“Dad, can I buy some of these?” he asks, rattling the familiar yellow wrapper of peanut M&Ms.
“Sure, son. But there’s a price. Look on the back.” I watch him flip the bag over and look at the label. “You see where it says ‘Calories’? What’s the number it says there?”
“Um, 250. Is that a lot?”
I nod sagely. “In my body it’s a lot. In your tiny body, it’s even more. But now is a good time to start learning.” I take the bag from him and do a quick count by feel. “I feel 22 M&Ms in here, which means each one is about 12 calories. Each calorie is something your body has to burn by doing work. So, here’s the plan.
“A push-up isn’t quite a calorie burner, but it’s close enough. When you want an M&M from the package, you need to do twelve push-ups, one for each calorie. Watch me, and count mine.” I place the bag in the buggy and drop right there in the store, doing twelve push-ups as he counts them off. “There, now I get an M&M once we check out and buy the bag. There’s another 21 in the package you can earn.
“If you can’t do enough push-ups for all of them,” I add, “you can eat however many you’ve earned so far. Think of the nutrition facts as a push-up price tag.”
“Push-up price tag,” he repeats to himself as he grabs a Snickers bar off the display and checks the label. I see the gears turning in his head for a minute before he asks the obvious question. “Um, Dad? This has 280 calories, but there’s only one piece inside.”
“So, how many push-ups per piece?” I ask.
“That’s easy: 280. But that’s a lot.”
Again, I nod sagely. “Exactly,” I say. “But we don’t set the price. We only pay it. So for 280 push-ups, you’d better be sure you really want it.”
Wide-eyed, he puts the Snickers back on the display.
Originally posted 2016-03-28 08:00:43.