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The Fisher of Stories



A post shared by Travis Sloat (@tstyles77) on Apr 1, 2017 at 7:14am PDT

It happened a few weeks ago.

“Travis, you need to clean out your closet. I need hangers.”

I laughed and went on about my business, trying not to give it a second thought. I did though, and a third, and a fourth. However, I never got around to cleaning out my closet.

Sunday though, it happened again.

“Travis, I got you these bags, you need to throw some clothes out, but if you want to keep them I understand. We’re just going to put them in these bags.”

I was cooking dinner for the family — nachos if we’re being honest — and Akeeli was helping me. I laughed again, then stared at Alicia, trying to come up with something to say. A lump formed in my throat, and I felt tears coming in the corners of my eyes. I turned back to the hamburger sizzling on the stove and busily crumbled it, hoping the situation would resolve itself without me having to acknowledge it.

It almost did.

“Daddy, why did you laugh and then not say anything?”

I’ve heard a lot about Stockholm Syndrome, and I’ve always wondered how it’s possible for a captive to have any positive feelings about their captor, much less sympathize with them. If someone ever abducted me, I always felt I would never fall victim to the mysterious psychological condition that is apparently so powerful, it led hostages in a Stockholm bank robbery to decide not to testify against those who held them captive.

My weight has abducted my happiness, healthiness, attractiveness, my self-esteem, my activity levels, and some of my relationships. It has taken more from me than I’ll ever get back, particularly my health.

I’ve lost weight before. Back in 2010, I went on a run where I got from around 380 down to 300. It lasted approximately 10 weeks, and then the scale was tipping 360 once again. I couldn’t maintain. I fell back into bad habits, and I got to the point where I didn’t care anymore.

However, I loved Fat Travis. Fat Travis didn’t care what people thought about him. Fat Travis knew he was fat and he took pride in that. Fat Travis didn’t have to wear compression shirts to keep loose skin from jiggling underneath his shirts. Fat Travis just enjoyed food, he didn’t count calories. Fat Travis was happier, Fat Travis was funnier, and Fat Travis took that one picture on a turtle one time.

Fat Travis was an awesome abductor. He wasn’t an inherently bad guy, he just made some bad choices. He wasn’t keeping me hostage with the intent of killing me, he just wanted to not have to worry about self-control. He enjoyed the lack of responsibility, because Fat Travis hated responsibility and accountability.

Fat Travis is a good guy, really. Don’t hate him. I don’t, and there are also days when I miss him.

So when my daughter asked that question: “Daddy, why did you laugh and not say anything?” it slapped me in the face and brought me back to reality. Tears threatened once again, and I fought the urge to lie to her. Instinctively though, I knew she needed the truth.

“I don’t believe it’s going to last.”


I went back to cooking, and she went back to helping, and Alicia wound up knowing exactly how I was feeling, thank God. Later that afternoon, I went to play a game of basketball, and when I got home, she motioned to the closet.

“I took care of the closet. It seemed like you were having trouble. I didn’t throw all of it out though, some of it is just bagged up.”

There are sixteen million reasons why I love my wife. This is one of them.

I don’t know if this will stick. I’m trying my hardest, though. If it does, then I’ll get to look back ten years from now and wonder why in the world I didn’t do it sooner. If it doesn’t…well, maybe my struggle will motivate someone to never let it get this bad to begin with. Maybe my beautiful daughter will realize the mental struggles her father dealt with about his weight, and it will help her say no to another plate of pizza and yes to a salad.

But for now, a large chunk of me is gone. Success, I’m told, is kind of like being pregnant. Everyone is happy for you, but nobody knows how many times you got screwed. The plot line of my journey isn’t something you could ski down, instead, it looks more like someone having a heart attack.

I am also taking steps to surround myself with people who support what I’m trying to do, even if it leads to me throwing out three-quarters of a brick of Velveeta.

I’ll continue to fight. I’ll continue to grind. I’ll continue to repeat.

I guess I’ll also continue to try to make space for my success. Even if it hurts.

Before we dive into the blog, I’ll update you on my wight loss/get in shape goal. When I weighed in on Friday, I was 341.9 lbs., which brought me down a total of 11.7 for the month. It’s not exactly the most drastic drop, but after speaking with my trainer, he’s reminded me that I laid a lot of lean muscle on this month and that weighs more than fat. Here’s a pic of my measurements, which came down too. 

