The Weight Of The World

 Oh, boy. (photo by Dan Landrum)

Oh, boy. (photo by Dan Landrum)

Weight A Minute

It's a beautiful Sunday morning in Orlando, not a cloud in the cobalt-blue sky.  The first cardinals of the season are flitting by the window as I finish my breakfast of four scrambled eggs, one piece of wheat toast with butter and apple butter (turns out, there's no butter in apple butter) and coffee.  On the Weight Watchers plan, that comes out to 4 total points thanks to recent adjustments to their new Freestyle program.  

Over 200 foods are now zero points, part of the Weight Watchers goal to get you eating more fruits, veggies, lean protein, and less sugar and unhealthy fats. The full list of foods was brought down to earth from the heavens by two doves bearing a golden banner in their beaks.  Shellfish. Zero points.  Turkey. Zero.  Chicken, eggs, yogurt. Zip.  You can't go hog-wild and eat all you want of the zero points foods, but you can spread out your allotted daily points much further with the addition of these items.  It's made it easier to plot each day's menu, using zero points foods as the mainstays while allowing for tastes of other foods which carry a point cost.

Though I've been using the Weight Watchers For Men plan for a number of years, I've tended to go off track while on summer tour.  Long spells of sitting and driving with little exercise, coupled with a tendency to discover good Mexican food all over the country, usually results in weight gain beginning in July and rising to a peak in August before I come home in the fall feeling like I need a fitness boot camp.  And after shooting episodes of "Dulcimerica" all summer or seeing Facebook photos that people have taken, I usually catch a glimpse of myself through a lens and realize "crap, I've gotten way off plan", which results in an intense fall season of getting myself back into shape again.

What's helped in recent years has been the addition of Fitbit.  As an ADHD sufferer, checklists, tasks and sticky notes are an aid to keep me on point and functioning even as my brain is sketching out.  The Fitbit Charge 2, with its step reminder function and community challenges, is an awesome motivator that nags me into action if I've been sitting too long.

Currently, I'm within seven pounds of my target weight and I plan on adjusting my WW plan to maintain weight once I reach that goal.  Then, I'll be starting a weight-training regimen to build up muscle mass and tone.  The science of Weight Watchers isn't magic, it's just common scientific sense: burn more calories than you eat.  And if you run out of points, exercise to get more.

 In 1990 as a tour guide at Universal Studios Hollywood (photos by Lara Grant)

In 1990 as a tour guide at Universal Studios Hollywood (photos by Lara Grant)

The other thing I love about WW is that you don't have to buy their meals or go to the meetings - you don't even need to avoid certain foods.  So, if you want to use four of your points on those delicious Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry Shortbread Cookies, then you can jolly well smack 'em into your face and not have guilt about it. 

I've always been prone to over-indulging, that's part and parcel of the ADHD, but that's also because I didn't understand the science of eating.  Look through my old photos and I'm usually round-faced, slightly puffy, but not what most people would consider "overweight" or "obese." Just "not slim."  I always felt the effects of the extra pounds, though, and it wasn't until I began to research solutions that I realized how much work needed to be done (that and my metabolism has been joining the ranks of other slowing, tired metabolisms as they creep into advanced ages.)

So, thanks for all of the "you look great!" comments.  It's always a good thing to look great but it's an even better accomplishment to feel great. 

A Quick Thought (or twelve) On Being A Person Of Many Cultures

 At 51, I'm the healthiest that I've ever been!

At 51, I'm the healthiest that I've ever been!

At The Celtic Family Jamboree this year, I had a great conversation with a young lady who approached me with, "can I ask you a nosy question?"  She wanted to know about my ethnic background, a query that I'm used to receiving, and her reason had to do with another important question: "how do you know which part of your multicultural heritage to identify with the most strongly?"

Such a great question.

Growing up, I simply assumed that I was a light-skinned person of African descent, living in a middle-class black household.  But, somehow, I wasn't "black enough" for the other darker-skinned kids.  I not only didn't look like them but I didn't speak in the same manner and was called an "Oreo" (a derisive term meaning "black on the outside, white on the inside.) I was obviously not caucasian and certainly not latino, so fitting in just wasn't in the cards.  I learned to be alone in that respect, though I had a really deep affinity for European and Celtic cultures.

