Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When Rioting Becomes a Necessary Evil

Karen E. Quinones Miller


I have always totally agreed with the protests in Baltimore, and after giving it a good amount of thought, I no longer have an issue with the rioting and rioters.
The citizens of Baltimore have tried to work within the system. This is evidenced by the fact that they have a Black mayor, Black police chief, Black U.S. Congressmen, and Blacks on their City Council. Not to mention that the city voted overwhelmingly for a Black U.S.President. So, please don't tell them that they need to stop rioting and start voting. They've done that. 

And still the murder around the country of young Black men around the country, including their own Freddie Gray - whose only crime seems to be to have the audacity to have looked a police lieutenant directly in the eye, and then fleeing when the lieutenant approached him. 

Freddie Gray is now dead and NOTHING anyone does will change that fact.
But who can blame the Black people in Baltimore for being frustrated? And while I first agreed with the protesting and decried the rioting, I've changed my mind.
I'm old enough to remember the 1967 riots. Detroit, Newark, Los Angeles, etc. Most, if not all, of those riots were sparked by police brutality. All of those riots took place in the areas in which the police brutality took place -- always in a black area -- and all resulted in millions of dollars in destruction.
Seems to me, though, those riots did have some result. They made the federal government sit up and pay attention. Congressional hearings were held; the President (Lyndon Baines Johnson) had a Commission (does anyone remember the name of the Commission? I've forgotten.)put together to investigate the underlying reasons for the rioting.

Millions of federal dollars poured into the neighborhoods destroyed by the rioting in order to rebuild, and -- more importantly -- millions of federal dollars were spent on social programs like pre-school which improved education, job training (remember Manpower, anyone?) and programs designed to better the relationships between the police and the community like the Police Athletic League (PAL). All of these programs no longer exist, by the way. 

So let's not be so quick to condemn the rioting as senseless. It's what a group of people who have worked within the system resort to when that system lets them down. 

I think the blame should be put on the system rather than the rioters. 

And if someone can come up with a better way to get attention and bring about change, please speak up.
But don't tell me it's voting. Baltimore, with its Black police chief, Black City Council, Black Mayor, and our Black president proves that.

Shortly after I posted this, President Obama went on television and made a statement regarding the Baltimore riot. Here's part of what he said:

But in a lengthy response to a question about the latest protest in response to the death of a young black man by police, Obama also said the problem is not new and that the entire country needs to "do some soul-searching."

"If we really want to solve the problem, we could. It would require everybody to say this is important, this is significant and that we just don't pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, when a young man is shot or when his spine is snapped."

He said investment is needed in the communities to bring economic opportunity, including resources for early childhood education and criminal justice reform that breaks the school-to-prison pipeline that is "rendering young men in these communities unemployable." He called for job training programs as well as school reforms.

"That's hard," he said, adding that it "takes a kind of political motivation we haven't seen in quite some time."

"That was a really long answer but I felt pretty strongly about it," the president concluded.

(Please note that the programs he says are needed are the EXACT programs that i stated were given after the '67 Riots.)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Oh Yeah! Losing Weight!!!!

Happy to report that when I weighed myself on April 6, I was down to 277 pounds! That's a 10 pound weight loss, y'all!

(In my best James Brown voice)

I know James Brown hadn't yet started wearing an Afro when he sung this song, but I decided to sport mine, anyway. <grin> This is a picture of me at my new 277 pound weight, taken yesterday, April 11th.


So a few days ago I posted on Facebook that I was on a diet, and the response was so touching I actually shed a couple of tears. Here's that April 9th post:

I can't believe how easy it is to stick to this diet. I have to stay under 1,270 calories a day, and I only messed up once in the last two weeks. I got an app, MyFitnessPal, that helps me count calories and log meals and exercise...and lets me know how close I am to my goal. This dinner of three chicken wings , one cup of white rice, six ounces of cabbage, with one tbsp of chicken fat (flavoring is a necessity!) comes to less than 600 calories! I'm doing well!!!!

