Automatic Fact Checking Doesn’t Exist

A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.

– Winston Churchill

Dear friends,

When you post a “news” article, please verify the truth of that article using an objective source. Over recent months I have seen ridiculous misinformation and outright lies circulated as truth from a variety of sources and on a variety of topics – everything from health and environmental issues to religious and political issues on every side of every argument. An statement’s appearance in an article in print or on the internet does not make it true.

I have this blog, right? I got the name and site in about 15 minutes for about $30 dollars a year. I could have named it any available domain name – iknoweverything.com, foodfacts4real.com, middletnnewswatch.com, whatever – and I could have filled it with any content I chose. I can write or say anything that strikes my fancy. Guess who fact checks my posts. Me. I do. There is literally no one other than yours truly who makes certain that my statements are true or that they can be verified before I post them up for the world to see and share. I can say that the Mayan god Gukumatz was a time-traveling surfer dude a la Jeff Spicoli. I can say people of Nordic descent will soon have to start wearing winged helmets at all times. I can say that six lemon drops qualify as a serving of fruit. I can say that global warming can be reversed if we all keep open refrigerators on our front porches. I can say anything! My pants will not spontaneously ignite.

I can say anything! And someone will post it.

I have told (and will continue to tell) you that I am an expert only in my own experiences and ideas. Because I am not a dietitian, nutritionist or doctor, and because it is important to me to share valid information, I back up my statistics from reputable sources like the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Disease Control and the like. Not all bloggers will do that. Not all journalists do that.

Be smart. Be wary. Verify.

For instance, these memes are two that I regularly see making the rounds:

ewan-mcgregor

That is not Jesus, people. That is Ewan McGregor as Obi Wan Kenobi. While he is surely as handsome as a matinee idol, that does not give him actual deific status.

tropic-thunder-cast

And that is the cast of the movie Tropic Thunder. They are not now, nor have they ever been, Vietnam War veterans. You honor no one by posting this picture – no one except Kirk Lazarus who was a dude, playing a dude, disguised as another dude.

While these examples are silly, there are many  more false news stories out there that are inflammatory and which do nothing to edify us as people or as a nation. So, before you share that article which confirms your personal bias, make sure it confirms truth, as well.

Ignorance shouted and shared is still ignorance. If we cannot make all of our posts edifying, let’s at least make them true.

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What Does The M Stand For?

Guys, this post is mostly for the ladies; so, you can stop reading now, if you like – unless, that is, you’re one of those super curious men who wants to gain some kind of understanding into why your lady turns into a hormonal monster for three days a month. If you’re one of those guys, be welcome; but, be warned – this ain’t for the faint of heart, sugar.

MI was silent all last week; but, no worries, I’m still here and I’m still fighting the good fight. The week was particularly challenging since I was struggling with PMS while trying to maintain some kind of healthy eating habits. For me, PMS is what the medievals used to call a shape-shifter. No Mild, Meek, or Mirthful for my M. No, sir! My M goes for Melancholic, Mighty hungry, Mean Monster! Not usually all at the same time, mind you. Shape-shifter that it is, it changes from month to month and from hour to hour within the month. Some months I want salty, some months it’s sweets. Some months I’m exhausted – okay, that one is pretty much every month. Some months I’m crampy, some months I’m not. Some months I’m cranky – okay, that one is pretty much every month, too. It’s kind of like Space Mountain in Hell – dark, twisting and turning, leaving you feeling dizzy and nauseated (only also craving puffy Cheetos and chocolate ice cream). It’s a real treat even when I’m on a see food diet. Now since I’m back on a better eating plan, I’d love to tell you that it’s better, but that would be a lie and we both know it.

