Friday, October 29, 2010

Why are some of my Democratic Party leaders acting meek instead of backing Meek?

First of all, I am totally disgusted with one Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who, a few weeks back, destructively and inexplicably BETRAYED the Democratic voters of Florida and the Democratic Party by endorsing Independent (read: REPUBLICAN, with REPUBLICAN agenda, who changed party affiliation before the primary elections because the polls showed he wouldn't win) candidate, Charlie Crist, in the Florida race for US Senate, even though we have a perfectly great, duly nominated DEMOCRATIC candidate named Kendrick Meek, who has consistently been a leader and fought for issues Democrats care about.  RFK, Jr.:  What a turncoat!

I was fuming about that one for days, but I got over it.  Who cares about RFK, Jr. anyway?  He's coasting on name recognition, overrated, not from Florida and has no clue what he's talking about re this race.  For example, he called Crist a, quote, "champion of the environment".  WHAT?  The truth is more like Crist has been a champion for offshore oil drilling...before he recently decided to be against it.  Kendrick Meek has consistently stood against offshore oil drilling.  He's the true champion of the environment!  Windsock Charlie blows with the wind in terms of his stance on any given issue, and our environment and people cannot afford that.  Back to RFK, Jr.:  voters down here aren't really going to pay any attention to what he says, I consoled myself with thinking.

But then yesterday happened:  I started seeing news stories about someone who, unlike how I feel and think about RFK, Jr., I greatly admire and think of as a truly great Democratic leader, Bill Clinton.  I am shocked and in a state of disbelief at what allegedly happened, although to say there are conflicting reports about this is an understatement.  Apparently--emphasis on apparently, as in, I'm not sure about this but the majority of news reports I've read indicate this--he at least broached the possibility to Kendrick Meek, whom I remind you again is the DULY NOMINATED Democratic candidate, that he get out of the race , since he is running so far behind and, theoretically, if he drops out, all his support would go to the Independent, Charlie Crist.  This would, theoretically, save the day because it would stop the dreaded ultimate Tea Party candidate, Marco Rubio, who is waaaaaaaaaaaay ahead in the polls.  Yeeeeaah, just a few problems with this logic:

1.  Crist can call himself whatever he likes, he's a REPUBLICAN at heart.  True, he's more "moderate" than Rubio, but that doesn't take much!  You can be a far right-wing Republican and still be more moderate than Radcon Rubio.  Charlie Crist is a lifelong Republican.  He is also the consummate politician and he made a calculated move to run as an Independent because the polls indicated that he could not win the Republican primary against Rubio.  I don't care what the ticket says, if you prick Crist, he bleeds Republican Red.  Kendrick Meek, on the other hand, is a DEMOCRAT, with a solid, consistent, Democratic record on issues like the environment, offshore oil drilling, education, civil rights, the greening of our economy, little things like that:  you know, our entire platform.  He's our candidate, not Crist!  Crist is a Jeb Bush Republican.  Period.

2.  If Democratic leaders are worried about the Republicans taking over the Senate and throwing a tea party, instead of urging our own party's duly nominated, solid candidate to get out of the race, why not use their stature to urge CRIST to get out of the race and save the day?  If Crist gets out, at least some of his support (particularly, teachers who appreciate him vetoing a terrible Republican bill that would have decimated education in this state, which was a great thing but a calculated move on Crist's part precisely to get their votes) would go back to Meek, where it rightfully belongs (Meek has been a champion of issues important to teachers for YEARS, not just since he wanted their votes, for example, he brought forward the class size amendment that is now part of the Florida constitution).  Then we'd have an actual Democrat in the Senate and not a historically Republican windsock that blows whichever way the political winds do.

If Democtratic leaders don't think Crist would be swayed by them urging him to get out of the race, and they fear the split vote handing the election to Rubio, well, I agree, so here's an idea:  don't therefore urge our own great Democratic candidate, whom the Democratic voters of our Democratic Party nominated, to get out of the race!  That's insanity!  He's our only hope!  Instead you should enthusiastically and urgently endorse him (which Clinton has done, I hasten to add--but I'm writing this to all my Democratic leaders) and spend all your energy and time campaigning for him (again, which Bill Clinton did do, but it's what he may have urged privately that has me writing this) instead of doing turncoat, damaging things like RFK, Jr. did by endorsing Crist, or urging Meek to drop out of the race!!!  What kind of message are you sending to Democratic voters with that behavior?  Why do you want to convince us that Meek has no shot of winning?  He has EVERY shot and, indeed, the CERTAINTY of winning IF every registered Democrat goes to the polls and votes for him.  That, my dear Democratic leaders, is what you should be out there convincing the Democratic voters to do!  You should be circling the wagons!

