Lunden Souza: Get in on season’s flavors

Wow, can you believe October is already over? I feel like I was just writing about tips on how to get in shape for summer and now it’s time to plan trips home for the holidays.

The fall season and cold weather can cause a lack of motivation for physical activity and a seemingly gravitational pull toward comfort food. This time frame is really crucial for your health and fitness goals. If you jump off the fitness train now, two months of holiday snacking and cuddling up in your fuzzy bunny slippers instead of getting to the gym can really catch up with you.

This week I want to offer some ways you treat yourself, instead of cheat yourself.

One of my favorite desserts is pumpkin pie. If you know me, you know I am not a sweets person, but pumpkin pie is something I cannot resist during the Thanksgiving feast we have at my grandma’s house every year.

The best way I have found to curb my craving before Thanksgiving – the one day a year I will have one slice of my favorite pie – is by making a pumpkin pie protein shake:

I absolutely love to drink this for breakfast or after an afternoon run. It really hits the spot.

Another way to add some nutritional value to the season is by making homemade pumpkin seeds. If you have some pumpkins you didn’t carve over Halloween, it’s time to gut them and have some fun making a healthy snack. Take out the seeds and clean them really well. This may take while, but it is fun and you can encourage your friends or kids to get involved. After you have them cleaned and dried, lay them out on a baking sheet, drizzle with a little bit of avocado oil, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes at 325 degrees. I like to taste a couple seeds at 8 minutes to check if they are done. After you take them out of the oven, sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on them and you have a great snack packed with fiber, protein, iron and good fats.

My last tip is to get out there and rake some leaves. Fall is full of beautiful changing colors and you can really burn some extra calories cleaning up your lawn. I raked some leaves for 30 minutes a few days ago while wearing my heart-rate monitor and I burned 117 calories. That’s not a tremendous amount of calories compared to what you might burn during a run or some other workout, but that sounds a lot more enticing than consuming mindless calories in half the time.

These are just a few ideas for staying on track with your health and fitness goals. If you form good habits now, they will carry you through the holidays and into the new year.