Monday, July 13, 2009

A Weekend Away

Last Friday afternoon we drove to Sayre, PA to check in to the BriMarie Inn for the weekend. The BriMarie is a Victoria bed & breakfast plus a restaurant.  I had stayed there once before but this was Margaret’s first stay.  We were there to attend the American Evangelical Christian Churches (AECC) Annual North East Region Conference in Waverly, NY.  Sayre, PA and Waverly, NY are adjacent to each other on opposite sides of the border.

The conference began Friday night but we were delayed by construction on the drive and arrived too late for that.  It should be about a 4.5 hour drive but took us almost 6 hours. The conference continued through late Saturday afternoon.  We did not want to drive back Saturday night so we stayed through Sunday morning.  After breakfast Sunday we returned to the conference host church to attend Sunday services.

I had Margaret’s camera which is smaller than than mine.  I intended to take a bunch of pictures but the camera batteries died after only two shots and we didn’t have any spare ones with us.


Talking to Margaret is Bonna Brown. Next to her is her husband Jim.  Jim & Bonna are from Hagerstown, MD.
The couple next to Jim made a seven hour drive from New England.


The man on the right, in the red shirt, is a full-time truck driver, Jim, who has visited with me in the chapel at Elkton.

Saturday night we opted to eat in the BriMarie Inn restaurant.  The menu had a couple of appetizers that looked like they would be within our diets (and budget). One was steamed mussels for me, and a vegetable pizza for Margaret. Those plus a salad each sounded like a good plan.  Wrong!  At that restaurant the appetizers portions are what we think of as entrĂ©es.  I got 21 mussels and Margaret’s pizza had eight pieces. Of course I forced myself to eat all of mine.  I went way over my goal on Saturday and over again on Sunday.  Even so my daily average is still good and I’m back on target today.  You can see my food diary here.

All in all it was a nice relaxing weekend away with some good friends. As Margaret said, “It is nice to attend an event and not be working on staff!”

The Car Is Back

Yeah!  We got the Toyota back from the body shop Thursday.  They did a great job on the repairs.


You can’t tell that it has been hit. In fact, the passenger side now looks better than the drivers side because of the fresh paint job.

If you missed the “before” pictures they are here.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Exercise Variations

For me, exercising is the most difficult part of my weight loss program. It is just hard for me to get into it.  Most of the time Margaret and I go to the closest mall and walk.  That gets boring after a while.  Today was a nice day weather wise…not oppressive heat and humidity plus there was a nice breeze.  So, we opted to go to Spencer’s Bazaar in Dover.  Spencer’s is a rambling combination flea market and farm market with merchants outside at tables and inside at stalls.  It was a nice change for our exercise.


One of the numerous entrances to the inside offerings


Some of the outside tables


Incase you’re wondering, we did not get anything to eat while we were there

Monday, July 06, 2009

Eating Out While Dieting

Margaret and I spent the weekend in Elkton at the Chapel.  Friday night we went to North East, MD to watch a blues band that included our friend Marty Miller.  Saturday afternoon a couple from York, PA came down and took us out to eat at Old Country Buffet, an all-you-can-eat place.  Sunday afternoon we went out with a driver friend of ours to a local Elkton diner.  All this while I’m on an Very Low Calorie (VLC) diet of 800 calories or less per day.  Quite a challenge.

Since I have been on this kind of diet before, I have some experience with what kinds of foods I can eat when eating out.  Of course anything fried is a no no as are all deserts except Jell-O.  Broiled/grilled fish, shell fish, and chicken are good choices if I stick to small portions.  Most veggies, fruits, and salads are also good if you don’t smother them with something high in fat or sugar.  I avoid most carbs except rice and plain baked potatoes.  Watching portions is the thing I really have to be careful about at most restaurants.  Many times I end up with a “doggie bag” for the remaining serving.

With the Lord’s help, I stayed under 700 calories per day throughout the weekend and now have an average of 672 calories per day since I began keeping my food diary.  You can see what I have been eating here.

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Friday, July 03, 2009

Correcting a Mistake

One of my friends spotted a mistake on my food diary from yesterday.  I had entered 100 calories for a cup of rice when it should have been 160 calories.  That means I actually had 770 calories yesterday.  I have correct the diary.  (Thanks Anna!)

