Unsurprising, one of the worst things an out of shape person can say to me is, “Oh I know I should go to the gym but I’m just not motivated like you.” And they do it in that tone that actually, clearly states that they are not only not wanting to “work out” but they’re throwing shade MY way for doing it as hard as I do.

First of all, no fucking shit Sherlock. Because for the most part, this is America and if you really wanted to hit a gym, chances are there’s a purpley one right down the road from you for the cost of one of your daily “value meals.” Second of all, do you even understand how completely offensive that is? (And if you know me, you know I don’t throw around the O word often.) As if going to the gym is this trivial little event in my day that has about as much impact in my life as wearing clean socks (I keep training socks in the gym, it’s a guess how gross they get before I remember to bring them in and wersh them. You can judge me but ya still gotta love me!)

I think what bothers me most of all, is that I feel compelled to respond in a much more mannerly, errrr, manner than what they’ve just said to me. What are some of the options?

A. Ya, don’t sweat it. I wish I could eat like shit as much as you do each day. 

B. That’s okay, working hard isn’t for everybody.

C. You do not even remotely carry the work ethic needed for something like this. Maybe try Zumba? 

Nope, they all sound bitchy and believe it or not, I try to use a finite amount of bitch points in a day and any one of those would suck up my points for the week. So usually I just smile and say, “Oh.” If I had much respect for the person beforehand, I don’t after that conversation. NBD.

I saw a Breitbart article being shared that discusses fat shaming and whether it’s okay to do so. See, here. Meh. The “article” is a dude’s opinion. And the dude, Milo, is a skinny fat with a cool name and (it seems) a legion full of interns who writes his articles. At least that’s one of the claims. What is that famous saying? When you point one finger at a person make sure it’s the middle one? Something like that. In other words, clean your own house before moving on to mine.

I’m not a believer of fat shaming. In fact, the word “shame” is probably one I’ve used less than 5 times in my life other than to say, “that’s a damn shame.” But those count too, still less than five. I hate that word. It was one of my mom’s favorites. Hello, welcome to my baggage. Shame on you! I’m so ashamed of you! I can see her face just typing the words and it wasn’t a happy one. (Her other favorite was, I may love you but I don’t like you. Hey parents, unless you want to raise an otherwise kinda cool kid who now believes that they are completely unlikable because even their mother can’t like them, don’t say that. It’s kinda mean. Couple that with a constant barrage of shame and, well, maybe you can get a feel of why I get kinda feisty.)

Now, I do write about the phats. Often. It’s a daily part of my life in my job and when I get on the scale. (Yes, I get on the scale believe it or not. I’m the same weight I was two years ago and gawdsdammit I’ll take that as a success. But watching to make sure it doesn’t go over that ‘X’ mark is important to me.) More on that in a bit.

There was a picture that popped up on my The Facebook memories of me in the Texas gym from about 7 years ago I think. My heart sunk when I saw it. I’m going to share it but it honest to god hurts my heart to do so:


No, the dog isn’t mine. He was a sibling of another and ginormous. Ok, so the picture. The reason it hurts my heart is because there, at probably 190# or so, I saw myself as a phat. In fact, one of the gyms out in the Seattle area we went to a few times a year had an owner who would make sure he called me a phat in three different ways during every visit and what hurts my head now is that I believed him then (I can only imagine what he’d call me now.) And it didn’t feel good. So to do that to anyone else, especially someone I know and respect is something that would absolutely crush me.

However, there are elephants in the room and the day comes that to NOT acknowledge the elephants is downright irresponsible. See, no one needs to tell me that I’m 30 pounds overweight. I know. I’m on it. Believe me, I’m fucking on it. But I have two goals right now. One big and one bigger, possibly even out of reach but don’t tell my brain-it doesn’t listen to that bullshit. I also have a 3rd goal, to get my weight back down to where I’m moving a bit quicker; feel better, and yes-even look better. So when this other stuff is all over, I’ve already told Mike Westerling that he’s stuck with me even longer and we’re going to get this weight off. After. (And no, I don’t want to hear one comment of “oh you’re this and that and your weight is fine.” I am as realistic about my strong points as I am about my flaws. I’m just fine.)

