At how many New Year's Eve celebrations have you vowed to get fit while sipping a glass of champagne? How many times have you succeeded? How many times have you fallen short?
This will be my last time writing the Fitness You Love column, so I want to leave you with some tips to stay on target with your health and fitness goals going into the holiday season instead of waiting for a New Year resolution.
Setting goals over a drink on December 31st is too late to set yourself up for success within the coming year. Goals and resolutions aren't enough to lead you to success, you have to be motivated to take action and live your goals day by day.
Create good habits for the holiday season and the upcoming winter months by starting a new routine this fall.
With the change of seasons comes a renewed time to rethink and restart. You still have the months of October, November and December. The year is not over yet! You still have time to make good on the resolutions you hoped to accomplish this year, and to even get a head start on your goals for 2012.
This year, my hope is that you will be in great shape before the New Year's Eve celebrations. Here are five ways to start making the most of the fall season.
1. Take advantage of the fall weather. Fall can be a treat for the senses: crisp air, the crunch of leaves underfoot, fall aromas, apple picking, pumpkin carving, the beautiful canopy of fall foliage. These months are a great time to exercise outdoors and enjoy cooler temperatures. Discover park trails and take in some new scenery, whether you're walking, hiking, biking, rowing, or enjoying any other outdoor activity.
If you're near a lake, try kayaking or canoeing for an excellent whole-body workout and a great change of pace. Remember, it doesn't have to seem like exercise to be a great workout. Even raking leaves or doing outdoor yard work is a great way to get the heart pumping and burn calories.
2. Be an active TV watcher. Are you geared up for the fall premieres of your favorite television shows? While you watch, do standing lunges, triceps dips off the couch, or lift weights. During commercials, do push-ups, planks, or stretch. In a one-hour show, you probably have close to 20 minutes worth of commercials when you could be working out. Don't worry if your family, friends, or even your dog, looks at you a little strangely. Your family and friends will be falling in line with you once they see the results you are getting by making such a simple choice.
3. Prepare for both darkness and the fall climate. The best way to enjoy fall is to exercise outdoors, but it is getting darker earlier and staying dark later in the morning, so be smart and safe. Wear reflective clothing or carry a flashlight. When cycling, affix a light to your helmet or bike. If possible, use trails or a local school track to avoid vehicle traffic. If you must use a street with vehicle traffic, try to work out at the same time every day, so drivers get used to seeing you.
Even though it is darker, don't forget your sunglasses if you are working out during sunlight hours. UV protection is important year round. Fall sun can be blinding at certain times of the day.
When exercising outside, layer your clothing. Before your body warms up, you may feel chilled, but once the blood gets pumping, you'll feel overdressed.
4. Rejuvenate. Fall is the time to rejuvenate body, mind and spirit. Get a massage after your run or take an additional 20 minutes to stretch and relax. Learn to meditate. Take an art or cooking class. Treat yourself, not just with exercise, but other activities that promote wellness, so you can feel good physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
5. Motivate yourself. People are motivated by different things. It's important to first discover what your individual goals are, whether it's losing weight, strengthening and toning, or preparing for a race. Creating a challenge for yourself will motivate you, as will encouragement and accountability. Then choose an activity that is in line with your goals and that you will enjoy doing. If you enjoy your activities, you will be likely to keep them up, whether it's walking or hiking with a friend, playing softball, working with a trainer, or taking part in a "boot camp" class.
Although you want to enjoy your activities, remember that anything worth having takes work. If it was easy to be great, everybody would be great.
Remember that 65 percent of Americans are considered overweight (and unhealthy), so if you struggle with your nutrition and your fitness, you are not alone. Find a friend, a group, or a team to stay active with and hold each other accountable. In my experience, there truly is strength in numbers. By allowing others in to your fitness journey you will be setting yourself up for success.
Get a jumpstart on your health and wellness goals for 2012 by falling in love with fitness this season. See health and fitness as a reward, not a chore. Treating your body with respect and focusing on a healthy lifestyle truly is a reward that keeps on giving in so many ways, for years to come.
I hope you enjoy the hard work, determination and sense of accomplishment that comes with the success of attaining your health and fitness goals.
I have thoroughly enjoyed writing for Danville Patch, reaching out to you as my readers, and finding ways to ignite a passion for health and fitness within you, in the same way a fire was ignited for me 14 years ago when I first started my own fitness journey.
I hope you have also enjoyed learning a little more about fitness and nutrition each week by reading my column.
If you would like to stay in touch, or have questions about health, fitness and nutrition, email me at email@example.com.