How To Fight ‘The Fall Fallback’

A pro offers tips for maintaining exercise and health routine in a season packed with distractions.
Back View One Woman Jogging In Forest On Foggy Autumn Day


No doubt about it, things get busier when autumn rolls around. It gets harder to squeeze in that workout, that run, that visit to the gym. Motivation may take a hit too. As beach-ready as your body may have been in August, the beach is now receding from your mind. It can be easy to let your fitness slide. But don’t! Experience shows that it’s harder to build your body back after a “fall fallback” than it is to keep in shape in the first place. So how do you protect all your hard work and stay fit as the temperature drops? BERGEN chatted with Tamir Greenberger, owner of UTG Personal Training in Westwood, for helpful hints:

  • Set realistic goals. Colder months and busier schedules can thwart exercise, so anticipate that there will be some days when you miss workouts. This is O.K. Set overall goals—whether you’re training for your first turkey trot in November or simply want to work out three days a week—and keep working toward them. If you’re trying to lose weight, make a healthy diet your priority, “but moving as much as possible is great too,” Greenberger says. “You can burn a lot of calories just walking on a treadmill, using a stationary bike or even walking your dog multiple times each day.”
  • Check your schedule. Morning workouts may have been ideal in summer when you were trying to beat the heat, but those hours grow darker in fall—and they’re filled with kids trying to catch a schoolbus. Take a fresh, realistic look at what time of day works best for you and try to stick with your new plan, whatever it is. “People absolutely need to make time for the gym,” says Greenberger.
  • Consider an at-home alternative. When your child has an after-school game or a recital, you may not have time to go to the gym after work. You can, however, replicate your workout at home. “The best alternative [to a fitness center] is to have some sort of progressive resistance training equipment at home—free weights and/ or machines,” Greenberger says. This includes a bench, dumbbells and kettlebells. Don’t have a home gym? “Performing isometric/bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, bodyweight squats and planks, will be next best,” he adds.
  • Go for intensity. It can be difficult to squeeze in a workout between meetings, errands and family time, but sometimes all you need is 30 minutes and some space to get your heart rate going. The high-intensity Tabata workout fills a halfhour with seven heartpounding moves: burpees, squats, lateral slides, lunges, mountain climbers, scissor kicks and spidermans. The best part is that you can do these on the studio floor at the gym or next to the desk in your bedroom.
  • Enjoy the outdoors. Winter will be here before we know it, so embrace the outdoors while you can. You’ll not only get in some extra steps by taking the family apple picking, but carefully stretching to reach the high-hanging fruit can loosen muscles. Raking and bagging leaves, garden cleanup, and other yard work will also burn calories, Greenberger says.
  • Change only what needs changing. The belief that varying a weight-training workout routine helps build muscle isn’t necessarily valid for everyone. Sure, changing things up helps prevent boredom, but sticking with your regular workout for a while—especially if you’re just getting started—pays dividends too. “Beginners benefit most from the least amount of variance—none, in fact,” Greenberger says. “Instead, they should focus on practice and repetition across bigger compound exercises that work multiple joint paths, such as squats, presses, pulls and deadlifts.” More experienced exercisers, he says, should introduce new variations to the target muscles every four to six weeks.
  • Keep your diet healthy— but realistic. It’s natural to cave in to some cravings, especially when they whisper to you of a fresh-baked apple or pumpkin pie. “If a slipup occurs, remember that it’s no big deal—just move on from it and continue to stay focused,” Greenberger says. In fact, you can enjoy your favorite fall comfort foods even with a weight-loss goal if you create rules. “You can allow for comfort foods maybe only once per week,” he says. “Or perhaps have your favorite foods whenever you want but cut the portion down by a half to two-thirds and replace the lost volume with vegetables. Instead of an entire cheeseburger, think only half of one and a side of broccoli.”
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