Get Fit for Fall: An 8-Step Guide to a Healthier You

Don't let fall's cooler temps put a damper on your healthy habits. When the seasons change, we tend to be less active, not to mention the temptation of fall's favorite treats and comfort foods. (Pumpkin pie, anyone?) ESSENCE's health experts, food and fitness blogger Khaleeqa Rouse and personal trainer Zadia Murphy, offer their best advice on ways to stay motivated and on course this fall.

Nicole Marie Melton Sep, 23, 2014

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It's official!  Summer is over and the fall season is upon us. Autumn's beautiful colors and natural backdrop can provide a great change of scenery from your former summertime run route.  This fall, try a new running trail or take the kids on an outdoor hike to make it a family affair.

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"My favorite fall foods are pumpkin, pomegranate, sugar apples, butternut squash, cauliflower, garlic and butter lettuce," says fitness and food blogger Khaleeqa Rouse.  "One of my favorite recipes is cranberry pasta.  Take 3 green zucchinis spiralized, 1 cup dried cranberries, 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes ,1/2 garlic clove finely chopped, 1/4 cup almonds, 1 cup orange juice and 1 cup chopped swiss chard. Mix in a bowl, and serve!" For more recipe inspiration, food blogs and Pinterest offer easy, step-by-step advice.

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Going at your fitness routine alone can leave you void of motivation when planning your next workout class or healthy meal. This fall, get your girlfriends on board to do a year-end fitness challenge.  Pitch in a few dollars towards a wellness-themed prize, such as a gift card to Sports Authority or the spa. By keeping tabs on your fall health routine, you won't feel pressured to make New Year's resolutions to finally get in shape come December 31.

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Fall is prime running season! Sign up for a local 5K (3.1 miles) which will give you motivation to set a training schedule and stick with it.  If you're new to running, join a training group such as Black Girls Run, or download the Couch to 5K app for only $1.99 on your phone.  If you're a more experienced runner, fall also offers a wide array of 10K races, half-marathons and marathons. Find one near you by visiting

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Don't let chilly temps keep you from breaking a sweat!  Long-sleeved shirts, turtleneck pullovers and ankle-length running tights are a must for exercising outdoors in the fall.  And just because you're bundled up, doesn't mean you have to be boring. Feel free to experiment with bright colors and prints.  "During the fall, move away from screen workout tees to screen hoodies. A pullover with a screen print is warm, sporty, and expressive," says personal trainer Zadia Murphy.

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If outdoor workouts in the cold don't sound appealing, head to the gym for a new adventure instead.  Now's a great time to try a fitness class, such as dance, indoor cycling, Zumba, or yoga. "Think of an activity you always wanted to try and go for it," advises Murphy. 

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The easiest way to avoid the temptation of Thanksgiving potlucks with co-workers or leftover Halloween treats at the office is to prepare healthy meals in advance.  If your schedule is jam-packed, having pre-made meals and snacks will also help you cut down on cooking time throughout the week. "I prepare all my meals for the next day the night before so that I can just grab and go. If I am really pressed for time and don't get to make my meals the night before I will go to a supermarket before work and grab fruit and a salad," says Rouse.

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If the number on the scale creeps up over the holiday season, try not to beat yourself up over it.  Stressing out over a small five pound gain can send you on a downward cycle of regret and more overeating. Instead, restart your workout routine and food regimen and pat yourself on the back for getting on track again.

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Khaleeqa Rouse is the food and fitness blogger behind Paparoxi.  She recently completed her first Ironman triathlon (that's a 2.4 mile swim, 112 bike ride, and 26.2 mile run!)  Follow her on Instagram @Paparoxi.

Join us on Friday, September 26 at 12:30pm ET for a live Google Chat with our experts.

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Zadia Murphy is a personal trainer and wellness coach who runs her own coaching business, Z.M. Fitness.  She's certified by the National Association of Sports Medicine and has worked with clients across the country. Follow her on Instagram @ZadiaMurphy.

Join us on Friday, September 26 at 12:30pm ET for a live Google Chat with our experts.