Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My Battle of the Bulge

An American soldier escorts a German crewman from his wrecked Panther tank during the Battle of Elsenborn Ridge (Signal Corps Photo)
Um, no, not that Battle of the Bulge...

This one -

2014, Your Rotundness at Shakespeare's in Sandy Eggo

Tuna's post regarding exercise struck a chord with me. For many reasons.

As many of you know, I spent 24 years in the Air Force. When I went in, Basic Training (while nowhere near as tough as Army ROTC) was at least, invigorating. Morning calisthenics, running as a flight (in combat boots and fatigues, none of this PT uniform crap, we ran dressed as we might be during a real world scenario) and other physical activities.

I went into the Air Force a little on the heavy side. I came out of Basic Training fit and healthy. I wasn't going to run any marathons but I was fit for the rigors of life on the flight line. Until I got to tech school.

No PT program, no incentive to be physically active. While I didn't fatten up (much), what weight I did gain was sweated away on the Kadena flight line.

One of Tuna's points in his post was that he didn't recall his parents exercising. Well, they did, they just didn't do it in the same way people do it these days.

Many jobs back in the day were physically demanding. Your exercise was what you did at work all day. I'm sure there are any number of stay at home Moms (which mothers of my generation tended to be, more on that later. POCIR...) who will tell you that chasing after the offspring all day, making meals, cleaning and doing laundry is a fairly decent exercise regimen.

No, you're not going to be able to run a marathon with that sort of work out. But who the Hell cares? Is there any need for the average person to run the distance between the battlefield of Marathon and the city of Athens to bring the news of a Greek victory over the Persians?

Nope. None at all.

Those folks who enjoy long distance running and triathlons are a special breed. But they are not superior to the rest of us. No sir, no way.

Yes, they're fit but do you know the sheer amount of time required to maintain that level of fitness? Yup, a lot. Almost to the exclusion of all other human endeavors. (I'm sure someone will think of someone who does do lots of other things. I'm sure that person either doesn't have a job nor any familial responsibilities. Just sayin' - I could be wrong, I often am.)

Anyhoo, I'm not here to rant and rave about "fitness gurus," it's just another way to harvest your hard earned dollars. Yes, there are benefits, otherwise all those gyms would go bankrupt.

No, I'm here to talk about weight, specifically my weight.

After I quit smoking, I ballooned up to around 240+ pounds. Which is pretty staggering on a 5' 8" frame (more like 5' 71/2" now, all that weight I guess caused me to "settle" somewhat).

That picture of me up yonder was taken when I was perhaps at the heaviest I had ever been. Here's a pictorial representation of my heft and girth over time...

This was Yours Truly Korea, circa 1981
(Yes, I have since acquired a comb and lost the hair which required it.)

I can see by my visage that I probably weighed in around 185 pounds. Which given my neck circumference kept me off the "fat boy program." I'd also like to register my extreme dislike for that term. I had a first sergeant hint that I should be on the "fat boy program" because he thought I was too fat, regardless of what the regulations said. I told him that I thought I should kick his ass as he was a whiny no-load office jerk. When he started to bluster I pointed out that his "regardless of what the regulations said" comment had led me to believe that our little tête à tête was "off the record." Ah, I've ever been something of a rebel.

Moi, in college. The spectacles will tell you it was the Eighties.

This picture was taken in college. Damn, I looked good. This is around 1985 or 1986 I do believe, based on other pictures from this session. The WSO (our youngest) was then somewhere around 1 or 2 years old. (Don't ask about the uniform, that is a very long story which I might, or might not, tell someday. Again, my rebellious nature was a player.)

2006, The Nuke's commissioning

As you can see, I'm getting a bit pudgy, you can always tell by the face. You'll see a striking example of that a bit further down the page.

2012, Yours Truly at the Vatican
My last year as a smoker by the way...

I've lost a couple of pounds in this photo simply by marching all over Rome.

2013, VFA-2 Ready Room, USS RONALD REAGAN
My first year as a non-smoker...

Still maintaining a far too heavy frame, I've already gained about 25 pounds. Climbing up and down ladder wells on a carrier was, shall we say, an adventure?

2014, at the Wharf Tavern in Little Rhody.
Yes, Guinness from a can, don't judge me, it's all they had. Still tastes good to me!

Now I'm starting to look, yes, ridiculously obese. (I seem to have a lot of pictures of me in that shirt. It's a favorite. Yes, The Missus Herself has rescinded authorization for me to wear that shirt to work. She says it's faded...)

Your Humble (and rotund) Scribe in Washington DC, at the Smithsonian in early 2015

March 2015, The Sarge, looking all pensive. Again at Shakespeare's in Sandy Eggo

Now in that photo I was seriously overweight. Big time! The kids, my Mom and The Missus Herself were most concerned. As was I. I was reluctant to go to the beach, not for any embarrassment regarding my fatness, but due to my fear of Inuit in a kayak spotting me and trying to harpoon me. Yes, I made whales look svelte.

