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Are you excited about your Thanksgiving week?  Everyone has their own memories and traditions, but there’s a new wind blowing for us as Latter-day Saints.  With all the changes we are experiencing in the Church at this very special time, perhaps our own Thanksgivings could use a bit of review and some refreshing  for all kinds of good reasons that truly matter on every level.

So let it be!  Here are three things we are excited about this year: 1) a fun, new family tradition to help us express gratitude and cherish our extended families in a meaningful way, 2) some very helpful and healthful recipe links, and 3) an easy, indoor exercise routine that’s been a game-changer for many individuals, including my husband and me.  It’s perfect for after Thanksgiving feasting and the winter months ahead.

1.  A Turkey-Feather Thanksgiving

In our Sacrament Meeting last week, one of the speakers shared that many years ago, she, her husband and their four little boys had moved far, far away from their families with a new job.  November and the upcoming holidays found her desperately homesick for their circle of loved ones.  She prayerfully sought to find some way to make things feel better and was inspired to cut out and mail colorful construction paper feathers to grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Those relatives were asked to write down what they were grateful for on the feathers and mail them back.  They were overwhelmed with the response from everyone and received many feathers back! On Thanksgiving Day, they created a large turkey on a giant poster board.  They read all the messages on the gratitude feathers one by one, then carefully taped them to the turkey poster.

It was so rewarding that they have continued the tradition to this day!  But here’s the best part: they have saved the feathers! It turns out that some of those rather silent grandpas and quirky aunts had some pretty special and sweet things to say that were worth remembering!  As the years have gone by, new family members came into the family and older ones passed away, leaving a bit of their spirits with those treasured paper feathers.  Children’s handwriting and expressions of gratitude became humorous and priceless memories as their family grew and changed through the years. The box of  paper feathers has become a fun snap-shot in time that is now a very special family treasure.

(As a little side-note, they do this every-other year so it’s not a burden on anyone and something they all look forward to.)

As luck would have it, while traveling this past week, I think someone from Southwest Airlines must have attended the same Sacrament Meeting because we found numerous paper turkeys and handwritten gratitude feathers at the Southwest gates in Denver. Here you can see what I’m talking about and a fun way to copy the turkey. What delightful bright spots of humanity and joy to see in a busy airport!

Making the feathers and the paper turkey is a very fun way to engage everyone either on Thanksgiving Day, or ahead of time for Family Home Evening.

2.  Delicious and Healthy Thanksgiving Feast Alternatives

My husband and I have been committed to following a whole food, plant-based eating lifestyle for several years following the publication of Jane Birch’s book, “Discovering The Word of Wisdom.”    It’s foundation is the “do’s” of the  Word of Wisdom and it’s  exciting to see Sister Birch’s articles about this  appearing  in Meridian’s new website for healthy living,  https://meridianlivingwell.com/ .  It’s a treasure trove!

True, Thanksgiving is just one day — and, we do indulge a bit! (And then double up on our detox drink afterwards! CLICK HERE to learn more)

However, we’ve found if we prepare at least 3-4 favorite healthy dishes, then we know we have really increased our own healthy options. Our dishes are often very much enjoyed at our gatherings where nearly everyone is not choosing this lifestyle.  This confirms my feeling that most people just don’t realize how delicious foods without dairy, meat or fats can be! 

Like 3-hour Church and the youth programs that have been graciously retired, it takes a little education to cook and eat differently, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done and won’t yield marvelous blessings!

Thanksgiving is a PERFECT time to try a few new recipes, especially side dishes that are so pretty with all the colorful vegetables.   I subscribe to a number of free whole-food, plant-based lifestyle newsletters that have published their Thanksgiving recipes for tantalizing vegetarian and whole-food, plant-based meals.  I urge you to just enjoy browsing these recipes and the pictures to get excited.  I know you’ll find a few that pique your interest and open your mind (and appetite) to something new and delicious!  These will be helpful and healthful for not just Thanksgiving but for all your meals this winter and into the new year.

Those links are all listed at the bottom of this article.

3.  A Powerful and Easy Indoor Exercise Routine

No matter what we eat on Thanksgiving, we’re all needing a way to exercise afterwards … and throughout the long winter!  Wouldn’t it be great to find something that was easy and indoors? That took only 20 minutes, didn’t work up a sweat or require any special clothing or equipment?  That could even be done, if necessary, from a bed or seated in a chair?  That increased flexibility and mobility?

Good news: My husband and I have implemented a very special program for the past 18 months that checks off all the boxes!  It’s excellent year-round, but especially during the winter when it’s hard to get outside.

Now that we are both well over the age of 65, we are determined to be prepared for the aging processes.  We know there’s a greatly increased risk of falling as we get older, along with a marked decrease in muscle strength and tone. And energy! We’ve made a conscious commitment to do whatever we can to foster flexibility, stamina, muscle tone and strength.  And keep energy up-up-up!

