Take a gratitude walk, with thanks

THIS Thanksgiving, what are you thankful for? If you put your health at the top of your list, I'd like you to reflect on something startling.

If you are like most Americans, you will gain an average of 7 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Seven pounds is equivalent to 25,500 extra calories, which is enough to fuel about 50 hours worth of cardiovascular exercise.

It will push most ladies into the next dress size, too.

Now, chances are you'll lose some of that. But chances are also that you'll never shed at least 2 of those holiday pounds.

How can 2 pounds affect the good health for which you just gave thanks?

Over time, an extra 2 pounds can add up to some major expansion. Say you're at a healthy weight at 20 years old and gain just 2 pounds a year. You're looking at 40 extra pounds by the time you're 40 - and setting yourself up for a litany of health woes: diabetes, heart disease, joints that need replacing.

So, this Thanksgiving, I'd like you to consider starting the holidays off on the right foot - literally - with a brisk workout walk, including some intervals of extra intensity on hills or at an increased speed.

Sure, you're overbooked, busy, overwhelmed by the holiday rush ahead. And, naturally, under these circumstances, you feel justified in taking a one-day break from fitness. Right?

Well, don't. The holidays aren't going to get any less hectic after Thanksgiving. If you don't make your good health a priority tomorrow, you're going to find an even better excuse the next day. (Here's one: "But I can't exercise on Black Friday - I need to shop!")

By getting up early on Thanksgiving morning and getting in a good workout before the festivities begin, you'll be setting your priorities straight for a healthier, more balanced approach to the festive season ahead.

There's nothing like an invigorating brisk early morning walk to get the blood pumping and the heart open to all of life's blessings. Beyond that, an early morning walk can double as a walking meditation, where you give thanks for all that you are grateful for.

During your walk, bright and early tomorrow, take time to reflect on all the things you typically take for granted, and instead give thanks.

Give thanks for your good health, your ability to walk, to see the beautiful outlines of tree limbs against the autumn sky, to hear birdsong, smell the coffee that's brewing when you step back inside, taste the richness that life has to offer. Maybe reflect on all of this year's unexpected blessings.

A gratitude walk may be just what you need to shift your perspective and focus on what really matters.

When you come right down to it, being healthy, feeling good and loving our families and friends is what life is all about. Turkey, stuffing and sweet-potato pie are all great - in moderation! - but they're not really what you're thankful for. Are they?

For a double dose of fitness joy, join the kids when they make their escape to run around outside after the big feast. Tag and flag football are fun at any age, and a wonderful way to bond with the children in your extended family. You'll also get "cool points" for being the fun aunt or uncle.

Isn't that as good as it gets? This Thanksgiving, let us all be reminded of the most precious gift we have - life itself, and the many blessings we share with those we love.


Kimberly Garrison is a wellness coach and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia. Her column appears Wednesdays.