Here we are in the month of March, or, as it ought to be called, the Month of Juicy Rationalizations.
More on that in a bit.
A couple of weekends ago when we had some spare time our son asked my wife and I to watch movies with him. The catch was he wanted to watch movies that were popular when my wife and I were young. We looked through a lot of possibilities and eventually chose The Breakfast Club and The Big Chill. Two “B.C.” movies, as it were.
Through the marvel of modern technology we are able to get these movies with the push of a few buttons and a voice command or two, with no commercial interruptions and just as we saw them in the theaters well over 30 years ago. We had a great time lounging on the sectional sofa in the comfort of our home, noshing and hanging out while we explained to him the various cultural references that arose during both movies that are now prehistorically dated as far as he is concerned.
The one thing clearly evident in both films, that I conveniently forgot, was the starring role marijuana played in each. It was a reminder of the seeming abundance of pot in those days. In our youthful passion we were certain that when we grew up and were in positions of power, we would get rid of the draconian and absurd laws barring its use and all would be better in the world.
Yet here we are, more than 40 years after my arrival at Penn State, and in Pennsylvania our generation has completely whiffed on this insanity. People are still arrested and put in jail for the use of marijuana. Billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted on a war on drugs that John Ehrlichman admitted a quarter-century ago was a lie created by the Nixon campaign in 1968 to target their antiwar left enemies, as explained in a 2016 Harper's article . They couldn’t make it illegal to be against the war, but they could associate antiwar activists with marijuana, criminalize it, and then arrest their leaders and pillory them every night on the evening news. It’s a sad commentary that this mindset continues to today.
But, the profusion of marijuana aside, these two movies shed some light for our son on a few of the quotes his dad uses every now and again. Especially quotes from The Big Chill such as:
“You're so analytical! Sometimes you just have to let art... flow... over you.”
“That's the great thing about the outdoors, it's one giant toilet.”
“I’m not hung up on this completion thing. “
And this personal favorite of mine:
“I don't know anyone who can get through the day without two or three juicy rationalizations.”
And there we are: juicy rationalizations. If you are someone who makes New Year’s resolutions, it’s what you are probably doing now in March to justify why you have not kept them. Usually in January and maybe February you can continue whatever inconvenience or change in your daily life the resolution caused, but after time it gets harder and harder to maintain it. And then it just stops.
Which is where the juicy rationalizations of March come in.
According to an INC. survey the top three New Year's Resolutions for Success and Happiness in 2019 were:
1. Diet or eat healthier.
2. Exercise more.
3. Lose weight.
The response rates for these three resolutions far surpassed the responses of any other resolution on the list. And they all come down to one common issue: obesity.
The most recent national estimates from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say the rate of obesity in this country is 39.8 percent of adults. That’s 93.3 million people. Medical conditions related to obesity include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes,and certain types of cancer, and the estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. is $147 billion.
The definition for obesity is a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30.0 or greater. The BMI is calculated by taking your weight in kilograms and dividing it by the square of your height in meters. In addition, if you have a BMI of between 25.0 and 29.9 you are considered overweight. Another 65 million Americans fall into this category – meaning about two-thirds of all adults in the U.S. weigh more than they should. No wonder our most common New Year Resolutions revolve around weight.
I should note before I go any further that I currently have a BMI of 27.4. Meaning I’m overweight. And have been since somewhere around my sophomore year at Penn State when I surpassed 205 pounds as a 6-foot-4 adult. In the decades since I have occasionally flirted with a BMI of 30 but usually settle back at around 27. So I know from whence I speak.
Now we can make all sorts of guesses as to why the majority of Americans are overweight. My personal hypothesis is that as humans evolved and were able to construct environments where they were at the top of the food chain, and limited their visits to environments (the ocean, jungle, etc.) where they could become a consumable part of the food chain, we got obese. Sort of like the people in the futuristic animated film Wall-E, where humans have abandoned earth because it has become uninhabitable, and instead sail through the universe on a spaceship that meets their every need.
Since it’s unlikely most of us will ever agree to live our lives in an environment where we are part of the food chain (makes for a fitful night’s sleep) we instead make our New Year’s resolutions about eating better, exercising and losing weight. All of which are great resolutions. Fabulous, wonderful, exciting, energizing resolutions. Resolutions that will likely allow you to live a longer, fuller life and spend more time with your family and friends creating the experiences that are the true spice of life.
So please do everything you can to keep them. And make sure that March doesn’t become the Month of Juicy Rationalizations for you.