For now, I have my ‘X’ number. The magic number that when I get close or go over, there are a few “drastic” changes until it comes back down. (By drastic, I mean no wine or bratwursts. I just really really love brats. And wine. On that note, hang on, I need to get another glass of wine…)

Okay, I’m back.

My ‘X’ number is 230. That’s where shit goes south. I feel like I’m moving barbells through mud. I can’t rotate like I want to on my throws. I feel like utter and complete crap. I look even more bloated than I do now. Most importantly is that it keeps me from training and practicing in a positive way. Kinda like my version of being sick. Fat…sick…same thing. When I moved here, my weight was 215. My body has changed a lot and hitting 10×10’s for two off-seasons in a row brought on inflammation and hormonal fuck ups that I’m still dealing with today so even 8-10 pounds more than that with a changed body composition makes me wistful at times for the good old days of 215.

But 230. Shit gets locked down at 230. And it makes me wonder, do others have an ‘X’ number and if they don’t, should they? My opinion is, yes. Yes they should. One of the benefits of competing in two strength sports is meeting so many of the most awesome women on  the planet. I’ve met weightlifters who are unable to squeeze into a tight position off the floor because of their weight but then say that weightlifting is only for fun so they’re not interested in losing weight to do better. (Of course my question is why the fuck bother? But I kinda like competing at a level as high as I possibly can and working hard to do so.) I’ve met, hell, I KNOW many Highland Games women who’s weight are not only teetering in the danger zone-but are outright at a scary situation.

And that, people, is the fucking obvious in the room. The trick of it, of course, is that we don’t want to be fat shaming. We don’t want to make people we love and respect feel bad. But if we don’t speak up, who will? Look, chances are high that folks who keep pushing that ‘X’ up and up and up don’t feel great. They know. They may have a loved one who has tried encouraging them to eat a little healthier; workout a little more but even so, will be the first one in the car for the nightly trip to the ice cream shop. (I actually know absolutely no one who goes to the ice cream shop nightly but are there other versions of eating that shit without actually having to get in the car each night?)

Look, we’re smart people. We KNOW the effects of morbid obesity. We know that people we love are taking days or maybe even years off their lifetime (wouldn’t it be a kick after writing this if I got hit by a bus or something tomorrow and all you people could be all, well where’d THAT get you Jules????) So I’m not leaving the house tomorrow, but then there might be a gas explosion in the house so I better leave it. I’ll hang in the gym. But’s it hot as fuck and a tornado might hit and Wicked Witch of the East my ass and then what? I’m screwed.

I had a conversation last winter with someone I love very dearly. She is everything good in the world. Funny and giving and loving and fun. She embodies goodness. But she’s too big. Sorry not sorry. She mentioned that she knows she needs to take better care of herself and I said,

YES YOU DO! I told her that she is too special to be risking the chance of cutting her life shorter than it could be. How can I help? She cried. I hated that. But I know she knows I’m here. And she knows I want everything good for her but she’s still not taking care of herself and I’m sad for her that she’s not. On the flip side, I threw with a woman five years ago down in Texas and she has made major changes to her lifestyle. She’s lost weight, I don’t know how much. Enough to feel and look so much healthier and in spite of a busy, busy life-she just pulled 275 in the gym. She doesn’t eat like a bodybuilder but she also doesn’t eat like an asshole. I don’t know if she has her ‘X’ number, I’ll ask her. But at some point she did. She hit it, exceeded it probably, and said NO FUCKING MORE!

Results not typical. I wish they were. Wouldn’t that be nice? Can you honestly look at someone you love right now and say, “I’m worried. We need to make a change. Because I love you and I need you around for longer than you’re giving me.” Can you do that? It’s a tough talk. Start here, let me be the bad guy. I can take it, I haven’t used my bitch points yet today.

No legacy is so rich as honesty.

William Shakespeare

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to jep6095@gmail.com At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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