3.  How DARE any Democratic leader urge the DULY ELECTED NOMINEE to get out of the race when there is no reason on earth for it?!!!!  This is madness!  I mean, do I see the urgency of defeating Rubio?  God, yes.  Do I see that my party leaders probably have way more influence and pull on the Democratic candidate than they do on Independent, Charlie Crist?  Yeah, I get it, I get it.  Seen in the best of all lights, they are valiantly trying to do anything necessary to defeat Rubio, thus saving our state from the kind of slash and burn destruction he inflicted on it from Tallahassee, only now it would be from Washington.  They also would prefer an Independent, not a Republican, get that Senate seat, numbers-wise.  I get their so-called logic but I also get that it is so flawed!

Most of Meek's supporters would not vote for Crist.  I would not.  If Meek dropped out, I would not vote for the candidate who basically forced him, my Democratic candidate, out of the race.  For the first time in my life, I would just not vote because there would be no choice representing me, or even representing the lesser of two evils, on the ballot.  (I already voted by mail for Meek so luckily I wouldn't even have to face that whole, epic, moral dilemma, but if I hadn't voted by mail, I do not think I could vote for Crist.)  Oh, and, by the way, if Crist goes to the Senate?  Yeah, newsflash to my party's leaders:  he's going to vote with the Republicans, not the Democrats!  You shouldn't be backing Rubio Lite, when there is a picked-by-your-voters, real live DEMOCRAT on the ticket.  Don't act meek, back Meek!

If Meek drops out, his supporters--i.e., us so-often-overlooked-by-our-own-party DEMOCRATIC BASE--would not go for Crist.  On the other hand, if Crist drops out, there will be a windfall of Democratic voters who will come home to Meek.  So, any Democratic defectors out there (a.k.a., "leaders" who would attempt to lead our candidate right out of the race):  put that in your turncoat pocket and button it.

It is Charlie Crist who should get out of the race.  He wasn't nominated by anyone but himself and all his presence is doing is handing the election to Tea Partier, Marco Rubio.

Perhaps the bigger question here is, IS FLORIDA CAPABLE OF EVER HAVING A NORMAL ELECTION?  Obviously, though, that topic requires a blog of its own.  So, sticking to my topic and wrapping 'er on up:  I'm disgusted with the confirmed action of RFK, Jr. in endorsing Crist, which was a total and uncalled for betrayal of the Democratic Party and very potentially harmful to Florida (if any Florida voters actually pay attention to RFK, Jr., which, thankfully, they probably won't).  Mind you, if there were anything wrong with our Democratic candidate and/or if RFK, Jr. differed with him on the issues and there were a good Independent alternative, maybe I could see it, but Meek is a solid, consistent, strong Democratic leader.  RFK, Jr. didn't say anything against him as a person or on the issues.  He just decided to endorse "his friend", Crist, and felt the need to throw into his statement that Meek has "no chance".  WRONG:  when Democrats vote for Democrats, Democrats win!  So he DOES have a chance, if we get out and vote!  I'm also very shocked and dismayed to hear that Bill Clinton may have privately urged Meek to drop out.  It is very important to note, however, that Clinton campaigned for Meek in my city, St. Petersburg, Florida, and at least if he did bring up Meek getting out of the race, he did it privately and he still stood up for him publicly.  What I don't get, though, is why any Democratic leader would even suggest, even entertain the notion and bring it up for discussion, that the nominee exit the race to enable a Republican in windsock clothing to win.  Crist and Rubio are both Republicans!

Crist has a new label on the ticket now, but his actions stand as those of a lifelong Republican.  Crist and Rubio both have a history of supporting offshore oil drilling, for instance, and being against gay adoption, and on and on the list goes.  It's a longer, scarier list for Rubio, but Crist is not our candidate.  Meek is.  Unlike the other candidates, Meek has a history of supporting and fighting for Democratic priorities, and thus can be be counted upon to support those priorities in the US Senate:  the environment, education, civil rights, the greening and thus health of our economy, seniors, the middle class, and the list goes on.  It's a good list.  It's a list of our Democratic values.  Remember those?  Aren't they what we should be fighting for?

So, to the leaders of my party and, more importantly, to my fellow Florida Democratic voters (because your endorsement on Tuesday is the only one that counts), please throw your support to our deserving candidate, Kendrick Meek.  If we all do this, he WILL pull off a stunning win.  THAT is how we save the day, save the future of our state, and stop Marco Rubio.

Florida Democrats, you have a choice on Tuesday:  For US Senator, contrary to what it says next to Crist's name, there are really two Republicans on the ballot.  A really scary one, and a scary one.  There is also a Democrat on the ballot.  Democratic voters put him there.  And we can also put him into the Senate.  You decide.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Horrific High-Fructose Corn Syrup Hypocrisy: An Exorcism!

I can no longer be a hypocrite on Halloween and hand out high-fructose corn syrup to wide-eyed, bewondered, innocent little children. “Trick or treat?” in our culture has really become “Trick or toxin?”, and I refuse to hand out the latter to developing children. I won’t do it, I tells ya!