My biceps are evening out. Draw your own conclusions.

Now on to the good stuff.
About a week ago, I had to go take the Oklahoma General Education Test, or OGET for short. I guess when you want to become a teacher, they like to make sure you at least have some general educatin’ in your background.
I am absolutely forbidden to discuss the questions that were on the test, and I signed a pretty strict nondisclosure agreement on the front page of the test that said the state of Oklahoma would take my firstborn and give me a fantastic wedgie if I told anyone about the questions.
However, the NDA said nothing about discussing what took place in the time I spent before I took the test. And believe me, things happened.
Let’s start with how early the test is. I had to report to the testing site at 7:15 in the a.m. 7:15. 7:15. 
My kids don’t even have to be at school until 8:30 and that’s not even on the weekend. 
Of course the night before, I woke up at 3 in the morning and couldn’t go back to sleep for an hour, so when my alarm went off at 6, I was dragging more butt than a dog on a freshly washed carpet.
In my desire to reach the testing site on time, I forgot to bring “several #2 pencils, sharpened.” I wasn’t gravely concerned because I figured I could pick some up on the way.
I stopped at two places on the way in, neither of them had pencils.
I arrived at the testing site sans pencils, late, and sat down at a table with 5 other very tired people, all of whom had freshly sharpened pencils, industriously laid out, ready to be used.

Essentially what the table looked like.
Image source

I looked at the three young ladies on the opposite side of me and said, “Do any of you have a spare pencil I can buy?”

I crap you not, all three of them looked at me, pursed their lips, shook their heads primly and did their best Elaine Benes “I can’t spare a square” impersonations.
“I’m sorry, no.” “I just don’t have any extra.” “You really should have brought pencils.”

Excuse me?

The two gentlemen on my side of the table witnessed this transaction, laughed openly, and then one of them said, “Here you go man.” The other one said “And here’s an extra, just in case.”

When I reached for my wallet to pay the blessed men, they both politely refused.
Chivalry, it would seem, is not dead in the male species.
*side eye at the women*
Pencils in hand, I walked down the hall to the testing room. I realized I had been worried about something in the back of mind, almost unconsciously, all morning long.
When I walked in the room, I saw what it was.
The desks.

Never has such an innocent memory of childhood wrought such terror as in the heart of fat adult.

As a portly person, I live in constant fear of standardized desking. I walk into classrooms and immediately look for the “fat kid desk” or even a table and chair. When I have a new class at the beginning of the semester, I have to get there ten minutes early the first day, just so I can lay claim to the most comfortable seating arrangements, anyone else be danged.

Sure enough, the testing room I was in contained a desk.
A small desk.
My thought process went something like this.
“Dude. You can’t fit in there. No way.” “I totally can. I’ve been working out.” “For a month you fat sack of flan, no way you’re getting in it.” “Watch me.” “What?” “WATCH ME!”
I may have screamed that last part out loud, which got me a few strange looks, but I got to the desk. What happened next can only be described with a gif.

This is actually scary accurate, including the sort of bracing hand grab and wedge technique.
Image source

It was rough, and it even hurt a little bit, but I made it. I felt like a beach ball being squeezed between two pieces of flat wood, but I was in there.

There was but one tiny problem.
I couldn’t breathe.
Well, not normally.
I was taking these sort of breaths that were causing other people to look at me with various stages of concern, all of them I’m sure convinced I was having an infarction.
So when the teacher came around and asked for my driver’s license, the following conversation took place.
Teacher: “Sir, I need to see your license.” Me: “The other lady already looked at it.” Teacher: “Well, you have to keep it on the desk, in case you go to the bathroom and try to come back as someone else.” Me: “Oh, you mean someone who can fit in desks better?” Teacher: “Oh! Are you uncomfortable?” Me: “Yes, ma’am. I am very uncomfortable.” Teacher: “Would you like alt…”Me: “YES I WOULD LIKE ALTERNATE SEATING ARRANGEMENTS.”
So the teacher yelled into the hallway.
For the love of God. She was going to say fat. I know she was going to say fat, and she was about three letters away from giving me an automatic passing grade on the OGET, because I can promise you this, if you call Travis Sloat fat at a party we’ll laugh, but if you do it when I’ve been woken up at 6 a.m. on the weekend to take a test that measures nothing but my common sense, well then sister, you’re sued.
So Mr. Guy went traipsing through the school, looking for seating arrangements large enough to accommodate my industrious bulk.
He brought back a desk that looked as it belonged in a kindergarten classroom or under a meal in Japan. It sat about 3 1/4 inches off the floor. With it, he brought a full size chair.
I spent the entire test bent over, finishing in just under two hours, and leaving looking alarmingly like this:

That’s the face I make when I get up at 6 a.m. on the weekend.

