So that crazy part of the year has arrived, when we fill our plates with too many commitments and too many calories, and we forget about the routines and processes that have brought us health throughout the year. Less than 3 months remain in this quick and zippy 2021, 3 MONTHS! Less than 25% left.
What have you accomplished this year? Did you set out to do more or less than you have? WAIT! Hold up! DO NOT JUDGE yourself right now for missing chances or not finishing X, Y, or Z. Not the time. Has anyone over delivered and exceeded their expectations? Don’t sit there gloating if you’ve killed it this year. If you did, CONGRATS, HIGH FIVE, and WHAT’S NEXT ?! This is our chance to reset and move forward. What can we do with the next 10 weeks to finish this thing off with power? Inside and out, I want you flowing into 2022 feeling fabulous. This time of year it’s not about just making it to the gym or making a few soups (yay! soup season!) since so much is pulling on us for attention, energy, money, time… let’s make a plan.
Plans only work when they’re realistic, so we’re going to list out some moves you can do during your adventures and highlight ways you can keep feeling on top of the world.
The Pumpkin Carry
Use these orange orbs for fun shoulder stability! First thing, pick it up smart! Hinge your hips back and keep your spine straight (not vertical) and use the power of your legs to lift it. If it’s got a good handle, carrying it like a suitcase will work your postural stability to keep you upright (just make sure you switch to the other side halfway to the car)! If it’s the right size, lift it up to your shoulder and do a waiter carry (palm facing up, elbow pointing down, shoulder pulled back). Let the pumpkin rest on your shoulder or lift it up slightly, but keep the spine and head upright (not
tilting forward or sideways). Option to press it up overhead (careful, no one wants a splatted pumpkin this way!) to a Statue of Liberty Carry – arm has to be pretty vertical here and this can work wonders for your shoulder stability.
Shake and Rake
Yard work is great FUNctional training! But let’s be smart about it: rather than bend and reach and stoop and twist repeatedly, try these guidelines (they happen to work well for everyday life and exercise too!):
- Keep your spine straight, facing your work
- Keep the work close to you – move your whole self rather than reach and bend
- Reverse prolonged or repeated postures frequently
Fall farmer’s carry! As you load up the wheelbarrow with the gorgeous leaves falling all over your yard, you can bet your postural stability can benefit from walking that wheelbarrow around. Try both pushing it forward and pulling it behind you. Shoulders back and head over your shoulders.
Squats are one of the most functional and simple exercises we know of, and we get lots of bang for our buck as long as we do them correctly: knees over toes (not in front or inside), spine straight (not vertical) with chest up, shoulders back. Holding a weight at the chest can add to the stability challenge (goblet squat), and holding a weight on just 1 side (offset goblet squat) increases the complexity of the challenge without adding more load to the joints, just don’t let that weight bend you sideways (your squat shoulder look the same as it did without weight or with evenly distributed load, other than hand position). This means your brain gets a chance to manage your strength with better control, which will help you with tossing or
chasing your little pumpkins.
Not that you really need to use a squash, but the alliteration is fun, right?
DEAD lifting – think zombies lifting their headstones….mwwaahaha… or just think of you, lifting ANYTHING, and we need this move. Say you’re a witch, and you’ve got a broom, which you place on your spine, holding one end close to the back of your head with one hand, the other end close to your tailbone with your other hand. As you move, keep the broomstick stuck to your back, which will help you learn the right way to move here. The hips move BACK in a hinge (as opposed to a squat, in which they move DOWN), so the shins stay more or less vertical, and the spine (still straight) tilts forward. Posture is still awesome and gaze is just a few feet in front of the toes. If this feels odd, keep practicing, try with a wall behind you to catch you as you move your hips back. Once the movement feels right, go ahead and grab a pumpkin or basket of apples and go for it. Adding load ONLY once you’ve nailed the movement.
