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Short days and long nights can actually expand our waistline and cause us to gain up to 5 -10 pounds this season, but here’s a few suggestions on how to stay fit and slim as the cold months approach us.

While the leaves start to turn autumnal shades of red, yellow, and orange, and the universal flavor of the fall season makes us indulge in comfort foods, from lattes to cookies to breads and stews, it’s no surprise fall takes the cake as the fattest season of the year. The season brings sports, tail gating, the beginning of fall parties and basic shut-in mentality. According to surveys, dieters can gain up to 5 -10 pounds in the fall, as September marks the second fattest month of the year, closely trailing December.

Fall Fitness Tips

The short days, long nights, and colder weather can make it easy for us to get into hibernation mode. However, staying indoors during the evenings, weekends and adopting sedentary behaviors could be detrimental to our waistline, such as snacking in front of the TV. The summer bodies we all have worked so hard for in June have slowly gone to hide in the thick fabrics of chunky sweaters and jeans that trim our legs. Although December is unsurprisingly the fattest month of the year, not all has to end up a big fat mess by the time Christmas rolls around.

To understand the course of weight gain during the fall and winter, a study was done in which they conducted a survey of 2,000 people to find the most fattening month and season where people gain the most weight, and the most fattening day of the week. Survey respondents’ effort to shed the pounds was found to go downhill when September came around, which is known as the most destructive month for weight gain. Dieters put on an average of 2 - 5 pounds in September, which is what they lost in preparation for summer in June.

Autumn and winter were found to be the worst seasons for dieting, with male and female weight loss hopefuls gaining up to 5 pounds and 4 pounds, respectively. Dieters may be under the false pretense winter is the worst season for our waistlines, but in fact it’s come second to autumn since many go on post-Christmas diets in January, and actually lose an average of 3 - 5 pounds. June is the best month to lose weight after January, as dieters shed an average of 2 pounds. That is why autumn is the most destructive season for many dieters — September being a particular weak point. Who isn't going to let themselves go a bit, as the nights draw in during the autumn and we all begin to cover up. School is back in session and we are trying to figure out our schedules.

Dieters are also more likely to pack on the most pounds on Saturday, which can give you a bad case of the Mondays. Other calorie-dense days are Sunday by 22 percent, and Friday by 14 percent. Monday is the best day for dieting, since people are “depressed about going back” and feel guilty about the excess calories they consumed over the weekend.

Whether it’s fall or winter, Saturday or Monday, you can still stay fit for fall with just a few changes. Gaining a pound or two underneath several layers of clothing may not seem harmful , but much more difficult to lose the extra weight after New Year’s. As we start the fall, it’s good to adopt these healthy behaviors:

1. Don’t Give Into Fall Cravings
Although it may be hard to escape the aroma of pumpkin spice lattes or savory foods with a glass of red wine; just because you want to eat rich foods, it doesn’t mean you should. It’s best to put yourself in an environment that encourages healthy eating and exercise during these challenging months. Keep unhealthy foods out of the house and explore the outdoors before it gets colder and darker. Basically everything in moderation is okay. But so many of us cannot just have one. If it’s around, it calls us. So, simply don’t have it around you. But if you crave it and you have to go get it, then you deserve it.

2. Plan Ahead
Your outdoor exercise routine may be jeopardized by the change in weather, so it’s good to have an exercise plan for rain, snow, cold, and darkness. Rather than panicking, you can refer to your backup plan to still stay in shape for the colder months. Also, have a plan for when you want to indulge in high-calorie rich foods, especially during the holidays. Try eating before you go to that party so you’re not hungry. Eat a big lunch so you aren’t as hungry for that after party gift exchange. Remember, the 20 minute rule. Eat and wait and see if you truly need that second helping? Sometimes we just need water to fill us up.

3. Cleanse and Detox
Perhaps you’ve had one too many glasses of Sangria or Margaritas and BBQ foods over the summer. Now that fall is here, it’s important to cleanse and detox your body to get a fresh start this fall. Unwanted inflammation and toxicity can be eliminated by eating healthy foods, and abiding to a good diet and exercise regimen.

