This is going to be a weekly digest that touches on a lot of topics. You will see some non-scale victories, some struggles, celebrations, reflections on history and colonialism, cooking fun, and the inevitable accountability for my progress or lack thereof.  Let’s get right into it: 

I like to spare all of you the waiting and tell you right up front how the week went.  This issue of the Weekly Digest covers two weeks and they were good in many respects, but the scale was unkind to me.  In short, here it is:  I ate pretty well, and exercised pretty well, but the scale ended up rocketing up 5 lbs over the two weeks.  So I am now at 217 pounds lost.  However I did actually lose an inch in the midsection, so it’s likely a combination of stress, water retention, perhaps muscle gain, etc. 

Analysis Paralysis:

I have come to a place where where I don’t really feel a need to examine this too deeply to analyze what is going on.  It’s important to acknowledge that the body sometimes just has it’s own rhythms and will retain weight until it is ready to release it.  However, I know there are a few things I can do to improve upon my week.  Eat a little cleaner, strive to exercise a little more – but most importantly just keep myself in a positive frame of mind and moving forward in the best way possible. 

Not Always A Pile of Hogwash:

I know that many of you have heard all kinds of people talk about positive mental attitude and use a litany of tag lines, cliches or sayings to illustrate that point.  I’m not sure if the reasoning is clear, so I’ll just say it.  Sometimes when our results don’t match our efforts – when the output doesn’t match the input -or when the scale doesn’t reflect the hard work we have done – we don’t always have the answer as to why.  That’s correct – I don’t know why.  I can guess, estimate, analyze and try to find something that stands out as a possible reason, but ultimately we just don’t know. 

So …in the event that we don’t have a clear reason, we have to tell ourselves to just keep going.  We can’t get discouraged or get depressed because we don’t understand why we gained a pound or two.  We check the basics – exercise, portions, calories, etc …and when we are within our parameters, you just have to keep going.  I have come a long way – over 215 pounds – by sticking to my system, and it works for me.  So whatever system you are using, if you can get it to work for you then just stick to it through the tough times.   Don’t over-analyze, don’t get down, don’t beat yourself up.  There’s no need – fluctuations and plateaus are a part of the process.  When you hear the platitudes and the cliches, understand they serve a purpose and it’s all about keeping your perspective in check and your spirits high.

Winter Coat Blues:

With winter upon us, and the temps start to rocket towards the bottom of the thermometer, I needed to check on what my closet contained for winter coats.  I was surprised at how big the coat was that I wore even just last winter.  It was so big it wasn’t going to work for me.  I started going through other coats and was shocked to see that they ALL were too large!  I even pulled out a leather jacket I have had since college and THAT was too large.  That moment – when I realized how far I have come – that non-scale victory – that feeling; that is what victory feels like.  I want more of that.  I have farther to go and while it is going slowly, I am getting there.

Natalie’s Birthday

Had a great opportunity to celebrate my friend, Natalie Shafer’s birthday with other friends.  It was a ton of fun and I really enjoyed the time out.  I had the rare opportunity for some chat time with Sarah Stevens, and typically, we ended up coming up with a bandying about a bunch of great ideas.  You know what I am talking about – when you slip into that creative space and all kinds of possibilities for doing good open up right before your eyes.  Those moments are rare and incredibly fun when they happen.

In addition to having some great time with Natalie, the birthday girl, I had a chance to visit with Gary Schmidt and Brian Lindstrom as well. It was an evening filled with meaningful conversation, supporting and celebrating friends.  I can’t get enough of that kind of thing!

friends
The group of us celebrating Natalie’s Birthday
me and natalie
Me with the birthday girl! Happy Birthday Natalie!
me and brian
Sporting divine threads with my friend Brian Lindstrom

Gearing Up For Baking Season:

butter
Holy piles of baking butter, Batman!

Christmas season is upon us, and for me, that means cookie brittle baking! (You can find that epic recipe right here.)  So knowing that my grandmother’s cookie brittle recipe is always in great demand, I have been stocking up on supplies ahead of time.  I hadn’t realized how much I had been squirreling away until I looked in my chest freezer and saw the stack of butter I had been stockpiling.  I have to admit I find the task enjoyable.  Knowing I am doing something that perpetuates one of my grandmother’s signature desserts and I can share it with my friends and family makes me feel good.  

Thanksgiving and a Legacy of Colonialism:

As I write this, Thanksgiving is only a day away.  Thanksgiving is a holiday I have grown up with as a an opportunity to celebrate the things for which we are thankful. In contemporary terms, it’s always been a day where my family gives thanks for each other and our health and welfare.  But my years working in the Native American community, and the friends I have made there, have led me to an understanding that Thanksgiving is not a positive holiday for everyone.  Many of my Native friends see this day as a day of mourning and a day to reflect on the impact of colonialism on indigenous peoples.

Having seen, first hand, the impact of generational trauma and the struggles that the Native community endures linked to colonialism, it’s indeed a sobering reality. Our history books don’t teach us about that, and I am not qualified to speak on the Native experience or the historical disparity between the rosy narrative we are taught in school, and the reality of what happened. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

What I can do is acknowledge that a disparity exists and encourage others to seek out knowledge and build understanding.  To that end, I would first suggest that simply googling the issue is a good way to find reading on the topic. There are many Native authors that are a good resource, like Anton Treuer.  Here are a few resources to get you started, the first being a history, the others being some reflections on what it is like being Native on this day:

https://blog.nativehope.org/what-does-thanksgiving-mean-to-native-americans

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/native-american-thanksgiving_n_5bf594b5e4b03b230f9df6ad?fbclid=IwAR30nvXc1MSAXZPwQQtv4PBTls1RDn8LUKtJMTkbP-zt9X3UGkyT22FO_N0

Being Thankful:

So as this day approaches I want to give a shout out to the people that work in the many Native communities, and have dedicated their lives to moving the needle on issues that impact Native families. It’s important and heavily under-funded work.  There are many, many people that come to mind when I think about this, and a few very special people that have taught me much.  So Wahbon Spears, Tammey Skinaway, Janeen Comenote, Patina Park, Joe Hobot, Jay BHB, and many others …Thank you for the work you do, you all have my deepest admiration and appreciation.     