I’m still waiting on the scores. If I don’t pass, do you reckon I have a legitimate case for a redo? Maybe next time they’ll let me bring in my own seating arrangements, an easy chair and one of those hospital desk things they put people’s food on. I think that’s the ticket.

In the meantime, I’ve designed a new logo for OGET.

Accurate and efficient.

Call me Ishmael.

Look, I know the title told you to call me Ahab. But if I didn’t begin this with “Call me Ishmael,” I would never be taken seriously in the literary community. Anytime you reference Moby Dick, you have to start it with “Call me Ishmael.” I don’t make the rules.

Many of you remember my landmark dieting run that began the year 2010. I was going to go all liquid for thirty days. I lasted approximately twenty eight hours on that “diet.” However, many of you also know that The Missus and I went on to be on the Tyra Bank’s show, and then how I tried out for The Biggest Loser. If you know all that, you know that on the way home from that tryout, I hit an icy patch on a bridge and almost killed The Missus, Kid Funk, and myself.


So after realizing that I’d almost killed us all so I could be on a TV show to lose weight, I decided, “Why not just lose the weight on your own?” And so that’s what I did. In about a six month period, I lost 70 pounds, taking my weight from 370 lbs down to 297 lbs. Some of you were around for that, and you can remember how excited I was to be under 300 for the first time in ten years. Then you might also remember how the very next week I went up to 301, went into a tailspin, and then two years later weighed in at 363 lbs. That’s what I weighed on January 1st of 2012.

However, all is not lost. Since January, I’ve lost about thirty pounds, and I’m down to 332. I’m trying, I’m going slower, and hoping that some changes will stick.

But this isn’t a weight loss post, believe it or not. This is a post about me proving I’m not crazy. About knowing that my sanity, though recently marred beyond repair by the addition of the boy and girl child, is still firmly grasping the edges of my mind, clinging precariously, but there nonetheless.

You see, in May of 2010, I started the job where I currently work. As a part of my fitness regimen at the time, I would take a three mile walk/jog on my lunch break most days. The route I chose led me through a small collection of neighborhood streets, just like in any rural community. One day, as I was making my way back to the office after sweating intensely in close to 100 degree temps, I saw something kind of funny.

It was a pig. An enormously fat white pig. And no, I hadn’t jogged past a mirror. Shut it. This pig was in the yard of one of the houses on my route. It was just standing there, by the door of the house, and then the door opened, and the pig was gone, its phantasmal memory left to dance on the gossamer filaments of my heat-stroked brain.

Had I imagined it all? Had I been in the grip of a dehydration delusion? Why would anyone keep a pig in their yard, and then let it in their house? I understand that kind of thing on a farm, and I understand getting a mini-pig as a house pet, but a full grown pig in town? And in your house? I don’t get it, Big Dan.

I’m trying to remember if I told anyone about it. I know I wouldn’t have told anyone but The Missus, and I’m not even sure if I told her. So I sent her a text this morning.

“It sounds familiar” is code for, “Whatever.”

Let’s shift back to 2012. More specifically, let’s go to the first day of May in 2012. Yesterday. Narrowing it down even further, let’s get down to my lunch break. I went for a walk. You know, because I’m trying to look less like a man carrying a past-due child and more like a man who simply smuggles bowling balls for a living.

I am taking it slow, so I’m doing more walking and less jogging. By “less,” I mean “none.” I was nearing the end of my route when I walked by the “Pig House.”

I’d like to take this chance to let you know that in the past couple of years, my distance vision has gotten absolutely abysmal. In fact, I’m now wearing glasses.

So when I looked into the yard of the Pig House, I saw a huge white rock standing by some bushes. A huge white rock that hadn’t been there when I’d walked by thirty seven minutes before. So for at least ten feet, I’m thinking, “How in the world did they get a rock that size out there that fast?”

Then it moved. Then I realized.

This was the pig. This was my white whale.

And so I did what any man who didn’t want to be drug down into the ocean by an allegorical creature representing the demons of his past would do.

