The time has come: kids are back in school and your empty home, and you, could use rest from a summer full of taxi driving to day-camps and hosting sleepovers. The back-to-school season is a great time to gain some re-focus on YOUR health and fitness goals. It’s a perfect time to shift the priority needle a little more towards you! With the kids being occupied all day, the school year provides you more time for exercise, shopping for and preparing healthy meals, and managing stress.

Maybe you still have toddlers and/or infants not in school yet that you’re responsible for during the day. Or maybe the school year adds stress to your life because there is car-pooling, sports practices, and homework to be completed before the following early morning. Some of the easiest, and also most effective ways, to manage stress are doing activities that you enjoy. During the day, strive to prioritize yourself and do something that you like doing. It only takes a half hour to go walking, landscape, read, bake, or to do yoga. This is a short list of known stress relievers that you can choose from to do each and every day.

The school year and the fall season make great starting lines for your fitness goals. The summer time is generally much more sporadic and less scheduled than when the kids are in school every week. Use this seasonal change to your advantage: create an exercise routine for yourself that you can fit into your new structured schedule–and stay consistent!

Additionally, Thanksgiving holiday is less than 4 months away! Can we take a second and realize how quickly 2018 has goneā€¦ Many of us will be traveling to see our extended families while also spending time with friends. Beginning a well-balanced fitness program that is uniquely designed for you right now gives you time to hit your goals and impress family and friends when the holiday parties arrive. Think of this time as a middle ground between the BBQs and booze of the summer and the Thanksgiving and Christmas feasts. Working hard and staying consistently healthy and active is key to earning those big holiday meals to come!

Speaking of meals, it’s also a great time to zero in on your meal planning. This means something different for everybody. For some, meal prepping means purchasing food for weeks at a time and having every single meal colorfully prepared in Tupperware and posted on social media. For others, it simply means bringing a list with them to the grocery store. Wherever you are on the meal planning spectrum, you can use a consistent plan of action to save time, reduce stress, and ensure that you are eating healthy this fall. One hour out of your week can be meal prepping time: think kids lunches, snacks, and dinners for the entire week. TIME = SAVED. Freezer meals that are prepared make great busy night go-to’s that are world’s better for you than a Taco Bell run. Some grocery stores have pick-up options so that you know exactly what you’re spending and don’t fall for those impulse purchases. Additionally, meal prep services are available for pickup AND delivery.

Hopefully you’re excited about fall fitness. The truth is, you won’t be on fire to exercise every day. We’re all human; there will be days where you grimace at the thought of exercise because you’ve been working all day just to keep the family together. The important take-away here is to reach toward doing something good every day. Let go of some of that stress by doing things you enjoy. Think outside the box when it comes to a form of exercise, and have fun with a friend who makes it enjoyable. And lastly, win the nutrition war by being prepared and having a plan. It takes time to learn and master some of these habits, however, progress can be made each day of the fall. Let’s take advantage of the seasonal change and start doing what’s best for the health of YOU!

authored by kenny palmer