When Pastors Tell You You’re Fat
(In a Roundabout Way)

by | Dec 14, 2022

This is me, getting ready to delve into a place that’s one of the most vulnerable for me, but I think someone needs to go there and I’m picking myself for the job.

If someone doesn’t say to you, “Hey, I’m fat and need to get in shape and I could use your help…” DON’T TELL THEM THEY’RE FAT AND YOU CAN HELP THEM.


Controlling my weight is one of my greatest challenges and failures in life. It is a lifelong struggle and one I’ve rarely written about because I’m still going through it. Sometimes I think if I share about my journey with weight loss openly, any progress I make might be jinxed. Not that I believe you can really jinx things, but you know what I mean.

One of the few places I’ve written about my struggle with my weight is in this post on my adoptee blog about what I call “Adoptee Love Hunger.”

I’ve been on almost every diet plan.
I’ve gone to therapy.
I’ve learned in therapy why I have this issue.
And yet I still wrestle.

Recently, I have received a few texts that say, “Oh my gosh, you’ve lost weight! You look great!” Yes, I have lost a bit of weight. It’s not from any diet plan, it’s from the rigors of taking care of Gus the last four months, and from grief. I hope I can keep it off even though I’ve taken it off almost by accident. I’ve been re-reading James Clear’s Atomic Habits to get myself in the right headspace to do that.

I’ve had some encounters in the past three to four years that haven’t offended me, but they have made me sad.

Because they remind me of the main thing I’ve tried to do in life and failed…
the thing I already know I fail at.

The thing I look in the mirror and am reminded on the daily that I fail at.

I have received some messages, and strangely enough, almost all of them are identical. They are all from men, and ironically all of them come from pastors. The messages go something like this:

Hi Sis. Deanna, or Pastor Deanna, or Deanna: (However they refer to me)

I hope you are doing well. I love reading your posts, and just want to say what a blessing you are. You do a great job at all you do and my wife and I just love you! I hope you aren’t offended by this, but I can help you lose weight. I’m not sure if you know but in addition to being a pastor, I’m a health coach. I want you to know I can help you get on the other side of things with this, so if you would like my help I’m just a text or a phone call away. Hope to hear from you soon.

No, I’m not offended.

I’m just reminded once again of my greatest ongoing failure, by someone I’m really not close to and someone I haven’t invited to speak into my life about something so personal.

I already knew you were a health coach.

I can’t help but know because every other photo on your wall is of someone’s before and after, or the latest special you are running to take new clients.

I am happy for you!
I truly am!

I think it’s great that you advertise on all your social media. I do it all the time with my work/ministry… (i.e. “Come to the Thrive Conference!” or “Stronger Conference is gonna be killer! You need to get there!” or “Become a 1000 Sister! Be part of the movement!”) I am all about it, and I understand why you are too with your church and with your business.

But please, don’t land in my inbox to tell me in a roundabout way (pun intended) that I’m fat and you can help me.

I already know.

I’m not mad at you.

I was just momentarily sad when I got your message.

It says to me, “Yep, they noticed what I most don’t want people to take note of about me…”

I also know your program works for millions of people. I’ve investigated it seven ways to Sunday and I know it works! The reason I didn’t choose it is because I know myself better than you do, and I know I can’t do it for life.

Potatoes are my favorite food.
God made potatoes.
They are not the same as Fritos or Ben & Jerry’s.

I’m just not swearing off potatoes.
Not gonna do it.
Not for a week, not for a month and especially not for life.

Yes, I know I can have potatoes on maintenance. I’ve heard this before.

But the odds of me making it to maintenance without a potato are the same odds that Epstein killed himself.

Potatoes are the very air I breathe.

Every type of potato.

Mashed, baked, fried, au gratin, scalloped, smothered, covered, chunked, diced…
Any way you wanna serve them, potatoes are the GOAT!

I can take on the world but the lack of potato will bring me to my knees.

So I’m gonna pass on the program.
But I know it’s effective and I want you to succeed.

I just don’t want you to approach me privately and let me know that you’ve noticed that I’m overweight.

I’m working on doing something about it, but I take steps forward and back a lot.

I know you understand…you once did too before your program changed you.

I’m finding my way, too, just like you once did.
The way that works for me.

