Anniversaries and a Local Connection to Libya

Hi All,

I’m really sorry I missed the Anniversary.  I wanted to bring balloons and a banner and have a real party but thankfully Scott wrote a nice post and the rest of you joined in with congratulations to ATiM and each other.  Next year we’ll have a big bash with music, speeches and lots of toasts.   I should be able to drink something stronger than apple juice by then.  I’ll just reiterate everyone’s appreciation of Brent and his morning reports and a heartfelt thanks to the rest of you who have taken the time to publish posts and participate in the comments and have also helped with the technical end of things.

Like many of you I’ve learned considerably more about subjects I wasn’t previously that familiar with, discovered interesting tidbits of information about each of you (an unfolding mystery), and personally confronted a few more short-comings in myself than I originally bargained for.  It’s been an interesting endeavor, so thanks everyone.  It’s true; I did tell Scott I hated him once (thanks for telling everyone….lol), about three years ago.  What he forgot to mention, or may have simply forgotten, is that I also apologized right away.  I realized even then, that although we were strangers (much more so then than now) and I didn’t appreciate or like what he was saying, he certainly didn’t deserve my hate.  I was embarrassed I’d even said it as I had gotten caught up in the moment of a heated exchange on health care reform, something I am very passionate about.  No excuses though, even as a few come to mind…………………….hahahahaha.

It’s been a rough year for me health wise, and I’ve been away from ATiM almost as much as I’ve been around.  I’m hopeful all that’s behind me now once I get caught up on my sleep and finish this last round of antibiotics, which I’m having a little trouble keeping down………yuck.   What I learned in the past six or seven months is that my efforts at being healthy my entire adult life didn’t protect me from a health threat I hadn’t anticipated or an unexpected depletion of our funds set aside for emergencies.  What I thought was, and probably should have been, a fairly routine bout of food poisoning in March got very complicated and damn near killed me.   It should be a lesson to all of us that we shouldn’t take our good fortune or good health for granted.   I do feel grateful though that I had some excellent doctors and nurses treating me, even though there were times they seemed more than a little stymied (slightly terrifying), and that I will recover and be as good as new again.  Well, as new as any 62 year old can be, that is.  I’m very cognizant of the fact there are a lot of people who can’t say that with certainty so I feel particularly blessed and more than a little bit lucky right now.

I was in the hospital last week with no access to the internet but I did follow the news a little and read the local newspaper.  I became fascinated with the story behind the so-called film that started, or was blamed for starting, all the trouble in the Middle East.  I’m a big proponent of free speech, as we all are, but it’s a shame so much of this tragedy swirls around what was essentially an alleged con-artist’s effort to stir up trouble and probably rip a few investors off.  I’m speculating here a little but I did have time yesterday to do some research, in between naps……lol.  I don’t know if anyone here has already covered this ground or not, as I haven’t had the chance to read through all the comments yet, but here are a few stories that I found particularly compelling.

Some of you may remember I commented here a couple of times that I quit participating in our local city council meetings and citizen commissions a couple of years ago when our conservative city aligned itself with Arizona’s volatile immigration bill.  One of the reasons I became so disillusioned was because there were outsiders (out of state even) around town agitating community members and our council members were swayed by their arguments.  One day last week I saw this guy’s photo in the paper and recognized him as one of those outsiders.  At the same time all of this was going on in 2010 some anti-Obama/anti-Muslim protesters set up a table just outside of the Post Office handing out fliers and propaganda and generally trying to stir up trouble.  Here’s the local story on this Klein character with the photo I saw.  And apparently the film maker is a CA man as well.

Steven Klein, owner of Wise Home Insurance Services, said he believes Muslim extremists control most of the mosques across the United States and that his intention is only to tell the truth.

A Cal State San Bernardino center that monitors extremist groups describes Klein as part of a national anti-Muslim hate movement.

Klein said he founded a group called Courageous Christians United after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks spurred him to get involved in what he called educating people about Islam. He said he later handed the group over to another person.

He then founded Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment, which also educates people about Islam, he said.

Although he has distributed literature about Islam, Klein said he did not attend protests against the building of a new mosque in Temecula in 2010.

But he said he and other members of Concerned Citizens for the First Amendment distributed leaflets on Islam in high schools across Southern California, including in Temecula, Corona, Murrieta, Norco and Menifee.

