For many, the start of the new school year signals the end of summer. But just because the sunny season is winding down, doesn’t mean it’s time to give up the health and fitness goals you’ve been working on. It’s entirely possible to continue to make progress—even when you’d rather be spending the dwindling daylight doing something else, says Steven Ledbetter, an expert on behavior change and co-founder of Habitry. Here’s how to #SeizeSummer and keep your momentum going into fall.
“The thing about fall—and the added temptations that come with it, is that it happens every year,” says Ledbetter, “which means you can plan for it.” Think about what you can do now, to stay on track in the coming season. “If your goal is to eat more vegetables, and summer produce is helping you nail that habit, how are you going to keep that up?” asks Ledbetter. Freezing those fresh, farmers’ market finds so you can enjoy them in the coming months is one answer. And looking at your calendar on Sunday, so you can carve time out of each upcoming workday for a walk break, is a plan-ahead trick that can help you maintain a step goal.
BE REALISTIC ABOUT PROGRESS
As you put those workouts on your calendar, know that going-back-to-school season leads into holidays-are-here-again season, and both will create strains on your schedule. Don’t beat yourself up when your priorities have to shift, and you’re only able to do, say, 30 minutes of walking, instead of the hour-long summer evening step sessions you used to log. “Momentum simply means moving forward—it doesn’t have to mean maintaining the same rate of progress,” says Ledbetter.
Another way to think about it: “Imagine you’re driving home from work and you hit traffic, and your car slows down. Do you assume the forward momentum isn’t good enough, abandon your car, and walk back to the office? Or do you take pressure off the gas pedal and keep driving, albeit much slower, because you know you’ll get home eventually?” asks Ledbetter. You don’t need to leave your health goals on the side of the road when life gets in the way.
MAKE FITNESS FUN AGAIN
“A lot of people start new fitness routines in the summer—and it’s that newness that makes everything feel fun and exciting,” says certified fitness pro Lacey Stone. This idea can work in your favor for fall, too. Consider adding a new class into your routine (check out the Fitbit Activity IndexTM for ideas), or inviting a friend to join you for your next sweat session. “It’s a heck of a lot easier to skip the snooze button in the morning, when you’re looking forward to your morning workout,” says Stone.
SET & TRACK NEW GOALS
If you nailed your summer health and fitness goals (woohoo—go you!), then it’s time to set a new one for fall. It could be as simple as planning to maintain the success you’ve achieved, or tacking on a goal that complements the ones you’ve already conquered. “There’s always room for improvement, and adding on a new goal can help support the good habits you’re maintaining,” says Ledbetter. Keep in mind: a new goal doesn’t have to mean more volume—as in spend even more time exercising, it could mean more intensity instead, such as adding speed intervals into your daily walks. Or you might consider a different kind of health goal altogether. ”Starting a gratitude journal is one of my favorites,” says Ledbetter. “Setting a sleep goal is another.”
Think moving the clocks back and pulling out the sweaters means it it’s time to give up on your summer health and fitness goals? Think again. The season change presents an opportunity to reevaluate your habits, anticipate new challenges, and continue your forward momentum into the fall.