Persimmon Push Pull
Our 2 main upper body movements: pushing and pulling. We train these all the time in various ways, but we typically push way more than we pull. So we like to mix in pull training in life whenever we can! When you’re reaching for those high delicious apples, persimmons, pears this fall, pull your shoulder blades down and back and keep your spine long, pulling with not just your arm, hand, or elbow, but with the integrated strength of your shoulder girdle, which will not only make the movement stronger and more efficient, it protects the structures that are working to make the move happen.
Another example of my affiliation for alliteration and craze for creativity. Nothing here specific to apples…
Asana, or yoga poses, are all designed to address different body areas in different ways, but they all have at their root the same goal. To prepare the body for meditation to allow freeing of the mind and fullness of the life force in the breath. This season, despite your feelings about yoga (don’t need it, it’s just stretching, I’m plenty flexible), consider this: breathe for 5 breaths in 5 different positions. Call it what you want, but taking the time to BREEEEATHE in various positions with varying levels of support can enhance not only your other training but also your mental state for whatever the season brings to your path.
- Do this one with me.
- INHALE for a count of 4.
- At the top of the breath, close your lips tightly and puff your cheeks out, holding this for a count of 4.
- EXHALE for a count of 4.
- As you start the exhale, your lips open quickly making your whisper “Boo!” resetting your breathing as well as your attention on your task. Repeat 2-3 times as needed, boo-tiful.
This season we are drained – giving and doing too much and not refueling enough. Fuel comes from food, hydration, and sleep. Simple as that. Better keep filling up your tanks as you burn energy so you don’t fall… in the fall.
Hydration: Most of us need more water than we get (50% of your body weight in oz: 150 lb person needs 75 oz H2O daily!), and we should front load the water consumption to the earlier part of the day and around exercise. Caffeinated drinks don’t count. Warm water with lemon and ginger is a great way to start a cold morning, and adding a pinch of Celtic sea salt to your liter of water can boost up some key minerals.
Food can be so complicated but it really doesn’t need to be: protein, fats, and fiber (PFF) are our main categories to search for when we need sustained energy. When we eat out, or potluck with family, or we travel, we can be driven to simple and diluted nutrients that lead to blood sugar fluctuations for our working bodies. Simple advice is to keep searching for PFF and whole natural foods and you’ll shine through the fall.
Many homes will be accumulating what some people refer to as “treats” or candy over the next few weeks… these products are sweet and wrapped in interesting packages, and indeed seem tasty, but they wreak havoc on our bodies (AND OUR KIDS’ BODIES!). Sugar is highly inflammatory and the chemical and colors added to products like this are linked to some serious problems, including attention deficit and behavior problems in some studies. Luckily for us, THE SWITCH WITCH comes to visit our house a few days after Halloween. She takes the loot and leaves a book or activity of some sort that’s better for my kids’ bodies and brains. Does she visit you too?
Rest in Peace
Hardest and most important one. Restful, peaceful sleep is so elusive for many of us, and without it, we can’t thrive. Many world-renowned coaches will tell us that the best way to drop unwanted weight, get back your 6-pack abs, or ___ (fill in fitness goal of choice) is to start with 7-9 hours of sleep per night. You may think you can get by with less, but you can’t. You may not feel like you’re sick or losing focus, but your hormones (even those connected to blood sugar management and your menstrual cycle), digestion, nervous system, immune system, and everything in between can work better if you’re properly rested. Most of us lack this big time and compensate with caffeine. Works ok in the short term but it’s not sustainable. Unfortunately, one good night of sleep does little to restore us. It has to be a pattern. Prioritize your rest. You can’t take good care of anyone else or
make this season magic for them if you aren’t well-rested yourself. Rest. With Peace. Just try and see how much better you feel.
If even one of you tries even one of these ideas this fall and feels good about it, SHARE WITH US! Tag @kaiafit and me @drivesportslab and #fallfitness and let us know what you think!
See you in the pumpkin patch,