The leaves are changing, the crisp smell of autumn is in the air. Such an inspired time of year to experience nature and the autumnal equinox. Fall represents change. It presents the perfect opportunity to reboot your health, reset your lifestyle, and implement new habits that will deliver you safely through the holidays.
And by the New Year, you could be a New You.
Like an ominous storm approaching, so many people dread, fear, and delay health and fitness changes until after the holidays. Why wait? Did you know that the average person will gain 1-5 pounds over the holiday season? Now, that may not sound like much, but statistics say those are pounds that most will never lose.
If you could stop a crash before it happens, you would!
Here are 3 changes to make now while the inspired Fall landscape is here to offer its sweetly-scented encouragement:
1.) Get out, get active, and create movement
20-30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise 3-5 days per week is what I recommend to clients. Disconnect from technology, find a park, local path, or take to the trails and soak up the colors of nature. Take advantage of the shorter days, schedule your activity around the sunrise or sunset. (I know I look forward to catching a glimpse of the pinkish-hued, cotton candy skies.)
2.) Eat to live
Implement a mostly plant-based whole foods diet. I say "mostly" as meat is not to be totally excluded. But I encourage you to put the knife down, and give your gut a break.
Focus on a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and naturally-cultivated flavors. Your body will receive all the appropriate and essential nutrients to function maximally. It's a lifestyle change to make now, before you're surrounded by the baked-good-bounty of the holidays.
Look for these seasonal items on produce shelves:
- Fruit: Persimmon, pomegranates, pears, apples
- Vegetables: cabbage, beets, rutabagas and turnips
- Tubers and starchy vegetables: sweet potatoes, pumpkins, squash
Other healthy options to incorporate:
- Whole grains: millet, quinoa, barley, rice, whole wheat, oats, etc.
- Legumes: kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, lima beans, cannellini beans, black beans, etc.
Avoid or restrict:
- Soda, energy drink, carbonated beverages
- Processed Sugars
- Processed Food (i.e. if you can't pronounce the ingredients, you shouldn't eat it)
- Limit dairy consumption
- Limit red meat consumption and processed meats
3.) Set short-term goals
Here's a good analogy I heard the recently:
When you tear a sheet off the paper towel roll, you don't see much difference. After a week, the roll may be half its size or even gone. The same is true with losing weight, seeing and feeling the results.
Instead of a grand goal, like, "I'm going to lose 20 pounds in the next 2 months," set a goal to reflect your efforts and behavioral changes. Things like, "I'll commit to 20-30 minutes of cardio 4 days per week" and "I'll plan meatless menus at least 3 nights this week."
Decide what you want to accomplish on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis. Doing so will give measurable value to your commitment and your accountability. When you take care of the short-term goals, the grand stuff will take care of itself.
While autumn skylines remind us how beautiful change can be, commit to some changes of your own that will positively impact your quality of life. Don't just lose weight; get rid of it. Don't just diet; evolve your habits and lifestyle.
And Fall, all over again, for the idea that you are capable of great things.