by Kellin O’Rourke
The transition from summer to fall can get tricky. With back-to-school shopping, new school and sport schedules to balance, and shorter days in which to get it all done, it’s easy to let our summer health habits fall to the wayside. But tricky doesn’t mean impossible! Change your focus and make certain to make your and your family’s health a priority during this shift. Once you make a conscious decision to do so, it’s easy to implement these tips for transitioning:
1. Enjoy the cooler weather.
Take advantage of the weather cooling off just a bit by taking it to the streets for a 20 minute walk during your lunch break. Mid-day sun will fortify you with a daily dose of vitamin D—something that becomes much more sparse throughout the fall and winter months—and the decreased lunch table time will help prevent overeating out of socialization, boredom, or habit.
2. Eat local and seasonally.
Keep visiting your local farmer’s market. Most farmers’ markets stay open until mid-November, and you will have the advantage of getting a taste of the new season’s offerings of vitamin rich root vegetables and winter greens. Choosing to buy and eat fruits and vegetables that are in season helps ensure you are getting not only the freshest and best tasting produce, but also the most nutritious. During the fall months, focus on fruits like apples and citrus and root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, turnips. Dark green leafy vegetables like turnip greens and kale are packed with nutrition and blend well into many soups and stews. Extra bonus: eating locally and seasonally will also help you save a few bucks here and there…something to hang onto for a snowy or rainy day!
3. Start every morning off right.
Despite our more hectic schedules and early nights, skipping breakfast is never a good thing. Always plan ahead to ensure there are quick, yet hearty breakfast foods on hand for your morning routine. A healthy breakfast will not only jump start your metabolism, but will help stave off late afternoon cravings and nighttime snack attacks. Think dense protein and healthy complex carbohydrates such as egg whites with veggies with whole grain toast & fruit, or a fruit & nut oatmeal (all of which can be portioned and prepped ahead of time)!
4. Don’t forget to drink.
Naturally we drink more when we’re hot, making it easier to get all 8+ glasses of water in each day. Therefore, as the weather cools it becomes more important to remind ourselves to drink water daily. Try keeping a washable, refillable water bottle with you during the day and set a goal of refilling 2 times before lunch to ensure you meeting your hydration goals. Rule of thumb: drink as many ounces as half your body weight in pounds each day (i.e.; a 150 pound individual should aim for 75 ounces of water per day, while a 200 pound individual’s goal is 100 ounces).
5. Make time for family.
Coming off a summer filled with family vacations, picnics, and bike rides makes it even harder to cope with the lack of family time when juggling homework, practices, games, and social events. But like any time of the year, it’s absolutely critical to try to maintain a healthy work-life balance…especially when stressed!
Make it a priority to spend time together as a family—even if only for a few minutes a night—by mandating family dinners or scheduling game night or “share the best part of your day”-time on the calendar. Being with those you love and those who share common interests and loves can positively affect your mental, emotional, and physical health.
Kellin O’Rourke is owner and president of FitKO Health in Rockford, Michigan and an independent contractor with Allegro Coaching in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She currently serves as Wellness Specialist for Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services.