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The leaves are changing color, there’s a nip in the air, pumpkin spice is king, supermarkets are filled with Halloween candy and I may have seen a Christmas decoration (or two).  While we have another few days until we turn the clocks, it’s safe to say that summer is most definitely over and Fall is in full swing. I love this time of year.  For me Fall represents a new start (after all, that’s when the new school year begins).  But along with that fresh beginning, Fall brings with it a plethora of challenges when it comes to our fitness and nutrition goals.   From the beginning of September until January 2nd, it seems as though we are slowly moving from one holiday to the next, each one increasing in demand and intensity until we are consumed.  The family meals and holiday parties can test our nutritional resolve, and time seems to slip away from us before we manage to get in that workout we had intended to squeeze in.  Before we know it, New Year’s has come and gone and we are left with a basket full of “should haves” and the best of intentions to get back on track.

But what if this year we can reach the finish line and cross over into 2015 with absolutely no fanfare at all?  What if we can move through the season with confidence and a sense of purpose, and come through on the other end ready to tackle the new year with increased enthusiasm, rather than regret?  You can – if you’re willing and able to open your eyes and shift your perspective.  Be honest and realistic

Take a look at the next few months and be honest with yourself – If you’ve got kids’ parties, family holidays and business parties wall to wall from Halloween to New Year’s, be realistic when it comes to planning out your workouts.   How much time can you really carve out for the gym? One day a week?  Two days a week?  Perfect!  Commit to the least amount of time you know you can do, and make it your business to hit that number. If there’s a lighter week and you find yourself with more time, great!  Throw in an extra workout.  If not – that’s OK too. Something is better than nothing.  The goal is to set yourself up to succeed EVERY SINGLE WEEK.

Think small – set a reasonable nutritional goal

This is not the time to attempt to change your body composition. It is, however, a great time to practice the skills necessary to maintain your weight and/or limit the amount of weight gain associated with the holiday season.   Do this by being picky – if something isn’t tasty, turn it down. But if your mother’s apple pie makes the flowers bloom and the sun shine warmer, by all means cut yourself a slice and dig in. My personal rule of thumb at parties and holidays is to steer clear of packaged goods but to taste the homemade foods and desserts (Halloween doesn’t count).   You know what your favorites are. It’s different for each of us, but it’s important to allow ourselves those things that make the season memorable and enjoyable.  Yes, the holidays are about the people in our lives – but it’s difficult to separate ourselves from the association with certain foods, and it’s OK to look forward to those seasonal treats.

Plan accordingly

This leads us into the next strategy – once we’ve decided that we’re going to enjoy ourselves, we do have to put some work and plan for it.  And let’s be real – it does take work.   This is not a time to let loose and lose yourself. For many of us, it can take an enormous amount of effort to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner and yet subsequently turn down the leftovers on Friday (again, if the leftover sandwich is THE THING you live for, then treat yourself sparingly on Thursday knowing that Friday is the day for you). For every indulgence, decide exactly where the line is for you and then don’t cross it. Simple, but hardly easy.  

Live in the moment

BE HAPPY!   Take joy from the people you’re spending time with.   If you’re confronted with a week that’s even busier than anticipated, turn that gym workout into a family walk.  Go apple picking.  Cruise the mall looking for the perfect gift.  Try to include your family and friends into the activities you want to do, along with the ones you have to do.  Make a concerted effort to truly be in the moment you’re in, and don’t worry about what comes next.

Move on

And should there be a day or a week that doesn’t go according to plan – just let it go.  Remember that breaking one egg doesn’t mean you throw the rest of the dozen to the ground.  You clean it up and keep going about your business.  

So take a deep breath, relax, and allow for flexibility throughout the next few months.  I promise you’ll make it to 2015 without breaking, and without feeling the need to make a slew of New Year’s resolutions.

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