When you reach a certain age—as in, over sixty–you recognize that some New Year’s resolutions are just plain stupid. Not all, mind you, but—especially in the diet department–personal history (also known as flop and failure, which in many cases ends up in flab) and common sense have taught you which “rock solid” objectives, such as I-really-mean-it-this year, will end up jettisoned by the time the Super Bowl punts into your living room wherein you crash on the couch with chips and guacamole.
Sometimes we set ourselves up for failure: all the motivation in the world will not get us past a freezer full of Ben & Jerry when life throws a curve ball; the best organization system money can buy cannot hold up to persistent visits to our favorite store; new hiking boots bring blisters instead of bliss. Yet we persist, doggedly determined to turn over that new leaf along with the new year. This time. Gonna get ‘er done. Yupsiree. Uh hunh. Low-fat becomes the national mantra for, oh, at least the first ten or so days of January, athletic clubs pave new parking lots for the overflow crowd, and household goddess wannabes clog the airwaves.
Merchandisers love us for this optimistic grit and accommodate our shame and subsequent determination to overcome flab, inertia, debt, or disorganization with prominent displays of self-help books (I’ve written seven), exercise contraptions and assorted bins, folders and budget guides. It’s become a public service, all the while getting rich on the vulnerable…correction…the newly resolved. Remarkably, to all the shoulda/coulda books and articles and talk shows we comply…and we buy. In the past year alone we spent over $63 billion on low-fat/sugar/carb/calorie food (if one can call it such), $1 billion trying to quit smoking, and $46 billion (let me repeat that: BILLION) on diet and fitness programs. That’s before we each reach maximum entropy and grab the guacamole. Still, resolutions endure.
As for me, whether it’s my pragmatic nature or the fact that I’ve actually learned something from my own history of flop and failure, I’ve simplified my annual resolution ritual with two foundational goals, which I pledge to perfect sometime in my natural life. (I do not fully understand the term “natural life,” but it fits here nicely.) Mainly, after sixty years I have discovered two fundamental issues that are inherent to success in anything. These are, in order of importance: happiness and colon health. Inotherwords, a good laugh and a good…um…
It is my observation that happiness and colon health have been neglected by far too many people. (Read: A whole lot of us nowadays have the personality of a bran muffin or act…you know…constipated.) I happen to believe that if we were a lot sillier and a lot less plugged-up our lives would benefit very much. As would the lives of those around us. So that is my goal. Every year. A gargantuan mandate for me, what with the fact that I can be darned intense and serious. Anyway, when you are over sixty you intensely and seriously wish you laughed more and hawhawed till you cried. I’m sick and tired of being glum, and I don’t necessarily like being around glum people.
This brings me to the other rather delicate subject, which I have no compunction writing about because when you are over sixty you don’t, you know, really care. On account of my darned intense and serious study of nutrition and how it relates to various and sundry body parts, I have learned we must not take such things as our intestines for granted. (For the record, I am a Whole Health Nutrition Educator.) This is especially important to know because the gut is the site of our second brain. I swear. Ever hear the term “gut feeling” when it comes to making a decision? Just where do you think that ancient adage comes from? From ancestors who knew the importance of fiber for breakfast, that’s where.
Beside fiber consciousness, it is critically important to populate your gut with, well, organisms–beneficial organisms, as opposed to populating your innards with McNasties. Good bugs/bad bugs. In order for good bugs to proliferate, we are encouraged to eat dirt. Good dirt, of course; dirt teeming with microorganism good guys. Once upon a time we worked in gardens, got our hands dirty from soil and toil rather than shopping cart handles, and children were free to build mud pies. We don’t do that much any more, so our bodies suffer and we can’t think so straight.
I’ve got a gut feeling that a big belly laugh would be a good resolution for all of us and will help make this a successful new year, indeed. Have a happy one, everybody, and when the snow thaws go play in the dirt. Laughing all the way.
Cynthia Yates and her husband—Wonder Man– recently returned to Montana after a stupid three-year hiatus. She is an author and award-winning humor columnist.