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Whether you've been longing for crisp, cool weather and apple cider, or you want to live poolside perpetually with a frozen drink in hand, there's no stopping fall from showing up. There's something about the back-to-school season that gets everyone thinking about a fresh start, whether you're still a student or not. Maybe it's the realization that the year is almost over or that those lazy, laid-back summer days are long gone that moves us to get things done.
Whatever the case, if you're looking for ways to get back into your fall routine, we asked a variety of experts how to eat better, work out more efficiently, and be more productive at home and at work this autumn. And don't worry; if you're coming back from summer vacation and feeling extra lazy, most of them are easy changes you can do (and you might even enjoy doing some of them). Take a look at their tips below, and let us know how you're getting ready for fall by sending us a DM or commenting on our Instagram account, @thethirty.
Good news: You don't have to completely overhaul your diet, even if you've been enjoying all that summer has to offer food- and drink-wise a little too much. "Focus on small changes and being consistent. Getting back on track doesn't happen overnight and requires planning, patience, and practice. Understand that it will take time for your habits to evolve, so be good to yourself," says Nathalie Rhone, MS, RD, CDN, founder of Nutrition by Nathalie. "You can ease into healthier habits by making incremental improvements. Pick one to three healthy eating principles that you can truly accomplish every day. Some ideas include drinking two to three liters of water a day, having a daily green juice, or eating one salad per day. Don't choose something you know you will not do. Start simple, and then once you can do it every day, pick another new habit to add in. Consistent, small additions build a strong foundation to support our health."
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It might be time for a post-summer detox, and fiber will help. "Focus on fiber- and nutrient-rich foods (like fruits and veggies). These will help cleanse your system and give you the antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals that assist in detoxification. Raw leaves and vegetables are fiber-rich and help sweep away waste in the digestive system. Try to incorporate lots fruits and veggies in every day!" Rhone recommends.
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If you've had a lot of rosé, Aperol spritzes, and margaritas this summer, Samantha Franceschini, MSCN, a nutritionist and health coach at Parsley Health, recommends incorporating foods that will support the liver into your diet. She suggests:
Broccoli sprouts: Add a small handful in smoothies and another handful in meals during the day.
Lemon zest: Zest a lemon into your smoothie or on food.
Chlorophyll-rich foods: spirulina, chlorella, and green juices
Liver-supportive teas and herbs: dandelion, milk thistle, turmeric, ginger, and lemon
Bitter greens: arugula, Asian greens
Cruciferous vegetables: kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts
Another summer detox recommendation from Rhone, this will make you feel a lot better and more energized: "Staying hydrated is necessary for your body to detox and flush out all the toxins, so keep it coming! The heat of summer, alcohol, and salty foods can dehydrate you, so the more you can replenish your water, the better off you'll be." Rhone recommends drinking two to three liters per day for women and eating hydrating foods like cucumber, romaine, celery, and fruit. "We actually get a lot of our daily water intake from food, so if you load up on these hydrating foods, your body will thank you! Starting the day with a green juice is another excellent way to hydrate and load up on phytonutrients first thing in the morning," she says.
It's prime time to enjoy nature's bounty. "Try to get a variety of color in your meals to make sure you're getting a variety of phytochemicals and nutrients. (And no, anything with food coloring does not count!)" Rhone suggests. "With a change of season comes a change of seasonal ingredients that are packed with nutrients. A new routine with new, delicious produce is a great way to kick-start your healthy eating plan."
Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, founder and director of Real Nutrition, agrees: "Eat seasonally! Pause your typical FreshDirect delivery [or grocery store run]. It's still nice in the fall and the perfect opportunity to walk to the farmers market (bonus: active living!). Get to know the farmers and ask for their advice on ways to cook with the fresh ingredients. The more you ask, the more you know! Or join a CSA. Then you get a delivery of foods that are just picked from the farm, and it causes you to be more creative in the kitchen. It can also inspire you to get excited about seeking out new recipes and it varies your weekly nutrition!"
Sorry, hot toddies. "Summer is the season of rosé, so a crucial step in detoxing post-summer is to try to cut down on the alcohol. Reducing the number of glasses you're having (or even taking a short break) will help give your body (and liver) some time to recover. Don't forget: Alcohol is a toxin!" Rhone advises.