The sugar rule I want you to try, is to only have (the equivalent of) one tablespoon of sugar per day, for 2 weeks. Not actual granular sugar, but I want you to start looking at your labels and look for sugar in the ingredients. I bet after 4 weeks you will stop craving it as much. Could you then eliminate it completely?


Photos Jillian Clark
Models Kenny and Misty Hodges (and child Ethan)

Autumn expands waistlines, but fear not for there are solutions. I recently met with my friends Misty and Kenny Hodges, an amazing fitness team who happen to be married. This couple really walks the walk and talks the talk. Together, they have three children – 8-year-old Kennedy, 6-year-old Mia and 4-year-old Ethan – and they have more than 29 years of fitness training experience. Both are trainers at Baptist Health Milestone Wellness Center, and like all of us, they are trying to manage their busy lives while finding time for themselves. I asked the pair to put together a few exercises you can do at home with a friend, partner or family member. They trained hard for this, and even little Ethan was part of the action.

For this workout, you will need a timer, mat and hand weight. Start by setting your timer for 45 seconds. You will complete each exercise, then take a 15-second break before moving on to the next. Some of the exercises combine two different moves, so you will do each exercise for 45 seconds. For a full body workout, complete all eight exercises three times.

1. Partner Plank

Start by lying on your stomach facing down (prone). Place your elbows under your shoulders. Lift your abs with your core off the ground (Misty is showing a modification by keeping her knees on the ground). Then, give each other high fives, alternating from left to right for 45 seconds.

Milestone personal training

2. Squat and Lunge

Start with your feet hips-width apart and your knees slightly bent. Partner one holds a squat while partner two does walking lunges. Make sure to place your knee directly over your ankle during lunges. If you are working out in a small space, partner two can do an alternating lunge forward.

Modification: Place your hands on your hips to help stabilize your core. Complete each round for 45 seconds, then change places with your partner and complete another round for 45 seconds.

Milestone personal training

3. Plank and Burpee

Partner one will hold a plank while partner two will jump or step over partner one and do a burpee. Then, leap back over and complete another burpee, repeating for 45 seconds.

Modification: Partner one can do a deadlift step behind partner two and repeat the deadlift, while partner one has their knees on the floor during plank position. Complete each round for 45 seconds, then change places with your partner and complete another round for 45 seconds.

Milestone personal training

Milestone personal training

Milestone personal training

4. Renegade Row/Thruster

Start prone in a plank position then lower yourself to the floor for a push-up. After the completion of the push-up, lift your arm into one alternating row (left then right), place the hand on the floor and lift the body into a standing position with the hands over head.

Modification: hold a plank or do a push-up on your knees. After completion, lift the arm then lower and repeat on the other side. Place one leg forward, place your hand on your quad and come to a standing position. Complete for 45 seconds twice.

Milestone personal training

5. Lower Abs

Start with partner one lying on their back supine and lifting their legs. Partner two will gently move partner one’s legs toward the floor. Partner one lifts one leg and repeats with the other leg, returning to both legs in the air. Remember to only lower your legs to where you feel comfortable.

Modification: If you have lower back issues, place your hands under your gluteus. Complete each round for 45 seconds, then change places with your partner and complete another round for 45 seconds.

Milestone personal training

6. Partner Crunch

Sit facing each other with your ankles entwined to help anchor you to the ground. Partner one starts with the hand weight, both lying supine. Then, sit-up and giving the hand holding the weight to partner two. Repeat by lying down and handing it back.

Modification: Do this without using a hand weight. Progression: Do this with one arm while the other arm supports your neck, alternating arms every time you sit-up. Complete for 45 seconds. VT

Milestone personal training

Milestone personal training

If you choose, all of the above exercises can be done alone. Remember to check with your doctor before starting any fitness routine.

*This is the full version of an article that ran in The Voice-Tribune magazine October 11, 2018 edition.