Playful, Pius or Remembered Stuff

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Diet notes

Last night we went to Chili's for dinner. Our son, Bobby and his daughter, Ashley, are with us from Memphis to help prepare for our move. So when we bring a party of 4 into the restaurant, I am not shy about ordering a bowl of hot water. I bring out my powder pack of soup and tear it open and start stirring. So while they were enjoying chicken tenders and Cajun pasta Alfredo, I was enjoying scientifically calibrated chicken soup. Yum, yum!

A certain camaraderie develops among the class members in this dieting project. We let down our hair and talk about constipation and gas and ridicule or dire warning from outsiders. Rodney tells me that he saves his weight record print outs, and I told him that I do too. They compose my highest incentive to keep my commitment. So we just met for our 5th week and I have lost 21 pounds. I think others in the class have lost more, but now I don't care. If I continue to lose an average of 5 pounds a week for the entire program (which they say is not a likely thing) I will have lost an even 100 pounds. My original goal was to weigh less than 200 pounds. That will require 65 more pounds to lose.

Do I think about food? You'd better believe it. I long for a sausage sandwich with a bratwurst and sauteed peppers and onions bathed with mayonnaise. I think my celebrative meal when I finally finish, however, should be a lobster dinner at Ports O' Call. I'll have veggies and maybe the salad bar with it. But sweet Maine lobster meat, dipped in drawn butter...slurp, smack...YES!

Throwing my life away

We are at moving day in 30 days. As the countdown continues, we stand transfixed in our steps with waves of emotion sweeping over us. How did we get here? How in the world are we ever going to do this? There are far more boxes than there is storage space. We rented two storage units and we bought a Tuff Shed for the back yard, and still there is not nearly enough room.

Our thinking simply must be shifted to throw away mode. We are not used to that. For the past 25 years we have been in "save it we might have use for it someday" mode. That makes for an incredible number of boxes and bins. One entire storage unit is choked with Christmas stuff. Another is piled high with my library. It is painful for me to throw away any book. It is hard to realize that I haven't enough years left to use all these books, let alone read many of them. But of course my excuse is that most of them are reference type books which I use to look up something and then return it to the shelf.

Then there is the good junk category. Toys that we have kept so long that they are entering the antique category. We could sell them on eBay, I suppose, but will we? I keep threatening to buy a used circus tent and set it up in the back yard of our new residence to stack all the stuff that will not fit elsewhere. I'm not so sure that it is a joke any more.

The truly difficult part of this whole ordeal is that this downsizing requires us to throw away parts of our lives. I remember when we were holding a yard sale of my father-in-law's trinkets. The man wept because he saw his life being sold for nickels and dimes. Mine is being given away. Seminary families, women's shelter, Goodwill and friends all have been recipients of some of our life gadgets. I'm sure there are more books waiting for my study to be set up than I will have shelf space to store them. I must prune the library and toss the excess. That will hurt. More and more of my life that is on hold in storage will actually have to be jettisoned, and that is painful. If we had a big fire I suppose it would save a little time, and I would hope to adopt the attitude that "it's only stuff". Just right this moment, however, we are in pain.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

'Tis the season

Because the calendar dictates, this time of year everyone is supposed to be a little more the way we ought to be all the time: cheerful, kind and considerate of others. I am thankful for the slight change of climate in our culture, for even though it is very temporary, it is a lean in the right direction. When Jesus sends His Spirit to live in His people, that Spirit teaches us to be like Jesus. And that is cheerful, kind and considerate of others. In fact we are told to consider others as more important than self. Our Savior actually taught us to love our enemies, and showed us he wasn't kidding when he prayed for his executioners, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Those who do not have the Spirit of God in them will always be temporary. But to the degree that they make an effort, they demonstrate that they know this (the Christian lifestyle) is how they should live.

The dramas I see on TV like to show the Bible believer as a dangerous mental case who is just as likely to be a terrorist or serial killer as any other psychopath. In a bid for political correctness, the Muslim is portrayed as misunderstood, while the Christian (if he is not portrayed as the bad guy) is portrayed as a strange aberration from the comfortable friends that usually surround us.

Then I remember that Jesus warned us that the world would hate us because it hates Him.

Friday, December 18, 2009

On second thought...

Now I'm working on my third week of dieting, and I have something to say. Radical dieting works. I checked in on Wed (because I missed class on Monday by taking my wife to a concert of the Manheim Steamroller) and according to their scale I had lost over 15 pounds. Now that's what I consider progress. I need to ask why some of my blood sugar readings are growing a trifle high in the morning. Maybe I'm not eternally done with diabetic medicine. That would be a bummer.

I think I feel a little better, but the process is gradual and therefore difficult to measure. I think it is a tiny bit easier to mount the stairs. But it may be a psychological trick my mind plays on me because I expect to feel better. Then again, 15 lbs of potatoes makes a heavy sack to carry up and down stairs. Why then should not 15 lbs of disgusting lard not register the same? My daughter asked if I could breathe any better. She remembers visiting me in the hospital when I had a difficult bout with pneumonia. Well, I think I breathe a little better, but I'm not sure that it's not my euphoria over losing that weight that I'm measuring.

