Many people love fall due to its cooler temperatures. And, depending on where you live, the striking red, orange, and yellow leaves that transform wooded areas into magical visions that belong on a painting in a museum. Yet, the downside of these post-summer months is that they are often accompanied by numbers on the scale going up.
If you’re looking for ways to prevent fall weight gain—and maybe even lose a few pounds as we enter this holiday season—these seven tips can help.
#1: Get Out and Enjoy the Cooler Air
When temps start to fall, it’s easy to want to spend more time indoors. What’s indoors? The TV, computer, and other sedentary activities. Plus, usually by October and November, you’re done with yard work, which means less physical activity overall. This reduces the number of calories you expend, allowing the weight to creep on.
Use the fall as a time to get out and enjoy the cooler, crisper air. Go for walks and notice the color changes on the trees and other foliage around you. Take a hike through local trails or take the kids to the park and fly a kite. Look for activities you can do outdoors to keep your body moving.
#2: Pick Up a New Hobby
If you’re not someone who enjoys the colder weather, find ways to keep yourself busy indoors. This helps prevent continuously finding yourself in front of an open fridge and cupboard doors, wondering what you can snack on for the fifth time today.
Some of the more traditional hobbies include:
- making jewelry
- and crocheting or needlework
Don’t be afraid to step outside the box and do something a little different. Learn a new instrument, take an online course, or start writing a book. Keep yourself busy so you’re not constantly thinking about food.
#3: Try New Recipes Featuring Fall Vegetables
In the event that food remains on your mind, you can’t go wrong with veggies. Foods in this group tend to be lower in calories while supplying your body the nutrients it needs to function efficiently. Plus, veggies are typically packed with fiber. Fiber helps you feel fuller, promotes digestive function, and aids in maintaining healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels. (1)
Pick up your favorite fall vegetables and experiment with new recipes. Cook up butternut squash and zucchini with different herbs and spices. Sauté cabbage and onions in a little bit of olive oil or roast carrots and sweet potatoes in the oven.
Get your veggies at a local farmer’s market if you can as these are the freshest and full of flavor and nutrients.
#4: Meal Plan in Advance
One of the reasons it’s easy to gain weight in the fall is because it tends to be fairly busy. Not only are the kids back in school—which means more after-school activities—but we’re also rapidly approaching the holidays. This leads to more social gatherings and all of the work that leads up to them.
An increased demand on your time can make it tempting to hit fast food places more often, which can send your weight upward. By meal planning in advance, you can avoid this temptation because you know that lunch or dinner is covered. Set aside time on a lighter day to prep meals for the week and keep items on hand that allow you to make a healthy meal in a flash.
#5: Permit Yourself to Eat Your Favorites (Within Reason)
If you’ve ever tried to diet, you know the impact that depriving yourself can have. The more you tell yourself you can’t eat a specific food, the more you want it. Before you know it, you’re gorging on the item because you couldn’t take the pressure anymore.
Take a different approach this fall and permit yourself to eat your favorite foods, within reason. Allow yourself to enjoy a serving of Grandma’s homemade apple pie or Aunt Debbie’s famous chocolate fudge.
To keep your serving in check, put the food on a dish and sit down and truly savor it. You’ll likely find that you’re satisfied with smaller portions when you take the time to be present during the eating process.
#6: Take Time to Destress
Nothing can send you to the kitchen faster than stress. When you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated, it’s all too easy to reach for food in an attempt to soothe yourself.
Not only does this response increase your weight, but it’s also a temporary solution. While it may feel good at the moment, the feelings soon come back and, oftentimes, you feel worse because you just finished off a bag of chips or cookies.
Make it a point to engage in activities that reduce the stress that comes with pre-holiday events and planning. Watch your favorite TV show while on the treadmill or call a friend and vent to let it all out. It doesn’t matter so much what you do, just that you feel less stressed after doing it.
#7: Keep a Lapse in Perspective
If you do find yourself making less-than-healthy decisions that may add to your body weight, keep it in perspective. No one is perfect, so give yourself a bit of grace. Even if you faltered a bit this time, you can always do better the next time.
Look at it this way: if you started to fall down the stairs and only fell halfway, would you stand up and fling yourself down the remainder of the steps? No, you wouldn’t. So, don’t do it with your healthy choices either.
Eating half a bag of candies doesn’t have to lead to polishing off the rest. Stand up, brush yourself off, and climb back to the top of the stairs. Start over and strive to watch your step next time so you don’t fall again.