The Comfort of a Fall Routine

I don’t know about you, but I’m in total denial that it’s Fall. Every year about this time I refuse to admit the leaves are changing color and a coolness exists in the morning air. I want summer to last forever (it’s a short season in Seattle, we savor every minute!). But that being said, I also crave routine, and summer is all about shirking routine and having fun. Getting back to a sense of normalcy, not only around my schedule but also around eating, is incredibly comforting.

Sometimes it is hard to get back into that routine. School supplies and new schedules are flying through the air and before you know it you are eating out or throwing together meals on the fly more often than you want. That workout plan you had planned for September gets postponed…indefinitely. Before that happens, let’s make a plan to get back into a healthy routine before the real craziness of holidays and all the rest hits.

Here are a few 6 quick tips to guide you in implementing a healthy Fall routine!

1. Meal Plan
This is number one because it is always number one. Plan your meals. I say this over and over to my clients. Weeks go easier if you have a plan for meals, dinners at the very least. Yank out a basic calendar (or download a meal planner from my website) and map out the week. Involve the family and get a repertoire of ideas on there. Bonus challenge: pick one new recipe each week to try. Have the family rate it and see if it should stay in the meal rotation.

Meal Plan

Want an online option? Check out GatheredTable.com for meal planning ideas and guidance.

2. Plan out specific grocery shopping days
Once your meal plan is in place, schedule days and times for doing the shopping. Most of my clients like to do their planning on Saturday and shop Sunday. Plan a mid-week run as well for little things that may have run out. By scheduling these days, you are less likely to buy impulse items and tend to stay more focused on the things you need.

Besides traditional stores, consider buying from online grocers like Amazon Fresh or Instacart with delivery from many local grocery stores, even organic ones. Once a month plan a trip to a warehouse retailer like Costco for things you like to keep in bulk.

By planning these shopping days out on your calendar you end up saving a lot of time and money.

3. Rethink your snack
Another area to reclaim and be intentional about is snacking. Americans are snackers, and while not a terrible thing (many countries don’t snack, just for reference), the mindless snacking is what derails many a diet plan. How to change this? There are a few options. First off, get unhealthy foods that you gravitate to out of the house. The snacks you do deem ok (maybe make a list of those healthy options even), decide what a healthy portion looks like for you. Then, pack that portion to work or have it already in a container at home so that when you go for it, you already know what and how much you are going to have. Planning out really is your best strategy to avoid continuous and unnecessary snacking. Doesn’t mean you will always stick to it (damn those well meaning colleagues bringing doughnuts!) but it certainly will trigger you to be more mindful and make an informed choice instead of a random one. Set yourself up for success!

Snacks

4. Swap out instead of cutting out
Time to cut out a few “additions” that crept in over the summer? Instead of stressing about how to do without those foods or beverages, think about a few swaps that might work instead. Got hooked on soda? Replace with no-sugar beverages like Zevia or La Croix. Became familiar with after dinner desserts? Find some tasty dark chocolate and have a few squares of that instead. By swapping out instead of cutting out, you may find a lot less stress and an easier time sticking to all of your goals as you roll into the Fall.

snack

5. Plan the fun
Lest you think there’s no time for fun with routine, it definitely doesn’t have to be that way! Plan out those fun events so you have things to look forward to. It really helps to maintain your mindset that all this work is not in vain. You will enjoy your leisure time all the more when you make time for fun but in a scheduled way. As they say, work hard and play hard. Put in the time and enjoy the benefits.

Some ideas? Plan a night out with friends. Make reservations at a coveted restaurant. Set aside some time to do some personal shopping. Plan a weekend getaway (I like this one best!). Schedule a massage or pedicure. Think about what de-stresses you and plan a couple of these throughout the Fall months.

relax

6. Make a realistic exercise plan
Yep, here we are, exercise. You knew we would get to this. It’s SO important to work movement into your daily life. It’s no surprise I’m going to say plan those darn workout days on the calendar. Figure out where it fits and pencil it in. Maybe it’s an AM walk on Monday, a Tuesday class after work, a Wednesday yoga class during the lunch hour, a Thursday bike ride with the kids, and a Friday fun day (aka rest day). Plan out the weekends as well when most have more time to exercise.

Now, all this being said, be careful not to overcommit. The quickest way to quit an exercise plan is to plan too much and feel an inability to meet your own expectations. Start slow, maybe two times a week, for example, and build from there.

Also, make sure to do activities you enjoy. If you hate the treadmill for example, do something else! If you don’t like it you won’t stick with it. If you find nothing pleasurable, and I recognize there are people that feel that way, start with walking at the very least and build from there.

Lastly, make a plan just to get there. Maybe you don’t feel like going, but commit to putting on that work out gear and at least getting to the gym. Or getting to the basement with your video or handheld weights. Or getting outside the front door with your walking shoes. Allow yourself to change your mind if you just aren’t feeling it, but commit to at least getting there. I think more times than not you will follow through and feel proud for doing it.

exercise

So there you go! Plan out that Fall and get it! I know you can do it, and even breeze through the holidays like no one’s business. It’s going to be your best, and healthiest, yet!