Anyway, I remain committed for the long haul. And it will become very long before we finish. I don't think I will ever order a shake in a restaurant for the remainder of my aged life. They are sweet and tasty, but it all becomes tediously boring in due time. The slightly chalky after taste is nicely eliminated with a stick of sugarless gum. The surprise remains to be the fact that I'm really not hungry! I long for a sausage sandwich with sauteed onions and peppers, or a slice of Rosario's pizza, or a Sourdough Jack. But that's because I'm bored with diet food, not because I'm hungry. I'm afraid they will try to tell me to never eat that delicious cuisine again or else. There has to be a compromise. Maybe limit myself to one sausage sandwich a month? Ahhh...slurp, slurp.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dieting stinks

Well we finished our first week of the "Optifast" super diet, and the class checked in last night. I was really hyped up about the program, and (because of the testimonies we heard on the DVD introduction) I expected to lose 10 or more pounds. I followed the program exactly without cheating (even when attending a Christmas party with loads of goodies to eat). But when I weighed in I found I had only lost 5 pounds. I must confess that I was a little discouraged at that. Then when I learned that everyone else in the group (11) had lost more than I did (some more than twice as much), something close to depression set in.

We know that weight loss is a relatively simple equation. When you ingest more calories than you burn, the body stores it as fat. When you ingest less, the body compensates by burning the stored calories. On this diet the ingestion is a fixed figure. Obviously the only adjustment I can make, therefore is to burn more calories. I need to exercise more. But my spine gives me fits of pain when I stand or walk too long. I have been riding my stationary bicycle for 20 minutes a day, but that has not been enough. I guess I will have to ride twice a day. The rest of the time I should be on the move around the house, preparing to move. When I walk around for a tiny little chore (take out the trash) I need to sit and recuperate.

I am happy to report that my blood sugar levels have not exceeded the parameters of normal from the day I began. I would say that this alone is worth the trouble and expense of this diet. But my sights were set a good deal higher. I had hoped to lose 80 pounds. Don't laugh. Many people lose that and more. But when I weighed in it was like I hit the wall. It was cold water splashed in my face. Come to, dude, you're only kidding yourself about the 80 pounds. It will never happen. Out of the thousands of people before you there were probably only 6 who have lost that much, and so they were interviewed for the purposes of advertising.

I remain committed to the full 20 week program, but my hopes have suffered a severe blow. I tell myself that it will be worth all 20 weeks if I can stay off diabetes medication for the rest of my life. Also there is the investment of the cost of the program that is an incentive to continue. Money is a lousy incentive, I find.

Okay, I refuse to growl in every post, but I thought at least one honest report is necessary since this is such a dominant part of my life at this time. All those wonderful church dinners have come home to haunt me now. Ahhh, such is life. Whatsoever a mans sews, that shall he also reap.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Remembering the good guys

I was only partially aware of my great privilege, sitting at the feet of the professors I experienced at Westminster Theological Seminary. Some young bucks are awestruck when they learn that I had Van Til, Murray, Young and Stonehouse as professors. They are the men who wrote the books! They taught the professors who are now teaching at other reformed seminaries. Stories about these men circulate in our small reformed circle of aged friends.

Today I want to remember a story or two about Professor John Murray. He was held in awesome esteem by his students because he had a stern glare to aim at anyone who made unnecessary noise in class. Once he snatched from my quaking hands a note that had only recently been passed from one of my classmates. It read "Why haven't we heard any of this good stuff in our churches back home?" or something reasonably close to that. He didn't allow questions until the end of the class hour. And it was common knowledge that a man's grade was higher or lower in direct correlation to just how accurately he quoted Mr. Murray's lectures during exams.

Carl Erickson tells of the day they were moving earth in preparation for the foundation of the Van Til memorial library. The room was a bit "close" and so the window was open. But the machinery competed with Mr. Murray's voice for the dominant decibels in the room. One of the boys raised his hand and said, "Mr. Murray could you repeat your last sentence, please? I couldn't hear it because of the Caterpillar." However Mr. Murray was not conversant with the brand names of earth moving equipment. He responded with incredulity in his voice, "The caterpillar?"

Jack Peterson tells how he was chosen to transport Mr. Murray from San Francisco to Los Angeles during his lecture tour. He asked Mr. Murray if there was anything he wished to see along their travels. Mr. Murray asked if they could stop to see the giant Sequoias. Jack said that while they were driving through Sequoia National Park Mr. Murray suddenly ordered Jack to "Stop the car!" He stepped out of the car and wandered over to one particularly large tree and just stood there, looking up. When Jack approached him, Mr. Murray simply said, "Isn't it grand, Jack. Isn't it grand."

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Finally getting started

Everybody in the world knew about my diet project before it even started. What enormous pressure I am feeling because of that! I guess I need to feel accountable to someone because that will help me remain on track. But I dislike the idea of being accountable to a thousand people. I hate the possibility of losing 40 pounds and feeling that I have failed because I fell so short of my goal. If I were running a marathon (hah! fat chance) and all my friends and family came out to cheer me on, and I dropped out after 3 miles, that would match the kind of embarrassment I anticipate with the loss of 40 pounds. It would have been a lot easier just to lose weight on the sly and let people notice and ask, "Hey! you've lost a lot of weight haven't you?" Then if it was 40 pounds it would be deemed a great success. Okay, my main problem is with me. My dear family is so supportive, they will never consider this effort a failure. I am the one who will count it a failure.

So today is my second day. I am happy to report to you that the shakes are really very tasty. I get 4 shakes and a soup each day. The soup this week is "Garden Tomato" and it is excellent. I only enhanced it a little with a strong dash of Tobasco. I realize that the beginning of this diet is easier in the sense that it is a novelty. That cavernous feeling I anticipated in the stomach has not developed. When I watch TV I think I should be eating some comfort food, and so I must fight off a case of the munchies. But I have freebies to help. A cup of hot tea with Splenda is allowed twice a day. Sugarless gum is also a crutch. I am also allowed as many as two diet sodas a day. I think the biggest key is to keep tanked up on water. The regimen requires 64 ounces a day. A tummy full of water does not cry for food.

I also learned that the water helps in several ways to wash away body fat.