The dog days of summer are slowly winding down, and we’re now entering the busiest time of the year. Between back to school and fall sports for kids, college football, and the holidays just around the corner, life is getting pretty crazy for many of you readers. As for me, I’ll be going out of town nearly every weekend in September and October, and trying to make time to study for my upcoming nutrition final exam along the way.
Once Labor Day weekend is over, we officially kiss summer goodbye and go 110 miles per hour until the New Year. When we get busy, one of the first things we let fall to the wayside is our nutrition and fitness. Since we’re constantly on the run and the daylight hours get shorter and shorter, it’s tempting to take less time to prepare fresh meals and put exercise on the back burner.
Maybe if we are aware of these tendencies and set a few goals now, we’ll be more conscientious with our habits so we’re not kicking ourselves when it’s time to make 2011 New Year’s resolutions. We’ve got to finish 2010 strong! Here are a few suggestions I came up with to help us all stay on track with our healthy eating and fitness during the hectic last few months of the year:
- Eat breakfast. I know we’ve heard a million times that it’s the most important meal of the day, but I talk to so many people who are still skipping it. Even if you’re not hungry or you’re too busy to prepare a whole sit-down meal in the mornings, try to eat a little something to get your metabolism going and fuel your brain. Studies show that children who regularly eat breakfast have better standardized test scores, better behavior, and are less hyperactive than children who skip breakfast. It’s so important to start the day with a low glycemic meal that includes healthy protein and fat (like an omelet or protein shake). When comparing low glycemic index breakfasts to high glycemic breakfasts eaten by 9- to 12-year-old children, research shows that children who eat high glycemic breakfasts (sugary, starchy carbohydrates) tend to eat more at lunch. We have to make breakfast a priority, especially when our stress levels and energy requirements are so high.
- Plan ahead. This is half the battle when it comes to making wise nutritional decisions. Look at what’s coming up each day or week and think about what obstacles you will face with your eating and exercise so you can make a plan of action. Sometimes just doing simple things like packing water and healthy snacks or keeping a food journal will keep us from blowing it when we’re on the go. Set aside some time each week to stock up on healthy groceries and plan some fresh meals. Make weekend resolutions so you’ll be ready to do your best when dining out, tailgating, attending parties and in other social situations. With just a little bit of forethought, we can save ourselves hundreds of empty calories and keep ourselves focused on the big picture of achieving optimal health.
- Set measurable fitness goals. Just because the year is winding down, that doesn’t mean your exercise regime has to. Cooler weather is just around the corner, making it a great time to get outside. Start walking with a friend in the neighborhood or sign up for a race. We’re more likely to stay on track when we set measurable goals. For example, instead of just saying, “I will to try to exercise more this fall,” set a more specific goal such as “I will make time to attend two spin classes every week until the end of the year.” It’s important that we up our fitness game to compensate for the extra calories we take in during the fall and winter months.
- Get a good night’s rest. Sleep is another thing we let go when life gets busy, but it’s a crucial element in helping us stay healthy. You can do a simple Google search and find countless studies linking sleep deprivation to weight gain and poor quality of life. For example, research reveals that women who sleep five hours or less per night generally weigh more than women who sleep seven hours per night. The bottom line is we have to get adequate quantity and quality of sleep each night to have the energy to make sound decisions for our health, so catch your zzzzzz’s!!!
I know it’s only August, but it’s not too early to start thinking about how we want to finish out 2010. Let’s go out with a bang!
I hope these ideas help. Do you have any tips keeping your health and fitness a priority this fall? I’d love to hear them!