Staying Fit Through Fall
By Burr Leonard, founder and creator of The Bar Method, and Franci Cohen, personal trainer, certified nutritionist & exercise physiologist
Now that the warmer weather is coming to an end, many people are confused about their workout routines. You might have spent your entire summer swimming laps in the pool or using treadmills in an air-conditioned gym just to stay cool. With the weather changing to a cooler temperature, many exercise fanatics are finding it difficult to transition. Believe it or not, autumn is one of the best seasons to workout. There are quite a few benefits to exercising in this season and there are also a lot of different workouts that you can do to take advantage of the changing temps.
Falling Victim to the “Fall/Freshman 15”
“Whether you’re going back to school or back to the office, the decrease in everyday activity can leave you feeling sluggish and increase your cravings for comfort foods,” says Franci Cohen, personal trainer, certified nutritionist and exercise physiologist in New York City.
Franci tells us how to avoid the “freshmen 15” dilemma by setting new goals and switching up diet and exercise routines.
1. Make a diet & exercise plan and set an end date. Whether you are preparing for a school reunion or want to stay trim up to Thanksgiving, give yourself an end date so you can focus on the prize. “In fact, scientific research has actually proven that people who pre-plan a weight loss program and WRITE DOWN their goals, succeed 90 percent of the time, as opposed to non-planners who succeed less than 10 percent of the time,” says Franci Cohen. If that’s not motivation to grab a pad and pen, then I don’t know what is!
2. Set and record new goals. Have you always wanted to participate in a color run or any other fitness challenge? Now is your time to focus on setting your goals and following through. “When you brain visually sees a concrete written goal on a piece of paper, it remains prominent in the brain, allowing the brain to analyze it as important, and forces you to form an emotional attachment to it,” explains Cohen.
Your goals don’t have to be competition- oriented, they can be as simple as ‘flatten my tummy’ or ‘don’t give in to late night junk food cravings.’ Whatever they are, make sure to write them down in a journal, on your fridge, or anywhere else you will be able to see it every day. Visualization is the key to success!
3. Try a new diet plan. The summer was full of snack bars, state fairs, and barbeques, so now you need to take back control of your diet plan. Take Cohen’s advice and you will be out of harms way.
a. Go green. Add more green veggies into your daily meals. Try putting them in a smoothie or adding as a side dish to any protein.
b. Drink more smoothies. In just one blended drink you can have almost all of your fruits and veggies for one day. Here’s one of Franci’s favorites:
The Tart N’ Tangy Juice:
- 1 Green Apple
- 1 Lime
- 2 large red beets
- 3-4 leaves beet greens
- 3-4 Carrots
- 3-4 Celery stalks
- Small piece of Ginger
c. Stop buying processed foods. We know the easiest thing for college kids to eat is pre-packaged meals. If your meal has to be heated up in the microwave, it’s not the best choice! Cohen recommends keeping these items in a mini fridge for healthy snacking all day long:
- Hard boiled eggs
- Low fat cottage cheese
- Fresh fruit and pre cut veggies
- Gluten free hummus
- Vacuum sealed low-sodium turkey breast slices
4. No time to cook? No problem. Ordering take-out sometimes seems like the easiest way to accommodate a hectic schedule or short study break. If the mini-fridge is looking empty, go for healthy choices at your usual take-out spot.
- School cafeteria: Avoid the pizza/pasta station at the cafeteria. It may smell good, but the heavy ingredients will slow you down and leave you feeling sluggish. Go for a salad or sandwich with a lean protein and lots of veggies for an energy boost.
- Your favorite pizza place: If you’re craving the crunchy crust and gooey cheese, opt for a whole-wheat thin crust with veggie toppings.
- Chinese take-out: Instead of sesame chicken at your local Chinese take-out place (which is breaded, fried, and covered in a sugary gooey sauce that is usually high in MSG as well), try steamed chicken and broccoli with brown rice and use a few duck sauce packets to lightly flavor your food.