Klein said he has written on issues other than Islam, targeting illegal immigration, gays and lesbians serving in the military and Mormonism. But he said he has not attended or organized demonstrations on those issues.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate activity, on Wednesday put out a dossier on Klein. The center quotes him from his Facebook page in 2011 as saying Muslims “are a cancer that WILL attack us and KILL as many as they can to further the Islamic doctrine of Sharia law … Beware, there IS a holy war coming.”

I’m tempted to email all of these stories to the council members and my friend who is the Mayor Pro Tem right now, but I promised my husband I would stay out of it.  Small town politics can get pretty ugly as I’ve discovered anew in the last four years.

Here’s another piece I read that details more on the film-maker and highlights rather obviously that the initial media reports weren’t exactly accurate.  Apparently he’s a convicted meth cooker and scam artist still on probation and not of Israeli origin.  No wonder he went into hiding.

As an example of the early reporting, here is the opening of a top story in the Los Angeles Times, based on AP reporting: “An Israeli filmmaker based in California who made a movie belittling Islam’s prophet Muhammad that has ignited Middle East riots and led to the death of the U.S. ambassador in Libya says he is in hiding. Sam Bacile, 56, who described himself as an ‘Israeli Jew’ who develops real estate in California, told the Associated Press by phone that he went into hiding Tuesday after assaults by conservative Muslims on U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya.”

The AP, in an early report, flatly called Bacile “an Israeli fillmmaker.” Even Haaretz, the Israeli newspaper, published this under the headline, “Israeli Filmmaker in Hiding.”

The media accounts on “Bacile” slowly fell apart as the day wore on yesterday, as I documented here in update, thanks mainly to reporting by blog sites, including Gawker, Buzzfeed and Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic’s site. Then last night, the AP weighed in with an excellent report that seemed to track down the real Bacile, using some fine investigative techniques, and outed him as one Nakoula Basseley Nakoula (Basseley=Bacile, for one thing) in Cerritos, California.

And lastly, the LA Times with a little more background on the film’s producers.  A convict and an agitator deny their culpability now that the shit has hit the fan.

One ran a low-profile Christian charity from a sleepy suburb east of Los Angeles. The other was a financially strapped gas station operator just out of federal prison.

In the last year, these men, both Egyptian immigrants, became unlikely collaborators in an endeavor that has shaken the stability of the Middle East.

Joseph Nassralla Abdelmasih, the president of the Duarte-based charity Media for Christ, and Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a convicted felon from Cerritos, emerged Thursday as forces behind “Innocence of Muslims.”

Both men appeared to have gone into hiding Thursday. As the furor over the film grew, they and their associates have distanced themselves from the production. Nakoula told the Associated Press he was a logistics manager on the movie, not the director. He told a Coptic bishop Thursday that he had no role in it, the clergyman told The Times.

“He denied completely any involvement,” said Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles.

He [Nakoula] was convicted on state drug charges in 1997. In 2010, he was convicted in an identity theft scheme. According to the court file, Nakoula, who ran gas stations in Hawaiian Gardens, operated under a dizzying array of aliases, including Kritbag Difrat. He was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and was released last summer.

Somewhere in the links above is mentioned the lack of public interest in the film itself.  Apparently, there was a viewing of the entire film in a theater recently and no one showed up, literally, not a single person.  This kind of story is right up my alley but the really sad aspect to all of it is, of course, the loss of life.  The thing with free speech is that there are consequences and they generally rest on those who abuse the privilege.  Even if it is ultimately discovered, as the speculation now suggests, that the assault on the consulate was planned and carried out separately from the protests surrounding the youtube trailer of the film, the so-called film will always be associated with the deaths of at least four Americans.

