Prodigal Dad leaves no New Year's chip unturned

Prodigal Dad leaves no New Year's chip unturned



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SALT LAKE CITY — I have goals and standards for the new year. They may be low, but I have them:

1. Drink more water.

2. Exercise daily.

These are the only resolutions I have set for myself, and it ends up that they are two very popular goals. I will not be taking responsibility for international whirled peas like I did last year, nor for showing each and every Democrat the error of their ways. Also, I have dropped my campaign for painting the White House a lovely taupe with black shutters.

Getting healthy has been a major priority for me since I became a grandpa. In several years of having teenagers to “do my bidding” (their terminology; “earn their keep” is mine,) I clean forgot how much running around and bending over those in charge of youngsters do.

The problem I am trying to overcome with these resolutions, if forced to be concise, is that I like to eat. And sit. I really like to eat and sit — at the same time if at all possible.


The new exercise program I started Jan. 1 (walking every afternoon) has put a severe crimp in my new guacamole diet. I can fill my pockets with chips, but the dip gets a bit gloopy ...

My sister, my own flesh and blood, suggested a vegetable diet for me. She was quick to point out that I could be successful with this particular diet because I love guacamole (vegetable!) and tortilla chips (corn!)

Apparently we share genes for both intelligence and justification.

I could eat chips and guacamole all afternoon long, which I actually did last Thursday. I remember the day exactly because it was right after Captain Crunch Wednesday.

All of this eating was while sitting. Did I mention how I like this combination?

But the new exercise program I started Jan. 1 (walking every afternoon) has put a severe crimp in my new guacamole diet. I can fill my pockets with chips, but the dip gets a bit gloopy, which irks my wife because I usually wear her coat — the only one with pockets sufficient for dipping.

So, I am losing the compulsive chip eating and dipping. By the same token, I am going to try to not bring my refillable Diet Coke cup into Sunday School class — mostly because I have found a little cubbyhole in the hallway that is generally out of the way but still accessible for that "quick bathroom break," or a good “pretend-to-rock-the-baby-back-to-sleep” break.

The key for my remaining healthy, as I understand it, is to keep moving. Moving can be fun and all, but not as fun as sitting, truth be told. My wife suggested bike riding, which is both moving and sitting, as long as I actively pedal — because I can't eat and pedal due to a little thing called breathing.

So moving and sitting and pedaling are things I have committed to do — with my wife whenever possible. I made this resolution with her on New Year's Day, with my right hand on the scriptures and the other hand in a bowl of New Year's Eve chips and guacamole.


My wife said that all my previous reasons for failing don't matter and that I should take each day one at a time. ...If I can make it through January, just 31 days, men with bigger wigs than mine say odds are in my favor.

Now that I am several days into the goal, I can see how I might lose motivation — much like I did for brushing my teeth when I was a wee lad. Of course, that took care of itself eventually after spending a lovely summer vacation during the disco years in a dentist chair.

On the other hand, if I get all caught up in the grandiose goal, a try for a world record, all or nothing, I will work myself up into a frenzy and be equally unsuccessful.

My wife said that all my previous reasons for failing don't matter and that I should take each day one at a time. And even though she is specifically speaking of fixing the bathroom so that she doesn't need to use the pliers or a fork to use the tub, I can adapt her wisdom to my personal circumstance. If I can make it through January, just 31 days, men with bigger wigs than mine say odds are in my favor.

A study quoted in the New York Times suggests that those who overcome temptation to their willpower are those who avoid the temptation in the first place. So I am putting my exercise bike in the living room, and I am going to pretend not to care how it looks. I'll just put a pillow on it, or a plant — like the time my dad fell asleep in the middle of dinner.

My “sitting and eating” habit is something that has taken years to develop, so thinking that I am going to change it suddenly without significant and consistent effort is silly.

I can simplify it enough that even Grandpa can shoot this sedentary, all-consuming monster down with consistency and patience.

That means I have to change my way of thinking — something that may have been the problem all along.

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Main photo: I have never met a chip I didn't like. Well, there was this one, but I ate it anyway. (Photo: Shutterstock)


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About the Author: Davison Cheney --------------------------------

Davison Cheney writes "The Prodigal Dad" series every week on ksl.com. See his other musings at davisoncheneymegadad.blogspot.com.*

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