Literally hundreds of my friends in ministry are health coaches, and this is just a word to the wise, be careful on your approach. My two best friends, my spiritual mom, my primary care doctor, and my therapist talk to me about my weight, and have invitation to do so. I ask them to keep me accountable. But I didn’t invite you to be my accountability partner in this. Please stop appointing yourself to a role you were never given.

I don’t have my head in the sand about what I need to change.

There will be those who will surely say: “Don’t let anyone fat shame you!”

I understand the reality of fat shaming. It’s a real thing. But, here’s what I’ve come to believe about fat shaming with a broader perspective, no pun intended:

Most of the younger generation are the ones who post about fat shaming and the truth is, they don’t know what they don’t know. They’re too young to know what they’re going to face one day. It’s one thing to talk about fat shaming when you’re 20 years old. I get it. You might be overweight but everything is still working well. I was there once! But when you’re in your 50’s, it isn’t about whether you can fit into a pair or jeans or whether you look good naked. It’s about bringing your cholesterol or your A1C down before it kills you. I don’t care about what I can fit into anymore…I just want to live. I know I can’t stay this way…not because of some false sense of shame about my weight, but because God wants me to be healthy so I can do all he has called me to do.

But to have male pastors land in my inbox and remind me that I need to lose weight…it’s just a little jarring, even for somebody like me who talks about the most sensitive of topics without blinking an eye.

I love you all. (I really do!)

And I bless you to prosper.

This is Deanna over and out from the weight loss merry-go-round.


  1. Bonnie Stokes

    You have described too my greatest vulnerability. I am wholly aware of this in my life and I too am surrounded by health coaches. I understand perfectly your blog post! Your writing is so closely linked to my own thoughts and feelings concerning this personal health issue and all that is contained in it. Thank you again for sharing in truth.

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      I will be praying for you as we move forward on this journey together in whatever way the Lord leads us. <3

  2. Lori Garver

    Oh I feel this. I go up and down then up and down again. Feel like this is the one mountain I can’t move. Tried many diets with success but yes I like to eat too so a year or two later it creeps back on. Even with running the last few years (which I never did when I was younger) I can manage to gain weight. You’re hungry after a long run lol. I bet many of those health coach programs are ones I know about or even tried that work short term but don’t last long term without a huge mental shift and life long change in eating which requires God’s help because it doesn’t work long term with only my willpower.

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      I understand. Weight loss is such a journey and the older we get the harder it is. I used to be able to lose five or ten pounds in a week even though that’s not good for you – I did it. Now it’s like every ounce hangs onto me for dear life! It takes so long just to get a little bit of weight off.

  3. Renee Mathews

    Yes! So many times yes! I’ve lost weight because I was sick for an entire month. Do not lose weight this way! I hope to take advantage of the jump start but I too love potatoes, peanut but Reese’s Christmas Cheese and all things carbohydrates. Add three other issues and I can’t diet like everyone else. Quite frankly, some of those things they recommend eating I am just not going to eat. So here’s to God and I and my up and down weight loss program. Love you Deanna

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      I’ve experienced that before too, like with the flu. It’s awful. I’m with you on all this, Renee. Love you too.

  4. Jill Susa

    Wow. I never imagined that a pastor (or anyone for that matter) would inbox someone with a message like this. Wow. 😪
    I’m sorry that people are so forward and, yes, brazen. My personal opinion is, if I’m healthy (which I am, even though I’m overweight), and if I’m pretty active physically (again, I’m not winning any marathons, but I keep moving), then I’m ok, so just leave me alone. Hahaha! 🤗

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      I agree with you, Jill.

    • Connie Mathews

      I could just kiss you! Thank you for you honesty and transparency … the struggle is real♥️♥️♥️

  5. Marcia Ellison

    Deanna – Thank you for touching on this subject. I’ve struggled with my weight my whole life. Recently, I asked my neighbor if he wanted some chips. “Oh no I can’t eat those. I only eat clean foods.” Ummmmm my chips are dirty, even thought I know there is a brand name Dirty Chips!!! So I asked him if eating a salad 🥗 everyday and some fruits, veggies, eggs salmon or chicken eating clean. Yes. Let me through in some peanut butter cookies or a scone. Maybe a croissant??? OMGosh!!! Some people!!! Keep on going Deanna. I love your spirit!!! You make me laugh and sometimes you make me cry. Hugs!!!

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      I had NO IDEA there was a brand named Dirty Chips! LOL! Hugs back.