Update 1……….I got a kick out of reading the diet and exercise talk among the guys yesterday but serious congrats to Kevin, McWing and FB’s wife for losing the weight.  Yellow won with the best comment though………OMG.  I’ve always been thin and not a big eater but I’ve gotten too thin this year and am trying to gain back some of the weight I lost.  I was doing pretty well and heading back up to 125 until a little over a week ago, now I get to start all over again as I weighed in at 115 this morning.  I’m still just under 5’9” and big boned so need to get back to about 135 if possible as that’s my healthy weight.  My husband got up to about 235 at 6’2” about 5 or 6 years ago but when he was diagnosed with gout he went on a really strict diet I designed for him and he really lost the extra pounds fast and eliminated the gout as well.  He’s around 200 now which seems to be maintainable and no complaints from the doctors, he’s a swimmer like me and we both ride the stationary bike and I walk our dog most days.  He missed a lot of his workouts earlier this year because of a broken leg but just cut his calories down to make up for it and it seemed to work.  I do most of the cooking and I can tell when he’s gaining a little weight so I just cook a bit differently and he doesn’t even seem to notice……….hahahaha.  I also know when he sneaks out to get a hamburger on the way to the bank or post office and cut back accordingly.

Update 2………….Just read this interview.  I think maybe someone should just wire Romney’s jaw shut at this point.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the film that seems to have sparked all this, the Innocence of Muslims film? Secretary Clinton today said she thought it was disgusting. How would you describe it?

MITT ROMNEY: Well, I haven’t seen the film. I don’t intend to see it. I you know, I think it’s dispiriting sometimes to see some of the awful things people say. And the idea of using something that some people consider sacred and then parading that out a negative way is simply inappropriate and wrong. And I wish people wouldn’t do it. Of course, we have a First Amendment. And under the First Amendment, people are allowed to do what they feel they want to do. They have the right to do that, but it’s not right to do things that are of the nature of what was done by, apparently this film.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ve seen General Martin Dempsey call Pastor Jones to say, “Please don’t promote this film.” You think that’s a good idea?

MITT ROMNEY: I think the whole film is a terrible idea. I think him making it, promoting it showing it is disrespectful to people of other faiths. I don’t think that should happen. I think people should have the common courtesy and judgment– the good judgment– not to be– not to offend other peoples’ faiths. It’s a very bad thing, I think, this guy’s doing.

Happy Saturday everyone!!!!!!!!!

Health Care Link Dump

Just wanted to post some of the recent health care news.  There’s also been an uptick in the number of SCOTUS ruling previews, but none of them are really all that insightful.  Just parlor game speculation.

Also, the White House has issued a veto threat on the medical device tax repeal bill.  [Edit:  Link to Statement of Administration Policy]

AHIP released a survey that found the number of people enrolled in health savings accounts and high deductible health plans has tripled over the last five years.  Survey is available here.  The Washington Post and Kaiser Health News recently profiled employers’ increasing use of high deductible health plans.  Most of these plans already covered a lot of the essential benefits stuff for free, even before the ACA, which I probably should have known.  The article is available here.

Medical costs are expected to rise by 7.5 percent in 2013, the fourth consecutive year of modest increases, according to a study released by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s Health Research Institute.   Four factors that will continue to slow the rise in medical costs in 2013: medical supply and equipment costs are moderating under market pressure; growth in physician services is expected to be one of the slowest areas of cost growth as consumers choose alternatives to traditional office visits; accessibility to information on prices is exerting downward pressure as consumers in high-deductible plans seek cost information and pricing information becomes more readily available; and pharmaceutical patents are expiring.  The study is available here.

The Washington Post and GAO on a ACA tax credit in that small businesses aren’t using due to the complexity of taking it.  article is available here.  The GAO report, “Small Employer Health Tax Credit – Factors Contributing to Low Use and Complexity” (GAO-12-549) is available here.

Video:  Former CMS Administrator says that premium support (aka vouchers) is going to happen.

Baby Boomers: Get Tested for Hep C

So says the CDC.

Apparently 75% of all hepatitis C cases are baby boomers.

More than 2 million U.S. baby boomers are infected with hepatitis C, accounting for more than 75 percent of all American adults living with the virus. Baby boomers are five times more likely to be infected than other adults. Yet most infected baby boomers do not know they have the virus because hepatitis C can damage the liver for many years with few noticeable symptoms. More than 15,000 Americans, most of them baby boomers, die each year from hepatitis C-related illness, such as cirrhosis and liver cancer, and deaths have been increasing steadily for over a decade and are projected to grow significantly in coming years.

This just hit my inbox and figured I’d pass it along. Hep C is passed primarily by blood-to-blood contact associated with intravenous drug use, poorly sterilized medical equipment and transfusions.   So use clean needles people.   Or not at all.

