Whether you’re into fall racing or lifting some seriously heavy pumpkins, here are 10 ways to stay fit and well this season.
By: Tanya Flink
For some, fall equates to cozy sweaters, sugary pumpkin spice lattes, and whole Sundays spent on the couch absorbed in game after football game. For us at 22 Days Nutrition, fall means Tofurky Trots, strolls through apple orchards, and getting plenty of pumpkin in almost every meal (actual pumpkin, not some artificial approximation). While there is always room for a lazy football Sunday or a celebratory PSL, now is the time to focus on health. Considering that we’ve essentially lived through a year and a half of “flu season,” it’s more important than ever before to bolster our immune system before the real flu season hits. Of course, you have to make it fun. Here are 10 ways to make fall your fittest season ever with plenty of warm fuzzies and joy sprinkled in.
- Sign up for a fall race
Races are back! After cancellation after cancellation, our favorite community 5ks, 10ks, and major city marathons are back on the calendar. While it’s a bit too late to sign up for the Boston or New York City marathons, you can check out Running in the USA or Active to search for races near you. The training will keep you in shape, and you’ll have something to look forward to—always a good thing when it starts to get dark early and a case of blues creeps in. To optimize your training, be sure to fuel properly. Our 22 Days Nutrition organic plant-based protein powder is the perfect addition to post-run smoothies or weight training sessions (yes, even runners should strength train). Be sure to post your race photo and tag @22daysnutrition on Instagram!
- Frolic through an apple orchard
The health benefits are twofold with this fall activity. Apple picking won’t break a sweat, but it will ramp up your step count and get you moving. You’d be surprised how much ground you can cover walking up and down long rows of apple trees! Beyond the physical benefit, you’ll come home with a bushel of apples. Before you use them all in a pie, crumble, or crisp, treat yourself to a few apples completely unadorned. Trust us, they’ll taste way better than any apple you can buy at the store. Apples are extremely low in fat but high in fiber and vitamin C. The fiber fills you up and the vitamin C plays a crucial role in immune function. Still want to bake something? Try this amazing oil- and sugar-free apple crisp!
- Get lost in a corn maze
The first rule of a corn maze: bring a buddy, but choose wisely, because you could be stuck with them for hours depending on your navigation skills. This is a wonderful (albeit sometimes frustrating) fall activity that will add mileage to your day and fully engage your brain. Challenge yourself by setting a time limit or just enjoy the outdoors with a companion by your side. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll break the corn maze record and become a local celebrity.
- Lift some heavy pumpkins
Think of a pumpkin as nature’s kettlebell. While we don’t advise swinging it, you can definitely hold it up and do some deep goblet squats. Make a game out of it when you’re selecting the perfect Jack-o-Lantern: if you touch it, you’ve got to squat with it!
- Savor the squash season
Oh my gourd! It’s squash time. Kabocha, butternut, acorn … we’re all about these starchy vegetables. All squashes have a unique taste and texture profile, yet they’re extremely versatile when it comes to cooking. Our favorites include roasting a spaghetti squash and shredding it into “noodles,” steaming kabocha squash to top a plant-based ramen bowl, puréeing butternut squash into a comforting soup, and roasting acorn squash to toss on a green salad. Each squash is a little different when it comes to nutrition, but you can expect very low fat content, energizing carbohydrates, some protein, a good amount of fiber, and plenty of vitamins to nourish your body and keep it working at its peak.
- Cozy up in the kitchen
When you cook at home, you’re helping yourself eat healthier. Focus on plant-based ingredients that will fuel your fall activities and nourish your cells for optimal immune function. We have plenty of craveable recipes on our blog, but lately we’ve been obsessed with this Roasted Vegetables Over Spiced Quinoa with Muhammara Dressing dish. We also love making fall-flavored milkshakes using our plant-based protein. The vanilla flavor compliments pumpkin spice perfectly.
- Supplement your vitamin D
Fact: vitamin D is not naturally found in food. It is a supplement that certain industries add to their products (IE milk, some plant milks, cereal, etc). Vitamin D comes from the sun. That is the only natural source. During the summer, it’s relatively easy to hit your daily vitamin D quota (600 IU), but when the days get shorter and the clouds roll in, relying on rays alone is extremely risky. The winter blues are real, and they’re partly due to vitamin D deficiency. A lack of vitamin D can also compromise your immune system, make you feel fatigued, and decrease your body’s ability to absorb calcium (which is essential for bone health). Everyone—plant-based or otherwise—can benefit from taking a vitamin D supplement, which is why we included Vegan Vitamin D3 in our Plant-Based Essentials vitamin pack. Don’t wait for the symptoms to set in. Take preventative measures and give your body what it needs to feel awesome every day.
- Call the Candy Witch
Dairy-free chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, and sour gummies are all fair game on Halloween—the problem occurs when the fun-sized candy bars are still a part of your snacking routine when you’re finalizing your Thanksgiving table setting. If you’ve got leftover candy on hand come November, call in the Candy Witch. Kids know her as that lousy lady who steals their candy after their favorite holiday, but adults know the Candy Witch is code for donation. There are several organizations that accept donated Halloween candy (some dentists even offer a buy-back program). Many of these programs send your treats to troops overseas or kids in need. Check out Treats for Troops, Operation Gratitude, and Ronald McDonald House Charities.
- DIY PSL
One or two pumpkin spiced lattes to celebrate the season certainly won’t derail your health goals, but if you’re gulping down a 16-ounce drink every other day, that could definitely set you back in terms of weight management (a grande Starbucks PSL has nearly as many calories as a small meal—390, to be exact). For a sip of sweater weather on the regular, make a pumpkin espresso beverage at home. Check out this Instagram post for an easy DIY PSL that’s packed with protein—not saturated fat and sugar.
- Give immunity a boost
Plant-based foods contain an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to keep your immunity up, but especially during these times, it’s nice to have an insurance policy. Our whole food, plant-based Immunity vitamin pack helps to fill any nutrient gaps you may have, because let’s face it, no one has the perfect diet. Made with the highest quality ingredients and completely free of any harmful fillers, these daily multivitamins give you peace of mind going into cold and flu season. No one wants a repeat of last year. Keep yourself and your loved ones healthy to make up for lost time and enjoy each other’s company … in person!