In point of fact, I feel that the whole custom of trick-or-treating is an anachronistic, archaic one given that this is decidedly not Walton’s Mountain and is, in fact, 2010, a time loaded to the gills with SCARY people whose doors I wouldn’t want my child, if I had one, knocking on for any reason, let alone to request candy. Don’t get me wrong on the subject of Halloween itself: I still very much appreciate the original seasonal, harvest, autumnal celebration aspect of it, and the dressing in costume/role playing aspect of it, especially in terms of its profound value for children, as it helps the development of their imagination, empathy and risk-taking, and gives them and all of us a way to explore our deepest fears (death!) in a safe way. All that very good, healthy, wonderful stuff, however, has been eclipsed by the mean-spirited, disrespectful destructiveness that abounds on Halloween night, which I’m not even going to delve into here, and the insatiable quest for corn syrup, to which I’m about to provide a positive alternative.

I doubt very much that I could successfully stir up any sort of anti-trick-or-treating movement--although, think of it: wouldn’t it be nicer to have organized (safe!) events like parties and evening/night outdoor costume parades for the kiddies and for all of us, versus trick-or-treating, which, again, I gotta say, is a dangerous anachronism? I think so, but since I also think trick-or-treating is here to stay, no matter what I think of it, let me instead tell you about some corn-syrup-free, organic, alternative candy options I’ve discovered, purchased, and plan to dole out to the little ‘uns and to all the huge, humorless hulks who show up in no costumes at all, pillowcases open, cigarettes dangling from mouths, demanding candy...although anyone over 18 and/or sans costume deserves any corn syrup that comes their way.

Last week, I learned of three brands of alternative candy, one of which I just purchased about $20.00 dollars worth of at my local health food store and I feel very good about planning to hand it out on Halloween. Giving the aforementioned little-bitty bewondered pumpkins and witches non-toxic treats is good for one’s karma, me thinks. Just as important as not participating in the mass poisoning of our nation's little ‘uns, is the fact that, by voting with your wallet (which is the most effective way to change how corporations do business), you are powerfully freezing out Big Corn Syrup’s biggest profits of the year, and sending a clear message that we want candy without corn syrup or any toxic junk in it. Finally, as always, choosing to buy from companies that use sustainably-grown, organic ingredients is better for our planet, too. So, in the seemingly small act of choosing healthier Halloween candy, you are, in one fell swoop, helping the health of our nation's kids, sending a clear message to Big Agribiz, and helping our planet. What’s not to love?

The brand I bought (Yummy Earth) is not only free of high-fructose corn syrup, it is certified organic, which is an added bonus. I tried one piece, in the name of vetting the brand for you, my vast legion of readers, and I can honestly say it was delish. True, I haven’t had any candy in YEARS, so maybe that added to the wondrousness of it, yet I agree with the Today show host whom the company quotes on the back of the package as saying it was the “best lollipop I ever had”. They come in lollipop (on a stick) form and in lollipop drop (hard candy) form and mine was a “drop”, but it is the same candy. Lovely. I heartily recommend the Yummy Earth brand from first-hand scrutinizing and tasting. Two other brands listed below (Indie Candy and Surf Sweets) are ones that look relatively good (compared to mainstream candy, of course, not compared to, say, organic kale leaves, but candy is meant to be a special, extraordinary, and, in my opinion, rare treat for the little dears) based on the ingredients, but I haven’t tried them. Finally, I've listed Endangered Species, a great brand of chocolate that I have tried.  Here is the information I’ve gleaned on all of the above (click on each company's name to go to their web page):

Yummy Earth

As I said above, this is the brand I purchased and actually ingested one piece of, in order to “test drive” it for blogging purposes. I enthusiastically recommend it because it is not only free of corn syrup (and their citric acid is not corn-derived, it is from beets), it is gluten-free, free of chemical colors and artificial flavors, GMO-free and, best of all, is certified organic by both the USDA and the EU, and I can personally attest to the deliciousness of the lollipops/candy drops.

Indie Candy

Indie Candy offers their own line in addition to candies by other small, independent makers of allergen-free candies.  They have corn-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, allergen-free, soy-free, dairy/casein-free, nut-free, kosher, organic and vegan options, and all their products are free of artificial flavors and colors.

Surf Sweets

This brand isn’t certified organic like the Yummy Earth brand above is, but it does contain many individual organic ingredients and it’s gluten-free, corn-syrup-free (although I don't know if their "citric acid" is corn-derived) and GMO-free, so it is a relatively good, wholesome alternative to mainstream candy.

Endangered Species Chocolate

If you really want to go all out for the little ghosts and goblins, Endangered Species chocolates are expensive but excellent (I have tried their chocolates, although not the specific Halloween treats I linked above), gluten-free, corn-syrup-free, vegan and kosher.  10% of their proceeds go to wildlife conservation.

