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Driving back up to Ramona last week, I noticed the first signs of Fall. It’s worth mentioning for a couple of reasons. First, it was actually Labor Day weekend signaling for many the end of summer. (I usually use the Autumnal Equinox as a measure to get myself a few more weeks of summer.) Second, I didn’t think I’d notice a thing called Autumn here in San Diego, having just moved to Southern California from New England. I was wrong. It’s different and I miss the brilliant, flaming hills of Connecticut in October, but there is definitely a feeling in the air that the earth is getting ready for a rejuvenating rest.

That had me check in with myself. What did Fall mean to me? What changes would it bring? Since moving to CA last February, I’ve been able to get more connected with the earth and it’s cycles of nature. I know coming from NYC, that isn’t saying much, but I’ve experienced clear benefits of being closer to nature in my diet and my sleep patterns.

The ready availability of fresh fruits and veggies here makes for more affordable healthy food choices. I shop mainly at Sprouts with occasional treats from the farmers market. I cook for myself and I make my own food. Sprouts, for the most part, carries food as ingredients, not a finished product. For example, I made the sauce for my Sloppy Joes instead of buying it from the can. I lost 20 pounds within my first year of living here without even trying. I credit it to the change in diet. (Notwithstanding the Sloppy Joes) Not so surprising, considering my NYC lifestyle involved a lot of dining out. I miss that too sometimes, but not having that extra weight on my midsection is worth it.

But I digress, aside from white shoes after Labor Day, what signs should we take from Fall?

There’s always a Back-to-School energy for me, perhaps it’s all the years of going to school and working with school age children myself. It’s a time of renewed focus in the areas of education and career. It’s your last chance if you really want to make those New Year’s Resolutions come true and for you business folks, It’s time to make a killer Q4 plan to make sure you hit your year end goals.

We’re aided in all this with cooler temperatures and earlier sunsets. Not only is the sun setting earlier, but remember Daylight Savings Time? You’ve got an extra hour of sleep till Spring and getting a good night’s rest is essential to peak performance.

Cooler temperatures also allow for clearer mental processes. A study from the UK shows that mental ability diminishes significantly in temperatures over 80 degrees. So you’ll be able to be more focused in your world domination, education or career planning now that temperatures aren’t soaring.

You can take your workouts outside without the danger of heat-related illness. Fall offers many opportunities for outdoor activity like raking leaves, apple picking and hiking.

And lastly, remember that rejuvenating rest the earth is getting ready to take? Get ready yourself by withdrawing indoors a bit, enjoying a cup of hot cider or cocoa, and getting ready for winter.

Oh, and wash your hands. Back to School season is a germ factory!