So what did I do?

Joined Weight Watchers. (And yes, that is a plug for that organization...)

From a high just north of 240 pounds I am now tip the scales at around 205 pounds.

While a few friends have mentioned my new found "skinniness," I knew I still had a ways to go when one of my nurses, on her first shift with me, upon examining my surgical wounds asked if I had been "this bloated since the surgery?"

"Why no my dear, I am not bloated due to surgery. I am, simply and truly, fat."

She and I both got a chuckle from that one.

August 2015, the grimy, creepy (skinnier) old man I have become.
(Yes, I needed a shave.)

While surgery will help you shed the pounds, it's better to do it in a more methodical way. Ask me, I know.

My wife says I still need to get rid of my "big gut." While that would be nice, here's the history on that appendage...

As a boy of six, the Doctor's report says I am in good health, at a good weight for my height yet I have a "protruding abdomen." Too young for a beer gut, but that's what I had. Perhaps it was a root beer gut?

As a young lad playing high school football, practices alone would cause you to shed weight, I was known by my friends as "The Professional." As my buddy, our fullback, Nick would say, I looked like a miniature NFL offensive lineman. In good shape, but there was that gut.

Martial arts, Korea. My instructor, young Master Oh, would often ask how I could work out so much and still have such an impressive stomach.

I dunno, genetics? Well, Dad was kinda skinny, Mom has always been robust. Of the two kids, The Naviguesser and The Nuke tend to be slight like their Mom. The WSO? Poor kid, she inherited my metabolism, love for fine dining and fine ales.

She too fights the Battle of the Bulge.

Diet and exercise are the key. I used to belong to a gym, but one of the instructors was always bugging me. I couldn't get him to lighten up. I don't like advisers. A friendly tip now and again? Sure. But constant, you should be doing this, you should be doing that...

Nope. Turns me right off, causes the rebel in me to wake up and go straight to defiance mode.

But walking works for me and watching what I eat. Moderation in all things, that really is the key.

In my youth I enjoyed sports that involved a ball and semi-violent physical contact. Though my German friends said that soccer wasn't like that, I couldn't help myself.

Now I only run if something is chasing me. Then it's only until I can find a place to lay an ambush. But that's just me, YMMV.


  1. Same battle here Sarge, the "Stocky Body" quit smoking battle. Starting to make some progress, and yup, slow and steady is the way.

    1. Sometimes it's an uphill battle, isn't it Joe?

  2. Didn't that Greek guy (Phieldipeas or something like that) croak after reporting?

    "Root beer gut." That's a classic!

    When I got out of the hospital in 1991 I weighed 155 lbs. But they hooked everything back up right and I was in the land of scrapple and cheese steaks, sooo...

    1. I think the Greek guy did keel over. Then again, maybe somebody croaked him when he started boasting of his ability to run 26 odd miles.

      Ah, 155, I think I weighed that much in junior high.

    2. Either Deader than a Doornail or entirely a myth

      My thoughts are "Why take a chance?"

    3. Besides, who wants to go through life with a name like Field Peas?

    4. Stuff that happened back in the BC days were often not well documented. If at all.

      True, why take a chance?

    5. Wondered if anyone would pick up on my inane silliness... :)

    6. Shaun, we watch for your inane silliness, we depend on your inane silliness.

      Don't ever stop. And yes, that is directive in nature. :)

  3. My Dad fought both of the Bulge battles, losing the latter one in his 50's. Course, we know now that was when the Big C was starting to have its way with him so who knows what effect it was having?

    I was doing okay up until this year. Have a physical challenge that I am still working thru and am finding the mental part is harder than the physical part in bouncing back. Harder to do as one gets older I suppose. I love to walk/hike, and this is the second time in 10 years that I've had to start from square one again. I will be back to 10 mile hikes at a 3mph pace by the end of the year. Summer sweltering is almost over here in NC for which I will be most grateful.

    1. The mental part is often the toughest. I had to commit to losing the weight.

      Keeping the fight going can also be mentally taxing.

      Good luck with your return to hiking form, Ron.

  4. I had my own moment some 5-7 years ago when I, who was a good 165 at 5'9" in the Army - went to 205. Have a good friend who is scientifically oriented and very analytical. Changed my diet somewhat - and I have been usually 172 (currently 175 and having 5 slices of pizza last night didn't help). But it is all eating habits - and a bit of exercise.

    Until my dog got elderly last year we would walk 2 miles every morning - first to the dog park where he was free to roam (while I walked a lap) then another 1.5 miles or so.

    When he got old and stiff we didn't walk and I noticed my weight creeping up - so I would give him his walk around the block (which took 30 minutes) then I went for a walk.

    Just eating habits and sufficient exercise.

