Okay, now I know we are only just coming to terms with people talking about Christmas and here I am talking about the New Year! But this is the time of year that we can sometimes start thinking, “Oh, there is no point starting now”, “Not with Christmas coming up”, “I will wait for the New Year”. But the reality is, this attitude is going to get in the way of your goals. You’re probably worried that starting a fitness program in the fall would spoil your holiday fun. But the opposite is actually true. I’m going to share why you shouldn’t wait until the New Year to start.
And if you’re already in a fitness program, it may be tempting to hit the pause button between Halloween and New Year’s Day. But beware! The pause button is your biggest enemy in health and fitness (What if you stopped brushing your teeth during the holidays? Yuck!). Learn more about that dangers of pause button in this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjOdTGHN5Mg. Okay, so let’s hop in.
- Changing Leaves
You’ve probably noticed those leaves doing their magical color-changing dance, signaling the seasonal shift. It may feel like the end but guess what? It’s not the end—it’s a season of change! After the wild ride of summer, we settle back into our daily routines, bid farewell to those lazy pool days, and say hello to season of change.
The first thing to change is that unhelpful pattern of excuses and putting off goals. You need to get out of this habit because it is holding you back from sustainable change and progress. In the past you made promises and deals with yourself and then broke them when you motivation dipped.
This is an opportunity to earn your own trust back. If you put it off once, the goalpost will just keep moving forward. Start now and don’t worry about what is coming up, don’t worry that it isn’t the norm. In fact, you want to be as far away from the norm as possible. Because “the norm” is staying where you are. This is your chance to get off that merry-go-round.
2. Magic of Routines
Compared to the whirlwind of summer adventures, fall brings a sense of structure. Vacations are over, school and work routines kick in, making it way easier to plan and stick to a regular workout routine. Fall routines also mean more regular mealtimes. With a little planning, you can get organized and assemble some meals that fuel your fitness goals. If you’d like to learn more about routines, listen to how this supermom made them work for her. https://open.spotify.com/episode/5kBIFmvM12YJmTsYcFK5FQ?si=5aea23698f924ffa. Routines are just one of the advantages of starting a fitness program in the fall. Another cool opportunity arrives as we see less of our bright friend, the Sun.
3. Embrace Indoor Strength: Counter the Winter Blues
As the days grow shorter and temps start to drop, many of us experience a shift in our mood and energy levels. The decrease in sunlight can leave us feeling the urge to snuggle up and hibernate until Groundhog Day. If you feel this way, you’re not alone. Many people find themselves struggling to maintain their fitness routines during this time. (Nerd alert, I’m about to hit you with some science.)
The lack of sunlight affects our body in two major ways: production of serotonin and our circadian rhythm. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. Lower serotonin levels are liked to depression and anxiety. Our circadian rhythm is our 24-hour cycle of wakefulness and sleep. Less sunlight can reduce the wakeful stage of the cycle and lead to to wonky sleep patterns, and lower energy levels, making us feel less motivated to get movement.
If you’ve been craving carbs as the days get shorter, this could be the reason. We often turn to comfort foods high in carbs and sugars, for a temporary boost in mood and energy. But have no fear. There’s a solution that not only counteracts this cycle but also sets the stage for a vibrant and active fall and winter. It’s indoor strength training.
If you google “Strength Training over 40” you’re going to find many articles about muscle loss, bone building, and function. These are all awesome – and urgently needed – benefits, but there’s another less-talked-about benefit: emotional health. Here’s how it happens:
1. Boost Endorphins: Exercise, including strength training, triggers the release of endorphins, our body’s natural mood enhancers. These endorphins combat stress, reduce feelings of pain, and create an overall sense of well-being. If you’ve ever started a workout feeling lethargic and gloomy and felt energized and happy afterwards, that’s what happened.
2. Increase Energy: While it might seem counterintuitive, expending energy through exercise actually boosts your overall energy levels. Indoor strength training helps improve your cardiovascular fitness and muscle strength, making everyday activities feel less taxing and leaving you with more energy to combat the winter blues.