5. Change up your exercise routine. You may have been taking advantage of the warm weather by running outdoors, but constantly doing the same workout will stunt your metabolism and you won’t see the same results. “As you perform the same exercises day after day, your body becomes much more efficient at performing them, thereby expending FEWER calories during each work out,” explains Cohen. Franci advises that you need to challenge your body in order to change it. By mixing it up and cross-training, your body never knows what to expect, and has to always keep your metabolism revved up and raring to go, so that it can accommodate and succeed through even the most rigorous fitness challenges.
Burr Leonard, founder and creator of The Bar Method, has just the variety your workout needs to transition your fitness routine from the summer to fall. Burr has created three moves that can be done in even the tiniest of dorm rooms – all you need are a few minutes and a desk chair!
The Bar Method Legs Together Thigh
Are your thighs starting to give away your late-night pizza habit? This exercise is supreme at slimming and firming your thighs in one move. Do two-count “down-ups” to elongate the look of your thighs as your reshape them.
1. Face the back of a stable desk chair. Stand about a half an arm’s length from it and hold onto it with both hands.
2. Stand with feet and legs together.
3. Raise your heels to a comfortably high position. Maintain a vertical torso and relaxed upper back.
4. Bend your knees forward and come about a thigh of the way down in height from your standing position.
Important: Keep your head, neck and back vertical and lined up with each other.
5. When you start to bend your knees a little more and a little less, maintain the high-heel position of your feet.
Do 50 small down-ups at medium speed (move one inch down and one inch up by slightly bending and unbending your knees).
The Bar Method Turned-Out Fold-Over
If your jeans are starting to feel snug on your bum, you may need to work on your glutes. Turned-out fold-over targets your gluteus maximus, the largest muscle in your rear, not to mention in your whole body. This sexy variation of fold-over is especially designed to give your booty extra life and a dancer’s shape.
1. Face the back of your chair and stand arm’s length away from it.
2. Place your feet in a wide V turnout, or first position. Soften your knees.
3. Hinge forward at your hips.
4. Either rest your elbows on the bar with one hand over the other with your forehead on top of your hands, OR place your hands on the bar and point your elbows down.
If you’re petite, step farther away from the bar so that your head can be level with it.
5. Extend your working leg behind you, point your foot and rest it on the floor.
6. Pull your navel in and exhale a few times.
7. Keep your abs pulled up and raise your leg until you feel a catch in your seat. Ideally lift your leg to horizontal or almost horizontal.
8. Keep both legs turned out from your glutes.
9. Flex your working foot and tighten its rotation so that it is a quarter turn to the right. Check that your standing leg and foot are still turned out.
10. Keep your working leg straight and directly behind your working hip.
11. Bring your head, neck and shoulders into one straight line.
12. Start with your arms at your sides and bend both elbows to 90 degrees.
Do 50 leg lifts in this position in small down-ups at medium speed.
The Bar Method Oblique Curl (in diamond)
Just because the summer is over doesn’t give you an excuse to give-in to your muffin top! This exercise aims your abdominal crunches directly towards the crevice where your six-pack meets your obliques. Do fifty sharp oblique curls in one direction, then immediately change directions for another fifty. You’ll get abs that will have you rockin’ that crop top well into fall.
1. Sit down on the floor or a mat on the floor.
2. Come down to your elbows and grip your glutes.
3. If you need added support, place a small pillow beneath your lower back.
4. Relax your lower back, and press it into the floor.
5. Take hold of your thighs and bend your elbows outwards from each other.
6. Raise your feet off the floor, and press your lower back more firmly downwards.
7. Bend your elbows outwards and bend forward at your waist as much as you can.
8. Exhale and tighten your abs downwards.
9. Elongate your neck by pressing your shoulders down.
10. Open your chest. Shake your head to release any tension in your neck.
11. Hold onto your thighs and raise both legs up in diamond shape (rotate the torso towards the side of the ankle that’s on top).