(Actually the meal was 681 calories, but I was still 18 calories under my daily allowed limit!)

I don't know why I decided to share it on Facebook, I've been going back and forth as to whether I should share the journey, but, well . . . I'm definitely leaning toward it

I've been doing okay with my daily diet . . . but not great. The crazy thing is I sometimes -- in fact, quite often -- have trouble  eating the required calories. I think one reason is the green smoothie that I have every day is so filling.
In fact, I kind of think that my starting on the green smoothie kick back in February is what has been making this weight-loss journey as easy as it has been.
Yes, you read it right . . . easy.
I've not woken up in the middle of the night with hunger pangs, wanting to raid the refrigerator. I don't want to sneak a couple of candy bars, here and there. Believe it or not, there's a 1/2 gallon of Turkey Hill Neapolitan ice cream that's been in the freezer since January. I haven't even been tempted.
Again, I think it's because I started on the green smoothies back in January. I'm just wondering if it's some kind of appetite suppressant.
Exercise has been something of a problem.  Because of my Multiple Sclerosis, my mobility is often limited, However, I just bought my niece, Anike, a new Wii dance disc. One of the songs on it was Miriam Makeba's song from back in the 60's -- Pata Pata. Shoot, as soon as I heard that I jumped up and started doing the moves along with the cartoon figure on the screen. (Yeah, I know I'm not using the correct terms, but whatever . . . ). I only did 7 minutes, but hey . . . it counts toward cardio, and it's better than nothing!

But anyway . . . it's nice to know I'm actually losing weight. It's only 10 pounds so far, but hey!!!!!

I really am going to be down by at least 100 pounds by June 2016!!!

Sunday, April 05, 2015

The Journey Starts!

(editing note: This post was written April 5th, but was not made public until May 15th. This is because I'm still gathering the needed courage to actually let people see my vulnerabilities and failures. So, if you're viewing this, please take the time to comment -- let me know that I'm not just posting all this stuff for nothing!!!!! please?)

Well, the journey actually officially started on Wednesday, March 25th.

I downloaded an app called MyFitnessPal just about midnight the day before, after going through my iPhone App Store for free calorie counting apps. I only wanted an app that would help me figure out the calories in the foods I ate, but I lucked up with MyFitnessPal -- it was so much more.

First off, it asked me to input my profile. So I truthfully put in that I was 5 feet tall, and weighed 287 pounds, and that I wanted to go down to 137 pounds.

It asked me about my activity level, and I had to honestly put "Sedentary" since I have multiple sclerosis, and often can't do much exercise (even walking can be difficult some days, although I do have days I can manage to do quite a bit.)

When they asked how many pounds I wanted to lose per week I wanted to put 5 pounds, but the app wouldn't let me. It explained that the most a person with my profile should lose per week is 2 pounds. I thought that was a bummer, but I did then say 2 pounds.

MyFitnessPal then calculated that I should eat no more than 1,270 calories per day, but no less than 1,000 calories. Fifty percent of those calories should be from carbohydrates, 20 percent from protein, and 30 percent from fat.

So yeah, I was loving me some MyFitnessPal. <grin>

Okay, each day I am supposed to look up the caloric count of the food I eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and snacks, and then app will tell me how I did for the day.

So, for my first day I had a 16 ounce green smoothie for breakfast. The calories were 306 calories. I even have my home-health aide, Brenda Munson Glover, on the green smoothie kick now! (That's her on the right!) Ingredients for my smoothies are listed at the bottom of this post.

For lunch I had 2 cups of Hot and Sour Soup. That was 350 calories.
I was writing that night, and had no dinner; but had 3 oranges throughout the day for an additional 210 calories.
So my total calories for the day was 866. Believe it or not, the app then gave me a lecture about not eating enough, and that I had to eat at least 1,000 calories a day for safe weight loss.
I couldn't believe an app would actually give me a lecture. I love it! LOL

Thursday, March 26th:
Breakfast:240 calories
1 medium orange - 70 calories
1 hot Italian sausage link - 170 calories

Lunch - 309 calories
green smoothie - 309 calories

Dinner - 555 calories
1 cup white rice - 205 calories
6 ounces Skirt Steak (steamed rare, with sliced onions and mushrooms)  - 350 calories

Total caloric intake for the day was 1,243.

