I am heavier than I have ever been in my life. I am 75 pounds heavier than I was in college and 65 pounds heavier than I was on my wedding day. Like a lot of realities in life, the reasons are complex. Part occupational hazard. Most church planters gain 20 pounds starting a church in the US. We are always meeting people, eating with people, and due to financial constraints we eat a lot of fast food. Part of it is the busyness of raising five kids. Do you like how I can blame my children for how big I have gotten? What are the other factors? I love food. A lot of times when I sit down to plan a diet I look at the future and say with a smile, “I would rather be fat.” While that is true practically, it is not true deep down inside.
Even though I say that I would rather be fat I want to be healthy for my family. I want to look and feel good. I live in the most image conscious city in the world and minister to a church that is very fashionable and cool. I am the opposite of that.
A little while ago one of my friends sat me down for a heart to heart. He wanted to talk about my weight and the clothes I wear. He wasn’t being mean or superficial. He just noticed that with every pound I gained, I dressed in a way that said I don’t care how I look. You see he is right. The bigger I get, I find the more of my wardrobe gets placed in the “I can’t fit into this” box and I take out the hideously large clothes I put away thinking I would never wear these again.
Something I never knew was that in the fashion world, the fatter you are the tighter you should wear your clothes. My mom always said that but she wanted me to wear tight stuff so I would feel uncomfortable and get the motivation to lose weight. She said you need to feel how fat you are. My friend had a different take. He said wearing tighter, darker jeans make your legs look longer and skinnier. He wasn’t saying wear super tight jeans. He was saying that if I wore jeans that were tighter than the ones I wear now I would look thinner. He also said that I should wear tighter shirts than what I normally wear. You see this is so counterintuitive for me. The fatter I get the looser I want my clothes. I sacrifice appearance for comfort.
One day I decide to test my friend’s advice. I took a pair of jeans out of my “I can’t fit into this” box and wore them to church. I also wore a black long sleeve t-shirt that was a little slim fit. A lot of people said they thought I lost 10 pounds. Amazing. It was like I discovered something from a Harry Potter book…a cloak that sheds weight.
For the last month I have been battling vertigo because of a condition I have called Meniere’s Disease. Long story short I have been in bed waiting for vertigo episodes to pass. One day the dizziness took a break so I asked my wife to take me and the kids to the Grove in LA. I just wanted fresh air and to be out of the house. So we go. #5 threw up on herself so my wife took her to Gap to buy a $5 outfit to change into because I didn’t want to leave. I took #1 and #3 with me to Nordstroms. I never ever shop so I just thought I would go to the store my mom always went to when I was growing up.
I had no intention of buying anything. I just wanted to try on some more dark jeans and tight shirts. So I go to the section where cool skinny people shop and try on some clothes. I take #1 and #3 into the dressing room with me. First I put on one of the designer t-shirts. My kids giggle because the shirt functioned like a pushup bra. The design, stitching, and cut somehow grabbed my man boobs and squished them in a couple different directions making me look like a night club bouncer named “Tiny” who has poor self awareness issues. While I was changing shirts, my son pulled up his shirt grabbing his stomach, shaking it wondering if my body is what his body is like. He saw my fat jiggle so he jiggled his fat.
Then come the jeans. I kept the pushup bra shirt on so I could see how the whole ensemble would look together. The jeans were really cool. They were $200. I put the jeans on and so far so good. The legs felt comfortable while being a little tighter than the baggy stuff I normally wear. Then came the dreaded top button. I suck in some serious air and barely button the top. This step did something I did not like. It gave me the strangest wedgy I have ever received. What made this wedgy remarkable was not just how deeply it penetrated but how wide it penetrated. It looked like someone grabbed me from the front and yanked really hard.
My two kids are laughing while saying, “Wow daddy. You look great.” I change back into my Shrek outfit and head out of the store. I meet my wife who is covered in vomit outside and she asks, “So did you find anything you liked?”
I said, “No. Everything was too…forget it…let’s get some ice cream.”