If you look at my food diary sheets for the last week, you’ll note some seriously unbalanced meals. You’ll see some bingeing and some just plain bad food choices; however, you’ll also see that I keep coming back with better meals and better choices. When I’ve craved something sweet, I’ve turned to grape Crystal Light – the acceptable adult version of grape Kool-Aid, my favorite. To satisfy the salty craving, I go with unbuttered popcorn instead of chips. I’ve eaten lots dried figs which are kind of like mainlining sugar. And that’s worked for the most part; however, I’ve not found a good substitute for ice cream (or frozen cashew milk or almond milk desserts that I eat – I’ll just call them all ice cream for simplicity’s sake). While frozen, blended bananas and mangoes are good and I can eat them most of the month, they’re not ice cream and the Monster is not fooled.

These last few days have been more about damage control than anything else. Sometimes, that’s what a reducing or a healthful eating style has to deal with – damage control. I follow a vegan diet; however, there are times when I’m someplace and I just eat the cheese rather than make a big deal out of it. Chocolate is rarely vegan and there are times when that is as necessary as air (true story, ladies?); so, I eat a little. So, I give a little here and there and make up for it later. To do anything else would be more stressful than I really need on top of my daily, constant stresses.

My hormones are returning to a safe level – thank goodness – although as recently as last night, I was jonesing big time for some Oreos. My sweetie didn’t have any, but he came up with an emergency Little Debbie Fancy Cake, and, because he’s a smart man, he tossed it to me and retreated to a safe distance.

 

 

Once More. With Feeling!

When I first lost 94 pounds three years ago, my lifelong friend Rebecca was one of the people who encouraged me to write this blog to share how I lost the weight and how I was successfully keeping it off. It was a little difficult to write all of that because I’d already lost the weight and really couldn’t remember the struggle step-by-step; so, I wrote most posts from memory, sharing some of the technical information, but omitting a great deal of the feelings because, frankly, I couldn’t remember them at that point. It was kind of like trying to describe child-birth a few months afterwards. You can’t really remember just how ridiculous the pain actually was or maybe you just refuse to believe that that level of pain actually exists. Anyway, guess what! That’s all about to change!!

And here’s why: today I went to my new general practitioner. I haven’t had a regular doctor in a few years and thought I should find one for regular check-ups and that sort of thing. So, I went doctor shopping. Of course, they did the height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and blood oxygen saturation stuff. Everything was just lovely…everything except the weight.

Friends, in the last twelve months I have gained 57 pounds. I can tell you’re not picking yourself up off the floor like I did, but I’m sure you can feel at least a little of my pain, frustration, disappointment, embarrassment, and just plain old irritation. How did I let that happen?! How did I put that much weight back on?!

The same way I took it off – one ounce at a time, one bite at a time, one decision at a time. Taking the weight off, I made good decisions about what went into my body and how active I was. This year, however, I made poor decisions by eating carelessly and mindlessly, and by lying to myself about my level of activity.

Since I’ve been to that facility before, Dr. Allie could see where my weight was once 225 (although not my highest of 236), then went down to 165 (although not my lowest of 144), then came up again to today’s weight of 201*. He commented that, clearly, I could make it happen and asked what I wanted his role in this process to be. He liked that I didn’t want any meds to help me and that I wanted him to help monitor my progress and my blood numbers. He’s a whirlwind who, before I knew what was happening, had given me a list of his weight loss strategies (which I’ll share tomorrow) and who challenged me to start running again. He invited me to bring my dog Ellie and to join him and many of his other patients in a 5K on March 19. I really enjoy running; so, I’m in.

In the last year, I’ve talked a few times about starting over and getting back on track; but, you and I both know that I didn’t do it. That was all noise and I was not walking the walk, even though I know that I feel so much better with better fuel in my body, with stronger muscles and with a lower body weight. This time, though, I have someone local to help keep me honest and to whom I am accountable – I even have my follow-up appointment scheduled already to check my progress.

As for the blog, for those of you not on LoseIt! I’ll be sharing my food and exercise journal, which was key to my success before. And this time, Rebecca, I’ll be chronicling the struggle as it happens.