The app seem pleased with me to be so close to 1,270 calories, and rewarded by me by saying that if I continued in this manner, I would be 277 pounds in 5 weeks.

Yeah, I like this app!

So, on Friday, March 27th I wasn't feeling well and slept late, missing both breakfast and lunch, but having steak, rice, and a green salad for dinner. Caloric intake was only 433, and I got a lecture. <sigh>

Saturday, March 28th  - I'm really glad I'm a good cook, because I know how to spice up food with things that have almost no calories, like  mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, garlic, etc. And also, when I want something, like duck a l'orange, I can make it myself and just count up the calories for the things I use to make the sauce (orange juice, brandy, cornstarch, sugar).

 I say all this to say I had duck a l'orange for dinner, with rice and broccoli. The dinner came up to 611 calories, (that was 4 1/2 ounces of the duck and sauce, one cup of rice, and one cup broccoli.), my breakfast and lunch came up to 289 and 350 calories, respectively, and so my total for the day was 1,269 calories. I was rewarded by saying if I kept it up I would be at 277 pounds in 5 weeks.

I did well up until last night. That's when my 6-year old niece, Anike,  and 8-year-old nephew, Akinseye, came over. My breakfast was the usual 307 calories, but lunch and dinner . .. whew! Lets just say pizza, chicken wings, soda . .. smh. I seriously considered either not inputting what I ate, or just lying. and making up something that would keep me within my caloric limitations.
But I thought about it, and the only person I would be cheating would be myself.
So, I did the right thing -- I recorded it on the MyFitnessPal app. My caloric intake for the day was 2,027; 757 calories over my limit.
But you know what? I'm glad I went so much over the limit, because it's reaffirmed my belief that I can do this. So yeah, I've only been on this diet for . . . what . . . 11 days and I already messed up, but I didn't cheat! I was honest, and I held myself accountable.

I know that I can do this, and that by June 20, 2016 -- my 58th birthday -- I will have lost at least 100 pounds.

Yeah. I can do this!

Green Smoothie Recipe: One handful of baby spinach, one stalk of celery (leaves and all), 1/8 of medium size lemon (with peel), 3 sections of medium size orange (without peel), 2 large chunks of fresh pineapple (without peel), 1/2 medium peach (with peel), 1-1/2 bananas (without peel), 1 tbsp Chia seeds.
All of the fruits should be bought fresh, and then frozen. This way you don't have to add ice to the smoothie to make it cold -- which only increases the volume.  - I started this daily smoothie regime in February, and since then I no longer have to take diabetes or high-blood pressure medicine.

P. S. Hope you'll leave comments!!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

My Weight-Loss Journey (Why I decided to undertake it, and why I've decided to share it.)

Some of you may remember me mentioning in a blog post a few years ago that I had decided to undergo gastric bypass surgery.
Well, because of various health issues (I have multiple sclerosis along with a few other issues), I put off pursuing the surgery until earlier this year.
In the meantime, I bought a Vitamix in January, and started drinking daily green smoothies in early February.
By March, people started telling my skin had taken on a glow; I no longer had to take diabetes medicine since my diabetes disappeared, and my blood pressure stabilized and I was taken off of high-blood pressure medication.
Also in early February I went to the required orientation for bypass surgery. The nurse who was giving the orientation was talking about what would be required of patients, both pre-surgery and post-surgery. One of the things she said was that patients would have to restrict their caloric intake to about 1,000 calories per day after the surgery in order to lose weight.
I raised my hand and asked: "Well, if that's the case, couldn't we just restrict our caloric intake now and just skip the surgery?"
There were seven people attending the orientation besides me. A few chuckled. At least one just went ahead and let out a long and loud laugh. The nurse gave me an amused look and said: "Well, obviously, if you were able to do that, you wouldn't be here, now would you?"
Now, for those who don't know me well, let me explain something . . . I have always had the belief that I could do anything.
I'm quite sure I could learn how to build a nuclear reactor and then build one -- I just choose not to.
Yes, I knew that caloric intake was a key factor in losing weight, but I never committed myself to learning about portion control and the science of counting calories because it seemed so much work and so hard to maintain that I always figured there had to be a better way.
Read the above paragraph again, please.
I never thought I couldn't do it, I just felt that if there was an easier route to weight-loss, I would just take that.
For the nurse to say that it "obvious" that I was incapable of restricting my caloric intake without the help of surgery, really bothered me. I didn't argue with her, nor did I say anything else during the remainder of the orientation. I was too busy thinking.

