*Guest Post By Molly Miles, aspiring travel blogger and outdoor enthusiast.
Most people think Spring is the time for newness and growth. They associate it with new plants, the start of warm weather, turning over a new leaf…. But I’m here to tell you those people are wrong. For me, Fall is that time. Let’s talk about how to be healthier this fall.
I don’t know if it’s because I’ve spent half my life beginning a new school year full of possibilities in the fall, or because it’s the time when my Summer Hibernation can end (yes, in the South we hibernate in the summer. It’s 100 degrees and 80% humidity. It happens.), but Fall is when I want to think about new beginnings and new ways to be healthy and active out in the cool, crispy air.
For your reading enjoyment and benefit, here’s 4 ways to be healthier this Fall.
1. Healthier This Fall Tip #1 -Try New Fall Recipes
Look, cooking in the summer is hard. Your poor air conditioning unit is already struggling against the 100-degree heat to keep the house at a balmy 80 degrees, so now is NOT the time to keep the oven on for long periods of time or try to enjoy a hot stew. (I live in the South you guys. Can everyone tell I live in the South??? We’re over the heat by now. OVER.IT.)
So, now that the weather’s cooler, turn that oven on. Make that stew! Eat your veggies! Use that crockpot! So many options are open to you. Here’s some great recipe ideas that I’ve tested out and can guarantee are delicious:
- Cozy Butternut Sweet Potato And Red Lentil Stew – From Oh She Glows
- Vegan One Pot Creamy Garlic Pasta – From Yup It’s Vegan
- Butternut Squash Veggie Pizza – From Minimalist Baker*.
Also, if you’re feeling lazy, you can do my personal favorite fall recipe, baked root veggies.
Go to the store, grab your favorite root veggies (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, garlic, onions, etc.), chop them up into 1” pieces, throw on a baking sheet, sprinkle with seasoning, and place in the oven at 400 for 35 minutes. Make some rice and then you have an entire dinner. Easy, comforting, and warm.
*Disclaimer: That Fettuccini Alfredo recipe is not healthy on it’s own, okay? I mean it does lack dairy, but serve it with a veggie stir fry or salad or mix some broccoli. Bonus points for using rice or quinoa pasta instead of grain.
*You’ll note that 2/3 of these involve butternut squash. This is because butternut squash is delicious, nutritious, and the undisputed king of fall vegetables. Embrace the butternut squash.
2. Healthier This Fall Tip #2- Find Different Ways to be Active
I get bored doing the same activities all the time. Running is important and proper weight training is important, and frankly I find those two to be the easiest things to incorporate into a full time job/busy lifestyle. However, they’re not the most mentally stimulating things in the world. Plus that same 2-mile loop around your neighborhood sure gets old after a while. There’s only so many times you can see if Mr. Johnson’s black and white cat is sitting outside his house today.
Time to do something different!
- Take advantage of the nice weather to drive to a local park and do some trail running.
- Dig your bicycle out of the garage or out from under your dirty clothes and take it out for a spin.
- Go to a beginner women’s mountain bike meet up (most bike shops and REIs have these periodically for free or for a very low fee) to learn some new skills and meet some new friends.
- Find a hike nearby and walk up a mountain.
- Pack up your tent and go backpacking.
- Take a spin class.
- Try a martial arts class (I did BJJ and kickboxing for 3 years and am an advocate of martial arts for all sorts of reasons, but that’s another topic for another day).
- Go roller skating!
Just…. Start something different that sounds fun to you. The possibilities are endless.
3. Healthier This Fall Tip #3 – Experience Nature
In this digital age, constant pressures keep our brains consistently engaged. And this isn’t always a good thing! That kind of constant stress weighs on us and affects our mental and physical health. While the weather’s nice this fall, concentrate on escaping screens and getting out into nature. Several studies have shown tremendous benefits of getting some “green time” during your week, or going away for a short vacation in the woods.
- The physiological effects of Getting In Nature;
- This Is Your Brain On Nature – By National Geographic
Eat a healthy lunch at your desk and go to a local park for your lunch break. Get up early in the morning for a trail run. Find small ways each day to get outside and rejuvenate your senses. Use one of those new activities we talked about above to go out into nature. Bike, hike, walk, run, camp, or just stand around breathing the fresh air, but find time to go outside! I promise you’ll feel the benefits.
4. Healthier This Fall Tip #4 – Just Go on that Weekend Trip
I’ve lived in 3 places in my life and I’ve noticed something: the longer you plan to live somewhere, the less likely you are to see everything the local area offers. I grew up in central Texas, and the only reason I’ve seen the sights around that area is thanks to my parents dragging me on family vacations every summer.
When I lived in Arkansas, I planned to live there forever, and so every time I thought…. Oh what about a 2-hour drive to the Ozarks? What about a 3-hour drive to dig for diamonds? What about a 1-hour drive to a local state park? I just yawned and said “oh maybe next weekend/month/year, there’s plenty of time,” and continued binge-watching Netflix because that was the path of least resistance.
And you know what happened?
I lived there for 4 years and I saw exactly 2 state parks and visited the mountains exactly once. That’s 3 trips. In 4 years. For someone without the responsibility of kids, that’s sad. I missed everything the state had to offer.
But in North Carolina? I moved here 2 years ago with the intention of only being here for 2 years (that got moved out a year, but that’s fine). So every time I thought…. Hey what about a drive to the beach? What about visiting the mountains? I felt a sense of urgency. I only had two years and specific free weekends and good weather seasons within those years to go and do and see all the sights. So I went!
I can’t even count all the places in North Carolina and the surrounding states I’ve been. I know it’s at least been 20 weekend trips for the past 2 years if you count day trips. That’s probably too much for the average person’s preferences, but it’s a heck of a lot better than 3 trips in 4 years.
What am I getting at here? Pretend you’re a tourist. Pretend your living place is temporary. Get on google and search “things to do in X area” and look at all the magic you’d like to see and experience. And then do it! If you spend your entire life not only working but letting work dictate the rest of your free time (e.g. “oh but I’ll be tired for work on Monday”), then what’s the point of life?
It’s time to get off the couch!
So quit putting it off. I know you’re tired from work and the business of life. But guess what? That bike camping trip you’ve been thinking about for years? It happens now. Because you know what happens when you just do things? When you visit new places? You can’t sit on the couch, you have to move, you have to eat new foods and you have to make decisions. It requires you to THINK about what you’re doing. Because, there’s no auto pilot. It’s a great way to be healthy and active, and have tons of fun along the way!
Take advantage of the crunchy leaves, crisp air, and the freeing up of local, state, and national parks due to the return of children to school this Fall. Stop sacrificing your weekends to the Netflix gods. Enjoy the season!