By Kristin Sidorov
Well, it’s finally happened. The leaves are turning, the air is brisk, and every night when I leave my office I notice it’s a little darker than it was the night before. Fall is here, and with it comes the urge to hunker down, hibernate, and give up on the healthy goals you’ve worked towards all summer.
We’ve all been there. The warm, long days fade away and your motivation goes from high to low in no time. But staying fit and healthy year-round has more benefits than you might think, and I’ve decided that this is the year I’m staying on top of it. I’m staying fit for fall—and all the way through the new year—by finding new ways to work out, stay motivated, and fight back those cold-weather cravings (like hot chocolate and pumpkin pie). Who’s with me?
To start, I decided to pinpoint the challenges I face every year once fall hits. By identifying them before they sneak-attack my fitness goals, it’ll be no sweat to avoid them once them time comes.
The Problem: Tempting cool-weather treats and lack of fresh produce
I’m a foodie at heart, so my pitfalls this time of the year usually start with comfort food cravings. As soon as pumpkin lattes hit, I start to crave everything from chili to apple pie. Add to that a seasonal lull in fresh produce, and staying on track with healthy eating can suddenly be a daily battle.
The Solution: Depriving yourself is never a good idea, and repressing cravings usually leads to major backfires and overindulgences once you finally give in. Instead, try getting creative with lightened-up versions of fall favorites, or stick to moderation throughout the season. If you’re on your third day of lusting after that pumpkin bread, allow yourself to have a small slice that beats the craving—but doesn’t over-do it. And while it seems like most produce either disappears or skyrockets in price once summer ends, you can still find some good deals on fall’s seasonal items, like squash, apples, mushrooms, pears, figs, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes. Don’t forget about the freezer section: Opting for frozen produce still gives you the nutrients and health benefits you’re after.
The Problem: The days are shorter and busier
For most of us, myself included, September through January are like a whirlwind. School starts, things pick up at work, the holiday season seems to start earlier every year, and weekends are jam-packed with events, trips, and to-do lists. To top it all off, the days so much shorter, making finding the extra time to workout, let alone relax, seem impossible.
The Solution: Working out doesn’t have to be a chore, and finding the time for it should be as high a priority as all of the other commitments you’ve made this year. Try to think of your workouts as “you” time—time when you’re able to put everything else away and focus on you. Nothing clears my head like a good run, and when I find my motivation lacking, I remind myself of that. Think of it this way: A 1-hour workout is only 4 percent of your day. Don’t you think you owe yourself at least that? And if you really can’t squeeze in a full workout, do something, anything to get moving or combine a chore—like raking leaves with getting in some cardio.
The Problem: Cold-weather blues and gym boredom are getting us down
I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I just get sick of the gym. The people, the noises, the same thing over and over again—at some point, I’ll end up plateauing or needing a break. But during the colder months, sometimes it seems like the gym is the only option.
The Solution: If you’re feeling bored, it’s time to change things up and step outside your comfort zone. I’ve found that when I find myself complaining about being “sick of the gym,” it’s usually because I’m sick of my routine. It’s true that finding outdoor workouts during the colder months can be tricky, and your options might be limited, but that doesn’t mean they’re not out there. Sign up for a sports team, a new class, or a 5K. Find new workouts to complete at home. Mix new things in with your old routine, and you’ll find that boredom will melt away.