Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Road to Wellness

I have not been the best caretaker of my body.  In my old life, I gained some very bad habits.  Many of these bad habits had to do with food and health. The last year and a half I have been working to change that. During the old life, I gained a whopping 220 lbs within a fourteen year period.  I allowed my freedom in adulthood to lead to overindulgence.  I need now to work back to some of the older healthier habits of my youth. I am not expecting to be less than 200 lbs.  I will be happy with less than 250lbs. 

One bad habit has been the over reliance on convenience foods.  That is everything from canned soups and chilies, to frozen dinners and entrĂ©es, to pre-packaged things I could make myself.  I used to cook all the time from scratch.  My current living situation has made that difficult.  I am going to finish all my frozen and canned items then stop buying them.  Some things I will still buy, like the Thai rice noodle soups (they look like ramen), yogurt, instant oatmeal, and the Zatarain’s boxed meals.  Simple things like Guacamole and Tzatziki will be made at home. What makes the living situation difficult is my lack of kitchen equipment. The instant/ microwaveable oatmeal I will keep for portion control reasons.

I love cooking and I am quite good at it.  Getting back into the habit is not going to be easy.  There are challenges in no longer having the kitchen equipment I used to have.  I cannot lament the loss of what I left behind in leaving my old household. That just ends up a pity party.  This time around the choices are solely my own.

I have already limited my Soda Pop consumption to 3-5 times a week from that amount a day since January of 2015.  Since April my Soda Pop consumption is now at 5-10 times a month.  April of 2015, I removed my candy bars and ice cream.  I am seeing a dietitian. She has helped me come up with alternatives to the ice cream, my biggest weakness, fruit juice bars, frozen fresh grapes, frozen yogurt and sorbets.  Another thing I replaced the sweets with is fruit.  I am increasing the fresh fruit consumption.  I have one snacking weakness that I have kept Bacon Jerky.  It is like meat crack for me.  That is why two bags a month is the limit.  I also eat 4 Cliff Bars and 16 pieces of fruit leather a month.  Another step is making my own tortilla chips.  A suggestion I got was to bake them with a drizzle of olive oil.

I am not working on a diet.  I am working on a lifestyle change.  Another old habit is the avoidance or limited amount of wheat products.  My family (my parents, brother and I) is very sensitive to wheat products. I have been trying to limit that incredibly since I started the new life. I eat more rice, corn (maize), and potato products instead. I am also increasing the good fatty foods, avocados, olive oil and the like.  I am also helping friends who are new to avoiding wheat and or gluten. So far their response to my suggestions has been great.  Having had to deal with the wheat intolerance diagnosis since the 1970’s, I know a few things and tricks of the trade, so to speak.

In June 2014, I began a physical activity regimen.  I walk a mile every other day.  The plan is two days on one off after June 2015. I had been having serious issues with stamina prior to the walking.  I have been getting better, but in some ways it does not feel fast enough.  This is a marathon not a sprint, so I am trying to show patience. I already am able to do more.  I used to be able only to mow one lawn a day now I can do two, unless they are long.  These are very large lawns. 

Portion control has been another thing I have been working on.  I used to eat a small breakfast, one yogurt then a big dinner.  Now I am eating small amounts every 2 to 3 hours.  I only eat when I hungry.  My large Kellogg’s cereal bowls are in retirement.  Two months ago went from using them to a standard cereal/soup bowl.  Now cold cereals are gone for oatmeal, which is more satisfying at smaller portions.  I use to eat box meals of frozen bagged meals all in a sitting.  That is something I am working on resolving.  I have had wonderful input from friends on my Facebook page.

In April I added more vegetables to my eating schedule. I am adding them to many of my meals.  I also have been eating a serving at a small meal as well.  It is mostly frozen vegetables at this time, but I plan to add more fresh as time goes on.

A year and a half ago I was started on a blood pressure medicine.  It turns out two family members had adverse reactions to it.  My previous medical clinic ignored my concerns.  They are no longer my clinic.  That same clinic put me on diabetes medication when I did not have a diabetes diagnosis, but was high risk.  Some of those medications make people physically dependent of them to function.  I was unsure of that too.  Those concerns were also ignored.  My clinic transitioned me off the blood pressure medication and removed the diabetes medication from my prescriptions.   There are other health concerns being worked out.

This is a work in progress. I am by no means at any of my goals.  I cannot give up.  In the past my father offered use of his mobility scooters.  That is not going to happen.  As long as I can stand I will walk.  I may need to sit down from time to time, but I cannot use those scooters.  That to me is clearly giving up. I was told to use the riding lawn mowers.  I need to put one to get my stamina back. 

