Spoiler alert: Portion Control!
Everyone knows about the Freshman 15: the few extra pounds that many young people put on after they leave home, get to college, and are exposed to unlimited snack / comfort foods and unsupervised drinking.
The key to dodging that is to consume those snacks and drinks in small doses to avoid that waistband from getting too snug or, far worse still, the onset of chronic health problems. I figured that out over the course of several decades, as my own waistband expanded from 29 inches to one that topped 40 inches.
As our young ones head off to school (or off to their laptops) this fall, I’d like to talk about another ingestant that we all need to consume in very small doses: Donald J. Trump.
If you don’t limit your exposure to Trump and his bile, you’ll wind up deep in what I call the Trump Slump: that funky feeling, that low-key rage, that most of us feel just watching Trump’s comb-over blowing in the wind, as he struggles to match a couple of errant nouns with a couple of random verbs.
Just this past week, I realized what a clean break from Trump, or at least limiting exposure to him, could do for my mental and emotional health.
I am a lifetime news junkie. My dad used to joke about me being the only kid on the block, way back when I was in grade school, who would suspend a late afternoon driveway basketball game for 30 minutes, to dash inside, plop down cross-legged in front of our solid-state Zenith 25 inch color console TV, to watch The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.
In those prehistoric, pre-internet days, before we all got news alerts in our pockets or had entire networks devoted to news programming around the clock, I spent many weeknights taking in every word that came out of Cronkite’s mouth. I’d sometimes even practice the iconic anchor’s famous sign off, in front of the bathroom mirror: “And THAT’s the way it is!”
These days, it’s Lester Holt. I don’t run in to watch his NBC Nightly News…but if I happen to be inside at 5:30pm on a weeknight and the TV’s just sitting there, I flip him on. I’m glad I lived to see a black Cronkite.
Early last week, my family unexpectedly and very suddenly lost our beloved pit bull, Rover Jo. That trauma, along with a family emergency, the usual cares of the work week, and the pending long holiday weekend kept me unusually occupied. I didn’t watch CNN, or any other news broadcasts, for the balance of the week.
As a means of sensory self-protection, I even turned off notifications on my iPhone, so my Apple Watch stopped buzzing every time Trump said something stupid. For a while, that sucker was vibrating so much I could have unstrapped it from my wrist and used it as a sex toy. Think about THAT the next time you close one of those rings.
I also made a concerted effort to get at least 30 minutes of cardio in every day, as I knew that it would help my overall mood.
It wasn’t until Saturday morning that I realized I’d not flipped on my beloved CNN all week, when my brother asked me by phone about what I’d thought of Trump’s verbal, daily dust up.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I muttered, somewhat shocking myself. I’m sure I surprised my brother, who’d been frustrated decades before by my Cronkite-driven, truncated kickball games.
And then, even more surprisingly, I realized that I felt great about not knowing what the Moron-In-Chief was up to. In fact, it was freeing.
As it turns out, Trump was insulting war heroes (again) and threatening to pull funding to a public school system that is reportedly incorporating the New York Times’ excellent 1619 series into their curriculum.
God forbid we teach American public school students about slavery. When I was a kid, I was well into junior high school before I got my first academic introduction to the truths about the horrors that the ancestors endured, as they stepped onto American shores, via Alex Haley’s Roots. So I am all for using actual history to teach history.
But we can’t expect Trump to be all for that. The man suggested that we inject bleach to protect ourselves from coronavirus.
After the phone chat with my brother, I quickly got caught up on the news of the day and week, checking out a few of my favorite news apps. But as I did so, I realized that, overall, I felt better without the effects of the daily, and sometimes hourly barrage of negative information coming out of Washington.
Minutes later, as I listened to a member of Jacob Blake’s family speak of still not having heard from President Trump, contrasted with the moving story of their visit with Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, I knew I’d heard enough…for that day, or moment, at least.
One of the ancestors I referenced earlier, Dr. Maya Angelou, once said “When you know better, do better.” So I’m going to follow her advice, and take the lessons from last week into this new one:
CNN will no longer be on a loop just outside of my office each day. It has been replaced with some soothing sounds from my brother from a Jewish mother, Kenny G.
With the exception of one or two news apps, notifications are going to stay off on my phone. If Trump says or does something really crazy — although I’m not sure how we would differentiate that from what he usually says and does — someone like my well-meaning brother will ask me about it.
I just set my DVR to record NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, and I’m going to watch it every evening. And once a month or so, if I meet my fitness goals, I’m going to eat a Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll while I watch it.
Speaking of fitness goals, I’m going to continue the daily cardio, up from the five days a week I had been doing. Even with the late-summer heat wave, I’ve been loving the early morning bike ride. It’s also been freeing.
And overall, I’m going to file President Donald J. Trump right next to my formerly beloved Dominos Meat Lovers Pizza, my McDonalds Double Cheeseburger, or the eight piece spicy Popeye’s over which I used to fight.
Yes, I used to eat eight pieces per sitting. How do you think my gut got up to 40 inches?
SMALL DOSES, matching Trump’s minuscule intellect and vocabulary, are the keys.
As we head into fall and toward November 3rd, let’s do everything we can to avoid the Trump Slump!