Oops! We’ve come to a fork in the road. With autumn temperatures dropping to below 0 degrees Celsius in some parts of the Darling Downs (the area where I live), summer seems to be a distant memory that has been packed away with my shorts and sandals. At this time of year, as we pull out the flannelette sheets, “tracky dacks”, and Ugg boots, we need to ask ourselves:
- Will we slack off on exercise because we’ve put away the swimmers?
- Will we eat whatever we want because we can hide behind big, cold weather clothes?
- will we use the excuse of no time for outdoor activities to turn us into an autumn crop of couch potatoes?
- Or will we use this as an opportunity to get into better shape than ever so we can blossom come spring time?
If you’re a lizard like me, your blood flow and metabolism (along with any movement) is slowing down to a crawl in this cold weather. So how can we get moving and motivated this autumn. Believe it or not, this is supposed to be one of the best seasons to workout. Why you might ask? Here are just a few of the reasons:
· Training in the chill has been shown to burn fat faster, which is exactly what we want! Our body works harder to maintain a constant temperature, and thus it has to burn more calories!
· We sweat a little less in the cooler weather which means we are able to do more without the added stress and hindrance of the heat. We also feel more energized after working out.
· The cold, clear crisp days stimulate our senses along with vibrant colour of the trees and leaves. A fresh feeling to invigorate a renewed commitment to our diet and exercise program.
So use this season to your advantage by following some of my tips for developing a fitness routine this autumn.
- Set specific goals: Success comes by
knowing what you want to achieve. Set your goals and remind yourself of them
frequently. Your goals don’t have to be competition-oriented, they can be as
simple as flatten you stomach or being able to touch your toes. Regardless of the goal, make
sure to write them down and pin them up on the fridge, or anywhere else you
will be able to see it every day. Reminding yourself of your target will help
keep you on track. In fact, scientific research has actually proven that people
who pre-plan a weight loss program and WRITE DOWN their goals, succeed 90
percent of the time, as opposed to non-planners who succeed less than 10
percent of the time. It takes about 30 days to cement a new habit into your
routine. Stick with your fitness plan for this month, and you will be on your
way to staying fit through the cooler months.
- Dress appropriately. Dress in layers of clothing with a synthetic layer closest to your body to keep you cool. Remember to cover your hands and head. If you are planning to exercise after dark, wear light coloured clothing and make sure your bike has a light or reflectors attached.
- First warm up:
- Get outdoors: This is the perfect time of year to enjoy outdoor exercise activities with the cool, clear mornings making it more comfortable than the summer heat. The crisp air will keep your body temperature down so you’ll stay cooler longer while walking, jogging or playing your preferred sport. Set yourself up for success by finding a close and convenient exercise location to your workplace or home (a park or gym). If you find it too difficult to get out from under the covers, than check out your local parks or bike routes during your lunch break. You can continue other activities, like swimming, by finding a great indoor heated pool.
- Join a gym: If heading outside after the temperature dips doesn't appeal to you, you can take the more traditional route and join a gym. The scenery on the stationary bike may not compare to a beautiful local park, but there are other advantages: you can read or watch TV instead. The free weights and weight machines available at the gym will help you get a great full-body workout, and if tennis is your thing, you might consider switching to squash– most gyms have courts and rackets available for rent.
- Plan ahead. Eliminate any excuse you may have for skipping a workout by having a gym bag packed and in your car at all times. Set a specific time that you will exercise each day and stick to it. Know your exercise location ahead of time.
- Make use of Waiting time: Take advantage of your child's sports team or exercise class by walking the perimeter of the court or do lunges and push-ups next to your bench (instead of just sitting on the bench). If your daughter does a ballet or gymnastic class perhaps they offer an adult class at the same time. Look for ways to get up and moving while you wait.
- Work out at Home: Make TV time your fitness time. Turn your regular TV viewing time into fitness routine time. Bring your home fitness equipment (stability ball, bands, dumbbells, stationary bike) into the TV room. Complete a full fitball workout while you watch, or use the commercials to blast away calories with some weight training exercises or ab workout. b) Check out fitness DVDs at the local library. If you find a workout you like you can pursue the DVD and any additional equipment you might need. I find this convenient and practical for those really miserable days when outdoors is out of the question. c) Set up a small home gym with a few pieces of equipment. Any combination of an exercise mat, a stability ball, dumbbells, exercise bands, and a medicine ball is a great start.
- Work out with a Buddy: Being accountable to someone helps you roll out of bed on those dark mornings. You are not the only one who could benefit from a fitter lifestyle this autumn. Encourage a family member or friend to join you for a hike, bike ride, or even a fitness class. Motivation stays higher with an exercise partner and you can both encourage each other to continue towards your goal. If you can’t temp family or friends then take “man’s best friend” – . You’ll both benefit and have fun at the same time.
- Stock up on in-season, fresh produce: Each season features a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits that our bodies need for sustained health. Educate yourself on what is in season and how to best use it in autumn friendly meals and recipes. Produce such as apples, pumpkins (and pumpkin seeds!), pears, parsnips, sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, turnips– all the things you need to make a healthy stew, salad or casserole. Bonus - you’ll not only save money and consume the essential vitamins and nutrients but have a delicious, healthful meal waiting at home after your workout.