We’ve exercised regularly in a number of ways over the years.  Up until 18 months ago, we faithfully went to a gym close to our home.

In June of 2018, however, we started an exercise program (a 20-minute video) that we had stumbled onto.  It requires holding various body positions for approximately 60 seconds while incorporating deep breathing. 

Within three months of doing it, we realized (just like the website testimonials said) that we were getting far more out of it this video than anything we were doing at the gym.  We had much better muscle definition, strength and balance. We both lost several inches around our waist. Each day we were stretching, breathing, balancing and all-in-all, preparing our bodies to instinctively know what to do and self-correct if we should fall.  We felt great every day we did it and missed the energizing lift we received on the rare days that we skipped it. 

So, we gave up our gym memberships! We figured if we missed the gym, we could always go back.  But we haven’t. When the weather allows, we do enjoy a walk in the early morning for 15-20 minutes which is necessary for Vitamin D and so enjoyable as well.  More importantly for us, however, is to do this 20-minute video after we read our scriptures. I also spend 10-15 minutes with my hand-weights and mini-tramp several days a week to address my osteoporosis, but it’s this amazing, daily 20-minute  video that’s my key exercise.

What is it?  It’s called “Oxycise” and was developed in the mid-80’s by a Latter-day Saint woman by the name of Jill Johnson.  (the link is at the bottom of the article.

Jill, now retired, lost 65 pounds in 6 months in her mid-30’s by doing this – without extreme dieting.  She has kept the weight off to this day.  When others saw her success and wanted to learn how, she started by teaching small groups in her living room.  It grew into classes at a rented studio and then into a thriving business with the videos.  At this time, she has retired and lives in Park City, Utah, where she enjoys doing family history work and being with her grandchildren.  She easily maintains the weight loss from all those years ago, even as a senior citizen!  She passed the business on to her daughters.  Their beautiful website and astonishing number of remarkable testimonials will intrigue you. I urge everyone who wants to lose some weight and increase their strength to give it a try for 90 days.  Who hasn’t got 20 minutes to do a workout where you can wear your PJs and don’t have to sweat???

Not only has it personally blessed our own health immensely as seniors, we’ve watched a darling young (and nursing) mom that we dearly love easily lose 12 pounds and many inches over the past several months – without rigorous dieting!  She was so discouraged with her body after five pregnancies in less than 8 years. With five little children ages 8 and under, she doesn’t have time for the gym (which wasn’t working for her anyway) – but she has time for this!  She’s having the same results we are: weight loss, inches lost and toning, increased energy and a revitalizing lift every day physically and mentally, which is so important for keeping her life and wits together with such a large, young family. She feels so much more attractive that that’s a huge blessing too!

Please note that this 30-plus year-old international business is sourced in Salt Lake City.  A number of their featured testimonials are Latter-day Saints who have been using this program for years to manage their weight.

We’ll Oxycise for the rest of our lives and know that we’re doing ourselves a huge favor in the aging game.  As another side benefit, we’re realizing we haven’t gotten sick since starting this! There’s really something to all the deep breathing!

If you decide you’d like to give this a try, the best way to get started is to purchase the streaming video program at www.Oxycise.com.  That will give you access to ALL the videos and you can figure out which one(s) may be best for you. (Use coupon code “Meridian” for 10% off all orders for the next 30 days.)

This program can even work for those who cannot get out of a chair or bed!  My own mom, in her mid-80’s started doing this. She was confined to her bed, but these exercises gave her the upper body strength to move herself in bed and greatly helped her and her care-givers!

So, my dear Meridian Brothers and Sisters, here are the links for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving, holiday season and winter.

Exercise/ Oxycise!

www.Oxycise.com Have a good time here and read the testimonials first! There are many for every age group, especially senior citizens. Use coupon code “MERIDIAN” for 10% off your order.  Once again, I suggest starting with the monthly streaming videos that will give you access to the entire library.  When you know what workout is best for you, then buy the DVD and cancel the monthly streaming.

Healthy Thanksgiving and Holiday Recipes:

FORKS OVER KNIVES 2019 Thanksgiving Recipe Round-Up

T Colin Campbell Whole Food, Plant-Based Thanksgiving Recipes & Menu

Kalyn’s Kitchen Thanksgiving 2019

Sylvia “Feasting At Home” Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Kale, Apples and Maple Pecans. 

Sylvia “Feasting At Home” 20 Hearty Comfort Food Recipes for Fall

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been a columnist for Meridian Magazine since 2007,  providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success and happy living both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999.  She has presented for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents of a growing number of darling little ones. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson, Tennessee, close to Memphis, where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox. CLICK HERE