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Ballad of the Fat Personal Trainer

Updated: Jan 10, 2022

Oh my goodness!!! I have become a big, fat, fuck. Listen, it is not my intention to fat-shame anyone, including me. Despite my tendency toward self-brutality, I am making a real effort to keep shame and harsh judgment out of this. Disappointment and concern, however, run rampant.

Even at my most athletic, I am still a pretty big dude. In my late 20's and early 30's, I worked as a personal trainer and worked out intensely most days. I also taught no fewer than eight spin classes each week...and they were motherfuckers. Set to all heavy metal and hip hop music, I taught the most intense spin classes in the facility. Additionally, several hours each week were spent training in various martial arts (mostly Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Kung Fu). Okay, I had a tendency to binge eat/drink on the weekends, but I was young and single. The rest of the time, I ate pretty clean. Despite all that, I still walked around at 210lbs, with a slight belly, on a six-foot-nothing frame.

To be honest, I have always been a chunky kid. I come from a heavy, largely diabetic family. For the longest time, I chalked this up to genetics as that was what I was taught growing up. I now know that my family had (to some degree, still has) a brutally fucked relationship with food that still influences my own choices and behaviors. Food was our comfort. Waste not, want not; we always had to clean our plates. You show love for others by, drumroll please...feeding them. Oh and by the way, the older generations in my family DO NOT exercise. "Sweating and lifting weights is for barbarians. We are scholars." As a fat kid, who did awful in school, I was neither.

Much to my shame and dismay, we had to buy my clothes in the "Husky" section at Sears. I can remember going to a winter resort in upstate New York when I was eight-years-old. My father dressed me in slacks, a button-down shirt, and a nice sweater for some sort of event/dinner one night. My sweater was snug to begin with and true to form, I ate way too much and ended up feeling like a stuffed sausage, hermetically sealed into that fucking sweater. To this day, I can still recall feelings of both discomfort and shame from that evening.

Of course some of this IS genetic. There are people who are built long and lanky. When they gain weight, it appears as a small paunch on their bellies. Others, like my brother (technically, step-brother who does not share my genetics) are built small and mousey and cannot gain wait no matter what. By contrast, I am thick as fuck. I blow up like the Stay-Puffed Marshmallow Man just watching other people eat. That said, I have been able to combat my genetic lot and avoid Type II diabetes, unlike many in my family, through mindful living.

In 2008, I stopped working as a personal trainer in order to attend doc-school full-time. Upon completing my degree in 2012, I commissioned in the US Air Force as a psychologist and have worked with my fat ass behind a desk ever since.

I ballooned up to 240lbs. in grad school due to poor fitness habits and poorer eating habits, but got it in gear before joining the military (I had to pass the military fitness test). Since 2012, I have managed to keep my weight hovering around 220lbs., ten pound more than I like, but a weight at which I still look fit and perform well in athletics.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019, my gym closed as did my BJJ academy. Grocery shopping became a pain in the ass and food delivery services emerged as a convenient, comforting solution. Over the next two years, I inflated to a fluffy 230lbs. In the fall of 2021, I started paying more attention to my fitness and eating habits and started to drop a few pounds. Alas, after fall comes winter, and over the holidays (the first holiday season living with my partner) we ate, and ate, and ate, and ate some more.

With the holidays over, and knowing that I need to get back on the horse, I jumped on the scale this morning to assess the damage and HOLY SHIT!!!!! I am back at 240lbs., the heaviest I have been since graduate school.

My immediate reaction is to brutally shame myself for become such a disaster, set some pretty rigid lifestyle goals, and punish myself until I return to 220lbs (of course, I will tell myself that I want to return to 210lbs., and probably not achieve that so that I can still be dissatisfied with whatever progress I have made). That reaction has become "step one" in my lifelong pattern of fluctuating weight gain and fitness ability.

I started this blog to expose those patterns that keep me (and possibly others) stuck where we don't want to be and figure out how to change the motherfuckers. In all honesty, I'm not really sure how that's going to look just yet. I definitely want a sustainable lifestyle that includes eating and fitness habits that optimize my health (I have high blood pressure and asthma that get so much worse when I'm heavy). I'd like to feel good about my appearance. I definitely want to remain athletic and active. The last half century has kicked my ass pretty good in many ways. I'd like to create a life I can enjoy and have some time with which to enjoy it a while.

As a personal trainer and psychologist, I should have the tools to implement effective behavior change. I guess that's the irony in this mess. Despite all my education and proven ability in these areas - I think I legitimately helped other people change as both, a trainer and a shrink - yet here I am, riding this fucking merry-go-round.

In my last (and first) blog entry, I wrote that when courage, authenticity, and vulnerability are needed, I often hide behind a combination of intellect and sarcasm. I'm starting to realize that this is what I've done in relation to my health and fitness. Knowing that I know how put together a fitness lifestyle and support ongoing behavior change has somehow empowered me to put it off until tomorrow. The fucked up part is that despite all my credentials and education, I am just now digesting reality: tomorrow never comes. It's time to start changing the pattern.

Please comment and share. Thank you so much for reading.

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Well hello (you’ll forever be) Capt Novak. Enjoyed this blog. Isn’t it a shame our fat fluffies lead the mind fucks? Can’t Something, Anything, a small slice of chocolate cake, a great Christmas cookie, be enjoyed in peace and Ho! Ho! Ho! innocence? I didn’t buy a ticket for the gray matter fat shaming circus train; snuck onboard when the ticket master looked away. Just couldn’t resist. Perhaps my affinity for the elephants and walruses doomed me to the fat shaming circus of senior years. Naaa! I’ll accept a larger size for the pleasant reprieve of something sweet at the end of everyday.

Jerry Novack
Jerry Novack
Jan 20, 2022
Replying to

Okay. Thanks for reading, Debbie.


Some of the best teachers are the worst students. I know exactly what you mean by having all the tools to be successful and not taking the advice you would have given your personal training clients. I do the same thing to myself. I try to think about how gentle I would be with my former clients and practice that same kindness with myself. I also play that stupid game of well I’ll just go to the gym to change then I’ll go home Or think about what I would do at home. Usually that keeps me going.

Jerry Novack
Jerry Novack
Jan 05, 2022
Replying to

I appreciate you reading, Erin, and I am so glad that you found it relatable. Hopefully, we'll figure some this stuff out eventually.

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