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A psychologist and professor from Cardiff, Wales, recently wondered if he could pinpoint which – of the 365 possibilities – was the most depressing day of the year. Doesn’t that sound like something you’d be doing about now if you were spending a winter in Cardiff, Wales?
Anyway, Professor Cliff Amall of the University of Cardiff claims our depression around this time of year is the result of several things. First, Christmas is a distant memory, New Year’s resolutions have been made and already broken. All that remains are lots of cold, dark winter days.
Amall included all these elements in a unique mathematical formula. In the formula “W” stands for weather; “D,” debt, “s,” monthly salary (if any); “T,” time since Christmas, “Q,” time since failed quit attempt (New Year’s resolution,) “M,” motivational levels and “NA,” need to take action.
The formula? W + (s-D) x TQ / M + NA. Answers may vary but depending on your particular circumstances your lowest day of the year should occur sometime from late January to early February.
I was never that good with math formulas but I’ve made simple New Year’s resolution over the years. Since I’ve already given up smoking (Thanksgiving Day, 1977) I usually opt for the other usual resolutions – get more exercise, eat more healthy foods, things like that.
In the past I’ve joined a gym for a few weeks and started exercising at least three times a week.
This year I decided to save myself the aggravation and expense and do the things the experts always tell you to do: eat healthy, walk more instead of driving every place and when going to the office take the stairs instead of the elevator. That last one sounded particularly good because I work in a one-story building.
After too many failed diets and attempts at diets and thoughts about diets over the years I decided against all that diet foolishness. This year I wouldn’t go out and buy all kinds of diet foods; I would be more modest in my goals. Instead of eating “healthy” or ”diety” stuff I would eat all my favorite stuff, those unhealthy food choices loaded with essential saturated fats, processed sugar and lots and lots of salt. But I would try to eat a little less of it. Easy; piece of cake.
I also decided that I would try and introduce into my diet one or two items that weren’t quite as unhealthy as the rest of my foods.
For example, rather than eat lots of highly processed and sugared cookies – the good stuff – I’d eat more things like Graham crackers.
Are Graham crackers healthy? I have no idea, but don’t they look like they should be a little healthier than cookies loaded with lots of fat and sugar? I bought a few boxes and then went online to do a little research about the famous cracker.
I began to feel healthier once I read that the Graham cracker was invented by Sylvester Graham, one of America’s first health nuts. As a young man he worked as a farmhand and teacher. A chronic illness led him to choose the ministry, which he saw as a less stressful profession. He eventually became a Presbyterian and staunch vegetarian.
Graham spent the next several years touring and lecturing on the evils of meat and processed food. But he didn’t stop there. He also preached a Spartan life of hard mattresses, cold showers, loose clothing and vigorous exercise. Some considered him an eccentric genius others called him the greatest humbug that ever lived.
After reading about him I signed off and went to the kitchen to spend some quality time with graham crackers – my newly discovered health food. I spread globs of Skippy peanut butter on a few of the Rev. Graham’s crackers and began to feel healthy immediately! Who needs formulas?
I don’t know if Prof. Amall knows about health foods like Graham crackers and Skippy peanut butter. Maybe I’ll tweet him.

JJohn McDonald is a humorist and storyteller
who performs regularly throughout New England.
Contact John at or 899-1868.
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