This is not a Think Piece

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This is not a think piece.

I’m not going to hit you with stats about this election nor the implications of a GOP controlled government and how that will effect Black and Latinx lives. I’m not going to talk about how insane 2016 has been. This is more of an emotional thing for me because so much has happened that I haven’t really written anything substantial.

First – My aunt Theresa died last week.

I’m still coming to grips with that loss. There’s a missing piece in my life and in my family that has really caused a shift that I’m trying to deal with. Here was a woman in my life that I’ve gotten close to over the last 8 years. I spent time with her and if she need anything I was there. I dedicated my last book to her because I knew that it was only a matter of time before she succumbed to cancer.

Stage three advanced pancreatic cancer. I have seen her wither away for the last three years and feel a certain way about it. I feel a certain way about how this effects my family. I will leave that there because anything else skirts the line of privacy that I’m not ready to breach. What I will say is that as much as I loved her, she was a Trump supporter. I laugh because I know she would’ve been happy with what the hell happened yesterday.

Second – Donald Trump is the President-Elect.

Wow. I never thought things could change so quickly. I feel like we were duped. All the polls were wrong. We were all wrong in thinking this was all a joke and this would never happen. We were all wrong to think that we could elect a woman president. Now, there is a feeling of sadness that is compounded with the loss of my aunt.

I am so tired of feeling sad and 2016 has been that year where too many people had died for little to no reason. 2016 has been a the year that Prince died for Christ sake.

There will be plenty of blame to go around but I will not partake in this because this is not a think piece.

I will not get into blaming the subtlety of white supremacy that allowed people to lie to pollsters about who they were voting for because this is not a think piece.

I will not go into the blatant misogyny that has allowed Trump to become president even when he has a rape trial coming up. This is not a think piece. This is an emotional piece. It is okay to cry. It is ok to kick something.

The only thing I want to do right now is get though the next few weeks. I want to get through my aunt’s memorial and I want to finally start writing again because the world is changing and I do not want to lose myself.

 

How I Lost 20 effing Pounds

IMG_0478It’s crazy actually, but I don’t think I did anything amazing. I just did a few things that I said I was going to do and the results have been more than I could’ve hoped for. I lost 20 pounds in about 45 days and weight loss was not even my goal, it was a result of me just trying to be healthier.

I may have explained this before but there have been 5 people in my life that have gotten cancer. 4 of those are relatives. 2 of those 5 are my age. The thing that doctors tell cancer patients and survivors is that they need to change their diet. So I started thinking, why wait for that to happen? I should just start now.

I stated last month that I was going to stop eating meat. There were some jokes and some looks that I got. The comments were interesting both on Facebook and on Twitter. Most were supportive, of course, but I had to convince some family members that I was not going to force my beliefs on anyone. They can have all the meat they want but I will still continue to this lifestyle.

That is the key to this. This is not a diet, this is lifestyle. I run 2-3 times a week and I changed my eating habits. There is no special pill, no green ring that works on will power, and no formula to any of this, just motivation. However, I write about this because people do asking me what am I doing that has allowed me to be this way.

Well first, I eat Fish which technically means I’m a Pescatarian so that does help because, depending on the fish, it is generally healthier. I stay way from fast foods and, of course, I drink tons of water. However, the most important thing that I have changed in my life has been the decrease of sugar intake. I believe this is the number one reason for my weight loss. The reason I added this along with giving up meat is because outside the threat of cancer is diabetes, which is way too common in my family.

My daily intake of sugar is from 5g – 20gs a day. I do strive for the lower end of the spectrum and I know there are days when I don’t consume sugar at all. I’ve gotten very used to not putting sugar in my coffee. That is something that I did every day without fail. Now, I don’t even miss it and in fact, I don’t even put milk in my coffee anymore.

Here is some example of what I do for meals each day. I don’t do these all at once or even every day but these are my options:

9e2cV5ZBreakfast: Eggs. Cheerios (1g of sugar) with milk. Banana. Black Coffee. Croissant (6g of sugar). Pancakes and French Toast are a rarity because syrup is high in sugar.