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According to Rhone, omega-3s (like salmon, olive oil, nuts, and seeds) can help with this and keep you full and satisfied. She also recommends steering clear of inflammatory foods that are packed with sugar and highly processed ingredients.
"As the temperature begins to drop, warming spices and teas can be a gentle but effective way to keep the body warm. Cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric are all wonderful additions to any food or drink and help increase blood flow. Rich in polyphenols, they work to protect the body’s tissues against oxidative stress, coronary heart disease, and inflammation. Also, bitter herbs like dandelion root and green tea will warm you up, flush out toxins, and help improve liver function," Rhone recommends.
Plus, spices can make the season's best produce really sing. "Fall is the perfect time to begin the transition from crisp, cooling salads to warming, nourishing, cooked vegetables. Roast your vegetables and season with turmeric, rosemary, pepper, garlic, cumin, etc. I like to refer to seasonings as nature’s sprinkles! Seasonings and spices have a warming effect in our bodies; and not to mention, the more flavor your meal has from seasonings, the more satiating and satisfying it is," Shapiro says.
With the weather getting chillier, it might be fun to stay home, be cozy, and get cooking. "A big shop for groceries in the beginning of the week will ensure that the fridge is stocked so you can easily prepare dinners when things start to become hectic during the week. If prepping meals in advance feels overwhelming, just make a little extra dinner one night, and throw it into a container for lunch the next day," Rhone suggests. "Cooking at home usually results in healthier meals and not overeating, so why not carry that over into another meal that week (and save some money too!)."
Another way to keep track of what you've been eating is by food-journaling, recommends Shapiro. And to avoid overdoing it with the snacks, she says, "Close the kitchen after dinnertime, giving your body time to digest instead of mindlessly snacking in front of the TV."
Getting healthy doesn't mean starving yourself. Rhone says you should never skip meals. So enjoy all the whole and seasonal fruits and vegetables and eat balanced meals, and you'll be good to go.
"We don't believe in deprivation, so enjoy seasonal treats with portion control and leave the everyday stuff (like those leftovers in the office kitchen) for someone else. And remember: Indulge without guilt. Get right back on your eating plan the very next time you put something in your mouth, and you'll see, your nutrition goals will stay on track without much effort," Shapiro adds.
If you skipped out on a lot of gym time during the summer, don't worry about going into beast mode immediately. "Slow and steady definitely wins the race," says personal trainer Stephen Pasterino, founder of P.volve. "This may seem surprising, but a great way to ease back into a workout routine is to cut down the time you spend working out. I think the consistency of working out is much more important than how much time you spend actually doing your workout. For example, I only workout for about 20 to 30 minutes each day. It is easy on my body, which is important to lengthen and strengthen your muscles, and under the time constraint, I'm forced to be hyper-focused and engaged."
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"A lot of trainers would probably recommend heavy cardio to get your heart rate back up, but my workout method, P.volve, focuses on slow, steady micro-movements that sculpt hard-to-target areas," Pasterino says. "I don't believe that pain equals gain or that dripping sweat equates to a good workout; my philosophy is all about being effective and focused to ensure every muscle in your body is engaged when you do work out—even if it's for 20 minutes. So I say stretch! It's better to loosen your body up and get the blood flowing again before you jump into a workout routine. Mobility should always come first!"
It's key for any routine, really. All you have to do is get up and do it, which sometimes can be easier said than done, especially when you've spent your summer relaxing. "To break the lazy habit, you need to focus on consistency and making sure that you don't go too hard too fast—because that will never last," Pasterino says. "I recommend working out 20 minutes a day every day so that you can form the habit but not break down your body in the process. Beating your body up will require rest days, and taking days off when trying to form a routine can be difficult."
"I think a workout that is made up of 50% stretching, 30% resistance and movement training, and 20% cardio will do wonders for your body. It will allow you to feel good and move forward as you establish a healthy workout routine," Pasterino recommends.
