After the oppressive heat of the last month of summer, I am so happy when that first chill of fall is felt in the air early in the morning. It is so refreshing. I begin to think of colorful leaves, apples and pumpkins. By this time I have usually been slacking a bit where my workouts are concerned because of the intense summer heat where I live. I rarely poke my head outside. As I fantasize about caramel apples and sweet potato pie, my nostalgia gets a rude awakening when I spy the scale in the corner of the bathroom. Time for a reality check.
This is also the time of year when it seems to be one holiday celebration right after another. It’s not just the season for colorful leaves. It’s also the season for over indulgence. Charlie Brown may have his Great Pumpkin, but, come December, if I’m not careful, I could very well be dubbed the Great Plumpkin.
Is there a way to indulge in traditional holiday eating and do it in a healthy way? Well, pumpkins are full of vitamins A and C. The seeds are packed with phytosterols which help lower cholesterol levels. Roasted pumpkin seeds can then be an official healthy holiday snack. They can also be used to garnish dishes like soups and salads.
What about cooler weather bringing with it seasonal nasties like the flu? I don’t want to be sick when I could be enjoying a holiday party with my loved ones. I believe I will follow the advice of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and get a flu vaccine this year. Last year I didn’t get one and I ended up being sick with the flu twice in two months. When I relapsed the second time I was hoping I would just die and get it over with. Yes, I think a flu vaccine is in order this year. It seems I am no longer Superwoman.
Another great way to boost the immune system and have a healthy entry into the holiday season is to hydrate adequately. Of course this means loads of water throughout the day, but also fruit juices. The fruit juice that usually comes to mind is vitamin C packed orange juice. Now, as far as I’m concerned that’s a Spring and Summer juice. It’s fall! I need a fall juice! For an autumn juice I choose a cranberry-pomegranate blend. I also don’t drink it cold. I prefer to put it in a coffee mug with a couple of slices of orange floating on top. Then I warm it up in the microwave until steamy. The orange infusion makes this the most delicious cold weather drink ever.
Now that the temperatures are becoming more agreeable, I can also do my favorite workout of all time. After dinner I go for a thirty minute power walk. I have the added workout bonus of carrying around an extra ten pounds to intensify the benefits to my glutes and thighs. How do I add this weight? I have a small dog that has entered her senior years. Her days of leash-walking during my power walk are over because of arthritis. Now she rides in a baby backpack. She loves it and we still get to enjoy one another’s companionship.
And what about the inevitable confrontation with holiday sweets? No matter where I go there is bound to be a bowl of candy corn or festively wrapped little bon-bons or any assortment of homemade desserts. I am not imprisoned by my health conscious lifestyle. As long as I don’t transform into some sweet addicted maniac, there is no reason not to enjoy a treat from time to time. The best thing to do at this time of year is simply not to stock those sorts of things in the house. I will have plenty of opportunities elsewhere to indulge.
As the holidays begin, and excitement and anticipation build throughout the planning stages of parties and get-togethers with loved ones, it’s important to remember those who may be alone. This is the perfect time to plan a trip to a senior citizen center, visit a children’s hospital or send care packages to troops who are deployed. I love this time of year. I think it brings out the best in almost everyone.