Here's to a lean, NOT mean, green Halloween!

Friday, October 22, 2010

If Everyone With a Prejudice Was Fired for Honestly Admitting It, No One Would Have a Job

I think it is a crying shame that NPR fired long-time journalist and commentator Juan Williams yesterday for honestly sharing a prejudice.  What he said was indeed expressing a prejudice, there is no doubt about that, but it is only once we all start being honest with ourselves and in our conversations about our prejudices that we can see them for what they are and work on them.  Feelings are never right or wrong, acceptable or unacceptable, it is how we choose to act on our feelings that counts.  Juan Williams is not a bigot, in fact, he is a champion of civil rights and fairness for all.  Every single one of us has prejudices.  Should we just never express them and hide them away in the closet?  There is a truism often quoted in 12-step programs that says "You are only as sick as your secrets."  In other words, only by being honest with ourselves and others can we be healthy, and this applies, I think, not only to individuals but to society. Pretending we aren't afraid of something, someone or some group only makes the fear grow darker and more powerful.  Acknowledging it, owning it and exploring it takes the power from fear and empowers us to choose how we act.

What Juan Williams specifically said was admitting a fear.  He didn't say the fear was fair, in fact, I think the whole point was that he was admitting a prejudice.  We would all be healthier as individuals and a nation if we searched our souls and did the same.  What he actually said is that, when he is on a plane, if he sees someone in Muslim "garb" (his word), he feels fear.  That is indeed a prejudice, as just because someone is wearing the clothing of their culture and/or their religion, it certainly doesn't mean they are a terrorist with intentions to blow up an airplane.  Juan's feeling of fear in that situation is both prejudiced and somewhat irrational.  Yet it is his feeling and feelings don't have to be fair or entirely (or even partially) rational.  I said it before but it definitely bears repeating:  feelings are feelings, it is how we choose to act on them that counts.

Juan Williams has consistently stood for civil rights, fairness and justice in his career, and he is also very honest.  Unfortunately, he was unjustly fired yesterday for just that refreshing honesty that our society so desperately needs to be healthy.  The most disgusting part to me was when the person from NPR who fired him said that his remark should be between him and "his psychiatrist".  What an ugly, ignorant, uncalled for, classless attack.  She's the one who made an inappropriate comment, an attacking, ugly comment.  Juan Williams, on the other hand, was honestly admitting a fear and prejudice, in order to further the dialog about it in our country.

From earlier blogs of mine, for example, when I came out strongly for the mosque to be built near Ground Zero, you all know I stand against discrimination, for fairness, and passionately for civil rights.  That is precisely why I do NOT have a problem with, and indeed actually applaud, anyone who can admit a prejudice.  We all have them.  Admitting a prejudiced feeling does not equate to behaving with discrimination in our actions.  It doesn't mean that person is a bigot.  Far from it!  Admitting a prejudice means that person is honest with themselves and the world, and is willing to face their fears, which is the only way to move past them to a tolerant world.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Florida Democrats, SOS (Save our State): Vote for Meek!

The St. Petersburg Times, which in fairness I should state is an excellent newspaper, has inexplicably gone off the rails with a few of its “Times Recommends” endorsements for the upcoming November election. Their most unfathomable swerving into the briar patch is their endorsement of Charlie "Windsock" Crist for US Senate. I mean, OnStar, what is your emergency? Hello? St. Petersburg Times, are you there?  We’ve detected that you’ve left the clearly marked road and landed in some very treacherous territory...hello? Are you there? Are you conscious? We’re sending help, don't panic.  We're going to stay on the line with you until help arrives.  The Democratic voters will be there, en masse, ASAP to vote for Meek, as clearly you were in an altered state when you suggested that anyone do otherwise and thus hand the election to Rubio, which would ruin our state!

Much as I love the Times, in the immortal words of the Martin Short character, Ed Grimley, they are “as wrong as wrong can be” on this one. I wrote the following comment in response to their "Times Recommends" editorial endorsing Crist:

"I cannot believe the Times has endorsed Charlie 'Windsock' Crist. This guy has more positions on every issue than even he could possibly keep up with. He is exactly what we do NOT need: a quintessential politician, NOT a leader. Kendrick Meek is the ONLY progressive choice in this race. He has consistently opposed off-shore drilling, and will protect our environment, and the actual citizens of Florida, such as children, seniors, and all of us in-between. We don't need Slash-and-Burn Rubio, who was a total disaster in the state legislature, or Windsock Charlie. I'm shocked that the Times has endorsed Crist. Please, fellow Democrats, vote for Kendrick Meek. I think we all know what happens when the Democratic vote gets split: remember 2000! Don't let it happen this time. Please put sane, steady, leadership for the people and the environment in charge. Vote for Meek. I love the Times, but some of their endorsements this go around defy explanation."