Whither Now, Komen, Part One

The last four days, starting with the Susan G. Komen For the Cure Foundation’s announcement on Tuesday that they were defunding the grants to Planned Parenthood, and culminating in their announcement yesterday that they were reversing that decision will undoubtedly become a case study for public affairs and marketing students for years to come.  In one fell swoop, the Komen Foundation removed itself from the pantheon of highly respected and highly influential (who else could get the NFL to adopt pink uniforms and the White House to bathe itself in pink light for a month?) charitable fundraisers and plunged into—in many eyes—the role of craven political player.  How did it come to this?  And what did/do the ground troops, all of us thousands of Komen volunteers, think about it?  And when did Michigoose become so dramatic???  In this first post (this is turning into a multi-part series) I’ll tell you what I know from direct knowledge (conference calls and group e-mails between Komen HQ in Dallas and the Affiliates that I participated in), second-hand knowledge from sources I trust (conversations with members of our Affiliate’s Board of Directors or other Race Directors around the country), and informed supposition, based on my years of experience working with Komen specifically and a couple of other volunteer organizations for comparison purposes.

First, a little background to give you context: I’m assuming that you are all at least peripherally familiar with Komen.  It is one of the great success stories of grass-roots organization and fund raising (come to think of it, it’s a really, really fine example of community organization—but I’m going to try to stay away from politics for the most part for this post)—in the beginning (1982) it truly was a 100% volunteer organization, growing out of Nancy Brinker’s dream for honoring her sister’s memory and bringing breast cancer out of the shadows and into the bright light of day.  You have to remember, it really was a whole different world back then when discussing breast cancer—Betty Ford announcing in 1974 that she had had a mastectomy was major news because nobody wanted to talk about “those” parts of a woman’s body in public.  In fact, for the first several years of its existence most media outlets wouldn’t let the Race for the Cure advertise itself as a “breast cancer” charity. . . all of which is a little hard to believe today.

Through a lot of hard work, networking, traveling and speaking anywhere and everywhere that she could, Nancy Brinker spread the concept of using a road race (and many of them early on were women-only events, which was also a radical idea) to raise money to fight a disease.  She also was very astute and realized that creating an easily-recognizable logo and slogan to create a “brand” would facilitate the fundraising and raise awareness of the cause.  Initially each Race was a separate entity and, since it was an all-volunteer organization, it was a little hit-and-miss about some things like how soon funds raised at a given Race made it to HQ in Dallas, how grantees were selected, how much money a given grantee received, etc..  Around about 2000 the Komen foundation had grown large enough—and now with a permanent HQ and staff in Dallas trying to get a better handle on things—that they requested an audit to find out what the money flow actually looked like, and one of the recommendations that grew out of that audit was that instead of being a central HQ overseeing a bunch of Races (which had also grown by this time to include things like Bowl for the Cure, Raft for the Cure, Golf for the Cure. . . you get the picture) they re-organize into Affiliates overseen by Boards of Directors at the local level in order to tighten things up.  In concept this was exactly the right thing to do—the local Affiliates decide what events work best for raising money in their area (for example, next weekend is our Romp to Stomp Out Breast Cancer—a snowshoe event sponsored by Tubbs with Komen’s blessing—but the Hawaii affiliate probably couldn’t pull a similar event off) and the local Boards do (among other things) the selection of grantees which will do the most good for their area.  Our grantees in SLC tend to skew toward the Native American and Hispanic populations, because they’re more underserved than the urban white population, remote/isolated populations (which may or may not overlap with the previous two), and the Huntsman Cancer Institute (full disclosure: the reason I was recruited to the UU was to work at HCI; I was there until 2004) because it’s the premier cancer research institute in the Intermountain West.

I said that “in concept” this was exactly what needed to be done, because almost immediately after reorganization we discovered what the 800-pound gorilla in the room was: Nancy Brinker—and, by extension, Komen HQ—is a micromanager par excellence, and an autocratic one at that.  To some extent that’s completely understandable; the foundation is named after her sister, she built it from the ground up, and she has been wildly successful at making it the premier fundraising entity (at least when it comes to a health issue) in the world.  But when you’re running an organization as large and diverse as the Komen movement has become (there are 120 Affiliates worldwide, about 110  118 of them are here in the US  Edit by Michi: Affiliate numbers corrected) you just can’t do it that way; you have to trust that your various Affiliates know their area and its needs better than you do.  Also along the way, Nancy became a highly influential person, courted by politicians and wealthy philanthropists alike (fundraising at that level is a very incestuous world from what I can tell) and now exists in a bit of a bubble.  Those two factors—micromanaging and now being (to coin a phrase) part of the 1%–are what I think led to this week’s debacle.

