Tis the season to be jolly 

making all diets nothing but folly.

Holiday eating inspires predictable and nearly impossible New Years resolutions. Every which way I turn there are sumptuous bites and gulps of calories begging my attention.  I fully understand that such a dilemma is not shared across the globe where one out of ten people is underfed and hungry.  I live a life of privilege where calories are easily garnered.

This morning, the day of the winter solstice, found the sun’s first light smearing the sky with party pastels. Peering outside into the in-between light of night and day I watch a small flock of chickadees. My night face hadn’t fully awakened and yet, the small, smartly plumaged birds pry a smile from me.

The chickadees suddenly descend on a hanging suet cake. The flurry contained an urgency, like it was their last breakfast.

A black-capped chickadee, weighing no more than three pennies, has a resting heart that idles along at roughly 500 heartbeats/minute. Consequently it has to refuel constantly. Each day the chickadee must eat 35% of its body weight.  I weigh 160 pounds. At a chickadee’s rate of consumption I would have to eat 224 quarter-pound burgers to survive another day.

Even more spectacular is the hummingbird. It has to eat 100% of its body weight each and every day. I would require 640 quarter-pound burgers to match a hummingbird’s consumption.

Proportionately, the wild turkeys that saunter through our woods don’t require near the amount of food that the chickadee or hummingbird does. A twenty pound turkey needs to eat 5% of its body weight each day. That means about a pound of food.

Small animals, like chickadees or hummingbirds requires more fuel as they have less surface area compared to its body volume. The turkey has more body mass to heat up but proportionally a smaller surface area to lose heat than a chickadee. The chickadee has a much reduced volume with a larger surface area compared to their body size to lose heat; so they must eat like it’s the holidays all the time.

In a perfect world a chickadee or hummingbird could lower their rapid heartbeat and thereby metabolism by practicing a sort of avian meditation. I love the idea of a small flock of chickadees settling on a branch, closing their eyes with their wings slightly extended in front of them and finding an inner calmness.

Pursuing a practice of meditation is another common self-help resolution that makes its way on to lists of resolutions at this time of the year. And even though a Harvard study has found that meditation has benefits such as reducing cardiovascular risks, reduce stress and anxiety, this calming resolution is often short-lived. 

If you are blessed with a high metabolism, are active and regularly move your body under your own power and minimize the intake of empty calories such as those residing in sugar, you likely don’t have to consider resolutions including the world “diet.”

May you find your inner chickadee and evoke unbounded smiles.

Happy New Year!