes.

Change requires being able to tolerate the discomfort—the pain. And believe me, the first step is always going to be more painful, not less. For you’re giving up the thing which has kept you safe, and comfortable but is also the source of your suffering. And really, who the hell wants to do that?

The Body Bears the Burden

On the other end of this change there is a feeling of great, of life, of aliveness, pride and joy that we long to know. We can see it in the stories, we believe those who’ve made it, but we only know it through our minds—thus we do not really know it but only “know of it.”

This is key, read this again: “We can’t know feeling this great, this alive, from our heads—only from the actual experience of it.”

I believe there are a lot more people suffering various degrees of this loss of aliveness—people tolerating less energy, less vitality, less passion, less compassion, less life than they deserve. It’s not just the physically heavy people—it’s all who have sacrificed the essence of aliveness inside their body and heart.

Whether the light goes out first in the mind, or heart, the body always bears the burden. It becomes dim, dull and listless—even if not overweight.

The Feeling of Great

The good news is that while the head and heart can be tricky terrain for healing, a return to vigor that begins in your body is contagious. And your body, as complex as a beast as it is, has a pretty small and simple range of influencers that it responds to.

Feed your body well, water it regularly and move it vigorously; daily.

And when given this right stimuli, repeatedly, your body will respond. And when it you’ll feel a spark. A return of a feeling long since forgotten but not entirely unfamiliar. Like the playfulness of a child skipping down the street awakens a memory of that light energy in you, so will you recall this spark as a way you used to feel. An earlier version of you, one before the burdens gradually consumed you.

Focus on this spark, this feeling. Feed it—fan that flame. Let it light your way. And each day a little more of how you used to feel and who you are meant to be will be revealed and returned to you.

It’s following this feeling of greatness, of life that will light you way out of the darkness and burden. For it’s the feeling of aliveness that is the real gift of fitness and wellness. The abs, the biceps, they are just demi-gods enticing the ego to chase in many cases so the soul can know the true feeling of vitality from the inside.

Crossing the Chasm

People cross the chasm all the time—they go from suffering to celebrating, from agony and defeat to victory. Often they scream back to us, encourage us, cheer us on. And yet we struggle to make the leap, at times even to take the first step.

And the first step?

The first step of making change is always the same. Surrender. Let go of the defense, stop the efforting, release the story and just sit with what is. Surrender to the truth and let something greater than you arise inside.

It’s hard to describe here and at once both harder to do and completely effortless—for it is to stop doing. Yes, it’s true: Surrender and step in to your true Strength.

And then step into a path with courage, grace, patience and purpose. Screw the big leaps and crazy promises and just do the steps, walk the talk and do the simple things daily.

Take a brisk walk, ride or jog. Have a Full Strength first thing every day. Lift something. Practice gratitude. And give thanks for the day.

Do the work: The simple but true and proven things and allow your light to shine bright again.

The Full Strength Promise

When it comes to change, there is no ONE solution, no magic bullet. But there are tools that have been time tested and proven to work. My Full Strength premium nutrition is one of them—and it’s been proven, clinically, as well as in the world you live in. I understand that every company, every product is making you a promise, telling you they have the way—but rather than telling you why they’re full of crap, I have to invite you to experience Full Strength. For like the feeling of greatness above, your mind can not know the greatness of Full Strength—it’s known only through the experience of.

Full Strength is not another muscle building protein shake, it’s a nutrient rich, precision engineered balanced meal that delivers a double-dose of the finest, premium undenatured whey proteins, slow release carbs in a beta-glucan rich oat fiber, essential fats, probiotics, fiber, glutamine, branch aminos, chelated minerals.., and more. It nourishes and fuels your body quickly, steady for hours. Absolving cravings, boosting focus, maintaining healthy energy and sets you up for success all day.

If you’ve seen your 35 birthday pass, you’ve entered into new territory—where your body no longer responds to nutrition like a 20 year old’s. And if you keep feeding it like it should, you’ll lose and lose big. And this goes for fast food and cheap protein drinks and sports drinks.

Full Strength is the only total nutrition shake designed to super-charge the body of man in the prime of life.

It’s daily lifestyle nutrition for the man who wants more time, more energy, more strength, more love, passion and success in life. At a time in life where “less” is the theme, Full Strength is the secret weapon for bucking the status quo and taking back your mojo—getting you back on top of your life and game.

And that my friend is 100% bullshit free.

This post was written by:

- who has written 190 posts on Shawn Phillips | Start Strong Monday.

Author, speaker, sprinter, trainer, fitness guru and Integral philosopher...Shawn Phillips

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2 Responses to “The Feeling of Fat vs Fit”

  1. Jeremy Choate Says:


    Since there’s no way you could know (thankfully), let me share my perspective with you.

    I was a Reconnaissance Marine in the early to mid-90’s. If you know anything about us, you know that even among the military’s elite, Recon Marines are the exemplification of fitness. To run six miles, swim 1,000 meters, and hump 20 clicks with 100lbs of gear over mountainous terrain is all in a day’s work.

    When I left the Corps in 1996, I replaced that kind of fitness with bodybuilding and loved it. However, three years after, I met my first wife, married, went to engineering school, worked nights at a prison to pay my way through, had a son, and started working. I was in a miserable marriage and medicated my stress and misery with food. It was a helluva lot more convenient than lifting, unfortunately.

    Within two years I had blown up from 175 to 270. My self-worth, already damaged by a horrible marriage, was practically destroyed.

    I had never been in this situation, before. I was always fit. I had never been this unfit and miserable in my life. Over the past decade, I’ve yo-yo’ed. I’ve done Atkins, Paleo, and even Body-for-Life, and managed to get myself down to 225 after my divorce (mainly because depression made food a secondary concern). However, I’m back up to 270, and I just can’t seem to get on track and stay there.

    People say, “do it for yourself!”, but the fact is, Shawn, I don’t like myself enough to give a damn. I’m a shell of a man, and though I wish I could see my self as “worth it”, all I see is a 41-year old, fat-ass, has-been, whose better days are far behind him.

    Any motivation that I can muster to eat right and exercise is short-lived. Since I’ve blown up to this weight, the longest I’ve ever stayed on any plan is six weeks, then something always knocks me down. Whenever I’m tempted to get back on track, the procrastinator in me says, “you can start next week.”

    I used to look at fat people and wonder why they just can’t get their shit together. After being one for ten years, I know why. Their weight makes them feel like failures, destroys their self-worth, and saps all their motivation and drive.

    It was either you or Bill who said it, and I believe it wholeheartedly: “You can’t have a fit body if you have a fat mind.”

    I have come to believe that this fat piece of shit I see in the mirror is who I am, and it’s all I’ll ever be.


    • Shawn Phillips Says:

      Well, okay Jeremy… there you go. I get it and think you’re special? Nope!

      Think you’re alone?


      I can’t fix it now, at this time but I can see that there is a way and it’s not in my power, but yours. I will think about this… and welcome the challenge to hit the change button, for it is there, in you as it is in us all.

      Strength 2U Soldier!



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