Giving Thanks

Honestly, Thanksgiving is not a favorite holiday of mine. I jokingly refer to myself as the grinch of Thanksgiving. You can call me nutty, but I actually don’t like turkey, so we usually eat something other than turkey on “Turkey Day” – I personally think turkey is generally flavorless and dry. Give me a pork loin or pot roast any day! I may be a grump for saying this, but I find many of the status updates on Facebook about how people are so thankful for this or that to be quite cheesy. My father in law had a good update today, he said “At least for today….. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t. Be thankful for…. family, freedom, something to eat, someplace to stay, abilities, chances to make decisions… etc.” Out of all the status updates/posts on Facebook, I thought this was the one I liked the most.

So, today as I was working around the house, catching up on chores that were neglected as we’ve been very busy these past few weeks. During my chores, I had some time to ponder about what I might be thankful for. Yes, I love my husband, I’m thankful to have him my life. I’m thankful for my house, food and all that jazz. Then, I found myself out in the yard, helping him rake the 4 weeks of leaves that had built up in our yard. No, I’m not kidding – I told you we were behind on chores! The pile of leaves was about 4 inches thick – without even raking. It had rained multiple times, so most of them were still wet. Wet leaves don’t respond well to leaf blowers. You have to rake them – compound that with the volume and you have what seems at times like an insurmountable task.

I was out in the yard, helping my husband with the leaves, expecting for this to feel like a workout. Expecting to be tired, winded and just exhausted when we were done. I found that I had much more stamina than last time I’d tried to rake leaves. I was stronger, faster and overall much better at the task than I’d recalled. I didn’t get winded or tired. Last time I helped him with yardwork, I felt exhausted and like I’d just endured a workout.

It was only after realizing how I wasn’t tired that I thought “I’m thankful that I’m in decent enough shape to rake leaves – to do the chores around the house that I need to do. To be capable in my life.” After all, that’s what General Physical Preparedness (GPP) is – being able to do things when you need to do them. The gym I go to strives to increase the GPP of its members. That’s why I see value in going to the gym. It helps me in other areas of my life – not to mention, it’s stress relief for me.

The pile of leaves that we raked from the front yard into the forest behind our house

A few minutes later, as I was continuing to rake the never ending pile of leaves, I realized that what I am most thankful for is my health. My father once told me years ago “If you have your health, you have everything.” I was in my 20’s. I was in college and I didn’t think much about that statement. Through the years, I’ve seen many people in my life suffer from the deterioration of their health. Our neighbor can’t get her trash can down her sloped driveway because of her ill health. My husband brings it down to the street for her every week and then back up to her house after it’s been picked up by the trash company.

I’ve seen people lose their health suddenly as a result of accidents or illnesses, others just watch their healthy slowly deteriorate from lifestyle choices. Many blame genetics and don’t see that they do have control over many of the choices that determine their health. I believed the same thing until I changed the way that I eat and now realize the connection between what I eat and my health. What you eat every day makes a difference in your health and in your mood. It seems like such a simple concept, it’s amazing that more people don’t make the connection. I’m stunned that it took me years to come to that realization – what you eat is directly correlated to your health.

I’ve made a decision to value my health over the long term. I’ve made lifestyle changes that have dramatically improved my health. I hope to never return to the slow deterioration of my health via eating crappy foods, leading a never-ending stress-filled life and not exercising.  That’s the road I was headed toward a few years ago before I found my gym and before I discovered eating well.

It feels good to be strong, capable and independent. I don’t want to lose that. So, today – I am thankful most for my health. It enables me to live my life. I hope that I have many more years of healthy living in my future. I urge you to value your health more than anything – take the time to eat well and take care of yourself. It’s so easy to get so busy in your daily life that you neglect cooking for yourself or finding healthy food to eat. You can fill your day with so many activities that you don’t have time to relax, do the activities you most enjoy or go to the gym to relieve your stress.

In the end, your loved ones will thank you – they’re probably thankful for you in their lives. I believe that there’s no better way to honor them and yourself than by taking the best care of yourself possible.  Just something to think about today on Thanksgiving.

Happy Turkey day!

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