With the changing leaf colors of fall also comes changing schedules. Whether it’s getting the kids off to school, starting a new job, moving to a different city, or simply wanting a “fresh” start after Labor Day, chances are there need to be some tweaks to your old summer routine. Fall can be a great time to reestablish health goals you may have set at the beginning of summer, or develop entirely new ones. No matter what your lifestyle is going to look like come this new season, here are a few tips on how to give your goals a refresh for fall.
Easy summer dinners on the grill are fleeting once September rolls around, and healthy eating often takes a little more planning and preparation as your schedule and that of your family picks up. Take a few minutes over the weekend to look at the schedule for the upcoming week and identify when and if you’ll be able to cook, when it may be easier to have something prepped and ready, and when takeout may be your best bet. Then, write down ideas for your dinners and make a grocery list to get what you need on Saturday or Sunday. If you have time, weekends are also a great time to roast vegetables and make grains (like quinoa or farro) for weekday grain bowls, or make a big batch of hearty soup that stores well in the fridge or freezer.
If you no longer have time for your daily morning run or evening walk, don’t stress! There are other ways to get enjoyable movement into your days. Small increments of movement – even 10 minutes! – spread throughout the day can have similar health benefits compared to one longer effort. And, they help keep your body moving consistently and energy levels up. Set an alarm every couple of hours to remind yourself to get up from your desk or workspace for movement – that can be walking, stretching, light strength training, whatever you enjoy. Lunchtime walks can also work wonders and help digestion if you head out for a 15–20 minute stroll after eating. If your days just don’t feel the same without your yoga class or regular run, identify some gaps in your new schedule that may allow for these to happen with a few tweaks. For example, a good reason for an easy takeout dinner is more time to fit in your workout!
Once fall gets into full swing, I often find clients eschew “me time” in favor of other obligations for work, family, social lives, etc. Over time, this can be mentally and physically draining. Especially if you’re not also making time for yourself. Schedule “me time” into your calendar just as you would an important meeting or your kids’ championship soccer game, and do the same necessary planning it takes to make it happen because it’s just as important. For example, make sure you have childcare covered, reschedule or cancel other meetings, have your spouse walk the dog or make dinner to save time, and make regular “me time” a reality. What you do during your time is up to you, and it can change depending on your mood or what you need in a given moment. Sometimes, an exercise class is great for boosting energy levels, and other times a book and a hot beverage at a coffee shop are what you need to recharge.
Give yourself some grace as you get used to a new schedule, especially if it adds more stress to your life than the previous one. There is no one right way to exercise, nourish your body, practice self-care, etc. It’s all about learning what works best for you in a given moment (or new season!) and using that to evolve your health journey. It may take some time to acclimate, but being flexible with your health goals is healthy, just as going with the ebb and flow of the changing seasons of life.