Most of us are still in vacation mode with our toes in the sand, but we’ll blink and it will be September before we realize it. The summer has a tendency to fly by and let Fall completely sneak up on us. Whether you still have kids in school or not, there is a definite change in the air when summer ends. Temperatures cool back down, traffic heats back up, no more casual Friday at the office. Some of us look forward to this return to the norm after a more laid-back summer, but some of us dread it. Either way, I think most of us can agree that there is a distinct feel to the changing of these seasons.
It might seem premature to be talking about Fall now but I think this is the perfect time to prepare. Second only to New Years, this is the ideal time of year to be open to making meaningful changes to our health and fitness. Most of us will be adjusting our routines for a variety of reasons when summer ends – traffic, school, work, sports, etc. We may have to wake up earlier, stay at work later, rush around to after work activities. Whatever the reason, this is a time of the year when we are open and receptive to changes in our routine. It is a time of year when we expect to buckle down and embrace more structure and a more regular schedule. That means it is also the perfect time to strategically add some exercise and simple meal planning habits into your new and improved routine if you have struggled through the summer. You have to be ready though. You can’t let it sneak up on you and expect to be successful.
As much as I love the summer and being home with my kids, I do look forward to school starting back up each year. Since I still have young children, routines are important and they keep us all sane and functioning as a family. I start to crave the regularity and structure of the school year. Each summer I consider our school situation for the upcoming year and sit down to plan my new routine accordingly. What time do the kids have to be up to catch the bus? What time do I need to be up to get my workout done and not be rushing around to get them ready? How many days a week will I run or do cross training? What day will I do my grocery shopping, and when will I do my meal prep so I’m prepared to make healthy choices all week long? Then as someone who works from home, how will I organize the rest of my day once they are off to school? These things are all second nature to me now after doing this for a long time, but it hasn’t always been that way. Waking up early to fit in a workout would not have been a priority. It would have been the first thing to get cut when life got crazy if I didn’t have a plan. I would have hit the sandwich shop or something worse for lunch each day if I hadn’t taken the 10 minutes to plan out my meals for the week.
If you take the time now to really think about a new routine for the fall that incorporates more elements of a healthy lifestyle, you will be ready and excited to dive in when the time comes. There is an enthusiasm and energy that comes from making a fresh start, and if you strike while the iron is hot it can carry you far. Far enough to turn these new habits into a way of life that will stick with you for good. That is always the goal – permanent lifestyle changes and NOT a quick fix.
Think about the best time of day to exercise based on your schedule and start to craft your plan. Can you wake up 30 minutes earlier and get in something quick before work? Do you have the ability to break over lunch? Will you do it in the evening before dinner? I know early morning does NOT work for everyone but I will tell you that getting exercise done early in the day guarantees that it actually happens. As the day wears on more excuses pop up that make it seem like an expendable to-do list item. I urge you to opt for mornings whenever possible.
Now, what to actually do?? If you haven’t been exercising at all maybe you start with walking outside for 20 mins. Look for online home workout options which are plentiful and extremely effective. If you have a gym membership that is collecting dust, plan your first visit back. If you need help finding something that meets your needs, reach out and I’m happy to assist!! Even 15 minutes of exercise is better than nothing.
Another critical component to living a healthy lifestyle is nutrition. I’m not suggesting a complete overhaul of your diet unless you are really ready and know what you are doing. I do urge you to make some small but meaningful changes that will add up over time. Cut back on soda or a bad Starbucks habit. Eliminate as much sugar as you can. Try to replace some refined carbohydrates with healthy, unprocessed options. Cut back on your portions.
A powerful change in the nutrition department if you are starting a new routine is to start preparing a variety of foods in advance that you can use for breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the week. Having healthy meals and snacks prepared in advance will save you from making unhealthy choices out of convenience. You can roast a variety of veggies, grill chicken, make a batch of quinoa, slice up some snacking veggies, hard-boil eggs. Make veggie egg cups and overnight oats for breakfasts. It takes about an hour on a Sunday afternoon, but it will keep you on track all week and you won’t find yourself hitting the drive-thru because there is nothing for lunch.
Finally, I urge you to carve out a little time in your new routine for some self-care. That might look different for all of us, but it could be prayer or meditation, 10 minutes with a good book, a quick nap, sitting in the sunshine with no technology. It could also be a nice soak in an Epsom salt bath to relieve sore muscles from your new workout regimen. Taking that time to refresh and rejuvenate yourself each day is just as important as diet and exercise. Slowing down to recharge your batteries is critical!
I hope this gives you a few ideas for revamping your fall routine and working towards a new and healthier you. Using this change in seasons as a chance for a fresh start will help eliminate all of those excuses that have been holding you back. Whatever you come up with, whether the changes are big or small, I urge you to write them down. Putting pen to paper makes it all feel a bit more real and you will be more likely to follow through. In the meantime, enjoy the last days of summer!!
Hadley Sorensen is a health and fitness coach who lives in Virginia with her husband and 3 boys. She is an avid reader, runner and fitness instructor who has a passion for helping others learn to enjoy exercise. Hadley uses one-on-one coaching as well as virtual accountability groups to provide support and motivation to her clients. Her guiding philosophy is that it’s never too late to take charge of your health and improve your level of fitness. Find her on Facebook @HadleySorensenFitness