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Start Fresh for Fall: 50 Ways to Turn Over a New Leaf

By , SparkPeople Blogger
For parents and students, September marks the season of fresh starts. There's something about the flurry of back-to-school preparations and return to routine that feels like a clean slate, even for those of us who aren't boarding the school bus. In many ways, fall is an even better time to embark on a health and fitness journey—the crisp, cool weather is perfect for exercise, and the upcoming winter holidays serve as the perfect incentive.

Need some inspiration for self-improvement? We've gathered 50 ideas to give you a head start.
  1. For every hour of sitting, do one minute of cardio. This can be walking, running in place, jumping jacks or whatever gets your heart pumping. (This should be in addition to your regular workouts.)
  2. Extend every workout by 10 minutes. After a month, gauge the results.
  3. Do two workout videos each week. Choose one from your favorites, and one you've never tried before.
  4. When you're watching TV, do stretches or exercises. Netflix binging has never been so good for you.
  5. Set three new SMART goals. These kind of goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. For instance, one might be to go to a fitness class twice a week, or to only eat takeout once a week. Assess your progress each month.
  6. Rake your own leaves. Not only will you have a shipshape lawn and a feeling of accomplishment, a 150-pound person will burn more than 260 calories in one hour of raking.
  7. Sign up for a charity event that's near and dear. If you're an avid animal lover, register for a local race that supports the humane society, for example. You'll be more motivated if your efforts are going toward a good cause.
  8. Turn kids' practices into workouts. Instead of sitting on the sidelines or in the car during soccer or baseball practices, use that time to walk, jog or stretch.
  9. Try a standing desk. Get work done while burning calories and improving your cardiovascular fitness.
  10. Go on a foliage walk. Take a stroll through a park or around your neighborhood to soak in the resplendent fall colors while you can.
Fall into Healthier Eating Habits
  1. Set a limit for your vice. Whether you love chocolate, fried chicken, macaroni and cheese or another "guilty pleasure," decide that you'll only indulge in that item once a week.
  2. Stop punishing yourself for setbacks. Ate too much pizza? Don't sentence yourself to an extra hour on the elliptical or a day of self-starvation. Move forward, stay focused on your goals and don't dwell on your moment of weakness.
  3. Resolve to eat meals screen-free. Distracted dining can lead to overeating, as well as disconnection from companions. Log off before digging in.
  4. Host a healthy fall potluck. Ask everyone to bring along copies of recipes to share with the group.  
  5. Do a processed purge. Go through your pantry, fridge and freezer and get rid of highly processed foods, like packaged snacks and frozen dinners. Replace them with real foods—the fewer the ingredients, the better.
  6. Start tracking your food. The results will surprise you—and motivate you to make positive changes.
  7. Take a cooking class. Feeling clueless in the kitchen? Consider taking a class to learn the basics.
  8. Learn to decipher food labels. And then read the label of every item before placing it in your grocery cart.
  9. Before eating something, ask yourself if it will benefit your body. If the answer is no, put it down (or indulge thoughtfully and sparingly).
  10. Swap out white breads and pastas for brown. Whole grains are packed with more protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals than refined grains.
Create a Harvest-worthy Home
  1. Bring fall kitchen essentials front and center. It's time to swap out the lemonade pitcher and smoothie machine for the slow cooker, stock pot, casserole dish and other autumn cookware.
  2. Paint a room. Painting can be a tedious process, but it comes with some perks. As you move items to paint, you'll naturally do some purging and organizing. And when the project is complete, you'll have a newly energized and rejuvenated space. (Plus, you'll burn more than 130 calories an hour.)
  3. Plant a fall herb garden. It's easier than you think. Not only will it provide delicious, healthy produce for meals and snacks, it will also save on buying these items at the grocery.
  4. De-clutter one mini-space per day. This could be a junk drawer, an office bookshelf or that entry table where everyone tosses mail and miscellany. Just five or 10 minutes a day can add up to a more organized household.
  5. Get your spice rack in season. Do a quick inventory and stock up on any fall flavors that are low or missing (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and other autumnal essences).