3. Balance Serotonin Levels: As mentioned above, exercise, particularly strength training, can aid in balancing serotonin levels in the brain, promote a stable mood.
4. Improve Sleep Quality: Regular physical activity, like indoor strength training, promotes better sleep patterns. Quality sleep is crucial for managing mood and energy levels.
5. Carb Cravings and Weight Management: By incorporating indoor strength training into your routine, you may find that your cravings for carbs decrease. Exercise helps regulate blood sugar levels and boosts metabolism, making it easier to manage your weight.
So instead of sinking into a season of lethargy and chaotic eating, you could truly enjoy the season by amping up your strength training. Get pumped and ready to rock the winter!
Starting in the fall offers another unique advantage. Ugly Sweaters. Read on and find out why.
4. Less Pressure
We often hide under our ugly sweaters during the holidays and start over after January 1st. But instead of retreating into this state of denial, you could be actually feeling better about yourself and making progress. Progress without pressure. Starting in the fall can actually reduce stress – during the holidays. Who doesn’t want that?
Waiting till New Year’s can invite unnecessary stress. Skip that New Year’s rush and the pressure of big changes and sudden resolutions. During fall, there’s less pressure to make drastic changes overnight. Instead, you can take a gradual approach, reduce stress, and make it easier to stay committed to your fitness goals. Slow and steady really does win the race.
As you know, the holidays require all kinds of preparation. Including mental and physical preparation.
But how do you prepare? I thought you’d never ask…
5. Prepare for the Holidays
Starting in the fall gives you plenty of time to move toward your fitness goals before the summer swimsuit season next year. And you get to focus on the process instead of obsessing over results.
“But I’ll miss out on all that holiday food!” (No you won’t, I promise.)
Let me squash this myth right now. Starting a fitness program in the fall will not spoil your fun during the holiday season. In fact, it sets the stage for an even more enjoyable holiday season!
With Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Years just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to build those healthy habits. Starting now means you can indulge guilt-free, savoring each bite knowing you’ve laid a strong fitness foundation. You’re cultivating habits that will stick with you for life.
6. Get Your Rocks In
Prioritizing fitness in the fall is a gift to your overall well-being. As the holiday rush approaches, taking care of yourself becomes a bit of a challenge, to say the least. But starting early ensures you put first things first. Remember the analogy with the rocks, pebbles, and sand in the jar? Well, starting your fitness program in the fall helps you drop a couple rocks in the jar before the craziness hits and you get it with a avalanche of pebbles and sand. Having your rocks in place will seriously reduce stress and boost your mood. 🌞
If you want to truly have happy holidays, rise above the frantic business and feel at peace with the way you choose to spend your time and energy. Exercise, especially with friends, can make a huge difference in your holiday enjoyment. To learn more about why social support is key to mental health and fitness success, watch our recent podcast on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oO40dYwKSQ
7. Get a Head Start
Imagine you’re running a 50-yard dash and the winner gets their mortgage paid off. (And you actually have a chance of winning because everyone else is your age and has comparable injuries.) Now imagine that each runner gets to choose between starting 20 feet ahead of the starting line or 20-feet behind. Which would you choose? Well, duh, that’s an easy choice. 🏃♀️💨
Now apply this to the last 3 months of the year. Let’s face it, as the year winds down, temptations pop up at every turn! From Halloween candies to skipping workouts, it’s easy to hear the siren song of the pause button and get derailed. But fear not! By starting a fitness program now, you’ll build a solid foundation of health and wellness to brave the holiday food storm.
A few weeks of dedicated exercising and mindful eating will equip you to navigate the holiday season without feeling out of control and piling on weight. You won’t gain as much weight during the holidays and you will feel much better entering the new year!
Even if December throws some curveballs your way, you’ll find it easier to bounce back in January. Your New Year’s resolutions will be backed by a sturdy fitness routine, making it a breeze to continue your journey towards a healthier you.
By starting a fitness program in the fall, you’ll breeze through the holidays with confidence. Indulge in those holiday treats. No guilt, just enjoyment and satisfaction in making a balanced choice.
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