The Seasons Change. So Should You.

A week ago I returned from my a friend’s wedding in California. The setting was serene. It was a gorgeous outdoor ceremony among tall trees and vibrant flowers. The air was a perfect room temp and the hills glowed with a golden afternoon sun.

As we were setting up for the ceremony, a guest asked the groom, “What if it rains?” He smiled and said, “That’s not a legitimate question. It never rains here this time of year.” The weather is always the same — Pleasant.

Now, after coming back to the East Coast, there’s clearly a shift in climate. Cool, crisp fall air has begun to descend upon the city of Boston. Long summer days have transitioned into earlier and earlier sunsets. In fact, the change of season is no more apparent than during the month of September.

Interestingly, the stock market has historically preformed worse during this time of year than any other, an effect that is sometimes attributed to the disappearing daylight that inevitably makes investors risk-adverse.

While I didn’t sell off any of my assets, I struggle to say goodbye to the end of summer. To be honest, winter in Boston is something I’ve perpetually feared.

It is hard for me to embrace frigid days and dark nights. I dislike not being able to exercise outdoors, go for a run in shorts, or spend days shirtless in the sun.

But as winter blues lurk in the near future, I’m trying to see the shift in a new light. I’m trying to embrace the seasonal change as a beautiful way Mother Nature keeps us growing and evolving.

Seasonal Change Reminds Us To Keep Going

There are many places on the planet where the weather never changes. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes it doesn’t. The average monthly temperature stays within in comfortable bandwidth. 

When I was living in Malaysia, the weather was like this. The sunrise and sunset were at the same time all year. Although I thoroughly enjoyed not having to check the weather every day before I left my apartment — I knew exactly what the forecast would be — the substantial sunshine and constant climate had a downside: It was static.

Without seasonal change, there was no sense of time progressing. This repetitiveness can be a trap that leads to complacency. It can create an endless “Groundhog’s Day” loop. Ultimately, all the sameness may make you wonder if another year has passed or it’s all in your head. 

Changing seasons force us to accept one simple but challenging truth: 

It’s easier to hold on to the way things are than to let go and grow something new.

While it can be annoying to let go of the delights of one season (and this is coming from a flip-flop and tank-top aficionado), it encourages us to accept the flow of time. It’s a reminder that our days on Earth are short and ephemeral, so don’t get too attached doing things one way.

Eat & Move Seasonally  

The shift in seasons can be an invitation for you to change up how you’re doing health and fitness. Don’t switch-up your program if it’s still working, but if you’re finding yourself clinging to old routines just for the sake familiarity, it’s time for a change. 

If you’ve been big on a certain type of exercise during the summer — say outdoor running or swimming — consider indoor options for the coming winter. Perhaps sign up for a dance class, go indoor climbing, or find an indoor sport league. You certainly don’t have to give up your outdoor activities, but best prepare yourself with alternatives when the weather gets nasty. 

If you’re strength training has looked the same way for months, consider changing your training. Invert your workout order, starting with your last exercise first. Shift to focus on strengthing your weak links or improving your mobility rather than hammeriing away at your strong lifts. You can try new rep-ranges, going higher or lower than you normally do on sets. You may even want to try different machines or dust off that mat sitting in your closet. 

If you’ve been eating the same way all summer, slowly switch to autumnal dishes. Consider adding more cooked foods that warm the body. This simple ayurvedic principle can helps balance your energy when it’s cold outside. Also consider using ingredients that are freshest during the fall such as apples, potatoes, squashes, and pumpkins. 

The Best Option Is Always To Stop Fighting With Reality  

We all sometimes need an external push. This is why we have deadlines and due-dates. Creating an external marker of time holds us accountable for finishing our work. Seasonal change can be a similar tool to keep us progressing.

The weather pushes us along, saying, “Hey, it’s time switch up how you were doing things. Don’t get stuck in a routine. Trust me, you’ll thank me for it later.”

If we fight with reality, we’ll always lose. If don’t heed the signs of change, we’ll slowsly dig ourselves into a trench of complacency. Routines that we cling too for too long can become traps in their own right. 

As summer slips into fall and chills into winter, try to adopt this perspective. Take the seasonal change as a reminder from nature to keep going. Don’t get stuck here, not matter how pleasant. Learn to love and to let go. Doing so is in fact the only way to continue growing.

Here’s to adding a little spice and variety into the way you’ve been living. Pumpkin spice if you prefer. 

~ Jeff Siegel 

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Jeff Siegel
Jeff Siegel, M.Ed, is a health and wellness coach, Harvard University mindfulness instructor, and personal trainer.

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