  6. Designate a screen-free zone. Choose a space—whether it's family room, the kitchen or the covered porch—where phones or computers are never allowed. This will eventually become the area where family members gravitate when they want to connect.
  7. Implement a "one in, three out rule." For every one new item that you bring into your home, purge (sell, donate or toss) three items you don't need or use.
  8. On busy days, get a piecemeal workout. 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch and 10 minutes in the evening will be just as effective as 30 minutes of exercise.
  9. Check your home's air quality. Pollution doesn't just happen outside. Do an indoor air check to make sure your family is breathing clean, healthy air. For peace of mind, consider using a portable air cleaner.
  10. Give the house a bath. Rent or borrow a pressure washer to remove built-up dirt and debris from siding, decks, patios and driveways. In addition to improving curb appeal, it doubles as an arm-strengthening and cardio-boosting workout.
Make it the Autumn of YOU
  1. Swap "yes" for "no"—and vice versa—once a week. Accept that interesting invitation you'd usually bypass, and skip the umpteenth PTO meeting that interferes with yoga class. You may be surprised by the rewards of switching up your knee-jerk responses.
  2. Reset your internal clock. If you're struggling to wake up in the mornings and find yourself wide-eyed at midnight, you may need to reset your circadian rhythm. Create a restful sleeping environment and turn in an hour earlier than normal.
  3. Toss out that old sports bra. (Or that tired tank top, or pair of saggy-kneed leggings.) You know the one we're talking about. Next, treat yourself to a brand-new replacement.
  4. Throw away negative thoughts. Literally. Next time you're obsessing about what you perceive as too-big thighs or flabby arms, write down those thoughts on a piece of paper, crumble it up and toss it in the trash. At the same time, write down the same number of positive comments in a notebook—those you can keep.
  5. Stop mindless surfing. When you find yourself getting sucked into a website that doesn't improve your productivity, wellness or self-worth, close the browser or shut down the computer. Your time and energy is better served elsewhere.
  6. Pick a hobby and attack it like an Olympian would. Whether it's sewing, spinning or skydiving, turning a pastime into a passion makes life richer, and your body and mind healthier.
  7. Make a list of 10 time suckers. You may be surprised by how easy it is to come up with them. The harder (but oh-so-rewarding) part is purging them from your life.
  8. When stress strikes, breathe. Proper breathing exercises serve as mini-meditation sessions, while also increasing oxygen flow and helping to eliminate toxins.
  9. Purge ill-fitting clothing. Life is too short, and your closet is too small, to keep apparel that doesn't flatter your figure and make you feel good about yourself.
  10. Learn to accept compliments graciously. Not only is it polite, it's good for your health (and the health of the giver).
Make It the Fall of Family
  1. Reconnect with your partner. After a summer filled with family vacations, kids' sports and camps and loosey-goosey schedules, your relationship with your significant other may have been shoved to the back burner. Set aside time for a date night, a joint trip to the gym or just a movie night at home.
  2. Start a family journal. It doesn't have to be anything fancy—just a spiral-bound notebook where everyone can record their thoughts, feelings, goals and funny moments. Keep it in a common area where family members can easily find it when inspiration strikes.
  3. Take a field trip to an apple orchard. The whole family can get in on the harvesting action, and then you can find creative ways to cook them.
  4. Hug more often, and hold on longer. Not only do embraces show loved ones you care, they could help keep you from getting sick.
  5. Schedule a regular family game night. Don't let anything interfere with this sacred time to reconnect, blow off steam and laugh with your loved ones.
  6. Respect routines. From breakfasts and bus stops to dinners and bedtimes, kids thrive when following a regular routine.  
  7. Practice an open door, open ears policy. Encourage kids to come to you with their problems and questions, listen without judgment and offer advice only if they seek it.
  8. Celebrate failure. It's easy to applaud achievements, but it's with the blunders where the real lessons lie. Each day, encourage everyone to share a so-called "failure" and what they learned from it.
  9. Resurrect the family dinner. It's good for your budget, your waistlines and your relationships.
  10. Get outside together. Make time for picnics in the park, bike rides, leaf pile jumping, trail hikes or any activity that brings you closer to nature and each other.

