How To Enjoy Fall

Fall is the best.  I don’t just think that because my birthday is in the fall or I got married in the fall or one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving, is in the fall.  Sure, all those things further my love of fall but they aren’t the main reasons.  There is a change in the air and the scenery and it inspires change in daily life too, at least for me.  While many people think of spring as the time of renewal and things coming to life, I feel like fall is the same way.  The leaves turn to beautiful shades of gold, orange, and red, there is a certain crispness to the air, and the seasonal offerings at the market are warm and hearty.  It’s just a great time of year and I think we should all take some time to enjoy it!  These are some of my favorite things to do come fall time.

Apple Picking

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My family has always gone apple picking during the fall.  Whether it was on a school field trip or a day off on our own, I have many memories of picking apples.  This Monday, I got the chance to go apple picking with my parents and my sister and her fiance.  I haven’t been apple picking with my family in a few years and it was great to relive some fond memories of my childhood.  There is nothing better than walking up and down row after row of apple trees, sampling as many apples as your stomach can hold, and loading up bags with your favorites.  Anyone who has been apple picking can tell you, fresh picked apples are just better.  And tons of apples can only lead to good things like apple pie, apple crisp, apple sauce, and apple butter.  Plus, what would apple picking be without a stop at the country store for fresh apple donuts and homemade fudge?  Go find an orchard near you and enjoy this fall favorite activity.

Pumpkins

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You know I love pumpkins and it’s no secret that the rest of the population goes pumpkin crazy this time of year.  I like eating them, baking with them, decorating with them, picking them, and just being around them.  Pumpkins are great and when I see the first few pumpkins hit the stands, I know fall is pretty much here.

Squash in General

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I like zucchini and summer squash just as much as the next person, but there is something so satisfying about winter squashes.  They’re creamy, filling, versatile, and so tasty.  There are so many varieties out there, butternut, kabocha, delicata, acorn, kuri…. The list goes on and on.  You can eat them in pretty much every dish during the fall.  Add them to soups, salads, stuff them full of delicious things, bake with them, or my personal favorite, roast them.  You can make them sweet, savory, or spicy.  They might look intimidating, but once you know how to handle them you’ll be eating them all the time.  Go get some from your local farmer’s market and enjoy immediately!

The Scenery

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I can’t begin to tell you how beautiful I think fall is.  I feel like the leaves change from day to day providing new and even more gorgeous scenery than the day before.  And the smell of fallen leaves, raked leaves, and burning leaves are some of the best scents I can think of.  I also love fall weather.  It’s usually fairly mild, chilly in the mornings and evenings but with that golden sunshine the afternoons are pleasantly warm.  This is the best time of the year to get outside with your workouts before the harsh weather of winter comes.  I love running in the brisk weather in the morning and then taking a long stroll in the afternoon, crunching leaves underfoot along the way.  Fall is when I soak up that last bit of sunshine before I’m stuck indoors during the winter.  Find a way to get outside during this time of year.  Whether it’s for a workout, a walk a football game, or just sitting out in your backyard, enjoy that fall air.

I could keep writing on and on about all the things I love during the fall.  Watching football games, band competitions, being around family and food at Thanksgiving, celebrating my anniversary with my husband, sipping warm tea and reading while it’s raining outside, smelling my mom’s hot apple cider simmering on the stove are all things that I love about this season.  While you might not be as passionate about fall as I am, you can definitely find something to enjoy about this time of year.  Get out there and make the most of fall!

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Happy Fall!!

Not Really a Lifestyle Choice: Meal Delivery/Replacement

I’ve been going over popular health/lifestyle choices these past few weeks, and I thought I would end up this little series with something a bit different.  I know there are a million different diets that I didn’t get to, but if I were to go through every single one it would take forever and you would get really bored.  Hopefully with this series you have been exposed to a lifestyle that you found interesting as well as learned how to objectively look at a diet and see if it is the right one for you.

450x300_jenny-craig-foodToday I am taking a look at meal delivery/replacement services.  As you can see from the title, I don’t really view this as a lifestyle choice and I will get into that a little bit later.  There are numerous meal delivery services out there, including Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Freshology, and many other brands.  Just a quick Google search pulled up a ton I had never even heard of.  The basic premise of these programs is that they take care of all food prep for you.  They send you all the meals you will eat for the day/week and all you have to do is either heat them up or some other minimal form of prep work.  Many of these services also allow you to customize your program for food allergies or intolerances, such as gluten free or dairy free.  These programs do all work of figuring out portion sizes and calorie counts so you don’t have to.

I’ll start with the good, which quite frankly isn’t much.  I’m not a huge fan of counting calories, but that is a personal preference and I know that for some keeping tabs on how many calories you eat is the best way to stay healthy.  These programs make it very easy to keep a close eye on your daily calorie intake since everything is figured out for you.  They also help with portion control, which is a big problem lately.  We have gotten used to gigantic portion sizes, that we have no idea how much we should actually be eating.  With meal delivery programs, they have already portioned out the right amount of food.  All you have to do is make sure you only eat the allotted food for each meal.

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That is pretty much all I have for the good stuff.  In case you couldn’t tell, I am not a huge fan of meal delivery services.  My biggest concern is that the food you are receiving is not actual food, but processed food-type things.  You all know how I feel about processed “food”.  Many of these meals are laden with chemicals and preservatives, both things that are not beneficial to your health whether you lose weight on these systems or not.  I know with some of these programs you can supplement with real food, but for the bulk of them you are eating whatever they send you.  One other problem with these programs is that you aren’t really learning how to eat better or healthier.  You are fully relying on whatever they “cook” or make you, and not gathering the skills to sustain a healthier eating lifestyle.  Most of the time you are just giving your microwave a workout.  Meal delivery systems aren’t really a sustainable lifestyle choice.  Which leads me to my last dislike, these programs are NOT cheap.  You are relying on one service or company to provide your food as opposed to being able to shop locally and at various different stores where you can find the best price for your food.  Eating well does not have to be an expensive endeavor.  I feed my husband and I on usually no more than $50/week and I know others who eat delicious, healthy meals on even less than that.  I could be totally wrong, but I don’t think people join Jenny Craig thinking that they will eat their food forever, and when they do decide that they have reached their goal weight, what have they really learned?  They haven’t learned how to cook better meals for themselves!  They might have learned what a portion looks like, but they probably don’t know how to measure it out on their own.  That’s the important part of choosing a certain lifestyle, being able to learn how to make the healthiest choices on your own and be able to sustain the lifestyle for the rest of your life.

I mentioned meal replacements in the beginning, and I just wanted to briefly touch on them.  I dislike these even more than meal delivery services.  Slimfast, Special K, and any other type of company that makes you swap out a full meal with what pretty much counts as a candy bar or milkshake is not the way to go to be healthier.  Sure, you will lose weight.  That’s what happens when you don’t eat a real meal.  These “programs” are usually used for quick weight loss results (like getting ready for a wedding or wearing a bikini) and aren’t meant to be sustained indefinitely.  You’re better off steering clear of these products, as you’re doing your body and your health a huge favor.  Trust me.

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I know that there are a ton of other lifestyles/diets that I did not cover.  But I hope that these have given you some insights into different ways of eating and living and will help steer you in the right direction for your health.  When you decide that you want to be healthier, make sure you do a lot of research, ask questions, talk to health professionals, and experiment until you find the best way for you and your life.  That is the most important thing! I hope that you all had a fantastic weekend.  Adam and I celebrated the beginning of fall by going apple picking and enjoying the fabulous weather! Have a great Monday!

Apple picking fun!

Apple picking fun!