It isn't looking good. Meek is far behind in the polls. Maybe Democrats will assume that he has no chance and will stay home. But, as was pointed out at the Tampa Meek rally I blogged about recently:  When Democrats vote for Democrats, DEMOCRATS WIN! So, come on, people, get your rally caps on and get to the polls or vote by mail. However you do it, just vote!  Our state is at stake here.

I'm so scared that we are going to end up with Rubio in the US Senate and that disaster area known as Rick Scott as Governor. I shouldn’t have said “we don’t need” Rubio, in my comment to the Times, because that is not a strong enough statement. I should have said “we can’t survive Rubio”. Didn’t he do enough damage as leader of the state legislature in Tallahassee? I won't even go into what he did by moving up the presidential primary election date because that would be a mega-blog unto its empassioned self.  I will emphasize instead that he slashed and burned the budget so badly that now our public school system, for example, which they promised would be unhurt by it all, is decimated, even with the infusion of federal stimulus dollars we later received. And he didn't just wreck the budget and impact the lives of Florida's citizens temporarily, oh no. By irresponsibly slashing property taxes (in a state with no state income tax, mind you), he has ensured that our state will have nowhere near enough revenue for basic things like public education for years to come.

He and the rest of his tea party peeps put themselves out there as populists, as being of and for the people, but the opposite is the truth: their policies would create an environment in which the richest few and corporations prosper, while the vast majority of people and the environment would pay the price.  We can't afford Rubio or Scott, economically or environmentally, no way, no how.

If Democrats vote for Crist, Rubio will win. Only you can prevent forest fires (the metaphorical yet devastating kind caused by Rubio’s slash and burn policies). How? By VOTING FOR MEEK. Don’t listen to the Times, don’t listen to the polls, and for goodness sake don’t listen to the misleading ads of Crist and Rubio. Listen to Peppermint Twist: vote for Meek because that is a vote for the future well-being of the people, economy and environment of Florida!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ideal Weight Versus Real Fate

I’ve been accused of being “stuck in the sixties”, but the past six months of my life give new meaning to that phrase! We must travel back in time more than six months, though, to begin this story.

Since Thanksgiving 2008, I have lost 77 pounds. I am now four pounds beneath my original goal. Personally, I feel great and profoundly grateful to be where I am. Yet the alleged “experts” and the dratted BMI calculator* say: lose more weight. My body says: “What ‘chu talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?!!! I’m staying right here at 161 and, short of starving me, you can’t make me do any different. You’re not the boss of me!” Yes, my body tends to sport a little bit of a ‘tude sometimes when it says something to me, what can I tell you?

I wasn’t overweight as a child, but I’ve struggled with obesity my entire adult life, and done a lot of yo-yoing, due to following diets that were all wrong for me (if only I knew then what I know now!), which resulted in the inevitable rebound cravings and gaining all the weight back, plus more. Even though I’ve yo-yoed a lot, most of the time, I was just whichever one of the “yo”s is the fat yo. Try as I might (and did), I never managed to get and keep the weight off until now.

I started on Dr. Peter J. D’Adamo’s GenoType Diet on Thanksgiving Day 2008, and reached my goal weight, which was 73 pounds less than where I started, on April 13, 2010. Let’s just put it all out there for the world to see: when I started on The GenoType Diet, I had ballooned up to my fattest weight ever and had been there for approximately three years. I was 238 pounds. 238 pounds and only 5’4.75” tall. Not good, people. But what IS good is that I lost 73 pounds in just under 17 months (precisely 72 weeks/16.5 months, but who’s counting?). My average loss per week over the entire 72 weeks was 1.01 lbs. Folks, that is not too shabby, in fact, it is nothing short of AWESOME, if I do say so myself! For me to sustain an average loss of 1.01 lbs per week for 72 weeks straight is unprecedented in my life. I got down to my goal weight of 165 lbs! And now I’m at 161! That’s the great, continually-amazing-to-me news.

The somewhat frustrating news is that, since reaching my goal on April 13th, my body has put the brakes on any further loss, big time. We are not talking plateau, I’m very familiar with those. I had some longies during the 16.5 month weight loss period, but this is different. Since April 13th, which is just shy of six months ago, I have lost a net total of four—count ‘em, four—pounds, to bring me to 161, where I’ve been hovering. For one brilliant day I was 158 but then back up the scale popped to somewhere between 160 and 162 and that’s where it remains, seemingly no matter what I do. Four pounds in six months, after previously averaging 1.01 lbs per week for the entire 16.5 months/73 lbs I lost to get to my goal. If you listen very carefully, you can actually hear the brakes squealing.