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Comments

4CONNIESHEALTH 9/4/2019
Great suggestions! Thanks Report
DGRIFFITH51 9/3/2019
Wow, several ideas I had not thought of, thanks! Report
CECTARR 9/3/2019
Thanks Report
PICKIE98 9/3/2019
Just ONE new thing.... Report
MILPAM3 9/3/2019
Excellent ideas. I need to remember to buy nutmeg! Report
BONNIE1552 9/3/2019
Great ideas for fall - or any other time of the year. Report
CBULLIS1 9/3/2019
GREAT article thank you Report
IMEMINE1 9/3/2019
Great. Report
LEANJEAN6 9/3/2019
love this article Report
LEANJEAN6 9/3/2019
love this article Report
AZROSEZ 9/3/2019
Thank you Report
-POOKIE- 9/3/2019
Nice ideas . Report
CHERIRIDDELL 9/3/2019
thanks Report
NIKO27 8/28/2019
Great Article Report
FIT2FINISH 8/16/2019
This was a great article with really good simple doable ideas✅
Thank you Report
TOMATOCAFEGAL 10/29/2018
Thanks for these ideas. Great ideas. Report
SUSANBEAMON 10/25/2018
Interesting ideas. Report
MIYAMO 10/23/2018
Great Fall ideas. Report
FROGSMILE 10/22/2018
A lot of good ones here, but I think #13 needs re-thinking, modification. For a lot of single or widowed folks, eating without the TV on means eating entirely alone. While background music might do the trick for some folks on a regular basis and for others, at least periodically, it doesn't do it for me all the time. In order not to eat mindlessly, I prepare my plate and do not do seconds. Eating in front of the TV perhaps even slows me down--which is a good thing. Report
PATRICIA-CR 10/21/2018
Love them! Report
1CRAZYDOG 10/21/2018
great ideas for the Fall! Report
4CONNIESHEALTH 10/21/2018
Really great suggestions here! Report
PAMBROWN62 10/20/2018
Some really good ideas here. I’m going to pin it for future referral. Thank you. Report
LIS193 10/20/2018
Great article! Report
MILTONS_MAMA 10/20/2018
I hope that when people are purging their homes of processed foods and ill-fitting clothes, they think of others in need and pass these items on.

I am writing letters to companies, and asking them to stop sending me junk mail! I'm only going to look at catalogs online. Report
AMYRCMK 10/20/2018
Thank you Report
SCDALYNCH 10/9/2018
Thank you! Great ideas that I can do! Report
Excellent article. Report
AMBER461
Thanks for sharing. Report
Grin your smile; giggle your laugh; unfurl your joy;
dash the last trace of your self-consciousness;
and cavort your most uninhibited play. Report
good points Report
Great article Report
This is an excellent selection of tips! I'm already doing a few of them, but I see more improvements that would benefit my home. Report
This is a great list with a fresh spin. Yay!! Report
Wonderful article. I enjoyed reading it! Report
ROCKS8ROX
I enjoyed this article very much. Really good ideas! Report
good points Report
Love the list!! Report
thanks for the ideas Report
Lots of great ideas here Report
BRIARGAL
Even though we are nearing summer, I still found some great ideas he! Report
EXCELLENT !

One of SP's BEST articles EVER

THANK YOU Report
KRUTH1956
WONDERFUL ideas! I'm definitely saving this article! Report
I love this article. So many great ideas! Report
I love this article. So many great ideas! Report
I so wish we had "fall" here in Florida. We get excited when the temperature is "only" in the 70s during the day. Report
WAXHAW1816
Some really good ideas here. I'm going to focus on #37... make a list of time suckers. My biggest ones have screens - tv, laptop, ipad, and phone. May be time to substitute all of them for my Kindle! Report
PAULEY1953
Great article to get myself motivated for fall. Report
STRIMBLE77
Great Ideas. The one I need to start with is tracking my food. I am new to all of this and forget. I know it will keep me on the wellness track. Report
I appreciate the suggestions presented here. I will need to pick and choose since I have numerous health issues. Report