    Cracks me up when I see a driver in a parking lot hold up traffic because he is waiting for a car to back out - ranter han walk another 100' from an already available space.

    I think a lot of this fast food is a major problem

    My dietary changes haven't been radical - just different - I don't eat chocolate every day and stay away for the most part from fast food. One of those Carl's Jr hamburgers is 2700 calories.

    Lately I will stop at McDonalds get one Diet Coke (0 calories) and a crispy snack wrap (350 calories).

    Good on ya for having the discipline to change.

    1. Having a good routine you can stick to and live with is important.

      Sounds like you've found the way!

    2. @William - don't EVER go to Walmart - the parking elderly would give you a stroke.

    3. "Don't EVER go to Walmart..." - sound advice even without the caveat!

    4. @Dave - Costco is the same way - once saw a driver hold up a procession for 10 minutes all so he wouldn't have to walk an extra 100 feet!

    5. Costco also presents numerous grazing possibilities once within the walls.

      Park close, eat as many free samples as you can.

      Heck, I'll walk the extra 100 feet just to prevent more door dings!

  5. BTW Sarge - it is only an uphill battle if you have to eat weight watcher's food the rest of your life - most diets fail because people modify their activity so radically that they can't continue on the regimen - once your weight gets off to the level you want modify your eating habits - eat more fruits and salads - turkey bacon instead of the real thing...

    1. Don't have to eat WW food. Actually that stuff is crammed with preservatives. I eat regular food (including chocolate) but I stick to the number of points I'm allotted each day. We actually get "splurge points"! Want to go out, have a couple of beers and pizza? Can do, just don't exceed the points.

      And my Weight Watchers coordinator discourages the use of the word "diet." As soon as you throw that around, the battle is already lost.

      One of my current favorites is ground turkey. I get a nice meal from pasta with ground turkey and a salad. Fills me up and tastes good too!

  6. Keep slogging away at the weight, Sarge. Walking is good, but I prefer to either ride my bicycle, or lift weight.

    I've lost 50# and kept it off for several years. If like to drop another 10# of fat and replace it with 10# of muscle.

    1. Excellent goal! Well done so far.

      I used to have a bicycle. Little Rhody drivers are so awful I need a bit more protection around me than a bicycle.

      Then again, I'm not as bold as I once was. Probably why I made it to "old" status!

  7. Beer machines (see a different post) will do that for you. I used to get into a medium long flight suit. Now the zipper tracks can't even see each other across that wide divide. I am either doing better ow, as I age, or care less. I haven't decided.
    Wine piles it on for me.

    1. Ah yes, I remember the beer machines being mentioned.

      Odd how my uniforms have shrunk over the years. Perhaps my closet is too humid?

  8. Nearly the first anniversary of my heart going wonky and the pacemaker installed. Still haven't recovered my energy and am now buying pants two sizes bigger in the waist.

  9. Hmmm, almost 20 years since I retired and I now weigh less than I did when military service and I parted ways. Running, lifting, moderation of intake seems to have done it's work. I was up to 255 at one point, now I'm at 190 and still edging down. I recently added the lifting again to the running. Seems to be working. And the moderation of intake. Running became a habit over the years and it's the easiest way for me to control my weight and those other "benefits" of outliving youth but not having yet arrived at the end. ;-)

    Good for you, don't stop. Live to be a burden on your great-grandkids!

    In other news, where is Shakespeares? It appears as though I will be in that part of the world visiting family and friends over the Labor Day Weekend. I have every intention of finally making the pilgrimage, though I might toast his memory with something other than Guinness. Once I can nail the ladies down for a date to see Mystic, I'll contact you to do another meet. :-) Save some points for some good beer, mores the better if you know of some good hefeweiss beer in Mystic.

    1. Shakespeare's is on 3701 India Street. Old Town.

      Here's their website.

      I'll make sure to save up the points for a Mystic meet!

  10. What dollars I saved by quitting tobacco, I seem to spend on chocolate.
    Used to carry 25 lbs. of sand for a couple of miles 4 times a week.
    Then I got lazy.
    The 25 lbs. are now under my belt. Brought out the backpack with the 25 lbs. of sand in it and it really showed me how heavy those 25 extra pounds of fat that I am carrying around really are.

    1. Oh do I know that struggle.

      My forward facing bag of sand is smaller now, not gone, but certainly a lot smaller.

  11. Sarge, keep up the good work as you're motivating me to shed some LBs. actually, I don't recall you being large in the VFA-2 Ready Room (wasn't that April 2014 by the way?). Anyway, at the risk of stating the obvious, only gaining one pound a year is still 20 pounds after 20 years. That's a tough battle as metabolism slows.

    1. Well, I was wearing a jacket that day, so that covered some of the bulk. I guess over that summer I really ballooned up.

      Lost most of it, I want to get back to closer to my weight before I retired.

      My metabolism was never all that fast to begin with.

      If it slows down anymore it'll be going backwards!


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