While Labor Day may mean putting away beach toys and those white pants, one thing we should keep is our summer activity level. Staying physically active and keeping a summery mindset during the fall will help prevent that dreaded holiday weight gain.
Our hunter-gatherer bodies see the shorter daylight hours as a signal that we should store fat in anticipation of winter when food may be scarce. Our metabolism slows and we crave more satisfying and calorie dense food. Compare the pumpkin pie and stews of autumn menus with the salads and ceviche of the dog days. It does not help that the coffee chains are already selling pumpkin spice latte in August!
To counter this, we need to keep our metabolism elevated to prevent putting on those extra pounds. Fall is a great time to be active as the cooler temperatures make a walk or run or going to the gym more bearable. Take a hike or jog and enjoy the colorful foliage. Raking leaves or chopping firewood is great exercise and will help you reduce stress as you are out in the fresh air and sunshine. If you need more motivation, book some classes or sessions with a trainer at a gym. You will not want to waste the money and will feel obligated to go.
You can still partake in seasonal foods with some common sense. Eat some protein to fill you up beforehand and you will eat less at a tailgate or party. Drink water before you start having beers at a football game.
In a concession to the colder weather, you should warm up or stretch before exercise or doing chores. Your muscles and tendons may be less supple than they were during the summer. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. You will lose water as you breathe the cooler, drier air.
As Camus said, "Autumn is a second spring," and we can use it to stay in summer shape.