I have a good support network in friends and family.  I cannot get so discouraged that I give up too.  That has been another issue in the past.  This Has Been My Not So Humble Opinion.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Iconography II

There was an article on Salon about the backlash to the recent increased diversity of characters in comics.  The article was brought to my attention by David F. Walker of  I thought about just re-releasing My Boys Can Be Idiots article.  That article talks about the misogyny in and directed at Comic Book fandom.  It did not talk about racism or behavior against any other minority (racial, religious, cultural, or ethnic).  I thought about releasing my Iconography article about the changing of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual identity of Iconic characters. I realized I needed readdress this subject.  The Iconography article talked about changes these attributes.  This article is about how that diversity is viewed and can help positively.

 Much of the backlash had been direct towards a slew of new characters or character taking on new mantles.  The examples are the new Female Thor, the Muslim Ms. Marvel, and Sam Wilson AKA the Falcon becoming Captain America. All three of the original characters still exist and could reclaim their mantles at anytime.  Mind you, I doubt Carol Danvers will return to being Ms. Marvel after becoming Captain Marvel.  All of these changes are not to the original characters; they are new or existing characters taking on the mantles. People forget War Machine began as a replacement for Tony Stark as Iron Man when Tony’s alcoholism was at its worst. A female Thor is not even unusual to Norse mythology, he has posed as female or been turned to female in some of the myths.

Diversity is a big deal to me.  I grew up in a predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood in a city with a large Japanese-American community.  My family includes people of Filipino, Mexican, Jewish, and Native American descent. Some of those heritages I share and some I do not.  Since I was differently abled with a facial deformity, I felt even more different growing up.  To me there were very few people like me, so my heroes would not be like me.  I grew up with heroes like Zorro, Sinbad, Bruce Lee, Mohammad Ali, and Cesar Chavez.  None of them looked like me.   I did not care I thought they were cool and people I could look up to.  When I was younger I created my own superhero universes I always made them diverse, it was not a stunt for me.  It was about reflecting the world as I had known it.

The meat of the matter is that many responsible for the Video Game misogynistic brouhaha are now setting their sights on Comic Book and the Big Two’s recent pushes for diversity.  In the community itself there has been debate about whether or not these characters or mantle changes are just a marketing ploy. In the past when changes like these have happened more often than not the original version of the character is restored sooner or later.  The new more volatile voices in the debate are saying, “How dare you change our predominantly white straight male comic book paradigm”.  They claim that the two companies are bending their will to some leftist liberal and feminist agenda. This is similar to their outcry in the Video Gaming arena.

These changes do not take away the already existing plethora of White Male Straight comic book characters that already exist as cultural icons.  It is strange that the controversy happens when a character crosses gender, racial, ethnic, religious, or sexual identity lines.  No one got upset about Frog Thor, Spider-Ham or Beta Ray Bill (an Alien Thor).  It also seems suspect that the recent spout of attacks on this occurs when the Video Game misogyny controversy began to quiet to a point.  These people are reactionary to the change of the status quo.  They dislike things changing to better everyone.  In a way, more diversity means those offended are not a special as they thought.  They want everything to be about them and reflecting their myopic view of the world and their hobbies.

From a marketing standpoint, the more people interested in comics the more money you make.  With that dynamic the Big Two are going to want to cater to as many possible markets.  There has been a debate in the fandom and industry of comics about this.  The need for more diverse characters and diverse creators is there. It seems to be getting better, but there is definitely room for improvement.  Those critical of diversity would be critical of any change to the status quo as they see it.  The sad thing is traditionally the more diverse characters do not always sell well.  In the past sales for Blue Beetle and Static Shock led to their cancellations. That seems to be changing too with the popularity of the new Captain Marvel and Ms. Marvel.  Vote with your wallet.  

The reason to have such diversity is to give people of differing backgrounds representation in our popular culture.  It has been proven to help inspire youth of those backgrounds.  Studies have shown that representation in popular culture helps build self esteem in children.  It gives them hope that they too can participate in our larger society and world.  Racism tends to come from fear of the unknown.  A more diverse representation in popular culture shows everyone we are all people and all members of the human race.  There are differences, but there are even more we have in common with each other.  Is this going to solve this?  No, these issues are too complex to be solved by a more diverse popular culture alone.  It will help in the long run.  This Has Been My Not So Humble Opinion.