Well, you may be wondering, why are you still trying to lose, anyway, if you already reached your goal? The reason is that I set my original goal very high because I wanted to make it something I could conceivably reach. I didn’t want to set myself up for failure. And when you are 238 pounds, 165 seems very, very far away and impossible (in fact, I set an interim goal of 199 and a date to meet it by, which I did with two weeks to spare). My ultimate goal of 165 was modestly high, yet I knew, if I could just get there, I’d be so much healthier. When I started, I thought: “When I get there, I can decide if I want to try to go further, but whatever happens after reaching 165, I’ll be at peace with it, as long as I can get and stay there. I promise myself now that I won’t get frustrated if I can’t get any lower than that, because that frustration can lead to gaining it all back (been there, done that). I’ll just be so THRILLED if I can even get there.”

Well, when miraculously I got there, I reassessed, as I always had planned to do, and was very enthused and encouraged by my results to try and go further, to try to actually get to my ideal weight. For the first time in DECADES, it seemed like a real possibility! So I set my sights on 135 lbs, which I decided is my ideal weight. Years ago, Weight Watchers (not that I put any stock in them today) said that I should weigh between 126 and 144. 135 is in the middle of that range and I feel that is my ideal...but is it realistic? I thought it was possible, when I decided to forge ahead, but in the almost six months since reaching my goal of 165, it’s been tough to even drop a net total of four pounds. The take-home message from my body seems to be: “You’re done. This is as good as it gets, be grateful that you made it here and that you are healthy at 161 lbs. Now your job is to sustain this for a lifetime.” Okay, fine, thought I, if this is it, this is it, remember what you promised yourself about being at peace once you reached 165. I decided to ask my doctor about it, since I had a check-up scheduled, but I really thought she’d be thrilled with where I am, and I would take that as the official seal of approval to declare myself done with the weight loss phase of my journey. No such luck.

I had my annual check-up last week and the doctor said, very matter of factly, lose more weight. WHAT? I looked at her as if she had just instructed me to bring her the broomstick of the wicked witch. Tell me I’m done! Nope, lose more, said she, even when I politely reminded her that last year she said my goal of 165 was “fine”. Well, now I’m 160 (according to her scale, 161 per the one I have been using all along at work) and she’s telling me I have to lose more. Mind you, I stupidly opened up this discussion by asking her. My bad. WHY did I ask her? She is all of about 110 pounds, max, soaking wet. What does she know, truly, about losing a massive amount of weight and sustaining it? That last part is the key, that’s what the work has really been about for me: learning what diet and exercise I can live with happily for the rest of my life. As I’ve blogged about before, my diet is about abundance, not deprivation. In order to lose any more weight, I very much fear that I might have to switch into deprivation gear and that never can last. A deprivation diet puts you in danger of cravings setting in, your brain chemistry getting out of balance, and you getting off kilter and gaining every speck of weight you lost back, plus more. Been there, done that. Got the extra-large T-shirt. No thank you! I’d rather remain a scant 13 pounds overweight (The BMI calculator says I have to get down to AT LEAST 148 in order to be in the “normal” range) for the rest of my life than to mess with success, throw my body out of balance, and gain 77 lbs back! I have yo-yoed all my adult life and I don’t want to yo no mo’! I can’t afford it, not in any way, shape or form. Where I am is, like I said, a miracle in my life and if I go no lower, I go no lower.

I’ve been trying! I’ve been walking an hour per day, eating my optimal diet, and a four pound loss in almost six months is the net result of all that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled that I reached my long-elusive goal, and even more thrilled that I am now four pounds BELOW it and holding. That is nothing short of a miracle in my life. Yet I must admit that, much as I promised myself from Day One back on Thanksgiving 2008 that, if I reached my goal, I would NOT get frustrated if I couldn’t get further (as frustration is dangerous and can—and HAS in the past for me—lead to gaining all the weight back), I come to you today LIVE...and at least a tad frustrated.

So, here’s the plan: because of my blasted primary care doctor, the blasted BMI calculator* and my blasted memory of what Weight Watchers told me years ago I should weigh, for the next few months, I will continue to try to lose weight. My revised goal is 148, I’m letting go of 135. Like I said, the BMI says, if I reach 148, my weight is in the “normal” range, the healthy range. I’ll take healthy any day, I don’t need ideal, no matter what the dag-nabbed doctor says--not that she even gave me a number—she just said lose more weight, and that was in the context of a visit in which she was singularly dismissive of every single question I asked her about anything, so I'm really disgusted with, and disappointed in, this doctor (my kingdom for a respectful, collaborative primary care doctor!), but I digress.  The relevant point is:  I'm not sure how much weight, no pun intended, I should give to what she says about anything, but since virtually all of the "experts" seem to be in agreement that I need to lose more, I will amp up my efforts, fearful as I am of tweaking anything (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!). I know from long experience how much harder it is to get BACK to a place of biochemical balance once you get off kilter versus STAYING IN BALANCE once you are there. I am loathe to change ANYTHING about my wonderful, abundant diet that has kept me cravings-free, satisfied, healthy and in balance for 22 months—almost two years now. That said, I’ve thought long and hard and I GUESS I could cut out a LITTLE of the fat I add to things. I do kinda sorta use a LOT of olive oil and organic mayo (the latter of which is not even allowed on my diet, but ANYWAY, moving along…). And I GUESS I could make my portion sizes a LITTLE smaller. As long as I ensure that I get enough high-quality protein in each meal and that I continue to eat the variety of chi-laden, health-bestowing foods I typically eat, I should be fine. So, as of today, color my efforts amped up.

