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the journey along the middle prong river trail to Health

It is hard!


Health is to hard.  Many don’t achieve it because it is to hard.  These were the words of a recent conversation I had with a friend and client.


Is Health hard?  Is Wellness really unobtainable?  I may surprise you with my answer—for many the answer is unfortunately yes.  The answer is not due to access to the ability to be Healthy and Well, but because they just don’t want to be.  They like being unhealthy.  In fact, the name of the disease that they carry is their identity.  You take away their disease, you take away their identity.  These individuals simply don’t want to make any changes necessary to achieve Health and Wellness.


But is Health that hard?  The answer is no.



It is the Change that is hard.  When a person has lived their entire life in a manner that promotes disease, that is all they know.  Asking them to now live Healthy and Well is not hard or unobtainable.  They just don’t know how to make the choices that promote a Healthy and Well life.


This is the essence of Yard to Table.   Promote and highlight easy ways to live a Healthy and Well life through means right at our fingertips.  Health and Well is all around us.  People just need to recognize the opportunities and choose to say yes.


Such was an opportunity that I want to highlight.


Exercise is one of the 5 points of Wellness at Forum Health Knoxville.  I was asked recently to take part in a small day event with the pastor and some men at my church.  The day was built around a 5 mile hike.  A 5 mile hike in the Great Smoky National Park—right at our fingertips.


I could have said no.  “I don’t have time”.  “It is to hard”.  These could have been my excuses, but they would not have been honest.  Hard?  A 5 mile hike with a gently incline up and gently decline down?  The men on this hike ranged from early 30s to 70s.  They ranged from the fit to the…well the fiddle.  It was not hard.  It was a beautiful walk on a cool saturday.  It was not hard even for the fiddles.


Life is about choices.  Everyday we are at a crossroads, whether we realize it or not.  Health and Wellness is a choice, as a lack of Health and Wellness is a choice.  Neither chooses us.   We must choose.  We must choose HealthWellness doesn’t just choose those it wishes to bless.  Wellness is achieved through choice.  I chose to make time and fit this 5 mile hike into my schedule and I was the better for it.


The trail was the middle prong trail.  It can be found just up the road from Townsend.  middle-prong-trail-mapIt is approximately a 30 minute drive from west Knoxville to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.  The middle prong trail starts at the point that was once the city of  Tremont and then travels right up to the Appalachian trail if you want.  We only walked 2.5 miles up and 2.5 miles down.   The incline is slow and steady.  The trail is wide and level.  In fact, the trail use to be the site of a logging railroad and tracks of history past break through as reminders of history past.  There are some rocks scattered about, but the level of difficulty is very low as hiking goes.


The trail follows the Middle Prong Little River as it migrates its way down from the mountains to the valley below.  This makes for a great refresher for the feet along the way if one chooses.  Be careful though, the water is chilly and the rocks are slippery!  The river is lined with one waterfall after another.  It is as if the water of life flows down the river bed rocks from above to give life to the valley below.  The river gives rise to amazing life around it.  The native rhododendrons and the mountain laurels were beautiful!  Ferns of a vast variety surrounded our steps.  Little direct sunlight was able to break the canopy above, which left the temperature just right.


That all sounds great and refreshing, but what were the health benefits?  Though the total time spent on the trail was about 5 hours, I figured only 2 hours was actively spent hiking as we stopped at many points along the path to be still and enjoy the creation around us.  According to an online calorie counter, 2 hours of hiking hills resulted in 1357 calories burned for my weight.  It could have been a little less or even a little more, but make no bones about it—significant calories were burned.


The burning of excess calories helps to maintain Healthy weight or aid weight loss if excess belly fat exists.  Remember, abdominal fat is the source of a lot of systemic inflammation and even hormones that wreak havoc on the body’s ability to maintain a Healthy metabolism.


To ensure added benefits from good nutrition accompanied the hike, fresh greens from my yard (Yard to Table), strawberries, bananas, grapes, and nuts accompanied me on this hike.  I am sad to report that none of them made it home.    Compare this to many around that ate process bars and white bread sandwiches.

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One of the greatest benefits of this saturday exercise was stress relief.  It has been estimated by the CDC that 90% of visits to the physician are stress related.  Relieve stress and improve Health.  This hike provided significant stress relief through exercise.  Add in the removal of oneself from the hustle and bustle of the city life, the many reflection points alone the hike and the conversations with others present, and stress relief was present for all involved.


It is not everywhere that one can simply drive 30 miles and have access to such opportunities for health.  It just takes a simple decision—a choice.  A choice to say yes to the first step in Health.  In this case, it was 5 miles of steps on the middle prong river trail in the Great Smoky National Park.

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