“Fall is the perfect time to hit refresh on your health,” says Olga Hays, an American Council on Exercise-certified wellness promotion specialist at Sharp HealthCare. “The change of season offers us an opportunity to reflect and refocus.”
“Instead of waiting until January to start exercising and eating healthy again, set good behavior patterns now, while daylight hours are longer and the weather is still nice,” explains Hays.
Summer is notorious for sugary cocktails and calorie-laden barbecues. Fall is the perfect time for resetting your diet. Below are a few strategies to help you get back on track.
- Stay away from the diet mentality.
It is very tempting to go on a diet after months of overeating. Yet, diets do not work long term and only make you feel bad about yourself if you fall off the wagon. Instead, focus on small, sustainable changes to your nutrition habits. For example, eliminate added sugars, or add more fruits and vegetables to every meal. Whatever it is, focus on one small change and stick with it for at least 30 days until it becomes a habit.
- Find a meal routine that works for you.
Everyone is different and what works for some people, may not work for others. Not everyone needs five to six small meals a day, and not everyone can have only two large meals a day. Experiment with your eating routine for a few days and find an eating plan that leaves you energized and satisfied all day long. For example, focus on three meals a day that consist of a balanced mix of veggies, fruit, whole grains, proteins and healthy fats.
- Plan your meals.
Once you determine your meal routine, it is a good idea to set aside some time each week to plan your meals ahead of time to help your routine stick. Meal prep eliminates guesswork and can keep you on a healthy eating track. Meal prep can also help with portion control if your goal is to watch your weight and avoid overeating.
After living through spring and summer with the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us took a break from exercise. Now that we are readjusting and returning to semi-normal, day-to-day activities, it is also a good time to hit refresh on your fitness goals and create a routine that is manageable and realistic.
- Start slowly.
If you took a long break from exercise, don’t go all in when you are starting out. After months of no or low physical activity, you are deconditioned and more prone to injury. Start with two workout sessions a week and try to build up to four workout sessions a week. Keep an exercise journal to keep yourself honest, set new goals and reflect on how your workouts make you feel.
- Try something new.
Because many of us are still hesitant to go to gyms, try other ways to stay active. Go hiking, try a new workout video on YouTube, take a virtual Zumba class, learn how to play tennis or play an outside sport. Find a workout that you will enjoy. Research shows the more we like a specific workout, the more likely we will be consistent, and the less likely we will skip it.
- Create accountability.
Having a workout partner can help with accountability, workout motivation and make exercising more fun. Because we are still in a pandemic, we may not always be able to have a workout buddy in person. Instead, consider scheduling a workout Zoom call with your workout buddy during an at-home workout or come up with another system to keep each other accountable. For example, send each other selfies after each complete workout.