Putting Ourselves on a Diet

In some ways, this has been a historic Christmas and New Year’s season for me.  And I found an interesting parallel between that bit of personal history, the “fiscal cliff” that’s been in the news every day for the last two weeks, and an untold story of someone doing the right thing.

This Christmas and New Year’s Day I ate too much.  Too much popcorn.  Too much candy.  Too many pistachios.  Too many desserts.  Too much of too many things!

But eating too much isn’t what was personally historic for me.  Generally, I have eaten too much the last couple of weeks of December every year for decades.  But I have now reached the age where I know that losing the weight I gain is going to be harder than ever.

Therefore, what made this December personally historic was my ability to silence that heretofore nagging voice that had told me to exercise at least a modicum of restraint because I was approaching the “belt cliff.”  You know, that awful state where your gut falls over your belt.

In the past I knew that if my stomach ever went over the “belt cliff,” my waistline might never fully recover!  I would be forever risking a recession of good mental health and positive self-image.  But this year, well, everything just tasted so good that I thought,  “I’ll worry about the consequences later.”

And I realized that what I experienced on a small, personal scale is what we just witnessed in Congress.  Congress has been pushing America out on the ledge of a mountain of national debt, knowing that we were getting close to a “fiscal cliff.”  And yet, the bill they passed this week added to the debt, which is like me eating another piece of fudge without regard to the fact it’s only going to make losing the extra calories that much harder.

That was the story we all read.  It was one of fiscal gluttony by an obese Congress.

But I interviewed a person yesterday who was looking for a job, and his employment story parallels what Congress and I both need to be doing.

The cover letter accompanying his resume indicated that he was a casualty of the downsizing in the district staff of Florida Congressman Daniel Webster (yes, he’s a descendant of that Daniel Webster).  When I read that I thought, “What!  Members of Congress don’t cut anything, particularly staff whose services can help curry re-election favor with constituents.  For goodness sakes, they just got a raise!”

But that is exactly what happened to him.  However, it was not because Congress cut their congressional staff budgets to do their part to help with the deficit.  It was because his Congressman is cutting his own budget!

Why the cut?  Well, Congressman Webster realizes that 43 cents of every dollar the federal government spends is borrowed.  So he knew that meant the federal government didn’t really have 43% of the over $1 million he’s allotted for the administration of his offices.  By spending his full allotment, he realized he was not reducing the deficit in the one area of the federal budget he could actually control.  

This one member of Congress is doing the right thing.  He’s doing what his Congressional colleagues and I need to do — put ourselves on a diet.

Diets often require some kind of inspiration.  Here’s to hoping his story can be the inspiration a lot of us need.  We’ve got a lot of fat to lose.