This is what happened.  In 2010 Komen hired a new Senior VP for Public Policy, Karen Handel.  While, to the best of my knowledge Nancy Brinker falls into the anti-abortion camp, Komen has always had a neutral stance toward political issues and particularly hot-button ones like abortion both because (as a non-profit) it has to and it’s just good common sense when you’re in the business of raising money to not choose sides.  Ms Handel has an extensive background working as a volunteer in various roles with Komen, some private sector background work experience, but the majority of her work experience has been in the political sector, staffing for Republicans (she was Marilyn Quayle’s Deputy Chief of Staff when Mrs Quayle decided to make breast cancer awareness one of her platform issues) and then running for and holding office in her own right.  Her most recent campaign, which she lost and led to her joining Komen HQ, was for Governor of Georgia and she was a vocal opponent of abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research (although that, to me, just sounds like standard Republican candidate boilerplate).  Nonetheless, Komen had just hired a fairly prominent politician who was on record as being strongly anti-abortion into a position that responsible for directing policy for the Komen Foundation. . . and she made no bones about the fact that she wanted Komen and Planned Parenthood to part ways.  The grants that Komen made to Planned Parenthood are a tiny amount of what Komen does—remember, only 19 Affiliates (out of more than 100) had given grants to PP this grant cycle—and the grants are largely not even money, but credits for use at the Komen Store to buy things like those laminated cards that you can hang in the shower to help you do a breast self-exam correctly.  But the fact that PP was granted anything was anathema to her, and she was bound and determined to put a stop to it so she developed the policy denying grants to entities that were under investigation.

The policy was announced to the Affiliates in December—after the grants had already been awarded—and there was immediate blowback from the field.  Komen HQ was warned, repeatedly and without mincing any words, that this was a bad idea on many fronts but the biggest two were that (1) the grants would have to be defunded, which would undoubtedly make the news on the local level at least, and (2) this would be seen as a political statement.  We warned them!  Headquarters stuck in their heels, however, and basically told the Affiliates to sit down and shut up because they knew best, so after a month’s worth of conversation which became more and more one-sided Komen made their announcement on Tuesday.  This is where Nancy’s bubble comes in to play—she honestly seems to have not understood what this would sound like, how it would be perceived, and what the backlash was going to be like.  On a conference call on Wednesday she couldn’t fathom where the Affiliates were coming from, because she’d been told that phone calls and e-mails were running two-to-one in favor of the new policy while we were telling her that they were running more along the lines of eight- or nine-to-one against the policy.  Even here in conservative little SLC it was eight-to-one against.  Then she compounded her error by going on TV to be interviewed by Andrea Mitchell on Thursday morning and couldn’t keep her story straight from one sentence to the next about what the decision was, how it had been made, and why the policy had been changed.  Thursday afternoon on a conference call all seven of the California Affiliates and the Denver Affiliate (Denver is the largest one—their Race draws 60,000+ participants every year) dropped a bomb: if HQ didn’t back off they were going to quit en masse.  This was the straw which turned into a major log which broke the camel’s back—that autocratic micromanagement had come home to roost.  With a vengeance.

So, on Friday, the retraction and apology.  Here we’ve received a grand total of two phone calls from people angry at Komen for going back, but the LA Affiliate has received a bomb threat.  Saturday Monday at 10:00 there will be a conference call between Komen HQ and our Affiliate Board of Directors (they’re calling each individual Affiliate now to try to mend bridges and figure out the way forward), so the drama continues to some extent.  (Edit by Michi: they talked yesterday.  Haven’t heard anything yet, but [from my point of view] there isn’t really anything to hear; I’ll keep you posted with anything I can)

Next up:  What I think the politics of the situation are now.