So, here we go again. Let’s do it once more. This time with feeling!

 

 

* I have hesitated (okay, refused) to share my actual weight before on account of I’m a woman and I didn’t want that gawdawful number actually out there. After all, we live in a world of 110 pound, 5’11” perfection and, honey, I ain’t even close – not in any plane of the multiverse. But, here’s the thing, what I hear most from readers that I know and from readers I haven’t yet met is that you value my honesty. If I hide my actual weight from you, then I’m not being as honest as I think we all need to be about our weight and body image struggles. At 144 pounds, I am thin enough. I’m in a size 6 and I feel great. If I were thinner, I would look sick. In truth, there were those who said I didn’t look too healthy as a size 6. (I respectfully disagreed.) Anyway, the ugly truth is that on this day, I weighed in at 201 and unless I grow another foot taller (and at 48, I’m pretty sure that my days of vertical growth spurts are over), that weight is just too high. So, whatever your weight, know it, own it, and either love it or join me and change it.

Atlas, Giles Corey and Me

My writing these past few months has been spotty, at best, and I’m finally going to come clean as to why. I have been under a phenomenal amount of stress for the last two years; but, the last six months have been particularly bad. And when I talk about stress, please know that I know of what I speak. I’ve been a single mother for nearly 22 years. I’m a Katrina survivor. I was a caregiver when my mother had terminal cancer. I’ve run charter departments at non-scheduled air carriers. I’ve moved more times than I care to count. I’ve buried friends and a parent. I’ve negotiated, authored and executed multi-million dollar deals. I know stress and the last months have been among the most stressful of my life. The last few weeks have been nearly intolerable. Atlas carried the world on his shoulders, but I really felt more like Giles Corey, a Salem man who was pressed to death after being accused of practising witchcraft. One thing after another piled on top of me until I could hardly breathe.

pressing

You see, the bank set a sale date for my house that has been in and out of foreclosure a couple of times. I was facing the very real spectre of homelessness….again. It would have been my third round of it. The first time was just after my mother’s death when I asked for a couple of weeks off from the charter company I worked for. Granted the time off, I was fired when I came to work the next day. My son and I ended up living with my cousin Jeanna and her boys for awhile before moving to New Orleans and finding a job there. The second time was after Katrina when we ended up staying with my father until I found another job. Then we stayed with my friend Kay until we could close on this house.

This time, I would have had to rehome all of my furry children before finding a place for myself. It was bad enough feeling like I’d failed my son as well as myself during rounds one and two; but, I knew people who loved us both and would take us both in. It’s different with pets, though. Not everyone will take them in; so, this time, I felt like I failed six creatures who count on me for everything. I was devastated at the prospect of deserting them and terrified that I would have to surrender them to a shelter that might or might not have to kill them. I’ve never ended up in a cardboard box and I doubt I would have this time, either; but, I couldn’t say what would happen to them. Thank goodness I don’t have to find out.

Because, once again, my father came to the rescue. This time, he did it in 1971.

After my infant brother’s death, my parents had to borrow money to bury him. After all, no one saves for that, right? Babies mean nurseries, not headstones. However, for my parents, the unthinkable was a reality when J.David died at less than 24 hours old. So that he would never have to deal with that financial strain in addition to the trauma of losing a child, my father bought small, $5000 whole life burial policies on both my sister and me. That little policy now has enough cash value to save my home.

During my stint as The Worst Insurance Salesman in the World, I often advised people to purchase at least some of their life insurance in the form of a whole life policy, in spite of what you hear on the radio. There are many reasons and I won’t go into them here; however, I just gave you a solid example of how those policies can be useful during your lifetime, not just after you die. This one saved my home. When I wired the money to my mortgage company on Monday, I was so relieved that I could barely stand. I was too exhausted to even cry from the relief, although I’ve since recovered that ability. Hurray.

