After some truly bizarre late-October weather, I think it’s safe to say fall is finally here and shoot, winter is seriously sneaking up on us! It's time to break out the cozy sweaters, go apple picking, and watch some football. However, this time of year can be tough on our health habits. It often becomes harder to stay active and eat healthy, not to mention the looming threats of flu season and holiday overload.
So, how can you maintain your steady exercise, eating, and other health habits during this new season? I have a couple ideas I’ll share that work well for me. What others would you add?
Get Outside- I actually find it easier to exercise in the fall; the cooler weather means less risk of dehydration and sweating profusely. Take advantage of exercising outside before winter arrives! It can be as simple as a bike ride around town or a pick-up game of football. You could also set a step goal, then encourage yourself to hit it. Try taking a walk after dinner or doing laps around the office periodically.
Be a Smart Sports Fan- For those of you who enjoy watching sports, fall means that on any given day you can pick between football, baseball, hockey, and basketball. Even those who have limited knowledge of the rules still generally get excited for tailgates and Saturday afternoons with friends and some great appetizers. The problem comes when we overindulge in beer, chicken wings, and chili queso. Don’t let the fall sports season ruin your nutritional plans. Opt for making a veggie platter or ground turkey burgers instead of the fattier options. Your friends will be thankful for a healthier alternative too!
Take it Easy on the Pumpkin Spice Latte- Starbucks, and other brands, have been advertising this sweet fall drink for weeks now - did anyone watch that hilarious Facebook Live? In recent years, pumpkin spice has been all the rave and for good reason. What more can you ask of a warm, cozy, sweet, and nostalgic autumn beverage? However, they’re sky-high in fat and sugar, which adds up to hundreds of calories. If you just can’t say no to the occasional PSL, make your drink slightly healthier by selecting low- or non-fat milk, say no to the whipped cream, and ask for less flavor syrup. Otherwise, cinnamon is a great fall spice with its own health benefits that you could use instead of the sweetener.
Embrace Seasonal Superfoods- Just because the summer mecca of fruits and veggies is over, doesn’t mean you have to start eating poorly. Fall is actually a great time to load up on local superfoods. Consider taking a walk (or drive) to the Fulton Street Farmers Market to stock up on fresh produce. Apples are the easiest grab-and-go snack in the world. And pumpkins are good for more than just carving. They’re jam-packed with immune-boosting vitamin A and can be mashed, roasted, turned into soup, or used in baking. Sweet potatoes are chock-full of disease-preventing, cancer-fighting, and immune-boosting benefits. But put down the marshmallows when making them. Instead, bake them for 45 minutes and pile high with turkey and black bean chili, or loaded with kale and white beans!
Live Aligned with the Season- Give yourself permission to alter your lifestyle. Whereas summer means never-ending activity, these shorter days and longer nights are a great excuse to work on your self-care. Make time to relax at home, under your favorite blanket. Maybe you start writing the book you always wanted to start, or enjoy extra time reading with your kids. Perhaps you decide to complete a home-improvement project, or just watch a good TV show! Allow autumn to be a chance to nurture yourself - seriously!
Commit to Your Yoga Practice- Whew! No more days of leaving the hot yoga room to an equally hot temperature outside. Honestly, hot yoga can be even more enjoyable when you know you have a warm place to look forward to on these chillier days. This fall, I’m committed to setting (and following) various health goals, such as the ones above. My last challenge to you, dear reader, is to set a goal for your yoga practice. Maybe you want to increase your visits to Yoga Fever: commit to attending 20 times in the next month. Maybe you’re feeling brave and want to experiment with inversions: suggest this goal to your instructor before class or ask for some pointers afterward. Or maybe you want to improve your mind-body relationship: think carefully of one intention that you can meditate on for the month.
Here’s to a happy and healthy season!