If, by February 1, 2011, I have still not gotten out of the blasted 160’s (mind you, I'm trying to reach my new goal of 148 by that date, but if I'm not at least out of the 160's and making steady progress by then, no matter how slow...), you can color me defiantly and blissfully done (with the weight loss portion of my journey—the maintaining/sustaining portion will be a lifetime thing for me). And, mark my words, I will be completely at peace about that, no matter what anyone has to say about it! Some of us are just a little bigger and that’s okay, as long as we’re healthy. Per the NIH BMI Calculator*, I am only 13 pounds above the top of the “normal” range for me anyway. 13 pounds! That is a hell of a lot better than being 90 pounds above it, which is what I was at my fattest. I had a BMI of 39.9 then. As in “your risk of death is severe.” As in “Obesity, Class II”, just a fraction of a point below “Morbid Obesity”. Morbid, as in “you’re dead”. So it is all relative! I’ll take my current, merely “overweight”, BMI of 27.0, if that’s as low as she goes!!! Besides, during the same check-up last week at which the doctor told me yes, you need to lose more weight, I also learned that my blood work numbers are fantastic. For example, my HDL cholesterol is 91, in the protective range, thank you very much. In fact, an HDL of 91 is kind of in the “unheard of” range. So get off my case, "experts"! I weigh what I weigh.

I’ve learned something on this journey: respect my body. If, despite my best efforts (and my best efforts are pretty dang good, if I do say so myself), my body continues consistently to tell me, in its gentle yet unbudging way, “We’re done, this is as low as I go, short of starvation”, then we’re done. I’m a member of a “thrifty” genotype, per the naturopathic doctor who wrote the diet I follow, and that means that my body is extraordinarily good at storing fat. It thinks it is protecting me, God love it and bless it. It thinks there is a famine around every corner. It is genetically hard-wired to think this and it is not going to change. No power of man or nature is going to change it, and certainly it doesn’t give a hoot about the BMI or some 110-pound MD saying “lose more weight”. In fact, the only reason it reluctantly gave in to my efforts and dropped the huge amount of weight it dropped is because, instead of fighting it and stressing it with deprivation diets, I worked with it and convinced it, through eating foods that are deeply nourishing to it and giving it plenty of stress-busting and muscle-strengthening exercise, that it is OKAY to release some fat—a lot of fat. My body responded beautifully to this diet and now it just may be telling me, enough is enough, this is where you have to trust me and listen to me, and I say we are done. And, if that is the case, as my mom often profoundly exclaims at various and sundry times in life: “Thank God we’re this far!”

You all are my witnesses: I’m giving it until February 1. If, by that date, I am not at LEAST out of the 160’s, then I’ll know it is the 160’s I’m meant to stay in and it will be time to RELAX and drink in the beautiful view from this vista, which I have literally hiked long and resolutely to reach. It’s gloriously good to be here. If I can go farther, fabulous. If not, right here is a beautiful place to plant my flag and build my LEED-certified, solar A-frame, permanent residence, no matter what anyone says about better sites down the trail apiece. I know a good place when I’m in one.

* Link: NIH BMI calculator

Friday, October 1, 2010

Gore and Meek Rally Rocked!

The traffic, the crowd, the hassles: it was all worth it!

I am so glad I went to the Kendrick Meek rally in Tampa yesterday. I think Kendrick is a good candidate and the only progressive choice in the Florida race for the US Senate, and it is critical that we turn out the vote to defeat both tea party Republican, Marco Rubio, and Charlie "windsock" Crist, who bows whichever way the political winds blow, but we all know he is a Republican at heart, even though he changed to Independent in a politically calculated move to win this race. Everything Crist does, in my observation of him over the years, is a politically calculated move. He is the quintessential politician. We don't need the quintessential politician! We need a leader, and I believe that is what Kendrick Meek has shown himself to be. For example, he has consistently opposed oil drilling off the coast of Florida, even when it wasn't a popular position (i.e., before the catastrophic recent BP oil spill). Crist, on the other hand, has done his usual Windsock Hop on that and other issues. Not only is Kendrick Meek the only US Senate candidate we can count on to protect our environment and tourist industry by opposing offshore drilling, he will also make it a priority to bring green jobs and initiatives to Florida, the Sunshine (i.e., potentially solar!) State. We must elect Kendrick to the US Senate to ensure we move both our economy and environment in a healthy new green direction.

