Almost every morning, I see the same guy driving to work as I drive to my first morning appointment. This may sound creepy, but the monotony of this occurrence actually brings me a bit of peace. Follow me here. Each morning I smile to myself as I meet this vehicle on my commute because it means that I’m on schedule, and apparently so is he. On the rare mornings I don’t see him, I glance at the clock on my dash to make sure that it’s really the time I think it is – primarily that I’m not going to be late for my appointment. (Being early isn’t a realistic possibility for me, so I don’t even consider that!)

This routine in my schedule may bring me peace, but as a fitness instructor I know that variety is the spice of one’s (workout) life. So how do you keep variety in your workout regimen? For me, I vary cardio exercises by focusing on interval training one day, and adjusting to a longer steady state cardio workout the next day. I also mix up my strength training by lifting heavy weights and performing short reps on some days, and then switching to lighter weights and lots more reps on the days in between. As we approach the holidays, now’s the time to complete a quick assessment of how we’re going to set the stage for success in the midst of Halloween candy, Thanksgiving feasts, and Christmas cookie exchanges.

Three Questions to Assess Your Readiness for the Holidays:

1. Am I set up for success in my workout routine?

Embrace routine by viciously protecting your exercise schedule. Do not cancel a workout appointment! If you must reschedule your workout, do it immediately.

2. Am I set up for success in my exercise variety?

Embrace variety by engaging in new and different workouts. These can be in group fitness classes or individual exercise sessions. If you invite a friend to join you, both of you will increase the variety of your workouts, and both of you will be set up for holiday success!

3. Do I have a buddy system to help me succeed?

Embrace accountability and establish a buddy system. Keep one another on track by regularly checking in on your routine and your variety. Make plans to exercise together for even more support and motivation.

I shared earlier about how I keep a variety in my exercise regimen, yet routine is also important for long-term wellness and adherence. For me, group fitness classes are my favorite because I thrive on the socialization and the healthy competition. My favorite group fitness provider is Body & Soul Fitness, as you may have guessed. Body & Soul offers 7 different exercise formats to ensure that participants engage in varied fitness programs while committing to work out several times per week, depending upon the class schedule in their area. Physical fitness success comes when we engage in a variety of exercise formats on a regular basis. Keep this in mind as you approach the holidays and get ready to succeed!

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Click here to find a Body & Soul Fitness class near you!

Amy Stafford is the President of Body & Soul Fitness, certified personal trainer, ACE faculty and ACE Group Fitness Instructor. She is a leader in the fitness industry and a popular speaker for women’s events, retreats, fitness conferences. For information on booking Amy for your event or for an interview please email Amy currently teaches in the Williamsburg, VA area.

(Reprinted from American Council on Exercise (ACE))

Fall is in full swing and there are plenty of fresh fall foods to try now that the leaves are starting to change color. Here are five fabulous types of produce to try this fall that go way beyond pumpkin.

It’s Spaghetti Squash Season

Looking to level up your fall food game, but want to keep some of the light, fresh feeling of summer? Like many other gourds, spaghetti squash is in season late in the year, but is unique texture that shreds like spaghetti once it’s cooked really sets it apart.

To prepare, cut the squash in half longwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush the cut edges with oil and roast at 425 degrees F for one hour. For a quicker fix, place the cut and scooped squash face down in a casserole dish in an inch of water and microwave for 5-7 minutes. Shred the squash with a fork when done. One cup of cooked spaghetti squash contains 42 calories and 2 grams protein, and can be used in places of traditional spaghetti or pasta for a base in many Italian or veggie dishes.

Pears are in Their Prime

Pears come into peak season during fall and winter. Pears are among the highest-fiber fruits, with a large pear providing 7 grams of fiber and 130 calories.

If you’re wondering how to test for ripeness, USA Pears recommends you “check the neck.” To do this, use your thumb to gently press near the stem. If the pear yields to gentle pressure, it’s usually ripe, juicy and ready to eat. You can prevent browning in cut pears by adding juice from oranges, limes or lemons; the vitamin C in the citrus acts as an antioxidant that helps prevent browning when the pear flesh comes into contact with oxygen.

Peak Persimmon Season

Persimmon season is short (September to December), but sweet! Almost all of the persimmons produced in the U.S. come from California. Persimmons are ripe and ready to eat when you find fruit with bright orange and red-colored and smooth skins. Whenever possible, look for fruit with the leaves are still attached.

Hachiya persimmons are used primarily in baking, but you can eat the Fuyu variety raw or toss them into salads or a stir-fry. Try swapping out tomatoes in favor of Fuyu persimmons to put a fall twist on your favorite salsa recipe.

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts look like baby cabbages, but tend to have a milder flavor than their cruciferous vegetable counterparts. They generally require cooking to achieve tenderness, but a shaved Brussels sprouts salad is another great way to enjoy this fall food find. To prepare, remove the bottom and outer leaves and shave the Brussels sprouts using a mandoline or food processor, or slice very thin using a knife. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, toss with shredded Romano cheese and top with toasted pine nuts or pistachios to finish off this simple salad.

If you prefer to sample cooked Brussels sprouts, here’s a helpful tip: Cut an “X” shape into the bottom after cleaning to help cook evenly. One cup of Brussels sprouts contains 75 calories and 3 grams fiber.

Finally Time for Figs

Figs are a unique fall find because they really aren’t even fruits. According to  , the fig is actually a flower that is inverted into itself. The fig seeds are drupes, which are the real fruit. And another fun fig fact: Figs are the only fruit that fully ripen and semi-dry while still on the tree.

One large fig contains 47 calories and 2 grams fiber. They taste great sliced and enjoyed on their own, or pair them with goat cheese and a touch of honey atop a whole grain cracker for an easy appetizer for fall.

Post AuthorKatie Ferraro, ACE Contributor
Katie Ferraro, MPH, RDN, CDE is a consultant dietitian and diabetes educator specializing in nutrition communications and family feeding. As a mom to 5 small children and creator of the popular blog The Fortified Family, Katie believes that good food fuels strong families. You can read more of her work at

“Hey! Every time I try to go it alone I get shut down, locked up and help captive in the clutches of my doubt. We go back, we go forth, we go back. I’m sick with this vertigo. Weary of my ways, my days, my ebbs and flows, so..…I wanna feel a new day. I wanna live a new way. Right here, right now, under the stars I promise you my heart. ‘Cause it starts tonight!”

Do you remember a time when you tried to “go it alone’ without God and got shut down, as this song says? So many time we go back and forth, trying what we think is best, forgetting God, forgetting that he always has what’s best in mind for us. Commit to a revamp, a new start, right here, right now, tonight! Reach out and promise God your heart. Let him take control and guide you to a brand-new start. Seize the night, tonight!

Proverbs 23:26 “My son, give me your heart and let your eyes delight in my ways.”

Questions: Are you the kind of person who likes to go it alone? Have you experienced the different of letting God take control? Are you ready to let God take control, right here, right now, tonight?

Prayer Power: Lord, help us let go and give you control of our lives. Help us to experience a new day and live in a new way, starting right here, right now. Thank you for always being there, watching over us. Guide us to wise decisions, starting tonight! Amen.

Other Song Inspiration by TobyMac: