Giving Thanks

Wishing everyone a safe and wellthy Thanksgiving

Wellthy adjective - characterized by focusing on good habits to make it easier to make healthy choices to have a balanced, healthy life that includes enjoying simple pleasures without guilt.

When I was a kid, I was a very picky eater. Despite a large assortment of offerings at the Thanksgiving table, my plate consisted of some white turkey meat, mashed potatoes with butter, some corn, a few rolls and more butter, and A1 sauce. I probably needed the A1 sauce for the dry turkey.

I remember sitting at the table dreading the impending doom when we were all asked to say what we were thankful for. I wanted to be earlier in the batting order because repeats were not allowed. For some reason, I had a terrible time coming up with even one thing to say.

As an adult, I’m willing to eat more things, but my Thanksgiving plate is still relatively sparse. I still like white turkey (with gravy), mashed potatoes, corn, stuffing, and rolls but no more A1 sauce. Don’t talk to me about anything with cranberry and definitely keep the green bean casserole in another room if you must have it at all.

I found a journal I had started over a year ago with “BW’s 100 Dreams.” I got as far as 19 and then I stopped. How sad is that!? I left a few blank pages for the rest of the 100 dreams, and then I re-purposed it as a gratitude journal. I keep the gratitude journal on the nightstand so that I see it when I go to bed. Out of sight, out of mind. If you want a habit to stick, you need a trigger that you will see every day. Also, I wanted a physical journal instead of using notes on my phone. By the time I’m ready for this ritual, the phone should be put away for the evening.

Each night before I go to sleep, I write down three things I’m grateful for. Sometimes it might be more, but it’s a minimum of three. It’s not that hard if you think about it. Try it right now. Take a few moments and in your mind list three things that you’re thankful for. I’ll wait.

It’s not a magic trick. You won’t suddenly be the world’s most grateful person. Over time, though, I have found this to be a great practice to re-frame my mind from anxiety and worry to gratitude and hope.

According to Dave Asprey in his book Game Changers,

“Overcoming fear that does not serve you is necessary to access your greatness. Courage works, but it takes a lot of energy to maintain. Save courage for when your life is actually on the line. The rest of the time, use gratitude to turn off fear at the cellular level. Freedom from fear leads to happiness, and happiness is what makes you perform your best at whatever you choose to do.”

Gratitude Tools

Don’t leave gratitude to chance. Use simple, effective tools to build gratitude into your day the same way you build in exercise or healthy food. Gratitude is a muscle. Exercise it.

  • Keep a gratitude journal. Procure a physical journal and write three things you are grateful for every day.

  • Practice mindfulness. Slow your life down. Take your time. Pay attention to the world around you. Pay attention to all your senses. Practice being present in the moment you’re in.

  • Rethink a negative situation. Situations are neutral; how you perceive them is what makes them good or bad. Find the silver lining in everything. Jocko Willink talks about this in this short video Good.

  • Appreciate actively. Look for opportunities to be grateful throughout your day. If you are having a bad day or find yourself focusing on negative emotions, actively look for things in your life that you can authentically appreciate. It’s not about being fake or lying to yourself. It’s about appreciating what you have and being thankful for all the things you don’t want that you don’t have.

  • Fill a gratitude jar. Get a large jar or a fishbowl. Write down what you’re grateful for each day on a piece of paper, and pop it in there. As the jar or bowl fills, it will give you a physical reminder of all the things you have to be grateful for.

  • Practice gratitude with loved ones. Practicing gratitude yourself is great. Sharing your gratitude with others is even better.

  • Take a gratitude walk. Go for a walk without your phone. No earbuds or headphones. Pay close attention to everything you see and experience. Notice the beauty around you. Notice how your feet feel as you take each step. Feel the air around you. Notice the daylight and the sounds and smells.

  • Write a thank-you note. Sit down and write a short note to someone who has touched your life in a big or small way. Tell them what they’ve done for you.

  • Only be grateful one time per year at Thanksgiving. Just kidding. I wanted to see if you were still paying attention. We should be focused on gratitude every day, all year round!

No Shame

Are you the odd one out who is eating the “weird” diet during a family gathering? Do you face comments like:

“Why aren’t you eating anything?”

“Come on, it’s a holiday. Can’t you just have one plate?”

“Stop pretending and eat like the rest of us.”

Friends and family seem to diet shame because somehow their holiday can’t be as fulfilling if you aren’t eating what they’re eating. My advice is to make a decision before each holiday meal and stick to it. If you want to go by the book, stick to it. If you want to have a cheat food or a cheat meal or a cheat day, go ahead! Just make sure that whatever you decide, you stick to it. Communicate your decisions in advance, and perhaps that will quell the calls for seconds and, of course, pie!

In addition to avoiding shame from family, you should avoid shame from yourself. Self-shame can be even worse. Don’t beat yourself up over extra helpings, snacks, and desserts. You cannot undo days, weeks, and months of hard work and progress with one serving or one meal or one day of bad eating. To be wellthy, you gotta live a little. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Regardless of where and how you celebrate the holidays, please consider the CDC Guidelines for Events/Gatherings.

Turkey Tips

I found some turkey tips, but full disclosure I have never made a turkey. If left to my own devices, I would be sitting in front of the TV with a Hungry Man turkey dinner.

  • For a juicier turkey, wrap the top of the turkey in bacon. Remove bacon for the last 40 minutes of cooking to crisp the skin.

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F after putting the turkey into the oven.

  • As a general rule, you’ll need 13 minutes of cooking time for each pound of turkey if roasting empty, and 15 minutes per pound if stuffed.

  • Use a meat thermometer to test the turkey and stuffing for doneness. Turkey and stuffing are done when they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F (75 degrees C).

  • Let your turkey rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

“The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you. —Tony Robbins