Autumn is upon us! Although, it is so warm where I live on the west coast of Florida that you wouldn’t know it here. My wife and I are eminently grateful for the warm weather as it afforded us the opportunity to complete a two-and-a-half-mile sunset walk this evening before we sat down for dinner. The temperature outside was 82 degrees, balmy with a nice, refreshing breeze.
As we start the final stretch before the new year, now is a good time to revisit or renew the exercise goals we set for 2020 and plan for next year’s goals.
For some this might mean getting started; for others it might be a time to recognize the great effort you have put in this year and make a commitment to maintain a routine or begin new health habits. For yet another group, it may be time to recognize a lack of follow-through, especially if there was an injury, intense workload, or other distraction. It happens!
Here is a secret I employ in my office practice: when one of my patients misses a medical goal, I give him or her a figurative pat on the back and encouragement to do just a little bit better for our next visit. The same approach applies here. If you have not reached your goal, dust yourself off, don’t be discouraged, and keep trying.
The Autumn Trifecta
I do want to remind everyone that the autumn trifecta (Halloween, Thanksgiving and winter holidays) is around the corner. This means there will be temptations! A spouse might bring home candies destined to be dispersed to Trick-or-Treaters and invariably there will be leftovers. Ignore the temptation.
Others might face fellow employees, clients or patients bringing edible goodies as appreciation. Anticipate the temptation, and be prepared with alternative healthy snacks for yourself.
If you indulge, you will inevitably need to throw your exercise routine into overdrive to make up for lack of willpower, so be aware ahead of time to avoid the situation altogether. It is definitely no fun to start a new exercise endeavor after gaining five pounds even before Thanksgiving!
Learning from Experience
My readers have every right to ask me how I am so acquainted with this problem … While patients share their woes with me during post-Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas visits, the truth of the matter is that, at one time or another, I have fallen into some of the same traps. As I have reviewed in the past, sugar is addicting. The best approach to escape the trap is to avoid the initial temptation.
A second very sound approach to navigating the autumn trifecta is to have a sweat-exercise program already in place that will provide the incentive to stick to your healthy alternatives and avoid derailment. Have a very solid plan with clear exercise and eating goals to come out of the autumn trifecta unscathed.
So what can we do right now?
- Take a good, hard look in the mirror. If you don’t like what you see, vow to make changes. Start developing healthy habits now.
- Get out a pad and pencil. (I like pencil more than pen so I can edit and adjust my goals as needed.) Start writing down goals and making a plan to reach your healthy destination.
- Use a journal. Consider the Power of 5 Journal. It’s a real winner!
- Set up a new Sweat routine which incorporates at least 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week. If you can handle 60 minutes, do that instead! These changes will facilitate results and better health.
- Find an accountability partner! It is more fun to work together and helps you keep your commitment.
As a reminder to my readers, in addition to looking better and feeling better, if you are able to reduce your weight by as little as 5% by eating right and exercising, you also reduce your susceptibility to suffering severe consequences of COVID-19.
So get to it!!
To a long and healthy life,
David Bernstein, MD