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Get Fit and Healthy in Fall

Fall into health with these great seasonal food and fitness ideas.

New Skills for the Fall

3. Learn a skill. Always wanted to try in-line skating, golf, cross-country skiing, or ballroom dancing? Here's your chance, say experts. Use fall too as a time to gain a new skill, suggest Price and Calabrese, and set a goal for the following year.

Perhaps you want to take a spring walking tour through Tuscany, says Calabrese, or a summer bike tour through Provence. Get ready now. Ramp up your fitness so you're prepared when the time comes.

Price says he always ties it into goals; asking his clients where they see themselves in the new year. "Do you want to run a marathon? Do you want to play tennis with your son?" Whatever it might be, says Price, starting in the fall will more assuredly get you to your goal by spring.

4. Clean out the pantry. Make an effort to go through your pantry and get rid of the processed and junk foods, she says. A great rule of thumb: "People should be eating most of their foods out of the refrigerator," says Calabrese. Lean meats, fruits, and vegetables should make up the bulk of your diet, she says.

Snack on apples, carrots, and edamame instead of cookies and crackers. But if you need your cracker fix, try the health food store or the health food section of your grocer, says Calabrese.

"Whatever is in the regular store, there's almost always a healthier alternative at the local organic foods market," she says. Try a brown rice and molasses version of a Rice Krispie treat; eat organic cereals and snack on trail mixes with dried fruit and nuts.

5. Add color to your diet. Fall is a bountiful harvest of brightly colored vegetables and fruits, rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Indulge.

Squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, beans, avocados, broccoli, and cauliflower are all great antioxidant-rich vegetables, packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium, says Price. "Antioxidants help the body to combat free radicals in the body," says Price, obtained through everything from pollution in the environment to internal stress.

"Everything is cyclical," says Price, "so if we eat with the seasons, we're going to be healthier. There isn't another time of year when we have so much variety that's fresh and local," says registered dietitian Amy Joy Lanou.

Enjoying what's local, as opposed to vegetables grown elsewhere and shipped in, will give you the most nutritional punch, she says. "When foods are picked in, say Costa Rica, they have to be picked before they are ripe and allowed to ripen on the way," says Lanou, nutrition director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington. Local produce stays in the ground and on the plant longer, allowing it to take in the nutrients of the sun and earth until it is finished growing. The time between it being picked and you eating it is much shorter, and therefore, the produce is fresher and more nutritious.

Don't stop there. Freeze vegetables when they are fresh and ripe and use them throughout the winter, when fresh, local produce is not available. Freeze tomatoes to make stews, salsa, and tomato sauces; freeze grapes and berries for smoothies and muffins; and freeze squash for winter soups.

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