People tend to make a fuss about fresh starts at the new year or in the spring. But in Florida, it’s really fall that inspires turning over a new leaf.
That first cool breeze on a fall morning carries a sweet promise — that someday soon your makeup won’t melt, your hair won’t frizz and your T-shirt won’t have sweat stains before you get to the gym. The kids are out of the pool and back in school, so there’s some semblance of a routine and more "me time." And even though the trees don’t change color, you can zhoosh up your personal palette a bit. (Although white jeans are fine whenever. Really.)
It’s a great time to focus on your health, fitness, nutrition and look. Here are 15 ways to make the most of fall.
Pump some pumpkin into your diet (but do it the healthy way)
You’re probably already finding lots of pumpkin-flavored foods and drinks at cafes and markets. But a pumpkin-spice latte is not the healthiest. Real pumpkin is high in fiber and low in calories, which can help with weight management. It’s also loaded with vitamin A and carotenoids, so it’s good for your eyes, skin and general wellness. Add it to your oatmeal, chili and soups to get those benefits and a menu with a real fall feel.
Get more sleep
The National Institutes of Health says quality sleep — and getting enough of it at the right times — is as essential to survival as food and water. Everybody’s needs are different, but on average, the NIH says, school-age children and teens need about 9½ hours of sleep per night, and most adults need seven to nine hours. If you have to get up early for work (or your workout), there isn’t much you can do on the front end, but you can go to bed at an earlier hour. That’s a lot easier in the fall, when it starts getting dark sooner. Go for small adjustments now and make the most of the end of daylight saving time on Nov. 4.
Get a new pair of running shoes
If you’re ready to start pounding the pavement again, assess the fitness of your current kicks. Some signs you could need a new pair to make sure you have the proper fit and support, from Nicole Brownell, manager of the Feet First store in Tampa:
• If the treads on your running shoes are worn.
• If you push on the bottoms and they’re soft.
• If you’re experiencing new aches and pains in your knees, back or hips.
• If your shoes don’t look worn, but they’re more than a year old.
Sign up for a race
Yeah, it’s still a l-i-t-t-l-e warm out there. But the race season is ramping up. And in Tampa Bay, that means good times and, often, amazing scenery — on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, on the waterfront in Tarpon Springs or at J.B. Starkey Wilderness Park in New Port Richey. Schedule of races: runtampa.com.
Get a checkup
And do it before part-time residents and tourists flock to Florida for the winter. Visit Florida estimates that a record 118.5 million visitors traveled to Florida in 2017, and so far, 2018 is on pace to pass that number. If you want to beat the waiting room blues, make an appointment to get your physical, eye and dental checkups now.
Take up a new sport
Looking for something completely different? Try archery. If you haven’t picked up a bow since summer camp 20 years ago, you’ll be surprised by how much fun it can be. And, yes, it will contribute to your overall fitness. You’ll need some upper-body strength to draw the bow properly, says Andrew Pisarkiewicz, who teaches at Tampa Bay Sporting Clays & Archery in Land O’Lakes. And you’ll likely notice your eye-hand coordination improve, as well as your balance.
• You’ll improve your overall health and lower your risk of disease in the future.
• You’ll avoid exposing your family and friends to secondhand smoke.
• You’ll save money.
The Mayo Clinic recommends picking a "quit day" far enough out to give yourself time to find a support program and maybe some gum, a patch or medication for those challenging first days or weeks. Or you can aim for the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout on Nov. 15 and know you’re not going it alone.
Test your smoke detector
The rule of thumb for changing your batteries is every six months, but the National Fire Protection Association recommends testing your alarms every month to be sure they’ll do the job when needed. And if your smoke detector is 10 years old or older, pull the whole thing out and replace it.
Take your workout outside the gym
The American Council on Exercise says an outdoor workout can boost your mood, thanks to all that fresh air and sunshine. Not every gym has an outside space, but if you can find one that does, it’s a terrific way to change up your strength and cardio routine, says Beth Scanlan, co-owner of Bayshore Fit in Tampa. While most people stick to the gym’s indoor "boutique" experience in the summer, die-hards still head outside, where members can do all the hardcore stuff you’ve seen on The Biggest Loser — from flipping tires to sprinting around cones to pushing weighted sleds. And when the temperature cools even a little bit, the fenced and turfed area gets popular, because it’s fun. Outdoor workouts typically are done in groups, Scanlon says, which is motivating. "There’s a camaraderie factor. They get to know each other and rely on each other to come."
Let your hair down
If you’ve been pulling your hair into a ponytail every day to deal with the heat and humidity, it’s time to get those tresses back in shape. Here are some recommendations from Marilynn Pearson, co-owner of the Salon and Spa at Mystic Hair in Carrollwood.
• Start with a good cut (at least 2 inches).
• Because summer can be so rough on your hair — with pool chemicals, salt water, sun and products that can cause damage — fall is a smart time to head to a salon for a Redken Pre Art clarifying treatment. It will clear out all that bad build-up, and if you color your hair, it will give you better, more even results.
• Looking for a new shade to reflect the change of seasons? If you’re a blond, try a golden blond shade with some lowlights to add dimension. If your hair is brown, a caramel color will give you a subtle change for fall.
Drink more water
Yes, you should have been doing this all summer to stay hydrated in the intense heat. But did you? Or did you mostly sip on sugary drinks such as sweet tea, lemonade and soda? You probably don’t need the calories or the caffeine. So keep a filtered pitcher in the fridge and replace the filters on your fridge and faucets every three to six months.
Get some jeans that work with your genes
Remember when you could only get blue denim, and only one style at a time was cool (bell bottoms, bootcut or straight legs; button-front or zip ankles; low-rise or high-waisted)? Now you can pull off just about any color or style any time of year. But should you? (Really, cuffed wide-leg jeans?)
Don’t give up! If you haven’t been able to pass muster with the fitting room mirror lately, try brands that are known to be flattering on most figures, including Gap, Everlane and Madewell.
Plant some veggies
Now is the time to get your carrots into the ground. Really. Right now. Go! A vegetable garden is a delicious way to stay fit. You’ll get a workout from all that digging, weeding and compost-turning, and you’ll be eating your own broccoli, peas and green beans. Visit the University of Florida’s "Gardening Solutions" at gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu.
Change up your makeup
Swipe on some lip color to set a seasonal mood. The trend followers at Pop Sugar teamed up with the makeup mavens at Sephora to come up with these suggested shades.
• Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick in Freckle Fiesta. This shade, described as "spiced terracotta," is pretty pumpkin-y, but a fun change from the corals that rule summer. $18.
• Tarte Tarteist Creamy Matte Lip Paint in Frenemy. If you’re ready for some bold color, this deep burgundy is a full-on flip from the pale pinks we wear when it’s warm. $20.
Cut down on fast food
Time to get back into a healthier eating routine, and that means cooking more meals at home. Yes, it takes a little planning, but if you cut down on those often ridiculously-large portions and unhealthy options, you’ll likely see your cholesterol, blood pressure and weight go down.
The bay area is loaded with grocery stores and farmers markets that specialize in good-for-you ingredients. And if there are just too many dance classes and soccer practices in the evening to make it work, check out a meal kit delivery service. Many offer organic fruits and vegetables, and recipes that are quick to prepare.
Contact Kim Franke-Folstad at [email protected]