FALL INTO FITNESS
The holidays are just around the corner, and for many people that means months of decadent treats and extravagant feasts to increase their waistlines. You don’t necessarily need to try a trendy workout to help prepare for the season ahead, either. Here are 25 fall fitness and diet tips from personal trainers and nutritionists across the country.
MAKE THE MOST OF THE SEASON
In most parts of the country, fall can be a great time to get outside and do some cardio. The air is cool and fresh, and the scenery is gorgeous, says Mary Weidner of training app Strongr Fastr. “Take advantage of the foliage by going for hikes or runs in nearby parks.”
FOCUS ON THE SEASON’S HEALTHIEST OFFERINGS
Fall is harvest season, and that means a lot of nutritious veggies are at their best right now. “Stock up on apples, kale, sweet potatoes,” said Mary Weidner of Stongr Fastr. “Try some new recipes with healthy vegetables you might have never tried before, like all of the various types of squashes or parsnips.” It’s also an ideal time to visit farmers markets and see what local produce they’re featuring.
STRATEGICALLY REDUCE CARBOHYDRATES
One way to kick-off weight loss or tone up for the holidays is to strategically reduce your carbohydrate intake, especially on days your activity level is low during the chillier fall and winter months, says Hawaii-based personal trainer Dre Delos Santos. Cutting back on carbohydrates for even a short period of time can help set you on a healthier path and jump start fat loss. “Minimizing processed carbohydrates is a good rule of thumb to follow,” said Delos Santos.
If you're serious about shedding some pounds before the holidays, try exercising every single day, advises Scotty Burgett, founder of wellness site PlantBasedScotty. “This can range from intense HIIT workouts to casual walks with a friend,” he says. “Starting the habit now will help you maintain a regular weight during the hectic holiday season.” Be sure to vary your program to avoid injury or overusing a particular muscle group.
Fill up with fiber from raw vegetables before and during the holidays. Veggies are low in calories and the fiber helps stave off hunger cravings, says Scotty Burgett of PlantBasedScotty. “To burn the most calories, try swapping out all your snacks with raw veggies for one week,” he suggests. “Anytime a craving comes on, go straight to the vegetables to satisfy that need. You can prep a week’s worth of servings in 10 minutes or less at home.” Try using vegetables like carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, and cauliflower. Incorporate hummus or guacamole to make the snack even more enjoyable.
GET ACTIVE AT HOME
Too cold outside for exercise? Can’t make it to the gym? Participate inindoor workout routinesfeatured on YouTube, advises Kansas-based health and wellness coach Lindsey Dinneen. Dineen suggests the Tone It Up channel, which provides workouts ranging from 10 to 30 minutes. “You can workout at your own pace and in your own available time,” she says.
BEGIN A NEW FITNESS ACTIVITY
Use the season as an opportunity to add something new to your fitness routine. “Try a new way of getting fit indoors this fall,” says Lindsey Dinneen of VidaDance Studio. “Enroll in a dance class, take up spin, or incorporate swimming into your routine.”
BOOK FITNESS CLASSES IN ADVANCE
As the weather gets colder, workouts tend to drop oﬀ immensely, says Caley Crawford of New York City-based fitness studio Row House. Before the lazy tendencies have time to set in, book your workout classes. “It’s important, as we move into the colder months, that you set your workout routine and schedule,” she says. “I suggest ﬁnding a class or studio that you enjoy and be sure to book your classes in advance. Most studios penalize you if you don’t show up for a class you registered for, which might just be the accountability you need to stay in shape.”
Make an effort this fall to walk a little more every day than you normally do. It can be quite easy to incorporate additional steps into your daily activities. “Park a little further away from an entrance, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to a co-worker's office instead of emailing or calling, and take a short walk during your lunch break,” advises Lindsey Dinneen of VidaDance Studio.
Indoor cycling is another popular option when it gets darker earlier and temperatures drop. There are numerous benefits from such workouts, says Kari Nicolle of CycleBar, including boosting your mood (endorphins do make you happier) to burning anywhere from 500 to 700 calories during a 50-minute class.
TRY WEIGHT TRAINING
People’s food choices almost unconsciously shift come fall to calorie dense items, says personal trainer Robert Herbst. “Our bodies read shortening hours of daylight as a signal to store extra calories for the winter ahead when food may be scarce,” explains Herbst. To counter this, it’s important to do exercises that raise the metabolism to burn off calories before they’re stored. One of the best choices is weight training, which raises your metabolism for 48 to 72 hours afterwards as the body repairs muscle that was broken down during the workout and builds additional muscle. That new muscle is also metabolically active and burns more calories.
