Doing Penance on Thanksgiving Day, How Screwed up are Americans?

Thanksgiving - that most American of holidays and many people's (including Hair Balls') favorite given as it is to sloth, gluttony and hours of mindlessly brain-sucking TV be it parades or football - is also most American in the guilt we're supposed to feel for enjoying it.

How else to explain the Turkey Trots? Run in the morning and then you'll lose enough calories to indulge the rest of the day! Or at least you'll have demonstrated the great struggle and can feel better than everyone else sitting around the table.

Same thing goes for the family touch football game. If you weren't a Kennedy you probably didn't see a football close up all year and weren't in any kind of shape for this sudden burst of camaraderie and exercise.

The walk after the meal - how many miles do you figure you'd have to go before compensating for that mashed potatoes and gravy? Or the pie?

Then there's the whole other subset of guilt remedies. Hate exercise? Then let's do a lo-cal T-Day which may not taste as good but don't you feel more righteous? In one day's gesture you're going to kickstart that body for a new year and you can feel proud thinking that you're not one of all those people putting on their five extra pounds for the day.

The same Pilgrim forefathers and mothers who gave us the idea of Thanksgiving - much later established as a national holiday and then copied by Canadians who do it in October cause it gets colder up there earlier and gives it some space from the Christmas/New Year's holidays - also gave us an apparently irresistible urge to feel guilty.

And don't think businesses don't know how to tap into it. Body3Fitness Center, for instance, has a brilliant plan:

"Anyone who donates a bag of non-perishable items will be provided with a free "damage control" workout on Thanksgiving Day before the big feast. All food items will be donated to the Houston Food Bank," its press release states.

So here you can do good and be punished rewarded for it with a workout worthy of someone who has just been inducted into the military on T-Day!

But what do we know? Apparently this has its appeal because this is the third year Body3Fitness Center is putting this on in Houston.

The Turkey Day Boot Camp Workout is meant to maximize calorie burn, deplete muscle glycogen, and ramp up metabolism to allow participants to enjoy some of the indulgences of the holiday season in moderation without the guilt or the setbacks. This big event is for everyone and anyone.

No guilt, no setbacks - the perfect prescription for a culture that finds a way to imbue its holidays with astericks. Of course your other option would be just to enjoy the day and then talk to your psychiatrist about it. You're already paying him to help you feel better. Might as well add this to the load.

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