Body Health, Mental Health, Politics

THE SENATE RELEASES THEIR HEALTHCARE BILL

Read my articles about the CBO analysis for the House bill here and the March AHCA bill here

In other news, before we get started—President Trump took to Twitter today to confirm that there were no tape-recordings of his conversations with former FBI Director James Comey; tapes he insinuated weeks ago he had.


Written when I was going to write about using self-tanner in preparation for New York Pride, and the realization that the healthy, sun-kissed glow I actually needed was for my soul—but more pressing matters have arisen.

This morning—Thursday June 22, 2017—the new healthcare plan was released after a cloud of mystery while it was being written in private by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a small group of colleagues. The bill’s mystery was protested by Democrats and Republicans alike, who feared that this bill would be introduced and forced into a hasty vote before anyone had a chance to read it. according to CNN, the bill will have a one-week-turnaround, meaning that McConnell hopes to get it voted on within a week.

After a disastrous first attempt to vote on the original bill, the American Health Care Act, in March (the bill was pulled when it became clear that there were not enough votes for it to pass), the revised bill passed in the House of Representatives in early May. The next step was to bring it to the Senate for a vote, where GOP lawmakers such as McConnell revised and reworked the bill in an attempt to get it to pass in the Senate. If it passes the Senate, and then gets affirmed by the House, the bill would go to President Trump’s desk and, at his sign-off, become law. We good?

So, this morning, the bill was released. CNN also released an article comparing the three (the ACA, the AHCA, and the new bill) on key issues such as Medicaid expansion, coverage for pre-existing conditions, essential health benefits, Planned Parenthood and more. If you’re too lazy to read the article, here’s the major breakdown on some issues.

The Senate bill provides “skimpier coverage” for pre-existing conditions in states that get waivers for “essential health beneifts.” It allows states to redefine essential health benefits, which under the ACA were required for insurers to cover. These include mental health, maternity care and prescription drugs. The Senate bill cuts funding for Planned Parenthood for one year, which isn’t a surprise because the AHCA did that as well. It eliminates tax cuts for the wealthy and for insurers, taxes the ACA imposed to expand healthcare coverage. The ACA put a 3.8% tax on incomes $200,000 and higher ($250,000 for married couples). It gets rid of the individual insurance mandate, keeps the ACA provision for young people to remain on their parents’ insurance until 26, and removes the employer mandate to provide affordable healthcare to their employees.

At the moment, the bill can only afford to lose the support of two Republicans, which would put it at 50-50 and require a tiebreaking vote from Vice President Pence. As of writing this, four Republicans said they would oppose the bill in its current form and two more have withheld support.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is expected to release their independent findings on the bill early next week, a key component for some senators while considering their vote. The CBO will look at how many people could lose insurance under the new plan (24 million in the AHCA, and 23 in the House version) and the effects on the overall federal budget (the House bill would reduce the deficit by $119 billion).

In the near future, the bill will go into several hours of debate as well as something called the “vote-a-rama” where senators can suggest amendments that are relevant to the dialogue. The vote-a-rama can potentially go on indefinitely, but is largely centered on how long it takes for the senators to burn out and get tired. After all of that, the bill goes back to the House for affirmation, and if the House votes yes on it, then it goes to the White House. At the moment, it’s unclear if there’s enough support in the House for the bill to pass.

In the meantime, the public is reacting. Several dozen protestors were arrested Thursday after they staged a “die-in” outside of McConnell’s office. The protest was organized by the national disability rights group ADAPT. The cuts to Medicaid would greatly reduce access to medical care and services for the elderly and disabled. According to the police statement, several protestors removed themselves to “lay themselves on the floor, obstructing passage through the hallway and into nearby offices.”

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Body Health

“CAN YOU SPOT ME?”

I twist around on the bench, pulling the earbuds—playing Lana Del Rey’s “LOVE”—from my ears. “What?”

“Could you spot me?” he asks again. Grey t-shirt, short, brawny, dark wiry hair and bristly stubble.