On Being Fat

When I was a little boy, I was a normal kid, at a normal weight. I was a rambunctious male child from a divorced household, and, today, I’m sure, I would have been put on Ritalin. My mother, while not maternal, was very health conscious, and kept the food in the house normal, but healthy. There were not a lot of sugary snacks or sugared drinks.

However, I liked to eat, and would find ways to do so. I have the sort of metabolism that packs on the pounds, so after 2nd and 3rd grade, I became kind of chubby. And while I put on some weight through 6th grade, I wasn’t morbidly obese. But I felt fat. When I was skinny—and, after a 4 month stint in boarding school environment where my food consumption was tightly controlled, I was skinny—I still felt fat.

My mother spent a year in France when I was in 7th grade, so I began to live with my father full time. The food there wasn’t as healthy, and I put on more weight. By the time I was in high school, I weighed 300 pounds. After a few years of that, I got tired of it. I started eating less, without a specific goal, with just the idea of eating a little bit less and being a little more healthier, and maybe losing a little weight. I’d still be fat, of course, but I wouldn’t be quite as fat.

At about the same time, my best friend dropped out of school and was rail-roaded into the Coast Guard. Although he was skinny as a rail, a lot of my most egregious over-consumption I did with him. Since he was gone, I just stopped consuming bags of chips and entire tubes of cookie dough in a single sitting.

I smoked like a smoke-stack then–now, I had done that for years, but now it provided me a handy alternative to eating so much. Also, they were menthols, so they were flavorful, as well. But I think the most important thing was that I had resigned myself to being fat, and was only trying to ease up a little bit. I wasn’t going to be skinny–I wasn’t ever going to be skinny. It was an absurd thought. But I could lose a little weight, come down a few sizes. In any case, I could certainly get by on a little less food and eat a little healthier.

By the time I had lost 80 lbs, it occurred to me that I could, in fact, be skinny. And I became so. My freshmen year at college, I went from 215 or so at the beginning of the year to 185 at the end. I had continued to wear baggy clothes, my hair had remained unkempt, and despite having lost 100 pounds over about 16 months, nobody at that point had really noticed*. However, a few changes to my wardrobe, grooming, and a little more exercise over the summer made a big difference. At the beginning my sophomore year, I was now thin and fit, to the point where I got a few audible gasps. I relished getting together with old friends from high school who had not seen me for a year, and seeing their shock (this does eventually get old, when people you don’t even remember come up to tell you how fat you used to be, but at first, I loved it). And even good friends see you in a different way when you’ve lost 100 pounds.

I finally felt skinny. I believe it was over the summer, or at the beginning of my sophomore year. I would have weighed around 175, and was preparing to go out to Rocky Horror. Looking in the mirror, I noticed that I did not have a double chin. No doubt, this had been true for months, but this was the first time I really noticed it. I nodded my head. Still no double chin. I practically had to break my neck to produce anything that resembled a second-chin**. God bless! I was thin!

And I stayed thin for quite a while. I had assumed it would be the case for the rest of my life, and that I had that puppy licked (ah, hubris). But I stayed thin, actually getting down to 150 at one point (of course, I could not actually consume any calories to maintain this weight, so that did not last long). But I hovered between 175 and 185 for years. After working for a year, a crawled up to 195. As my wife-to-be an I moved in together, I put on another 10 lbs, and hovered between 220 and 210 for several years. Then, my wife got pregnant, and I gained 40 lbs. While I managed to get down a little from 250, she got pregnant (again!) and I surpassed it. I been as high as 275 . . . never quite 300 pounds, again, but more than 100 pounds over my idea college weight.

There’s a lot I could note about my first years of svelteness (and I suspect, though cannot confirm, that going from being very fat and fit and trim is a great deal more enjoyable than simply having been thin and fit from the outset), but I’ll just note one. The issue of weight, and how I had managed to end up as overweight as much as I did in high school, continued to occupy my mind. A lot of my writing at the time dealt with both direct and indirect psychological introspection. Specifically, songs like Big Fat Geek (I weighed 170 lbs when I wrote it), Fat, Fat (probably around 180, when I wrote it), My Big Fat Friend, with lots of other stuff that touched on similar themes without being quite so direct.I thought I had a great handle on my inner psychology that drove me to over eating and sedentary behavior . . . but, as time would demonstrate, I was a little cocky. Because, while I’m around 260 now (and, slowly, descending, but there’s no rush), I’ve spent a lot of time in the past 5 years around 270 and sometimes has high as 275. If you have told me my junior year of college that, at 40, I’d weigh over 270 and be routinely hoarding snacks in my desk like a chipmunk putting away nuts for winter, I would have told you to go fuck yourself and punched you in the face. Yet, you would have been right, and I would have been a tad hubristic and over optimistic in my projections.