Lunch: I have salad everyday for lunch. When I don’t, it is generally a veggie burrito. If I’m slumming it, peanut butter & banana sandwich (Multi-grain Bread)

Dinner: Fish (Salmon, Sushi, etc), veggies, pasta, rice, quinoa, beans,

Snacks: Fruits, walnuts, peanuts, cheese, crackers.

These are samples of what I do. Sometimes I will have tuna fish sandwich for lunch or a slice of cheese pizza. The most important thing is that I do not have too much of the guilty pleasures like ice cream, cookies, and chocolate. Trust me, I can kill those, but I do have them in moderation.

Speaking of moderation, I have eaten meat a small number of times in the past 45 days. I would say no more than 6 times. I’ve come to realize that I cannot go over board when it comes to the consumption of meat because it actually has been making me sick and that was just one hot dog. So, for me, if I’m going to eat meat or poultry (because, after all I am Latino) then it will be on my terms.

That is also the key everything. I’m doing all lifestyle change on my terms and it feels great.

Vegetarian? What?

vegetarian-dishes-328917_640Here’s the thing, I know too many people that are battling cancer in their lives. I’ve seen, first hand, the affect on family and friends. In every case, the doctors have said one universal thing, “you need to change your diet.” Its has been scientifically proven that there are certain foods have cancer fighting agents. So my thought in all this is, why wait for something bad to happen in order for a doctor to tell me to change my diet? I should just change it now.

This also happens to coincide with a fitness challenge that I fell into (You know, the kind where family is like…come on, you know you wanna). I started a 21 day challenge on June 1st where I do some form of exercise for 45 minutes everyday.¬† If I miss a day, I have to double my work out the next day. If you are into things like math then you realize that I’m currently on Day 5 and my body is sore as hell. My workouts consist of running and ab work…so my body basically hates me.

So that is 5 days without meat so far. What can I eat? Well for starters I can eat fish. I know, that would make me a¬†pescatarian but It doesn’t sound sexy to me. I have virtually take sugar out of my diet too so the foods I’ve been eating have been salads, brown rice, broccoli, Quinoa, fruits, yams, pasta, potatoes, eggs, non white bread, and nuts. I started this with the idea that meat is no good for me with the chemicals that are added so the deletion of sugar from my diet was just an added bonus.

I’ve done some research and watched some documentaries (yay Netflix), like Forks over Knives and Fed Up, that have given me a clear understanding on what is happening to us when it comes to food. I wont get into major details but the reality is that we should only be consuming the max of 25g of sugar per day. If you look that up, we max that out just by having cereal and milk. Its the excess sugar intake that can lead to type 2 diabetes. I turn 41 in a week, I’m not trying to deal with that too.

Some of you may know that I’m a coffee drinker so what does that mean? At the moment, I drink black iced coffee unsweetened. It’s not as bad as I thought. In fact, nothing about this is as bad as I thought it would be. I thought I would be hungrier. I thought that I would crave a hamburger or at least a pork chop. I crave none of those things. In fact when I snack, its on almonds and peanuts. This is not to say that I don’t have small amounts of chocolate here and there but craving things like cookies, so far, hasn’t happened.

For the most part this is about not having any meat to see how it feels. I started off being very curious to see how my workouts would be effected by the change in my diet. Not to be cliche but I do have more energy. You see these commercials about that 2:30 feeling during the middle of the day? I used to have that. Now, I don’t and I think that is a direct result of lack of meat.

For the record, I was at the point already where I limited my red meat intake, so the meats I was killing all the time were chicken and pork (turkey too). Those are the meats essential to any Latino diet. Which brings me to the next question, will I ever eat meat again? I’m not sure. Its quite possible that meat maybe become a delicacy, something to have on special occasions. If I were to go eat it on a semi regular basis again, then it might just chicken breast.

But hey, the only thing for sure is that nothing is for sure. I will continue down this path and see where it leads me.

