27 July 2013

A New Journey -- Part 4: The Pork Club

They say every man needs protection
They say that every man must fall
Yet I swear I see my reflection
Somewhere so high above this wall. 
I see my light come shinin'
From the west down to the east
Any day now, any day now
I shall be released.
--Lyrics by Bob Dylan (1967)
--Sung by The Band, 1968 album, Music From Big Pink

U.S. Navy, 1974, On Assignment
When we were preparing to move from Lee's Summit, MO to Sarasota, FL in 2012, we were going through a lot of materials collected over our lifetimes...and those of our two, now adult, daughters.  I found the picture posted to the right.  I was 23 years old and in the U.S. Navy Submarine Corps, Atlantic Fleet.  I was stationed at our advance submarine base at Holy Loch, Scotland -- from early January 1973 to early February 1975 -- and on the staff of Submarine Squadron 14.  

My official work was handling personnel and transportation for the Commodore (senior Captain...not yet an Admiral).  I also had "unofficial duties."  Those adventures and experiences still remain mostly classified.  This picture was taken by a staff colleague as we crossed the Clyde River from Gourock to Dunoon on one of those "adventure" assignments.  Looks casual enough -- exactly as it was supposed to look.  Both my colleague and I looked Scottish, so we could have been young business men.  Note my hair was longer than military standards...for a reason.

I weighed 195 lbs in that photograph.  I remember this, because we had to stay at a certain level of physical readiness -- as well as have a keen alertness and ability to move quickly...very quickly.  So, I carried quite a bit of extra muscle in those days.

After three years of active duty, I began a program of active reserve duty that would allow me to attend a "professional graduate school."  The Navy defined such schools as: "A graduate school of medicine, dentistry, theology or veterinary medicine."  In August 1975, I began graduate studies in theology at Nashotah House Theological Seminary, Wisconsin-- one of the Episcopal Church's seminaries.

My lifestyle changed rather radically, I was either in class, at the library, in the chapel or at my desk in my room.  During those long days, there were meals, snacks and occasional get-togethers (read:  parties or cook-outs).  I began to gain weight, largely due to the shift in activity and the institutional diet high in carbohydrates and sugars.  By the end of my second year of the three year degree program, I had gained 35 lbs.  I do not have a picture of those particular days, but you can guess.  It wasn't muscle (most of the muscle mass I carried on active duty had diminished to that of a fairly sedentary lifestyle).

As we began our final year of academic studies, a group of us decided we were tired of being heavy and out of shape.  Several of us in the group had come out of the military straight into seminary.  Others had come from more active civilian lifestyles.  All of us were unhappy with how we looked and felt.  Bob Dylan's words spoke to us.

After consulting the Dean, we received permission to have the chef in our Refectory prepare special meals for us...along the guidelines of Weight Watchers.  We also made a pact to gather five mornings a week for a 3 mile run around West Nashotah Lake (the seminary sat on two lakes, West and East Nashotah Lakes.  Nashotah is a Menominee word meaning, "twin lakes).

In September 1977, seven of us began this program.  We wanted to support each other, and the Dean said he would permit the special meals as long as we were enrolled in a program.  We chose Weight Watchers, because there was a group that met fairly close to the seminary, in Oconomowoc, and we could do our weekly weigh-in on Friday evenings.

It was a hoot!  We ate our meals together and placed a sign in the middle of a table in the Refectory we had designated as "our spot."  The sign in the middle of the table simply read, The Pork Club:  Meeting Thrice Daily by Invitation.  Funny, no one seemed to want to sit with us.  

Tuesday through Saturday mornings, we gathered near the cemetery at the west end of the seminary property...along Mission Road...and, like a troop of recruits, we jogged around the lake.  First it was a slow pace.  We had gotten seriously out of shape over two years.  It gets cold early in Wisconsin.  As the ice and snow began, our running shoes could not well handle the icy roads.  A former Marine member of our group decided we should wear strap-on cleats.  This worked okay, but, as one professor told us (who lived near the lake), "You guys sound like the German Gestapo double-timing when you go by my house."  We tended to get into a cadenced rhythm, and the crack of the cleats on the icy surface did make a snappy racket.

The other bit of fun we had was at the Friday evening "weigh-in."  Seven of us relatively tall guys would enter the Weight Watchers building in the shopping plaza at 7:00pm.  Also in attendance were probably 25 folks -- a number of them being older women (50 and older...please remember we were in our mid twenties...The oldest of us being 29).  Every one of us would lose between 2.5 and 4 lbs each week...without fail.  We would proceed to high five one another, give some jaunty words of "attaboy" and then (almost with one voice) call out, "Off to Pizza Hut for cheat night."  We would leave about 25 folks looking after us with faces reflecting everything from jealous admiration to downright contempt.  

At the end of May 1978, we graduated with our Master's Degrees in Theology (M.Div.--a professional degree).  I was 35 lbs lighter...exactly what I was when I entered seminary three years earlier.  All but one of us achieved very similar results.  The Pork Club Rules!!
Ordination as a Priest 12/29/1978

By the time I was ordained a priest (December 1978), I weighed 190 lbs.  It was lower than my active military weight by five pounds, but I was also carrying less muscle.  I had substituted my military workout with a daily yoga/floor exercise routine and 5-8 mile run (5x/week).  My ordination photo appears at the left.

My best "fighting weight" as an older adult is 215 lbs.  It seems to be where I end up with a combination of cardio exercise and weight bearing exercise.  The time between December 2012 and April of this year (2013) have been tough.  Two major surgeries and literal immobilization for about five months in 2012 and foot surgery in February of this year kept me out of the gym.  My road running days are over -- blowouts on both knees and arthroscopic surgeries in 1996 and 2000.  Over the past year, I gained 18 lbs with relative inactivity.  

As I engage this new lifestyle "conversation" with diabetes, I am also cleared to re-engage my former level of physical fitness -- with modifications to protect my prosthetic right shoulder.  This has been a good first week.

Today's numbers (7/27/13):

  • Weight -- 235.4 (total of 5.2 lbs lost in three days...whacking those glycogen stores)
  • Blood Pressure -- 124/72
  • Fasting Blood Glucose -- 101 (this, with weight, is the critical number.  Remember, I averaged 128.  That range was 123 to 135.  Two days at 99 and 101 consecutively is great news).
  • Pedometer readings (new) -- on 7/26 -- 6,034 steps, covering 2.97 miles, burning 2,380 calories.
Love and Blessings!


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