  6. Susan Chaya

    Oh my goodness, I have struggled with my weight for so many years. And with all the stress in my life that produces cortisol that’s not helpful either. I know, everyone says give it to Jesus, you are not meant to carry it, and that is what I do but I am still living through it. I have peace in my heart but I still walk through stress. And I really understand the potato thing. I could have written that part of your blog post. They are absolutely my favorite food in every shape and form. Thank you for always being transparent. You make everyone feel like they are family.

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      The cortisol really affects things. I have realized that the past year not only with my weight but my hair. We are family and I’m so glad we are. <3 Love you susan.

  7. Sharon Frankel

    Weight has been a lifelong struggle for me and recently the Holy Spirit showed me that I needed to repent for hating my body shape and weight. I’ve told many people that “God doesn’t make junk” and now I had to tell that to myself! But here’s the thing: the injustice of it all: if I eat a piece of chocolate cake, those calories get added to my body immediately. BUT, if I say “no” to that piece of chocolate cake, those calories don’t get subtracted from my body immediately! So unfair! LOL!

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      I’ve had to pray the same prayer of repentence. I get it.

  8. Jamie Farley

    So good. Thank you for being vulnerable. Also, just a fun thing we did once for my potato loving son….his birthday party only had potato foods. All the different French fries, chips, tots, wedges, stuffed, mashed, and the list goes on 🙂 We get it!

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      Oh my lands, I LOVE THAT! Maybe I need this for my next birthday. This is an amazing idea!!

  9. Sukie

    This hit home on so many levels. For me I try so hard to no avail and have people even tell me I’m sinning because I’m not taking care of my temple even though I watch what I eat and exercise (even though it’s doesn’t look like it). My weight is the biggest obstacle for me in ministry because I don’t even want to be filmed, pictured or go on stage/pulpit to speak because I know what will follow when I do . I’ve even had people in the church chase me down to tell me how their low calorie starvation diet full of preservatives can help me lose weight – because THIS time it’ll work since everyone at church is doing it. Sorry, I don’t usually follow the crowd. Did I mention that besides being extremely overweight I am not on any medication whatsoever even though my entire family is diabetic? I’ve puzzled my doctors because besides the fact of being overweight, Im healthy. Apparently, Im single because of my weight, “It’s the only thing you are missing to get married” – so I’ve been told in the church. There is a lot of emphasis of physical weight but none on mature spirituality- go figure. I’ve even had some people who I never invited in my circle approach me and offer to pay for a program for me to lose weight because “it’s a shame you are so overweight, you could be married by now…” I’m not kidding ! Sorry for the rant, you’ve hit THE nerve (no pun intended) of people who push themselves in my circle without my invitation. It’s just sad.

  10. Dr. Deanna Shrodes

    Sukie, this makes ME sad on so many levels. People have NO IDEA. I agree, there is a lot of emphasis with some on physical appearance and very little on spiritual and even emotional maturity. So many hugs to you.

  11. Audrey

    The struggle is real. I have a thyroid problem that makes it so difficult with me losing weight. I just try to eat as healthy as I possibly can and leave the rest alone. Thank you for addressing this.

  12. Shelly Henson

    I’m so glad you never choose the “program”. Oh, I did… over and over… and failed over and over! You hit the nail on the head! I nearly rolled out of bed laughing! You are a beautiful woman!

  13. Sue Coons

    I have found a healthy eating program that is not a diet – it is eating balanced meals and eating to be satisfied. The diet mindset puts you into a feeling of deprivation – you can’t eat this, can’t eat that. There are no foods off limits in moderation. The mindset is to eat until you reach satiation and stop eating when you are full. They give you recipes and you can pick and choose what works for you. I have lost 10 pounds in the last 1 1/2 years and have kept off the weight. It’s about picking the right foods and not eating a lot of sugar or carbs that can add to your weight. It is also about balancing each meal with protein, fats and carbs. It isn’t a quick weight loss program but by eating healthy you automatically lose weight. The program is called HOMEMADE Method and you can google it to find out more information. Yes, it costs money but it is definitely worth the work. I did gain weight in December after Thanksgiving, going to Disney for 6 days and Christmas. I ate sweets and carbs more than I normally do. I gained 5 pounds in that short time, but when I came home and ate more healthy I have lost that weight and feel so much better. I am fighting arthritis and stomach bloating and this way of eating has made a big difference.

    • Dr. Deanna Shrodes

      Thank you for sharing about this and your experience with it. I’ll definitely check it out!


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