There’s been a lot of dieting since leaving college that I haven’t chronicled. And a lot of eating. Sufficed to say, I have always gained that weight back. And usually in short order, and usually a little more besides. On more than one occasion, I’ve attempted to recapture the state of mind I was in when I lost so much weight from Christmas of 1986 to mid-1988. And it’s been very difficult. But, I’m trying again.

In this case, I’ve gone this way before, but I’m having a little better luck (so far), in that I’m not dieting. I’m just trying to change my eating habits. While I want to lose weight, the goal is to change my eating habits, and do so in increments. So far, this has worked all right. I remind myself that it’s a process of conditioning.

I greatly enjoyed Joel Spitzer’s Never Take Another Puff method of quitting smoking. An important point he makes is that it’s important not to confuse your withdrawal a day, a week, or a month into the process of quitting with how things will be in a year. It’s different for everybody; I’ve quit smoking enough to know it takes me about six weeks to get past the general addiction and, even then, I sometimes still really want a cigarette (if this weren’t true, I wouldn’t have had to quit smoking more than once).† When I remember I’m not trying to diet, specifically (if I don’t lose weight this week, that’s fine) but attempting to recondition myself in regards to how I eat, I have to remember: a lot of what I’m feeling is because my body is used to being fed a lot of calories, and that my body will eventually adjust. I felt fine for a long time eating a very modest diet; I know I can get by with much less.

I am trying not to confuse how I feel when trying to manage day to day life while feeling out-of-sorts, punchy, or light-headed with a state of permanence, and trying to focus on the things I enjoy about eating less (my sense of smell improves, bizarrely, and scents become much more sensual–that is, if they’re pleasant).

So, we’ll see how this approach works. I’ve fallen off the wagon, in regards to overeating, more times than I can count. Because I have an appetite, and I enjoy eating, and tend to over do it. But I’m focusing more than usual on changing eating habits first. No more second breakfast for me!

So, anybody else here overweight? Struggled with dieting? Fit and svelte, but formerly fat? I often debate politics and movies and economics and whatnot but, the fact is, nothing has much more impact on the day-to-day quality of my life than both what I eat, and how much I weigh (despite my undying love of cheese burgers, I miss the lightness and mobility of weighing 185, and try to keep that foremost in my mind when the leftovers in the refrigerator start calling my name).

There is more to be said: I suspect some, though not all, the migraines that I get would be gone with the wind, if I maintained a low calorie, low-consumption diet. I can tell you from experience, people who struggle with their weight really do struggle with it, even if to some they only seem fat and lazy (but I can understand why some people might think that). I wonder how much of the perceived negatives (for me) of low food consumption, and low blood sugar, are psychological. Am I oversharing? But . . . I’ll dip into that in the comments, if anybody is interested in discussing eating habits and weight history on an ostensibly political blog.

But, then again, it is called all things in moderation.

* In fact, we usually make a huge deal about our weight, when wardrobe and grooming actually make as much, if not more, and impact on how we are perceived by others. If I found myself waking up in my 300 pound high school body back in 1984, the first thing I’d do is upgrade my wardrobe and grooming habits).

** Ah, the wonders of youthful skin elasticity. While there was nothing to be done about my flabby stomach–300 lbs is too much stretching, and you’re never going to have six-pack abs after that without cosmetic surgery–I was able to rebound from being 300 lbs in high school to having a nice, tight firm skinny little neck by the beginning of my sophomore year in college. This would not be the case now, alas.

† At some point, I may do a post on smoking. I don’t know how many former smokers we have here, but I’ve got a few things to say about smoking, about enjoying smoking, about quitting smoking, and not being great about “never taking another puff” even though, of course, once you’ve gone through the trouble to quit, you know you’ll just have to go through it all over again the minute you pick up a cigarette.

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