How a Single Discovery Made a Fat Guy Thin


January 26, 2015

fat guy thin

It was really starting to bug me.

I’m sitting on the edge of my bed trying to tie my shoe. My gut was in the way!

fat guy thin
How a single discovery made a fat guy thin.

I actually had to hold my breath to bend over and tie my shoe. My rolled up stomach fat prevented me from breathing comfortably when I bent over. One breath for the left foot. Another for the right.

WTF happened?

So I finally did it.

I put the tape on it. How fat had I gotten?

41 effing inches! Wow, I was thinking 37 or 38 tops.

I was cincing hard on that tape measure too but it still reported 41 inches. I couldn’t squeeze it any further.

I had a 41 inch gut!

That?s officially fat in my book.

I remember thinking ?But I wear 36 jeans??

Yea but those jeans were slung low and tighter than a gnats arse.

I didn?t weigh myself because we didn?t have a scale in the house. I was never a ?weight check? guy anyway.

I was an easy 240 pounds which was really heavy for me. My fit weight was closer to 205.

What to do?

So my first irrational response was to go eat something. Depression will do this to you.

And crack that bottle of wine. It helps for awhile.

OK so a day or so later, after I stopped crying, I went into logical, engineering analysis mode. This is what I’m good at.

The question: Why am I fat?

How did this happen? And why didn’t I notice it happening?

Getting to a 41 inch waist takes some time. It’s weird how we let this stuff happen. We see ourselves everyday but somehow pretend all is well.

Take some action

So the engineer in me went to work.

I used a problem solving tool that I learned years ago running Operations for medical device start up companies.

The 5 Whys

The 5 Whys is a method to peel back the onion so to speak and find the true root cause of any particular problem.

It?s essential to do this if you ever want to really get rid of a problem. Otherwise you?re just addressing symptoms. Kind of like an aspirin for a headache.

Most people really suck at problem solving for this exact reason. They never fully uncover and understand the root problem. They focus on symptoms instead and it’s just a viscous cycle. Nothing ever gets solved.

A common fitness example:

You?re overweight and not happy about it. But you really want to solve this problem. It’s been bugging you for awhile.

You?re convinced your problem is time. You are just too busy to schedule in time for exercise. The job, the kids, the bills, the house, etc.

So you bite the bullet. You will get up an hour early, at 5 am, so you can work out.

Make more time in your answer.

You get after it for a couple of weeks and then gradually begin to miss days. Too tired today, I?ll get it tomorrow.

Except you miss tomorrow as well.

And pretty soon, you?re back to not working out again.


Because time was not your problem.

It never is by the way. Lack of time, although a common excuse, is never the reason for not doing something.

It?s something deeper. And usually an emotional reason.

I?ve heard it described as ?The thing is never the thing.? Meaning that your superficial look into the source of your problem has not identified the true underlying cause. The root problem.

But that is what The 5 Whys does.

You keep digging deeper by continually asking “Why” every time you answer the previous question. Eventually you’ll arrive at the base problem.

The five in the 5 Whys is from a belief it typically takes about five levels of questions to dig out the answer. But that is just a rule of thumb.

Let?s see the 5 Whys in action

See the mind map below that documents my 5 Whys brainstorming session about:

Why am I fat?

why am i fat

So I mapped the two obvious legs of Why am I Fat?-Diet and Exercise.

You can see that both legs led to a common denominator. I wasn’t happy.

I was fat because I wasn’t happy, primarily driven by what I was doing for a living.

And there was a secondary diet root cause of eating the wrong kinds of food. But this leg was undoubtedly driven by the more powerful, emotional need of being happy.

Now there was a long and circuitous route that got me to my then current situation working with my wife as small business owners of a custom order, niche furniture store. I won’t try to cover it here.

But I had willingly transitioned from my previous career as an Operations Director for start-up medical device companies to an entrepreneur running a very small business.

And it turns out I didn’t like it. I tried to like it. I thought I would enjoy running the business, doing the marketing, web stuff, business development and operational stuff.

But in the end, it wasn’t true. It was still a furniture store. My passion wasn’t interior design, color, texture and helping people transform their homes into their dreams. It was my wife’s passion.

She loves it and she is good at it.

So to make a long story short, I worked my way into health and fitness because that was my true passion.

I was far more jazzed about helping people get more out of their lives.

We are sleep walking through life

I realized that it is easy to fall into the trap of just going through the motions in life. You’re not being intentional. Things are just happening rather than you making the right things happen.

And this is a common issue in our modern world.

The epiphany

I can help people with this. Fitness is my thing and there is a huge need for direction in this area.

So now I’m psyched.

And my fitness turned around. My 41 inch gut disappeared.

I ate better, exercised far more consistently and got in pretty good shape again.

My discovery

My low energy, ho-hum attitude and general malaise was from being unhappy in the direction my life was heading.

So I changed directions.

And that made a fat guy thin.

Happiness matters.

If you go to a job 40, 50 or 60 hours a week and you’re bored to tears, it’s going to be tough to get in shape.

The moral of the story.

Dig deep and solve your real, underlying problems. Then everything else seems to fall into place.

Coaching services

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Old spartan headshot
Old Spartan

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About the author 

Mark Fickler

Mark aka The Old Spartan and Over-50 Fitness Savior is a 64 year old coffee guzzling father of five wandering the outdoors around Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mark helps Active Boomers get lean, healthy and strong so they live rewarding, fun lives using his signature 2 Rule Easy Fat Loss training program.

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