I blank for a second, and then nod hastily. “Yeah, yeah!” I hop up and follow him to his own bench press. “I’m doing sets of four,” he tells me before he dips underneath the bar. I hover in the negative space between the prongs the bar rests on. His hands reach up, pinkies first, and find their places on the grooved metal.

He hulks the bar out of its resting position and does one rep. His face purples with the effort of raising the bar off his straining chest. On the second one, the bar stays static an inch above his chest. Panicking, I hook my hands underneath the bar and lift it up from his chest. “Let me struggle,” he tells me—an admonishment to my ears but probably nothing to him.

“Oh, okay,” I nervously laugh.

The idea of “spotting” entails a weirdly personal moment. As I spot this guy, my feet are squared below his shoulders, my groin hovering somewhere above and behind his forehead. Essentially, I’m the only one responsible for making sure the barbell doesn’t pin him to the bench. Without me, he would have 150 pounds on top of his chest, making ribs creak and internal organs bruise.

Once, I tried to bench press without a spotter. I made it through twelve reps of a first set, and on the first rep of the second set, my arms gave out and the bar jolted back onto me. Gravity, weight and my own weakness led to me being pinned like a bug under glass. Groaning, I slowly rolled the barbell down the length of my body, flattening my own ribs and vital organs, resting heavily against my legs until it was far enough down for me to sit up and lift it off me. With the memory of my own primal fear—fox in a bear-trap—in the back of my mind, I stood as his spotter.

But by being his spotter, I was engaging in the bizarre intimacy of the gym. With my headphones in, and eyes narrowly locked on my own reflection as I lift weights, the gym is an insular experience. But outside the Panasonic earbuds, everyone complies to the gym code. If you’re taking too long on a machine, someone will come up and ask to “work in” with you. And so you’ll take turns, watching over them as muscles pull and strain and sweat glosses reddening skin.

You might ask someone wordlessly—both of you speaking through various decibels of music—if they’re done working on a certain machine, or done using that weight you’ve been waiting for. They nod and smile, and you slip in and slide an antiseptic wipe across the imitation-leather to remove any residue they might’ve left behind.

When you pull off a mat and plop it down onto the floor, you’re often working it in—Tetris-style—amongst other mats, going horizontal and vertical across the gym floor. You set yourself down amidst a rippling mass of elbows and knees as other people hold minutes-long planks, bob up and down in a series of unending crunches. Everything is constantly encroaching onto each other’s space, bony extremities popping into each other’s bubbles, sweat flying off in a thousand directions.

And beyond all that, there’s the fact that you’re a group of strangers choosing to be in pain in front of each other. You would never willingly choose to embarrass yourself—over and over—in front of people, but you do for these people. They witness you fling weights to the ground and curl over yourself as the last set pulls all remaining energy from your body. They see you sweat like a maniac, darkening the joints of your t-shirt as you cycle endlessly to an episode of The Office.

Once you get past the initial embarrassment of being vulnerable in a public space, the gym becomes an incredibly therapeutic experience. Because everyone there—the muscle jocks jotting down their gains in small notepads, the people who brings laptops and set them up like projection screens on the ellipticals, or the people edging in for the first time—is focused on getting healthy. They’re focused on making themselves better.

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Body Health, Things Happening RN

CALORIE-COGNIZANT: THE TRI-ET

I feel like I’m constantly shaking things. Shaking a leaky red water bottle wrapped in paper towel like maracas to blend a protein shake (chocolate). Shaking a full carton of orange juice after taking the plastic tab—something that fills me with a nameless childhood anxiety—out of the spout. A plastic tub of unsalted cashews into my palm and popping them in my mouth as I look at myself in the mirror before class.

Side bar—Theory: hipsters couldn’t exist before blenders because the only way to make a green juice sans Magic Bullet is with literal magic. Mull that over with your friends the next time you’re lost for conversation.

Being on a diet seems to carry with it a lot of shaking—possibly purposefully to incur extra exercise. I take stairs two at a time more when I’m actively working out and with each stretch clench my butt. In general, when I’m on a consistent workout plan, I treat my body with more respect. I eat healthier, I drink more water. When I’m not on a consistent plan, I treat my body like the rest of the world treats Anne Hathaway—like, you know she’s important but you kind of enjoy shitting on her for no reason anyway.

