If summer is a season for relaxation and fun, fall is the time to get back on track to being the healthiest, happiest you imaginable. All it takes is a few simple tweaks to your routine.
Work It Out
If you’ve fallen off the fitness wagon, autumn is an ideal time to climb back on. Stick with a new workout routine through the holidays and it will be much easier to avoid the dietary downward spiral that starts with Halloween and hits rock bottom on New Year’s Eve.
“I tell my clients to make realistic goals and take small steps toward making exercise a long-term habit,” says Doreen Hall, owner of Pilates People: Physical Therapy & Fitness Training. “Consistency is what will give the best results.”
Hall suggests having someone hold you accountable. “It’s easy to make excuses to skip a workout, but much harder if you have a partner or an appointment with a trainer, or a specific class time to make.”
Naturally, she recommends Pilates. “It’s a wonderful and often necessary complement to any routine. It can balance out the body and help obtain better results with whatever your sport of choice is.”
Raw Is All The Rage
Lisa Odenweller has the air of an evangelist when it comes to raw foods.
“They’re more nutrient dense and easily digestible,” explains the founder and CEO of Beaming, a local raw foods company that opens its first brick-and-mortar location, bBar, this October in Del Mar. “Cooking greatly diminishes the healing properties in vegetables, fruits, sprouts, nuts, and some grains.”
Raw foods are loaded with enzymes that help you digest your food, which lets your body conserve energy for other activities. They’re also packed with vitamins, minerals, phyto-nutrients, and phyto-chemicals that help protect against cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The best part? They don’t have to be boring.
“There are so many great ways to consume high concentrations of vegetables in delicious meals such as fresh-pressed juices or super-food smoothies or even a big, beautiful salad,” says Odenweller.
When You Don’t Snooze, You Lose
“Anyone who has ever pulled an all-nighter can attest to the toll sleep deprivation has on our bodies,” says Sharon Slowik, MD, medical director at Tri-City Medical Center-Cardiac Rehabilitation.” Routinely skimping on sleep can compromise your immune system, increase your likelihood of cardiac disease, and — let’s face it — make you really cranky.
“It seems there really is something to getting your beauty sleep,” explains Slowik. “Sleep is thought to impact leptin, which helps with appetite, metabolism, and body weight. A Stanford study confirmed athletic performance improved with extra sleep.”
Fall is the perfect time to get back into the circadian swing of things, says Slowik. “I personally agree with the caveman philosophy of starting to wind down after the sun goes down.” Try to go to bed two to three hours after sunset and get up eight to nine hours later.
“Read an actual book — not a blue-light computer screen — for at least 20 minutes before bed. See what happens for five days. Your body will thank you.”
Streamline Your Supplements
Karen Paquette, ND, a naturopathic physician at the Metagenics Wellness Center in Solana Beach, recommends micronutrient testing for her patients. “People come in with their basket of supplements and they are confused. We can do a simple blood test to determine which supplements and dietary changes you really need.”
In addition to regular exercise, healthy eating, and lots of sleep, Paquette says B6 and B12 supplements will help boost your immune system. Walk-in clinics offering affordable injections are available at Sprouts locations throughout Southern California.
Gather ’Round The Dinner Table
This fall, make the family dinner a priority. Studies have shown that families who dine together tend to eat healthier foods and are less likely to gain weight. It’s also the perfect time to catch up on your kids’ lives.
If cooking every evening is unrealistic, consider using a service like Dine In 2Nite, which delivers fresh gourmet meals to your doorstep. “There aren’t any additives, preservatives or hidden calorie bombs in our entrees,” says executive chef Claire Kats. “I can’t think of a simpler or more stress-free way to start the season.”
When you do have the time to cook, Kats suggests easy but healthy switch-ups to your kitchen routine. “Trade empty, starchy carbs like potatoes or noodles for mashed yams or sweet potatoes, turnip or parsnip puree,” she says. “Put nuts and eggs in your salad for an omega and antioxidant boost.”
Figure Out A Kid-Friendly Routine
After the initial back-to-school euphoria wears off, kids can have a tough time adjusting to change after a long summer of fun. Nicole Buti at Bright Horizons, a leading provider of childcare, early education, and work/life solutions that has its own private preschool in Encinitas, suggests easing your kids back into it.
“For happier mornings, develop a special ‘getting-ready’ routine and stick with it,” Buti says. “When children can predict what’s coming next, they feel competent and are much more likely to cooperate. For younger children, a relaxing routine might start off with some snuggle time and independent play, followed by a nutritious breakfast. For older children, it might include time to collect homework and plan for afternoon activities.”
Buti also emphasizes the importance of an after-school backup plan in case you are running late. “Make sure your emergency pickup people know what the pickup routine is at the school or after-school program.” ANNAMARIA STEPHENS