As Al Gore (who I'll get to in a second and I can't believe I've gone this far in the blog without mentioning!) urged Democrats and Independents yesterday at the rally: don't split the US Senate vote between Meek and Crist, that will only hand the race to Rubio. He said "I've been through a few elections" and my heart just broke at that one. Boy, does the man know what he was talking about when he made that plea for us Democrats not to hand the election to a Republican by splitting the vote!

My fellow Florida Democrats out there reading this: as they also kept emphasizing at the rally, when Democrats vote, Democrats win. We have to vote and we have to vote solidly Democratic in this election. Unless we want the state budget cut so much that our schools, infrastructure, first responders, libraries, and all other services to actual human beings/citizens will suffer even more than they already are, while the rich will get richer due to tax breaks designed for them and corporations will have free reign to trash our environment, it is vitally important that we vote the entire Democratic ticket. The future of our state--and by "our state", I don't mean some vague, impersonal thing, I mean our children, our seniors, our lower and middle class, our teachers, our first responders, and last but not least, our environment--is at stake.

Now on to Al Gore!!!! Frankly, though I think Meek is a very good candidate and I voted for him in the primary, and I will vote for him in the general election, no WAY would I have braved Tampa during rush hour to go to some unfamiliar venue to rally for him or anyone...unless, you tell me that Al Gore will be there. Say the secret word and the duck drops down! Color me THERE! And I'm so glad I braved said Tampa traffic (it was as bad as I thought it would be and yet another argument for green rapid transit) to see him. I LOVE him! I just flat out love him. His speech was so great, and the fact that he took the time to be there for Kendrick, for the party, for Florida (it MUST bring back 2000 for him every time he comes here), says so much about him. When Gore and Meek were on stage together and Gore was showering Meek with glowing praise, Meek was just beaming and you could tell how much it genuinely meant to him to be receiving such praise from such a great leader.

The whole thing was wonderful--once I got through the harrowing traffic and parking situation (!) and standing in crazy, disorganized lines (you have to love my Democratic Party--if you want organized lines, go to a Republican rally) in the blazing Florida sun with, where I happened to be positioned in the line, a speaker blaring music into my ears the whole time at a hearing loss-inducing level, and finally making it into the hot union hall with only seats for a few physically-challenged folks, it was all SO WORTH IT. I work every day with a bunch of, as one friend of mine calls them "radcon fundies" and it was so refreshing to connect with a big crowd of Democrats! Packed in like lemmings as we were, and hot as it was in that room, I felt like I could breathe again, like I could relax and be ME. The crowd was very diverse, with African-Americans, Latino-Americans, seniors, young peeps (a lot of the organizers/volunteers there were VERY young, which was nice to see), union workers, environmentalists, etc. There was a lot of "etc." there. A good kind of etc.  The Democratic base kind of etc., of which I count myself a proud member.  There was a beautiful energy in the room.  I loved when one speaker said "If you want to move a car forward, you put it in D. If you want to go in reverse, you put it in R." Yeah/sing it!  That one never gets old. It was really good to be at a Democratic rally. Really good. It was very healing for me, personally, after feeling so alienated from my party in the 2008 primary season (due to the whole Rubio-induced delegate SITUATION--that's right, folks, it was Rubio's baby to move up Florida's 2008 Presidential primary election date in violation of both parties' rules, setting up the electoral chaos and horribly divisive primary season that followed--and this guy wants to be our US Senator? NOT JUST NO BUT HELL NO!), and frankly being so unhappy with the current administration. I really needed to remember that I love my party. Being at that rally reminded me. In a big way. It was like a giant bear hug...or a homecoming...or a family reunion. Make that all three.

I'm so glad to be a Democrat, even though I can't stand the current president, frankly. But as bad as I think he is, he's still FAR better than any Republican president we've had in my lifetime. My first memory of a Republican administration comes in the form of the televised Watergate Hearings.  I was just a kid.  Then I came of age just as the Reagan era came into being.  I think Reagan was a complete disaster for our country and is the nightmare gift that just keeps giving, because somehow people mistakenly think he was so great and the current tea party movement, for example, is, in my opinion, people trying to get back to Reagan Republicanism. Horrifying. Then we had Bush I and Bush II, the latter of which I can't even think about without recoiling in rage and disgust. Nope, like I said, I'm glad and proud to be a lifelong Democrat.

To recap, that rally really hit the Democratic spot.  Gore was, is and always will be great, and, any Florida Democratic and Independent voters out there reading this: please vote for Kendrick Meek (and the entire Democratic ticket, while you are at it) on November 2nd. Our state cannot take any more Republican "leadership". With "leadership" like that, who needs ruination? Please vote Democratic to vote for the health of our economy, children, seniors, middle class, and environment.

Kendrick Meek and Al Gore, at 9/30/2010 Rally for Meek