In my post from the 16th (a pre-Trump presidency, what a world) “Healthy, Wealthy or Wise”, I mentioned that I was recently on a new workout plan. Now it’s 10 days later, and I’m 10 days more annoying about mentioning my workouts.

This isn’t new information, but treating your body right is hard. It’s not so much the workout-side of it all—I really enjoy (no sarcasm) having a new workout plan. As a scattered person, having something rigid to strive towards is extremely helpful. It stops me from phoning it in at the gym (although my phone-improv has everyone at the gym laughing).

The hard part comes after, when I trying to make food. On one hand, it’s relatively easy—I try not to buy unhealthy things and stick to roasting veggies and chicken. And there’s there’s not even an other hand because my “other hand” is elbow-deep in a bag of tortilla chips. So what I’m saying is that it’s hard for me to always stick to eating healthy. It’s also hard to account for all the “fun eats”—with friends, or by myself at Starbucks—to factor in.

And I know that while my body is getting very strong, my willpower is still relatively weak. So instead of adhering to a “diet” I’m doing more of a “triet” where I try to be cognizant of how many calories I’m consuming and deciding if something’s worth it. So maybe I won’t get sweetener in my coffee. Or maybe I’ll get soup with a friend rather than Panda Express—which saves my wallet, my stomach, and my butthole.

I like saying “calorie-cognizant” for two reasons. One, it reminds people that I know how to properly use the word “cognizant” and reinforces that I might be pretty, but I’m also wicked smart. But two, it doesn’t carry the shackles of “calorie-counting.” It doesn’t make me a calorie-counter. It keeps me, at least in theory, from becoming obsessive with calories. Which, if you’ve ever seen me talk about the Kardashians, you know how easily I can get obsessed. I once binged four seasons of Snooki & JWoww.

For someone with body image issues and an anxiety disorder, monitoring food can easily veer into an ugly place. Sure, I may have thoughts like, “Wouldn’t it be great if you never had to eat so all the hard work you did at the gym wouldn’t be diminished?” (it would be) or praised the time I got a stomach flu and was “so thin” (it was amazing). But I don’t have a full-fledged eating disorder, and I would very much like to keep it that way. So the cognizant part works on two levels: yes, it’s a way for me to make smarter choices. But it’s also for me to realize that I’m going to fuck up at some points, and it’s okay if I sometimes shove fistfuls of tortilla chips into my mouth at 11:43 p.m.

Yesterday I got drinks with a friend of mine at the university pub. The conversation veered in a lot of directions—jobs, family, transportation systems, boyz—but we talked about “glowing up” (is that even the right way to use that?) and us in high school versus us now.

I take a firm stance that I got hot maybe within the last two years. This is by no means me fishing for compliments—if you know me on any level, you know I’m not subtle enough to fish for compliments—but just what I see as a fact. In high school, I was a lanky, acne-ridden twink who obsessed over plucking his eyebrows. I dressed in too-tight chino pants—the buttons of which I had resewn with pink thread—too-small cardigans and crinkly neoprene-y ties. But I thought I was literally so hot. Like, I really did. And so it goes to prove that delusion is a very real factor.

Since those Dark Times™, I’ve started an exercise regimen, and left my eyebrows (for the most part) alone and also stopped buying pants that I can’t sit down in. I’ve become wise. I don’t know why I included this part, but I feel like it connects in my head to eating healthy. Because while I’d rather just burn all pictures of me from high school—along with that horrid leopard-print belt I would wear TO MY ALL-BOYS PREP SCHOOL—I would love to have the blind body confidence of that little freaky gay-boy who, at his core, was just as delusional as a Real Housewife.

I’d like to treat my body like the world treated Anne Hathway just post-Princess Diaries but pre-Princess Diaries 2 and I’d like to have the confidence of a Nene Leakes from Real Housewives of Atlanta. This is now the second post in a row where I’ve discussed Real Housewives.

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