DO SOME YARD WORK
You can burn a fair amount of calories in advance of the holiday simply by engaging in fall-related chores such as raking leaves, trimming hedges, mowing the lawn, and pulling up the weeds, says Lindsey Dinneen of VidaDance Studio. Added bonus: your yard will look amazing.
As you embark on your fall workout push, one of the best ways to stay accountable is to have a workout buddy, says healthy lifestyle blogger Katie Farrell. “On the days you might feel like skipping your workout, you will be less likely to give in to the temptation if you know (your buddy is) counting on you,” says Farrell. “It can also be more fun to have someone to interact with.” If you and your buddy can't meet in person to work out, schedule phone check-ins with a friend or family member.
SET MINI GOALS
Establishing mini goals can help you stay the course while on a journey to a big destination goal. Explains Katie Farrell of Dashing Dish, “They help you to celebrate small wins throughout the journey so that you don't get overwhelmed, burned out, and give up on the large, long term goal.” Farrell does not recommend setting goals for things like pounds or inches lost, however. While these can be a useful measure of progress, they should not be your focus. Rather, the goals should be about improving things like your run time, exercise duration, number of reps, or pounds lifted.
Just as you block off time on your calendar for meetings and for those holiday parties, make sure to clearly delineate time in your daily and weekly schedule for exercise. “Make it a non-negotiable. Period,” says Pam Sherman of The Perfect Balance Guru.
DO MORNING WORKOUTS
If you wait until the evening to workout, odds are you will be less likely todo it, says Caley Crawford of Row House. “Rise with the sun,” she suggests. “The longer you wait to workout throughout the day, the more time there is for excuses to arise.” Morning workouts also boost your metabolism earlier in the day and will be more likely to have a positive influence on your food choices for the day.
PLAN YOUR EATING
It’s pretty much guaranteed that there will always be treats around to impulsively grab and nosh on during the holidays. Try to avoid that by carefully planning out your eating each day. “Knowing what you are planning to eat and sticking to it can be the difference between staying fit and adding some pounds,” says Pam Sherman of The Perfect Balance Guru.
JUST SAY NO
Even when the holidays are in full swing, it’s important to make sure health and fitness remain a top priority. “‘No’ is a complete sentence. Don't do too much or over commit,” advises Pam Sherman of The Perfect Balance Guru. “That leads to stress, not having time to exercise and then not eating well.”
Experts say eating slowly is actually good for you. During the holidays, why not savor every last bite? “With all the delicious food available to you, and a super busy schedule, it's easy to eat way too quickly,” explains Lindsey Dinneen of VidaDance Studio. “Slow down and savor the flavors. Eating slower has been shown to reduce the overall amount of food you consume every meal, as well as allow for a more satisfying, pleasurable mealtime experience.”
DITCH THE FULL-FAT DAIRY PRODUCTS
An easy way to cut a few calories both during the lead up to the holidays and during the height of the season is to opt for low-fat or non-fat dairy products, says Connecticut-based dietician Summer Yule. “A cup of skim milk has approximately 70 fewer calories per cup than whole milk. If you switch to the low-fat calories of yogurt, cheese, etc. as well the calorie savings will add up rapidly,” says Yule.
HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE
As the weather gets cooler, many people tend to forget about drinking water, says Toronto-based personal trainer Daniel Rosenthal. “Stay hydrated, and you'll keep hunger at bay,” he says. “Get a large water bottle, one liter is perfect, and refill it three times during your workday.”
KEEP IT SHORT BUT SWEATY
When you are short on time, whether during the fall or the holidays themselves, maximize your workouts by making them intense, says nutritionist Roco Payne. “I always end my workouts with sprints,” she says. “Springs quickly raise your heart rate for a short burst allowing your metabolism to burn at a higher rate for the rest of the day. There is no need to spend all day at the gym if you maximize your efficiency and train right.”
MEAL PREP FOR SUCCESS
Before big holiday meals and seasonal indulgences, step up your at home meal prep game, says nutritionist Roco Payne. “I redouble efforts to meal prep and keep pre-holiday (and post-holiday) meals high in protein with lots of green veggies,” she explains. “I bring my meals to work and if I'm tempted by the high calorie food, I quickly eat a prepped meal. This allows me to really enjoy and savor the big holiday meals."
We all know that it's difficult (and zero fun) maintaining a strict diet without the occasional treat or indulgence. When you do indulge, try to do so wisely. “Pick things that are smarter for your health, like a glass of red wine, some dark chocolate, or berries with cream,” advises Lindsey Dineen of VidaDance Studio.