Although my modest mortgage is still over half of my base bring-home pay, I’ve put a plan in place to keep me from getting into this situation again. And, perhaps, some day soon, I’ll be able to find a bank that will actually work with me to lower my monthly payments. Until then, I’m going to be getting even more creative to make ends meet.

I’ve spent a great deal of the last couple of days getting really restful sleep for the first time in a long time. My dreams are no longer plagued with monsters, sharks, tornadoes, people chasing me, stabbing me or any of the other horrid things that have frequently led me to fear closing my eyes. For the first time in a long time, I feel guardedly hopeful at my financial future. I feel the stones lifting one by one, allowing me to breathe a little bit.

The air tastes good.

 

Making a New Habit

habit-loopHow long does it really take to develop a new habit? How long will it take me to stop automatically reaching for chips and reach for carrot sticks instead? I’ve seen numbers ranging from as few as 21 days to as many as 66. What that indicates to me is that it really depends on the individual involved, their motivation and how entrenched the bad habit is.

Great.

For this particular individual, it clearly takes longer than two weeks, which is how long I really lasted in Project 40. I really wish I could just download a new habit straight into my brain à la The Matrix.(Although maybe without all the cord into the base of the skull thing. Yikes!) It seems that my wishes are ahead of technology; so, I will have to do this the old-fashioned way – I’m going to have to destroy the old habit by building a new one.

Yesterday was the start and while I didn’t win every battle, I won more than I lost. I ate the cup of chocolate pudding, but I didn’t eat the pizza. I didn’t stop at a convenience store or take money for the vending machines at work – although I could still hear the Zapp’s Voodoo chips mocking me. I made better choices with my salads and roasted vegetables. Was it fun?

Um, no.

But, like our parents told us when we were growing up: not everything is fun. Sometimes, you just have to put on your big girl panties and get the job done. Other times, you have to get the job done so that you can fit back into your big girl panties!

Overall, I’ll put yesterday in the Win column since I stayed away from candy bars, chips and white bread. I ate some corn bread that I made, but I limited how much I ate.

Day One is in the books for establishing a new habit …. now, on to Day Two!

Just Call Me Duncan

I don’t mean this fictional Scottish stud …  Duncan MacLeod

 

 

 

 

 

 

Duncan Keith … or this very real hockey stud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mean this complete anti-stud …  Duncan yoyo

 

 

 

 

 

Yep. I’m a yo-yo.

I’ve allowed life circumstances – houseguests, finances, family, pet health, job stresses and relationship issues – to knock me off my game. As a result, Project 40 has become Project 45. Sigh.

You’ve been there with me, though, right? We lose 10, we gain 15. We beat ourselves up about it and gain two more. A couple of weeks ago, my sister told me that my niece could use a little pep talk. She was down on herself about having regained seven of the pounds that she’d lost. I had to confess to my sister that I wasn’t the one to give a pep talk since I’d had small bag of Chips Ahoy and four Butterfinger cups for breakfast. (I truly wish that were an exaggeration. It’s not.) I have eaten anything and everything in sight for the past few weeks.

As I’ve told you before, I’m emotional, binge eater. I’m also a compulsive eater. I can’t stand for there to be a half-finished bag or carton of something. I feel genuinely compelled to finish it…and I have the waist to prove it. I’ve had a temporary roommate who is thin and can eat anything he likes. He also can eat just a few of something and stop. I can do neither as is evidenced by the empty chocolate Donnette bag (okay, bags) in my trash can.

LoseIt! (the tracking program I use) measures a week from Monday to Sunday. I’m not waiting until Monday to get back on track – I started this morning. Yesterday, I prepared my veggies for the week and threw out all of the Frankenfoods that my roomie has enjoyed. (Sorry, Kent! You’re going to have to keep that stuff in your car or something.)

A woman, I will never be Duncan MacLeod or Duncan Keith; however, I’m taking control again so that someday soon, I will be this Duncan…

wonderwoman yoyo