September 27, 2011

My Plant Based Diet Cured My Hypertension

I'm writing this post as follow-up to a post I wrote earlier this year singing praises to plant based diets.  And now, I decided that I would "testify" (keeping with the tradition of the Black Church).  As a result of my change in lifestyle, from a Western, meat based diet to an Eastern plant based diet, I am completely bp medicine free!

This is not a gimmick.  I am not advertising for any group, doctor, or pharmaceutical company (LOL!).  I am hoping to change a few lives - lives of people who, like me, want to take their health in their own hands and free themselves from the escalating bondage of prescription drugs.  Let the church say, "Amen!" 

While taking blood pressure meds (for the past 10 years), my sistolic ranged anywhere from 125 to 130.  My diastolic lingered around 80 to 90.  All of you who are hypertensive or pre-hypertensive know that these numbers are considered borderline.  No matter how much I exercised, even when I was running 6 miles/day, I still "needed" the meds to maintain a 120/80 reading (and 120/80 is no longer considered normal).  For someone who was at the pinnacle of fitness and already taking blood pressure medicine, these were scary numbers.  These are numbers that make physicians grab the prescription pad.  And of course, one new medicine necessitates another new medicine to manage the side-effects of the first medicine and so on and so on.  Then, pretty soon, you wake up in the morning to a cocktail of medicines to "manage" your "condition."  I decided that I was too young and too smart to let this thing beat me.  As I explained in the previous post, my doctor not only supported this effort, it was her idea.

Now, my sistolic ranges anywhere from 105 to 117, and diastolic from 56 to 64.  I know what you are thinking.  No, I really don't exercise much.  Yes, I should.  And, yes, I need to.  But, between work and family, I (like you) have little time to be a slave to the gym or a weekend warrior.  I run about 2 miles every other week.  This miraculous cure that I have experienced lies solely in what I eat, or what I don't eat (depends on how you choose to perceive it).  Most days, I am a vegan.  This means, I eat no dairy products (and of course no meat).  Dairy consists of eggs, butter, dairy cheese, and dairy milk.  No, I don't deprive myself of these things.  I simply eat plant-based versions of them.  I drink coconut milk (yum!), and I eat vegan butter and soy or rice cheese.  Other days (when I am eating at restaurants without a vegan menu), I am a vegetarian.  This means, I am eating food cooked with eggs and garnished with dairy cheese.  However, I never consume animal flesh (yes, that means fish too).  I stay away from junk food.  I do eat too many potato chips even though they are usually organic and vegan.

I never feel deprived or hungry.  Quite the contrary, I feel satisfied and happy.   I changed my thinking and my grocery list, and I learned how to cook all over again.  And, no, I do not miss steak, hamburgers, chicken, pork chops, or fish.  For me, eating meat would be nothing short of suicidal.  Some may consider this dramatic (in true "tree hugger" form).  But what I have experienced is dramatic.

Ultimately, my doctor did not do this for me.  I did this for myself.  And so can you.

September 04, 2011

The Taming of the Shrew: The Struggles of the Alpha Female

The dialectic of how women would function in positions of power began, of course, during second wave feminism when women broke through the professional glass ceilings that had heretofore prevented them from competing with their male counterparts.  

As Rebecca Walker so famously stated, "I am not a post-feminism feminist.  I am the Third Wave."  Although I am among the generation of women who have enjoyed the fruits of their mother's labors, I have come to realize that there is still a deep abiding sense that women don't belong in power, or at the very least, they are ill suited for positions of power and therefore must be "tolerated" and placated.  Since the second wave, women have held some of the highest positions in government, education, and the private sector.  But so many still believe that their presence in these high ranking offices has been a big social experiment gone wrong.

For the past few years, I have occasionally been faced with subtle male resistance/combativeness in the classroom.  And now, as the head of an academic department, the resistance has taken on a more insidious form.  In the classroom, I have always handled these situations like Hemingway would have said, with "grace under pressure."  And by the end of the semester, said male combative student would be eating out of my hand, drinking whatever Kool-Aid and blue pills I offered.  Later, I would dismiss these incidents because some part of me empathized with students like this.  After all, it must be difficult to have one's Alphaness challenged by an Alpha female who is the ultimate authority figure in the room.

Or is that just it?  Do Alpha females face more resistance when they are in positions of power than Beta females?  Are both men and women uncomfortable with assertive, strong-willed women?

As we know, gender (like many other aspects of the human condition), is socially constructed.  Therefore, we expect men and women to remain in their respective corners with regard to "performing" gender.  When a woman steps outside these social mandates of gender, she has transgressed a boundary, she is "trying to act like a man," she is (when all other adjectives fail) a "bitch."

The situation becomes more complex (of course) when we consider race and gender.  Not to diminish any other women's struggles, but it seems that those of us who are female academics experience this kind of gender resistance in a very immediate and confrontational way.  The front of a classroom is a very visible and constructed place of power.  Those of us who are black, female academics experience both gender and racial resistance.  

For example, black male students perceive black females as either potential love interests or mother figures.  When black male students find that their professor is neither mother or lover, and that she is the authority in the room despite her genitalia, they experience a loss of context (to say the least).  On the other hand, black female students perceive their black female professor as sexual competition until they discover that neither is competing for quite the same resources.  It is my experience that white students, both male and female, initially perceive a black female instructor as somehow substandard and undeserving of the position of power in which she has been placed.  This set of assumptions, while racially motivated, creates a dynamic that most black women are more equipped to handle.  After all, we have always been forced to prove our intellectual merit, and we find ourselves quite comfortable doing so.

Of course, as with anything, there are exceptions to the absolutes that I have posited above.  I am still left with more questions than answers.  Does everyone feel as if they need to "tame the shrew?"  Are women in power a threat or an asset?  Are black women in power a double threat?

What do you think?