Tips to Staying on Track this Fall
It’s hard to believe that summer has come and gone, and Autumn is in full foliage. As the seasons change, our diet and the types of foods we eat (should) change as well.
Nature provides us with the nutrients and foods our body needs from season to season.
First instance, spring and summer are all about light, cooling fruits and energizing leafy greens when they’re in peak harvest. While heartier vegetables such as carrots, beets, parsnips and squashes are going to add more substance, warmth and grounding in the colder months.
It’s natural to gravitate to seasonal foods and flavors. We should not only listen to those cravings, but do so in a healthy manner. If you close your eyes and picture a brisk, snowy Saturday…..what do you envision eating?
I bet a hearty stew, soup, maybe something cheesy came to mind? As the holiday’s get closer and closer, it always seems like our food gets richer and richer. Thus, the scale slowly creeps up. A few pounds of winter weight gain is natural and healthy, however, when we start creeping past that 5-7 pound mark ….that’s when we need to take a closer look at what we are eating and how we are moving.
There’s a way to get through the winter free of any excess weight gain and feeling satisfied and energized. Here’s a few of my go-to pointers for keeping your winter waistline in check.
Cold weather means pumpkin spice lattes, eggnog and a tad extra wine. Beverages tend to be a hidden source of calories, sugar and fat. There’s definitely a time to treat yourself to that pumpkin spice latte you’ve been looking forward to, but be aware that the calories in your beverages add up quickly!
A 16oz latte is predominately milk with a shot or two of espresso. An average 16oz latte with cows milk will add on 18-22 carbohydrates. Some of us are consuming multiple lattes a day!
Wine, well….that’s an entirely different subject and future blog. If you’re curious about the amount of calories and/or sugar their is in wine or alcohol, download a calorie tracking app like MyFitness Pal on your phone. Don’t get my wrong, there’s nothing wrong with unwinding with a glass of wine a few times a week but with extra social gathers and holiday parties, the alcohol can add up. You’ll definitely notice some extra puffiness in your face and mid-section.
Find some balance when it comes to your beverage choices. If you have a bunch of parties coming up, lay low on the wine at home and if you need some extra visual motivation – track your beverages in a calorie counting app. Just seeing the calories and sugar add up is enough motivation to put the bottle down!
Ask for unsweetened almond or coconut milk which runs about 8-9 carbohydrates per 16oz latte. If you don’t want to part ways with your dairy, ask for half the amount of steamed milk and top the rest of your latte with coffee. Also, if you want to splurge on some flavor, just ask for one pump of flavor syrup and save yourself from all the extra sugar.
find balance with mindful eating
Fall and winter means football Sunday, holiday parties and lots of heavy, cheesy, sugar foods. No matter what the season, practicing mindful eating is important. It’s especially useful as the holiday season approaches.
Mindful eating simply means paying attention to what you’re eating, how you feel both internally and externally AND not criticizing or judging yourself. There seems to be a lot more temptation this time of year and by no means should anyone deprive themselves. Mindful eating can help you make better choices, feel in control and end diet self-sabotage.
For instance, if you know you have a gathering in the evening where there will be plenty of delicious food and drink, and you know you’re not one to restrict at social gatherings, then focus on keeping your diet clean and balanced throughout the day. Enjoy your evening out- don’t go overboard or deprive yourself and truly savor every moment/bite without beating yourself up. The following day (knowing you splurged a little bit) make sure to load up on plenty of fiber rich vegetables and protein and lay low on sugar, dairy and processed carbohydrates.
Mindful eating is sorta like bartering with yourself….”if I eat this, than I won’t drink____” or if I do_____, than I need to get a workout in tomorrow.” The trick is to actually follow through with it and find a healthy balance.
As a nutritionist and food lover, I’m always looking for and practicing simple/practical ways to manage a healthy lifestyle. I love this season for the savory stews, flavorful herbs and warming flavors. However, there is one big sneaky thing about stews – whether they’re hearty or a little on the soupy side. The portion size can be easily underestimated. I personally love a hearty chili or stew.
However, stews made with meat are very calorie dense. If you were to consume two small bowls of chili, that can add up to 6-8oz of ground beef ! 6oz of 80% lean, cooked ground beef (just over 1/2cup) contains about 420 calories and 28g of fat. Those calories don’t include anything else added to the chili either!
Soups aren’t that innocent either. Many soups, even if the word “creamy” isn’t in the title are thickened with milk or cream. Soup doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthy, nor should they be treated as a “light” appetizer. Calorically speaking, many soups on their own have enough calories as a full meal.
When making stews at home, especially ones containing meat, choose lean proteins and load up on the fiber rich vegetables. I also recommend adding beans into stew instead of extra meat to give it a hearty texture without a ton of extra calories or fat. And yes, fat can be good, but too much of a good thing isn’t always good.
For soups, substitute cream with light coconut milk or my favorite secrete – white beans. If you have an immersion blender or large blender, blend in ½ can of white beans to add a creamy texture to a soup without all the extra calories that milk/cream contain. Just add a splash of cream instead for the taste! Extra perk – the additional fiber in the beans will keep you feeling full and satisfied for hours.
exercise motivation slump
Darker, colder, and rainy/snowy days can definitely put a damper on our movement….or even motivation. Throw in holiday parties and social events between November and January and before you know it, three months have gone by since your last workout! The longer you go without exercise, the harder it is to get going. This time of year can be a slippery slope for many of us! There’s more indulgent food, more alcohol, and less movement. No wonder why we don’t want to workout!
Not to mention, we aren’t moving as much in everyday life as the weather gets colder……less walks outside, bike rides, kayaking, yardwork, etc. Which is why it’s even more important to prioritize and schedule workouts BEFORE JANUARY.
If you can get 2-3 workouts a week throughout the fall season, your nutrition will naturally be more balanced too. We are creatures of pattern – if you’re focused on exercise, even if it’s just 2 days a week, then you feel more of an obligation to not let your eating get out of control. Yet, when we aren’t getting in any movement, and hopping from one holiday party, to another….we sorta just let it all go, whispering to ourselves “I’ll get back on track next week, or next month.”
The truth is, the longer you wait to make fitness a priority, the more you psych yourself up, the more excuses you find and the harder it can be to actually get a good workout in.
Remember that you don’t have to workout 4,5,6 days a week to reap the benefits. Focus on quality, not the quantity of your workouts….especially as the holiday season approaches. A 30-45 minute high intensity interval class (giving 100% of your effort) is just as effective as a full 60 minute workout.
Don’t forget that energy feeds energy. So that fitness class or run you squeeze in twice a week will feed more positive habits. Exercise isn’t just about the physical benefits- it provides mental and emotional perks too.
Let go of the “all or nothing” mentality. I wrote an entire blog on this subject which you can read here http://upstaterow.com/all-or-nothing-mentality/
Lasty, if you’re really struggling to find motivation, find a partner or friend to hold you accountable and to get you excited to workout. You’re more likely to bail on yourself, before someone else. Plus having other people to workout with is fun and inspiring! Especially if you’re the least bit competitive!