This will make your workout more exciting and challenging (in a good way, we hope!). "If you have been consistently working out throughout the summer, then now is a great time to throw your body a curveball—adding something new into your routine or switching up the way you're doing a workout," Pasterino says. "I always love introducing a new piece of equipment, like my P.ball or P.band, into my clients' workouts to challenge their body. If they start to plateau, a new piece of equipment can really ignite their muscles in an entirely new way. You can also add cardio intervals in between your toning/low-impact sets. I like to do a short row or a quarter-mile run to shoot my heart rate up. The goal for all of my clients is to keep their heart rate elevated as they push through resistance training blocks."
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Enjoy the cooler air before it turns freezing. There's something so pretty and refreshing about fall weather. And if you've been working out in the gym over the summer because of sweltering heat, this can help you change up your routine. "Continue to be active, but go outside! I love hiking and biking because it doesn’t seem like a workout when you're doing something you truly enjoy. It is a perfect way to maximize all the different ways you can target and utilize your muscles—plus it keeps things interesting and fun!" Pasterino suggests.
If you can't seem to get out of bed for morning workouts or like to play hooky during after-work gym sessions, a friend (or two) can hold you accountable. Plus, sometimes it's a lot more fun if you exercise with a friend.
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Well, not for the whole season, but at least for the first couple of days when you're easing back into a routine. The first day back after Labor Day can be a tough reality. "I don't know that we need to put so much pressure on one day! However, any resumption of work, school, etc. after a break presents an opportunity for a fresh start. If you'd like to reset a relationship with a colleague, start a new exercise routine, or a new habit (like reading at lunch), the first day back might give you a nudge to try these things," says time management expert Laura Vanderkam, author of Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done and Juliet's School of Possibilities.
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Even though the next year is in sight, you still have time this fall to make some moves. "There are still four months to the end of the year, so this is quite a bit of time. Think about what you'd like to say you've accomplished by the New Year. Break these goals down into steps. Get them on the calendar. You can really do a lot. Many marathon training plans are 16 weeks, for instance, so if you started around Labor Day, you could run one around the New Year. Likewise, you probably have at least 75 workdays before the end of the year. Any big project spread over 75 days won't be too intimidating," Vanderkam says.
The office can get a little lax over the summer, so when fall rolls around, a lot of us have trouble focusing. "Don't expect miracles. Rather than berate yourself for not being able to focus for three hours straight (which pretty much no one can do), celebrate working on a project for 30 minutes without getting distracted," Vanderkam says. "Reward yourself with something pleasurable, such as going outside or catching up with a colleague about her summer."
If you have kids, you know how challenging this season can be with the start of the school year. Vanderkam has a solution that will make it a lot easier for the whole family. "It introduces new schedules, which can be stressful. I plot out the whole family's activity schedule (including mine! I sing in a choir) on a spreadsheet with the days of the week across the top and half-hour blocks down the left-hand side," she says. "This helps me see when we'll have driving conflicts, or when someone needs to be picked up at school versus taking the bus, or when a day might be getting too full. Then, everyone can see the schedule and start to internalize it. Within a few weeks, all will feel back to normal!"
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Sleep is key if you want the energy to be more productive. With shorter days and longer nights, you might have to adjust your sleep schedule accordingly. "People in their natural state tend to start sleeping a little longer as night falls earlier and sunrise comes later. Rather than fight this tendency (say, by staying up late to watch TV), you could use fall as an opportunity to get in the habit of setting a bedtime," Vanderkam suggests. "You are an adult, so you can blow through it if you want, but establishing a bedtime means you'll need to justify ignoring it to yourself. And that just might nudge you to go to bed. When you get enough sleep, mornings feel amazing."
If you're working hard this fall to get more done at the office and at home, you're going to need some R&R, too, so you don't burn out. "Do one thing for yourself every day. It can be a guided meditation, reading a chapter of your favorite book or putting on a face mask," Rhone says. It's a nice thing to do just for yourself that can you de-stress and re-center your mindset.
Just because the lazy days of summer are over, it doesn't mean the rest of the seasons are for toiling. Enjoy all that autumn has to offer, whether it's getting outside, eating all the in-season foods, or taking part in time-honored fall traditions, like apple picking or dressing up for Halloween.