Cancer: The Bigger Picture

cancerThis is a subject that is just hard to approach. I will begin with some truths in my life right now. I have 3 family members who have or had cancer. I have 2 close friends who have or had cancer. I know there comes a time when we start thinking about our mortality but when you feel that the people who are close to you are dying, it puts a whole new perspective on life.

Last week I laid in bed staring at the ceiling thinking about death. I haven’t done this since I was a kid in the mid 80’s thinking about who was going to push the button and start World War 3. I thought about how I have very little control in my life. At any point a meteor can come down from the heavens and lay waste. Maybe some nut in North Korea is going to do something dumb and start a war that the human race cannot afford. While those are scary options, they pale in comparison to Cancer.

Thinking about all the people who just recently passed from some sort of cancer makes me rethink everything. It makes me wonder what I’m really doing in this life. This is not to sound morbid at all its just that I am forced to look at the bigger picture. What do I really control in my life? I complained about the absurdity of getting a Flu Shot. These are one of those things that I just do not trust. Who really knows what they put in shots to people and yet, I had to get one so that I could visit a relative who has a weakened immune system. I gladly took that shot because I needed to make that visit.

I realize that there is an inner part of me that is angry. This is not one of those things where I’m angry at God or at anyone in particular, it’s this thing where I realize that I control nothing. In the grand scheme of it all we are just particles of dust in the universe and we are squabbling over labels and identities. In a blink of an eye we could be taking a very long sleep in which we hope to wake up on the other side.

I came back to NYC to be with family and I feel that I am beginning to lose them just as quickly. This whole pageantry of returning to New York City seems to be so self serving. I need to evolve again to a person that sees more of the bigger picture. This is not to say that I still don’t see the world in the same way, but I also need to understand that maybe we are all just too damn sensitive. Maybe, I am too sensitive.

I wrote a public apology the other day to a person that I slighted because I was so angry with someone else. I was angry because something was done to me that I thought I could not forgive. Why? Because my writing is something that I feel I control. But, with anger comes stupidity. So now, I have to live with what I have done. Perhaps I should not have been so angry and pig headed not see that I am not angry with the person who copied my work. I am angry at the fact that I feel that I don’t do enough in the time that I have.

People will argue with me and say that I have effected the lives of many people. Perhaps I have, but I feel that I’ve not been there enough for my own family and friends. It is not easy getting older knowing that there will be a time when the receptions I will be attending will be funerals. I’m not ready for that. That is why I need to refocus and try to be with the people who matter the most.

Of course, I cannot help but wonder about what Cancer has in store for me. Truth be told I give myself testicular exams 3 times a week. I know I have a colonoscopy somewhere in my future. I have been doing my best to exercise because it is Diabetes that has effected my family the most.

I’m not worried about dying so much anymore. I’m worried about whether I can make enough of an impression on this world before I go. I’m worried if I can make an impression on my family before they go.

This Cancer thing has a really funny way of changing perspectives.

Happy Birthday!

Sixty Nine years ago today a boy was born in New York City. His mother from Puerto Rico and his father from Ecuador. He grow up in the Bronx with 2 sisters. He had a a hard childhood which he had to endure a strict mother and an abusive alcoholic father. His survived the streets of the Bronx. His name was Arthur.

Because options were limited he had to join the Navy. Lucky enough it was not during a time of war. He served many years. After active duty he returned to New York with a trade. Got a job with Con Edison and the married for the second time. In 1974 he bore a son.

That man is my father. The one who taught me most of what I know now. During and after a very difficult divorce, we was able to guide me through High School and College. Always telling me that I owe him nothing because, after all he was doing his job as a father.

I felt the closest to him when I had a terrible break up with an ex girlfriend. I was the first time I really felt that him and I had a shared experience. He knew what I was going through. He empathized with me. It was the first time that I actually cried because he comforted me.

Since then, I stopped being the kid who rebelled against his parents. I wanted to be the kid that parents talk to their friends about. I think for the most part I was. I believe I was there for him when he was diagnosed with Cancer, due to the work he did for Con Edison.

He has survived that and continues to survive the brutal weather of Sunny Deltona, Florida. Happy Birthday Papi. I love you.