A Great Reward … February 16, 2013

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Jillian MichaelsShe stomps around the room, panting and huffing, with fire in her eyes, screaming a tirade of disapproval to a collection of hand-selected American fatties, who haplessly receive her critical words, having no way of escape. She is muscular, slightly emaciated and totally bewildered by why these misfit souls can’t exercise their way to trimness and beauty.

“What’s wrong with you?” she bellows from the depths of her self-righteousness.

***

I looked forward to it every day.

When kindergarten was over, if I had been a good boy, my mother would drive me down to the Dairy Delight in Delaware, Ohio, and buy me two chicken sandwiches and a root beer freeze. It was so delicious–so reassuring. Sometimes during the morning hours, it was all I could think about while I organized my crayons and cut circles out of construction paper.

It was my reward–proof that I had done well. And I learned it excellently.

Like millions and millions of other people in this country, I was teased, taunted and tantalized with the reward of eateries and treats, to accentuate the possibility of my good grades and fruitful behavior.

“That’s right, Tommy. If you’re a good boy in the grocery store, Mommy will buy you a candy bar.”

As painful as it is for Tommy to maintain the vigil of purity, the prospect of a soft Milky Way candy bar melting in his mouth sustains him through the rigors of restraint.

“If you’re good, Jane, on the way back from dance class, we’ll stop and get ice cream at Baskin Robbins.”

Jane is willing to tolerate the ridiculous contortions of her instructor’s demands for the prospect of Rocky Road with a squirt of whipped cream.

It is the practice of this country to reward its children with naughty little pieces of caloric destruction when they have achieved success–and then we wonder why we grow up to be a nation full of bloated bodies, if not egos.

So some of these rewarded children discover they have slower metabolisms, or they even develop addictions to their rewards and treats, growing fatter than their neighbors. Then we wonder what’s wrong with them. What turmoil is churning in their souls which cause them to destroy their bodies with the poison of food?

We are absolutely insane. We have a First Lady who proclaims the excellence of good eating, while simultaneously living in a nation where food–dripping with grease, fat, sugar and salt–is touted as a confirmation of our prowess and pleasure.

If we actually are going to be healthier, we have to develop a better reward system. I know it torments me to this day. When I finish a show, I want my two chicken sandwiches and my root beer freeze from the Dairy Delight. “Jonathan has been a good boy.” I have colored within the lines. I put down the toilet seat so the little girls wouldn’t fall in at kindergarten. Where’s my treat?

Until we address this problem, we will manufacture a hypocrisy which is not only befuddling to the masses, but also offers little alternative for ever achieving a trimmed-down solution.

I don’t care what you do with your children, but food–especially those terrible morsels of treachery–can no longer be dangled as rewards for good performance.

How about developing “house bucks”–little dollar bills you print–as the reward for excellent work, which can be traded in for favors, opportunities and the ability to make decisions. In other words, you collect 25 house bucks and you get to select all the TV shows for one night. 50 gives you the chance to choose the dinner, as long as it includes all the necessary food groups. 100 house bucks–you get a bicycle, so you can ride around and exercise instead of sit around and eat fat.

Whatever our decision, we cannot punish our adult population, which is growing obese, because as children they were taught that they were good boys and girls, and confirmed to be so by chomping on caramel and cream.

When you remove the hypocrisy, what remains is your reality. As long as you’re not afraid of it, you gain power. We need to understand that food is not a reward–it is nourishment. The true reward in life is the opportunity to decide for yourself what you’re going to do … and to find a way to have fun doing it.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

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