A Bonfire Thanksgiving – Make it a Healthy, Happy Holiday

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So you’ve made the commitment to change your life and/or the lives of the people in your family. You’ve changed the way you eat, move, and think. It’s awesome. You’re feeling better, and you might even get used to this! But suddenly, you realize…it’s holiday time. The time of year that you cook all the yummy stuff your mom and grandma used to make. The time when you stuff yourself silly, then watch football and pass out in your recliner. How is this going to work? What about tradition? What about my candied yams??

Take a deep breath. Don’t panic. We can help.

First of all, remember that Thanksgiving is intended to be a day to appreciate and give thanks for our gifts. It was not intended to be a day of stress. And one thing Doc always says is “Progress, not perfection.” So if on this one day, you just HAVE to have a slice of Mom’s apple pie, don’t beat yourself up about it too much. The problem is this: one day of cheating can open a floodgate. We’ve all done it before. “I’ll just cheat today, and get back on the wagon tomorrow!” Then tomorrow comes and you tell yourself, “after the weekend.” Before you know it, it’s Christmas and you’re eating a dozen cookies with milk that were meant to be for Santa.

Secondly, the Bonfire way of life is just that – a LIFELONG journey toward health and wellness. That means many, many Thanksgivings! So we’d better figure out how to do it the healthy way from now on. In that spirit, Bonfire presents some Paleo, Bonfire-approved Thanksgiving Day recipes and ideas…enjoy!

FUEL: What to Eat on Turkey Day

AIR: Get Your People Moving!
In the midst of the chaos that big family holidays can bring, make sure that you take some time for yourself to move! Try to get your family members involved…maybe it means a family football game in the yard, or a family walk after dinner to help digest. Or MAYBE, if you’re feeling crazy, you do 5 air squats for every commercial you see involving food! We know that moving helps elevate our serotonin levels and keeps us in a better mood. Couldn’t hurt when dealing with in-laws, right?

SPARK: Bring the “Thanks” back into Thanksgiving
Try starting a new tradition at your house – a gratitude tree! Cut out some leaves from construction paper and have each person write down what they are thankful for when they arrive. We used a jewelry tree and ornament hooks to hang them, but you could use clothespins to hang them on a garland or twine strung over the fireplace, or have people put them into a basket. After dinner ask one of your younger guests to read each one out loud. Have people guess who wrote what, and soak in all the gratitude and positive energy!

Don’t forget to sit back, relax, and enjoy the day. Appreciate your blessings, embrace your family, laugh often, and eat some healthy food that’s going to fuel your body! We hope this post helps make this special day just a little bit healthier and less stressful. And we’re thankful for you!!

Special thanks to Amanda Cannon photography for the pictures!


Familial Quotes

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  • Anyone can hold the helm when the sea is calm.  But a smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.
  • “Don’t go through life, grow through life.”  Unknown
  • “If you have something to say to a loved one, don’t wait until tomorrow.  Too late comes sooner than later.”  Nick Welton
  • “You will never have more time than you do right now.”  Unknown
  • Because of our routines, we forget that life is an ongoing adventure. Maya Angelou
  • “Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.”  ~Anthony Brandt
  • “At times our own light goes out, and is rekindled by the spark of another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

Familial Affirmations

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  • I am an expert at coming up with solutions that solve everyday problems.
  • I am committed to getting rid of the habits that no longer serve me and implementing ones that do.
  • I am moving forward today.
  • I do make a difference with every choice, every day, every way.
  • I have the time, energy and ability to improve my life.
  • I love my family not for who they could be, but for who they are.
  • My life is full of abundance in every way and I am so grateful.

Focus on Connection

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  • Do you feel connected in your Familial Life? Do you connect with other members in your family? In which relationships does connection seem easy? Why do you think this is so?
  • Our familial relationships are among the most important we possess. In your journal, list the top 3 traits you most appreciate about each of your immediate family members. Then yank out a piece of paper and jot a note to one of them, telling them their most appreciated traits.
  • Name the 3 most important friendships in your life right now. Reflect on how you’d like to see these friendships strengthened over the next month.
  • Wonder is an essential nutrient for a life well lived. Name 10 things (people, places, flavors, songs, events) that completely astonish you.
  • Who are the people that matter most to you? Take a few minutes and brainstorm in your journal a creative way you can show each of those closest to you just how valuable they are  (i.e. a note of appreciation and gratitude, an act of service, a gift).
  • Our friendships open our eyes to ourselves. If someone asked your best friend to list the top 5 things you stand for, what would they say?
  • Name three people you most respect. What is it about their character that you admire most?
  • People perform best when given clear standards. Standards provide clarity, accountability, and the opportunity for feedback. List three figures – whom you know personally or from afar – who operate with a consistent focus on their standards.
  • The choices we make daily are the ones that shape our future. What three people do you know or know of who never seem to tire of making the right decisions? How about making the right decisions for their family?
  • Those whom we spend the most time with shape us most profoundly. Name five of the people with whom you spend the majority of your time outside of work. Of those five, which of them inspire you to live life in line with your values?
  • Whom we trust speaks volumes. When things aren’t going as planned, whom do you place your trust in? Where do you find rest when the circumstances around you are going haywire?

Vitamin F – FUN!

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In the same way that it is much easier to eat things that have pleasing flavors, and to think about things that create good feelings, movement requirements are much easier met when supplemented with Vitamin F – FUN!  With the right choice of activity, feelings of achievement and a general sense of increased physical wellness can be immediate results making the effort much more play than work.

As it is with all preferences, the definition of “fun” is as varied as the people who define it.  What matters in terms of effectiveness is that the means of acquiring the essential element of movement is appealing to the person engaging in the activity.  As two-time World Cup downhill champion and Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street shares with SUCCESS Magazine, fun is a primary factor in maintaining commitment and deriving the most benefit from movement:  “If you’re procrastinating about working out, then whatever you’re doing isn’t working for you.  You need to check into something different.”

Here are ten ideas for injecting Vitamin F into our pursuit of fitness from the BeachBody.com newsletter:

• Try something new
• Play a sport
• Get a buddy
• Get the whole family involved
• Go dancing
• Use an MP3 player
• Bedroom athletics
• Shop it up
Fitness vacations
• Share your wisdom

In addition to helping us to improve the shape, composition, and performance of our bodies in an enjoyable way, acquiring our daily essential element of movement through fun and play offers more than physical benefit – it’s part of our stress-coping arsenal and helps us to manage the less-than-enjoyable aspects of life.  Suzanne Nottingham, in an October 2006 cover story in Parks & Recreation listing many benefits of play as a means of exercise, learning, and development at any stage of life, states that “Play is essential to health and wellness.  When an activity is enjoyable, adherence is the by-product.  Pleasurable activities stimulate the nervous system, which affects your physiology.”

Exercise machines, personal trainers, free weights, run buddies, WODs (Workout Of the Day), yoga instructors, hockey games, kickball, and long stretches of sunlit beach are all examples of tools we can use to administer our daily dose of movement.  Which will work best depends purely on which delivers the maximum Vitamin F in the time and resources allotted, and is subject to personal preference.

We know we need it – it’s time for us to get away from forcing WORKouts, and get to enjoying our PLAYouts!  Let’s get moving and have some FUN doing it!