I had to share this article because I’ve found it so true and found I tend to put my weight on in the fall of the year as I’ve shared in this article. And also the reason I’m for starting fitness challenges in the fall of the year. It’s the best time, and also the hardest time, to get organized, plan your meals, and exercise routine. Because of the weather changes, we don’t always feel like we have as much time, but time isn’t the factor there are still 24 hours in a day.
Watch Out! The Freshman 15 Isn’t Just for Freshmen
By Steve Edwards
Back-to-school time doesn’t just affect students. It’s the time of year when everything changes—for everyone. The days shorten, the weather cools off, we get really busy, and the holidays are looming around the corner. As opposed to those frivolous days of summer, your schedule is now probably booked. In short, it’s the easiest time of the year to let your health slide.
This is when it’s important to remember that the “freshman 15” isn’t just for freshmen. All of us, students or not, face these seasonal lifestyle adjustments—and the lapses in fitness and healthy diet that accompany them—every year. Autumn is beautiful, but it’s also the toughest season to transition through. Here are 10 ways to make it to New Year’s without having to make a resolution to spend all or part of next year fixing what went off the rails during the fall.
1. Schedule your exercise
One of the most difficult adjustments to make during the fall is getting used to less daylight. As the days shorten, it seems as if you’ve got fewer hours during which to schedule your activities. When you come home from work in the dark, it hurts your psyche. And it’s tough to believe that 7:00 PM is really no different than it was during July, when you still had 2 hours of daylight left. Then there’s the cold factor. Even if you work out indoors, it’s so much easier to get back under your warm covers or bundle up and sit in front of a fire or the TV than it is to force a workout. Just remember that exercising makes you warm. It also keeps you fit and healthy and is the best thing you can do with cold and flu season right around the corner. Schedule your daily workout like it’s part of your job, and stick to it.
2. Schedule your sleep
As our days get busier, we tend to push projects later and later into the evening. To fuel those longer hours we eat…and eat. This is one major cause of the freshman 15: the infamous all-nighter. A recent study showed that when doctors are doing their residencies and are forced to work extremely long hours, famously foregoing sleep in the process, they each gain an average of more than 20 pounds. As available daylight decreases, it’s common to find yourself making alterations in your daily schedule, with sleep often losing out, so schedule your sleep just like you do your work and exercise.
3. Plan your meals
Plan your weekly meals ahead of time so you don’t resort to unhealthy “convenience” foods. If your schedule is insane during the week, try taking an hour or two on Sunday to shop and strategize. Put healthy meal and snack options in your car, your office, your backpack, or anywhere you’re likely to find yourself hungry. Trust me, the energy you get on the back end of this planning will far exceed the time it takes to plan, especially when you consider how you’ll feel if your diet is fueled by fast food.
4. Carry water everywhere
When we’re busy, we’ll often forget to drink water, especially as the weather cools off. Then, in this dehydrated state, we often confuse thirst for hunger, and we eat. You can avoid this by making sure there’s water everywhere you go. Carry a water bottle and refill it at every opportunity. Have an extra bottle in your car, your backpack, at your desk, etc., and behave as if you’re in a race each day. Force yourself to drink a glass of water every hour that you’re working or studying.
5. Be realistic about alcohol
Another big contributor to the freshman 15, alcohol, is very high in calories (7 calories per gram) and very low in nutritional value. Every drink you consume is about 200 calories of nutrition that you aren’t getting from your diet, or that you’re consuming additional calories—overeating—to replace. And this is before we consider the calories you need to consume getting rid of a hangover. If you’re a drinker, you’ll never be faced with more temptation than during the fall. So plan for it. Prior to going out, consider the number of drinks you want to allow yourself and stick to it. Another helpful tip is to carry that water bottle with you socially as well and drink a bottle for every cocktail you have. This will help fill you up so you aren’t drinking alcohol to quench your thirst, which happens often at social events. Drinking that water will also keep you hydrated and minimize the effects of your hangover. One other helpful hangover cure is to have a glass of P90X® Results and Recovery Formula® at night after you’ve been drinking. Consuming these calories right before bed may be not be ideal, but it’ll minimize the damage the alcohol will do to your body, which should lead to less overeating and more productivity the next day.
6. Plan for parties
Parties happen—and there’s not much you can do about it. Even if you aren’t social, the party will find you. Many offices are like the one in thatSeinfeld episode where the coworkers find any excuse to celebrate, usually with cake or other sugary treats. And with fall comes many such opportunities to indulge. Beginning with Oktoberfest, you’ll find a relentless stream of perfectly good excuses to ruin your health that lasts right through New Year’s. Plan ahead and decide just which occasions will be worth the indulgence. That way you’ll be fully armed with reasons when your coworkers show up in your office singing, “Get well, get well soon…”
7. Begin a morning ritual
One of the easiest ways to live a healthy lifestyle is to begin each day by doing something positive. During the summer, we often let this slide because, well, we can. With long warm days to look forward to, there always seems to be time to do something energetic. As the days shorten, making the effort to be healthier takes more discipline. Beginning each day with something healthy, even something as brief as a 5-minute ritual of breathing deeply, stretching, and thinking about positive things you want to accomplish with your day, can give you a whole new outlook.
8. Find a healthy nighttime ritual
Many of us undo an entire day’s productivity in the last few hours before bed. This is particularly true when we’re busy and/or stressed because we want to unwind, which often means cocktails and/or desserts in front of the TV. If you can find a healthier way to unwind, you’ll do yourself a world of good. And even if you can’t get away from the cocktail/dessert/TV habit, adding something at its end, instead of just sacking out, can reverse much of the damage. Stretching in front of the TV is one of the easiest ways to make that transition. Following up your stretching with herbal tea and some relaxing reading can have you hitting the sack with a much more positive attitude. Another way to help yourself get in that positive ready-for-bed headspace? Yoga Booty Ballet® Master Series Pajama Time or the Yoga Booty Ballet Relax and Unwind bedtime meditation CD, both of which are designed with end-of-day relaxation in mind.
9. Make a positive New Year’s resolution now
Instead of waiting until New Year’s to undo and repair the damage caused by a fall-into-winter slide away from your fitness goals, make a resolution to get there, starting today, with improved fitness and health. Just think about how much better your goals can be for next year if you finish this year on a positive note. Why put yourself through the work of digging yourself out of a hole you make deeper from now through the end of the year? Instead, set yourself up, beginning right now, to have a banner New Year.
10. Cut yourself some slack
You can’t be perfect, and, frankly, who wants to be? You’ve got to live. By planning ahead with goals in mind, you’ll be far more able to relax about the holiday season, and maybe even enjoy it a little too. So make a plan and do your best to stick with it, but don’t forget to make enjoying the season and having some fun part of that plan.