My favorite season is in full swing! Complain as I may about the rain, chillier nights and the dark mornings, I still love fall. The welcomed drop in temperature encourages me to get out and run, walk and bike more (without losing half my body weight in sweat); the changing leaves don't hurt either. How about you?
I'm embracing the season and finding new ways to stay motivated to eat right and keep on exercising. After all, if you're going to make health and fitness a lifestyle, you have to continuously find ways to get excited about your program.
Here are some of the fitness products, apparel, foods and otherwise healthy pursuits that I'm excited about right now. Hopefully some of them will help YOU stay on track, too!
I'll admit it: It took me a little while to get used to Greek yogurt. Honestly, I didn't like it at all during my first dozen or so attempts at eating it. But I kept trying different flavors and different brands. I was so used to eating super sweet yogurt that I didn't like this healthier, less-sweet stuff. But when my taste buds adjusted, I began to LOVE it. Now I can't handle the regular yogurt anymore. My Greek yogurt faves? Chobani is the bomb. And now they come in large 16-ounce containers instead of just single servings, which is more economical for me and results in less waste. I also have a place in my heart for Stonyfield Farms Oikos organic yogurt, which includes interesting flavors like chocolate and caramel that are like a rich dessert, yet still nutritionally balanced!
Lululemon Wunder Under Pants ($82, sizes 2-12)
OK, yes they cost a lot. But I am in love with these pants. I pretty much live in leggings in the fall and winter, so I bought this lovely burgundy color (so hot this season!) of Lululemon leggings to double-task as both workout attire and everyday attire. I love clothes that work in my wardrobe in more than one way. And I have to say, I would buy these over and over and over again; they are truly the most comfortable pair of pants I have ever put on my body—and were totally worth the splurge. (I used my birthday money!) They're great for my morning walks with the dog, as everyday leggings under a long sweater, and even for Pilates class.
Asics Arm Warmers ($12.25, one size)
Fall is arm-warmer season! These are the perfect transitional piece for your outdoor workouts, when it's not quite cold enough to layer up in a sweatshirt, yet not warm enough for short sleeves. If you walk, hike, run or bike, these are a must-have in the fall. And they're inexpensive to boot! I have this Asics brand of arm warmers, which have lasted me for years and are still going strong. Although, just for fun, I think I may get myself a new fun color like these purple Swiftly Arm Warmers ($32, S/M, M/L) which are longer and also have anti-stink technology.
Oh sweet potatoes! There's nothing like roasting, steaming and baking these beauties in the fall. For one, I'm finally not sweating when I turn on the oven anymore (score!). But sweet potatoes are also a delicious way to fuel your workouts thanks to their complex carbs. My new favorite way to enjoy them is to slice them thinly, roast them in the oven at 450 for 10-20 minutes (tossing and turning every 5 minutes), and then to serve them hot over a salad with a dollop of goat cheese. Trust me, this combination is heaven! Hungry for more? Learn why potatoes are so good for you.
Breast Cancer Awareness Workout Apparel
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and lots of companies are creating special lines of clothing that donate a portion of the proceeds to breast cancer research. If you plan to refresh your workout wardrobe with a few new items this fall, look for the "Pink" options from your favorite brands. I love this "Go Run for a Reason" T-shirt from Adidas ($30, sizes XS-XL) myself. Five percent of the suggested retail price for their entire BCA line will go to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Paul Katami "Kettlebell Konnect" DVD ($22.95, amazon.com)
Paul Katami is the man when it comes to kettlebells. I've raved about his kettlebell DVDs in the past (there are none better), and he recently sent us his newest DVD to test. We've been popping this DVD in at SparkPeople headquarters on a regular basis for our weekly group workouts, and it doesn't disappoint. It's definitely advanced and features fun and unique exercise combinations that are put together for a killer 60-minute workout. If you've been using kettlebells for a while, or have tried (and loved) his other titles, then you're ready for this one; it's perfect for those chilly days that you don’t want to leave the cozy house! Check out the preview video below to see what it's like.
Run-in-the-Dark Safety Gear
I will admit that the darker days of fall kind of freak me out. Not only is it harder to drag myself out of bed in the morning when it's still as dark outside as when I went to bed, it's now getting darker earlier in the evening, too. I'm a little bit fearful of the dark, and it's not just because I'm afraid someone will sneak up on me (although that's part of it). I also want to be safe and see by the traffic I'm running around. Enter the reflective vest! You can sport this all year long over any type of clothing so that you will be seen. My favorite is the Nathan Streak Reflective Vest (about $30, sizes S-XL). Once you put it on, it's lightweight and minimal so you don't even notice it. To add some extra brightness to exceptionally dark runs, try a clip-on LED light, and for fashionistas, you will love the stylish and reflective See Me Run Brooch by Lululemon ($18).
Reflective Gear for Dogs
Ginger is my precious little running buddy, and I would do anything to keep her happy and safe. The dark fall mornings—and dark evenings—are an important consideration for anyone who regularly walks or runs with their dog. I mean, I deck myself out in a reflective vest so that cars can see me, so why wouldn’t I do the same for my favorite four-legged friend? I bought Ginger this just-try-not-to-see-me yellow jacket at Target last year, complete with reflective piping, to keep her safe and warm. Trust me, she's happier to wear it than she looks in this photo! But in fall, it's not always cold enough for her to wear a coat. This year, I'm getting her a reflective dog collar ($11) and reflective dog leash ($15). Now we can both run this fall with a little more peace of mind.
FitBit Ultra ($99.95)
When the FitBit Ultra recently landed on my desk to try, I was skeptical. I've used a FitBit in the past and really enjoyed it, but I never remembered to put it on regularly enough to get real, usable stats. This time, however, something clicked. And now, I don't think I can rave enough about the FitBit Ultra! Even for someone like me who is pretty active and a regular exerciser, I still wear my FitBit every single day. It tracks your daily steps, distance, activity minutes, calories burned (estimated based on activity), sleep, stairs climbed and more. And it uploads wirelessly to your computer. Every week, I get summary emails from FitBit that show me my activity trends, and I even earn badges for being active and reaching new milestones. It truly encourages me to get up and be even more active each day—which also means I'm less likely to skip out on those dark morning runs or walks with the dog.
Air Popped Popcorn
I'm really not much of a TV person, and I rarely even have time to veg on the couch and watch the tube. But there is something about dark, chilly fall nights and football season (go Giants!) that makes me want to curl up on the couch under a cozy blanket and watch television! When I'm really craving a TV snack after dinner, I reach for air-popped popcorn. I have this Orville Redenbacher Hot Air Popcorn Popper ($27), and as much as I don't typically buy single-function kitchen appliances, this one gets regular use in my house. Buying plain popcorn kernels at the store is cheap, and you can control how you flavor and salt your popcorn when you make it yourself, which means you're in control of the calories, fat and sodium. It makes a great snack during your favorite football game. You can even throw it at the TV as you yell at the replacement refs!
For more of my favorite picks all year long, check out the board "Coach Nicole's Picks" at Pinterest. While you're there, follow SparkPeople's "Fit Fall, Healthy Halloween" Pinterest board, too.
The opinions expressed here are solely my own and have not been bought, financed or sponsored. If we ever receive free products to review, we tell you.
What are you digging this fall? What's good in your life? Share your favorite fit and healthy things about this season in the comments below!
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