I snagged a picture.

Hey look, it’s your mom. BURN!

So I’m not crazy. This is the final proof. I’ve decided to name him Toby Hick, which makes him a whole lot less scary. Toby is actually pretty fortunate that I wasn’t carrying a spear gun.
Right now, I need ideas on how to lure Toby into the back of a van so I can take him to a meat processing plant home with me. You know. For the kids. Do pigs bite? Do they have any idea how delicious cute they are?

Future Toby.

I need your suggestions. I also need a van. And the number to the guy who “cleans” your pigs.

I didn’t fart. That’s my wink face. That’s the face that my wife fell in love with.


I started taekwondo last Thursday night.

I weigh 300 pounds.

Really, that should be the end of the post, and y’all should ideally be lying on the floor in fits of laughter that might actually cause you to have a small stroke, requiring a minimal hospital stay but no permanent damage to any speech patterns or facial muscles.

But I’m going to keep telling the story.

I walk in to a room approximately the size of a bathroom in a really small Wal-Mart. In this room are about 50 people, most of them 5 year olds who are busy kicking the dog crap out of each other in a sparring ring. Behind them are parents yelling things like, “HIT HIM, TOMMY! HIT HIM! HIT HIM!

They were a classy bunch.

I pay for my lessons and am issued a uniform.

Well, half of a uniform. You see, I’m still too fat for a top. So I’m given a pair of pants that would have made MC Hammer jealous, and…

…a 12 foot long belt that is as white as the driven snow.

12 feet long, y’all. 12 feet. I know because I measured it. All I’m sayin is, that belt could probably be helping with the oil spill in some way.


Go dip that belt in the gulf, bring it back to me, I now have a black belt AND some of the oil is out of the ocean! That’s win, win folks.

So I get out on the mat and very quickly become reacquainted with my toes. Stretching. So much stretching. Everyone is yelling and saying “YES SIR!” to this 15 year old kid yelling back at us in a voice that I’m sure he borrowed from Michael Clarke Duncan, telling us there needed to be more yes sirs. Then he moved on to knuckle push-ups, and I decided I really hated him.

Finally, the group of experienced kids (yes, I’m in a teenage class. Put the phone down, Chris Hansen, it’s legit) moved on to the sparring ring, and left me all alone with a 10 year old ginger kid. (phone. down.) This kid reminded me of the little boy from Calvin and Hobbes, only Calvin would have totally whipped this kid’s butt.

The instructor starts yelling at us to do stuff, mostly punching and kicking. Since this is exactly how I throw a fit when The Missus doesn’t give me my way, I was pretty good at it. The whole time, she’s yelling at us to yell when we throw a punch or kick, which I don’t really understand. I thought she was saying “KIA!” so at first it kind of went like this.

Instructor: KIA!
Me: ?? *clumsy punch
Instructor: KIA!
Me: Spectra! *okay punch
Instructor: KIA!
Me: Optima! *really in a groove punch
Instructor: KIA!
Me: Sorento! *this punch had the force of a Sorento driven at 50 MPH into a brick wall

We finally got it lined out when she explained that I didn’t have to yell out car models, all I had to do was make a noise. Apparently, when you strike someone, if you yell a lot, it scares them, causing them to run away and call their mother. Cussing and farting don’t count as noises though, so I was a tad disappointed, because I’m really good at both of those while doing any kind of strenuous exercise.

I DESTROYED this little kid when it came to yelling, y’all. He didn’t even know what to do. He just stared at me, and I’m pretty sure my yelling made him cry a little bit and he looked over at his mom a lot. Guess the instructor was right. I’m also pretty sure I could have taken him in a fight, and I was wicked  upset that I didn’t get to spar with him.

What? We’re the same color belt! It’s allowed!

We did a few combos, and although I wasn’t given a bow staff  or numchucks, I think I did alright. I didn’t split those pants, the belt only fell off twice, and I didn’t hear anyone laughing about the fat guy out on the mat scaring the piss out of a 10 year old. I  think it will get easier, and I think I’ll eventually have a lot of fun with it.

The taekwondo, y’all. Not the ginger kid.

*Editor’s note: Last night was my second night, and the ginger kid showed back up, so I guess I didn’t scare him off. It was MUCH easier, and I totally learned how to do a proper knife chop to the throat with a spinning knife chop turn. I’m like E. Honda, y’all!