I was quite slim as a child and in my teens, and while I gained a few pounds in my late teens and early twenties. When I enlisted in the U. S. Navy in 1980, I was documented as five feet even, and 118 pounds.

But my weight slowly started creeping up in my mid-twenties. I was a whole 143 pounds (eek!) when I was twenty-seven and found out I was pregnant with my daughter. I went up to 195 pounds during my pregnancy, but three months after Camille was born -- in April 1987 -- I was back down to 147.
Three years later I was up to 165.
Thirteen years after that I was up to 210.
I then went on a carbohydrate limiting diet, and after only six months I was back down to 185, and quite proud of myself. I maintained that weight for a year but, then, in late 2004 . . .
 . . . I was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
So 2005 was a hectic year for me.

January, I threw an engagement party for my brother, Joe Quinones. I live in Philadelphia, and the party had to be held in Queens, NY since his fiancée's family lived there, so it was kind of difficult planning and transporting all the party stuff.
February, Found out I was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for my fourth novel, Ida B.
March, I flew to Los Angeles (I live in Philadelphia) to attend the ceremony. (I lost to T. D. Jakes.)
April, I had to go prom dress shopping for Camille who was about to go on her senior prom, two weeks later I had to cradle her in my arms when she was put on suspension (rightfully so, by the way) and couldn't attend the  prom.
May, I had to attend my daughter's high school graduation. And at the last minute at that. She had decided she was going to boycott the ceremony since Central High School had the nerve to ban her from the prom, but then at 10:00 the morning of the ceremony (which was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.)  she came into my bedroom to say she changed her mind. We hurriedly showered and dressed and drove downtown to the graduation, and got there 30 seconds after her name had been called. But her best friend grabbed her and said: "Don't worry, they haven't called my name yet. You'll just walk with me." So Camille walked with her, and I got to applaud my daughter receiving her high school diploma.
June, I underwent successful surgery to remove my brain tumor.
July, I wrote 25,000 words to meet my deadline and complete my fifth novel, Passin'.
August, I drove from Philadelphia to Atlanta to bring Camille to her new school, Clark Atlanta University. I stayed three days, shopping for furnishing for her dorm room, going to various orientations, etc. Then I drove back, alone, to Philadelphia.
September, I arranged and hosted the Rehearsal Dinner for my brother's wedding. Then participated, as a principal, in the elaborate (and so beautiful!) Yoruba wedding ceremony the next day. 

Dang if I remember the rest of the year, but I do know that by late December I weighed 215 pounds.
When I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, in 2008, I was 235 pounds.
By December 2014, I was 287. Yikes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, I go to that gastric bypass surgery orientation in February.  And I decide I don't need gastric bypass surgery.
I can do it on my own.
I can do anything, remember?

The reason I decided to document my journey?
Well, for one, I thought by letting everyone know what I was doing it, it would keep me from backsliding.
Secondly, I figure there might people who might benefit from reading what I'm doing. Maybe I can motivate them.

Or, maybe some folks will find it entertaining!

Either way, if you do decide to follow me on this journey, I hope you'll leave comments to let me know what you think!!