Imagine my surprise when my grandmother informed me that my Great Grandfather, Valley Futch, had been a Native American.  It wasn't until years later, after taking the DNA test at 23andMe.com that my full history unfurled itself.  64.4% African.  Okay, that wasn't shocking in the least.  But what followed certainly was.  34% European, which included British, Irish, German, Norwegian, Belgian and Scandinavian (well, that explains the fondness for koldtbords, lederhosen and Ulster Fry.) The real eye-opener was the 0.8% of Native American heritage.  

 A portion of my ethnic make-up from 23andme.com 

A portion of my ethnic make-up from 23andme.com 

In recent years, I have identified more with the Seminole Indian tribe because I actually found my Great-Great Grandmother on the 1926 Dawes Roll of Civilized Tribes.  Was able to trace the roots on my father's side from south Florida all the way up to Mississippi and then Michigan.  I had known that the original Futch family were European immigrants who held plantations in Florida and that they must've been kind to their slaves because, when freed, they retained the surname of their previous owners before marrying into Seminole Indian tribes.  

According to my 34% European ancestry, they must've been a lot more than just kind.

So, I've moved through this world, vaguely black, persecuted as a black person by non-blacks and rejected as a black person by some blacks.  I've plumbed the depths of my Native American heritage, going so far as to personally ask Seminole Chief James Billie about the Futch Family (he had lots of good info) and I'm not even sure where to begin with my European heritage, though every person of Irish and Scottish descent I've met has welcomed me as a brother.  So, what part of my ethnicity do I identify with the most?

It's a question that shudders and shakes within the well-spring of my spirit as I sit in a darkened theater watching "Black Panther" this past weekend.  It's a question that rolls on as I contemplate the implications of "Get Out."  The same question tears at me with every Black Lives Matter dust-up or Standing Rock throw-down.  Who are my people?  Where's home?  What do I represent?

In talking with this young lady, I found her questions to be similar to my own and though she was seeking wisdom from someone she perceived to be at peace with his multicultural mix, I had to answer that her questioning path was pretty much the same as my own.  I told her that I try to identify with what speaks to me the strongest.

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I identify with the plight of the African torn from the motherland.  I identify with the indigenous people, run over by the engine of Manifest Destiny.  I identify with immigrants who left their countries to discover what this America thing was all about.  And I identify with the millions of multicultural folks, the walking melting pots, who struggle to find ground zero for their self-realizations.  Ultimately, multiculturalism is a multple-choice test where all of the answers are correct.  Yes, we are all these things, but we are more than the sum of our parts.  We are a collective of ethnic orphans that represent a changing world, one that transitions from pure-blooded assignments of culture to Heinz 57 baskets of ever-swirling possibilities.  

 By the way, "Black Panther" is a great film that just happens to be filled with black people.

By the way, "Black Panther" is a great film that just happens to be filled with black people.

Every once in a while, my 23andMe.com account adds more data and another nationality will pop up in my file.  Who's to say that the pure of blood are truly pure?  Perhaps there is more of a mix going on there than anyone truly realizes.  

In the end, we are all citizens of the planet, not just our country of residence.  Perhaps this growing multicultural shift has got some purists (of blood, not heart) freaking out and invoking the Spirit of Xenophobia to keep their respective races from being infiltrated and compromised.  The borders of our countries are not the same as the boundaries around our hearts.  As long as we continue to think in abstract and absolutist terms, we'll never get past the "separate but equal" mentality.  As human beings of flesh, blood, mind and spirit, we are all of the same race.  To quote Rudyard Kipling, "we be of one blood, ye and I."  Close your eyes and we suddenly seem a lot more alike.

Am I thrilled with "Black Panther" and its uplifting, positive portrayal of Africans?  Hell, yes. Am I stoked with Jordan Peele's multiple Oscar nominations for a film that re-opened an important racial dialogue?  Absolutely.  Do I extoll the virtues of Gemülichkeit and alternately toast audiences in both German and Gaelic? Yup.  How do I identify?

As a 21st century human being learning to navigate through the cosmos on this, our Spaceship Earth.

 

 

 

Bing FutchComment