Mom Update:

mom
A day with mom – she is doing great!

For those that know, mom is doing great and improving rapidly.  One of the battles we have been waging is the need to increase mom’s protein intake.  Traditional sources of protein are not always a good solution because she has problems with chewing.  So the hospitals have always used Boost or Ensure as a solution or dietary supplement.  By looking at the ingredients on these products I was struck by how much sugar is in them.  The protein on the boost (20g) is really pretty good, but there is still so much sugar and not nearly the broad nutrient support in the Isagenix shakes I use.  The biggest issue is whether or not the extra step of making a shake is something that will inhibit the user. 

Under the “something is better than nothing” banner, I’m inclined to just make sure we have the best quality Boost drinks in her fridge for her – but knowing there is a better solution out there that delivers more protein (24g) and is a good meal replacement, with a ton of nutritional value,  makes me want to graduate mom to that.  The secret, I think, would be finding an easy way for her to make the shakes.  With limited energy and strength, she couldn’t use a traditional bullet blender – so I have found a better powered option that might make preparation and cleanup much more simple.  It’s a strange conundrum, but I continue to explore alternatives.  If any of you have ideas, reach out and let me know!   

Intake:

Snacks
Making smart snacking choices is essential. Here we have a little celery and hummus!

Intake over the two weeks was pretty good.  I had one day where I was at 1625 calories, all the rest were under 1500.  Most of the days were even right around 1400.  So I felt good about that.  I made a good effort to eat clean, and really felt like I did well.  Of course, there were some instances of small snacking on peanut butter, and a few chocolate chips, but all in moderation.  I suspect that in the course of my dinner meals there might have been a bit much of salt and perhaps some sugars.  That’s the downfall of a sweet tooth.  Just the same as every week, I always feel there is room for improvement.  The fact that I feel good about how I ate these last two weeks also fuels my confusion over my results.  But as I said earlier, there is little choice but to move on and keep going.  

Exercise:

My exercise levels over these last two weeks has been decent but I feel like it’s just a little bit down from the summer. I suppose that is natural, but I still need to find ways to stay active more than I am.  In week 1 I was on the elliptical for 60 mins, did 6.5 miles of walking and did two weight lifting sessions.  In week 2 I was on the elliptical for 90 mins, walked 3 miles and did 3 weightlifting sessions.  Essentially I am trying to do something 6 days out of 7 – and each day I , generally, do either 30-40 mins on the elliptical machine, 3 miles walking at the mall (which takes about an hour) or a free weight session at home that lasts about 25 to 30 minutes not including a 10 to 15 minute warmup on the elliptical. 

My goal in coming weeks will be to expand my exercise routines to include some more dynamic cardio routines and free weight routines. There are a few good folks on YouTube that have short exercise videos that have been great to follow along with – so I likely will continue to explore that to add more in-home routines.

My Take-Away:

This week’s take-away is rather sobering compared to other weeks. Most often you hear me talk about how it’s important to keep focused on the goal and keep grinding away towards that point of focus. And while that doesn’t really change week to week, my thoughts are swirling in different orbits this week.

This week I am thinking about the disparity in experience between being a minority in the US and part of the majority culture. For a country that has created a national holiday around the bounty that this continent has to offer, and how fortunate we are for that bounty, the existing educational, health and employment disparities with almost any minority group are staggering. But topping the list are Native people. That makes me question the status quo.

America: How Great Is It?

In a survey of modern advanced nations, the statistics – mostly sourced from OECD data (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)- show some enlightening realities for the United States.

  • 18% of the US population lives in poverty. That’s 12.8 million children. It is the highest poverty rate of OECD countries eclipsed only by Israel.
  • In science, the US is 19th of 36 countries.
  • Reading the US is 20th.
  • In math the US is 30th.
  • The US is 27th in per-capita spending for healthcare. That’s more money out of your individual pocket for healthcare than 26 other OECD nations.
  • Globally, the US is 56th in infant mortality rate.
  • 32.8% of our population is obese – compared to 19.8% of the rest of the world.
  • Only 56% of Americans vote compared to 80% of citizens in Australia or Denmark.

The US is #1

The news isn’t all bad …the US is actually #1 in several areas:

  • The US spends more on it’s military than the next 8 nations combined.
  • Civilian gun ownership
  • Mass shootings
  • TV watching
  • Prescription drug abuse
  • Prison population
  • and #2 in environmental damage behind China.

I can hear you right now …why am I bashing the US? I’m not – I love this country just like many others. But we have a problem here, and it’s time we face it and work on fixing it. When healthcare, education and safety are increasingly privatized or driven by privilege, the truth of our country is that how great America is really depends on your personal wealth. I find this to be antithetical to the spirit of Amercia. We can do better than this hypocrisy.

And with those closing thoughts, I’m done for this week my friends. I hope you all have a safe and pleasant weekend with friends and family, and reflect on the love and giving of all those around you.

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