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Off To A Good Start

I spent 45 minutes with the doctor this afternoon.  The previous time I was weighed at his office was in March when I weighed 367 pounds.  That is the most I have ever weighed in my life!  The spike happened when I overate in reaction to the sleep deprivation triggered depression.  At first I didn’t recognize the cause of the depression.  That weight really got my attention and I began cutting back on what and how much I ate then.  Today I weighed 343 pounds.  That is a 24 pound loss in the first two months.

I have lost over 100 pounds twice before.  Each time I put myself on a 600 calorie diet for 18 months without medical supervision.  This time I believe the health complications necessitated my being under a doctor’s care.

I had approximately 710 calories today.  You can see what that looks like by viewing my food diary for today.

Of course there is a lot more than just cutting my food intake. I need to drink lots of water and exercise regularly. I prefer walking for the exercise.  At this time of year that means going to the Dover Mall where it is air conditioned!  The doctor also suggested exercising my arms at least once a week with weights or resistance equipment to maintain muscle tone.

I already had the necessary blood work done following the previous doctor visit.  The cardiac workup from my two knee procedures was recent enough to cover that requirement.  I go back to see the doctor monthly so that he can monitor me.

This weekend will be a challenge.  We head to the chapel tomorrow evening and will be there through both services on Sunday.  We’re covering for a chaplain who is on vacation.  I’ll probably eat a lot of salads!

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins

Leaving TFC

Yep, Margaret and I are retiring from Transport For Christ (TFC) at the end of July. That will be eight years and one month since our first night on the chapel as volunteers. On August 1, 2009 I will no longer be the Lead Chaplain for the Life-Saver Chapel in Elkton, MD., but I will still be an ordained Chaplain, just not with TFC. And before you ask, we have no idea yet what TFC’s plans are for the Life-Saver.

This will be the third time I have retired.  The last time Margaret put up with me at home for six months and then told me I had to get a job or volunteer someplace.  She had enough of me home underfoot.  It will be different this time because now Margaret is the one working and I’m at home.  Just call me Mr. Mom!  I will still be filling in as a relief preacher when requested plus teaching an adult Bible study every Thursday night at church.  I’m sure the Lord has other things for me to do as well.

My main focus initially will be to get some health issues under control.  Last November I had two sleep studies which confirmed that I have Complex Sleep Apnea which is a combination of Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea. From December through May I spent six frustrating months trying to get a V-PAP breathing machine to relieve the apnea.  I tried six different masks and they all failed to work correctly.  My apnea is so severe that it takes a lot of air pressure from the machine to force air into my lungs while I sleep.  At full pressure, all of the masks leaked which defeated the purpose plus the leak was loud enough to wake me.  At one point I had a serious infection in the bridge of my nose caused by a mask.

Life without a breathing machine means Chronic Sleep Deprivation for me.  That is much more serious than just being tired all of the time. When we consistently don’t get adequate sleep lots of health problems develop and the effects are cumulative.  The longer you suffer Sleep Deprivation, the more severe the symptoms get—some of which are irreversible.  The biggest immediate issue for me is that it causes migraine headaches. When I get a migraine I don’t get pain, I get vertigo which puts me completely out of action for hours.  Right now I don’t do mornings!  I need ten to twelve hours in bed at night to not wake up with vertigo.

There is surgery for Obstructive Sleep Apnea but my pulmonologist did not recommend it for me.  The only other alternative is to lose weight.  My apnea is related to my being over weight  Gee, where did I hear that before?  So, this afternoon I have an appointment with my doctor to begin a 800 calorie per day diet.  I expect that it will be an easy diet to follow—if it tastes good, spit it out!  I also expect to hear my doctor use that awful word “exercise".  Please be in prayer for both of us as I do this.  I will be posting my progress here so you are all my accountability partners!

On a happier note, Lord willing, our goal is to move back to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia after the Lord gives me victory over this health issue. That should be in 1.5 to 2 years.  I would rather not change doctors in mid stream.

In His name,
Chaplain Sam Houchins