10/25/2019 0 Comments
Living in Florida, it can be hard to notice the changing of the seasons. I sometimes need to use the drink menu at coffee shops to gauge where we are at on the calendar.
And right now, whether we know it or not, it’s still Autumn.
And besides driving past a set-up pumpkin patch display in front of a local church the other day, the only change I’ve seen in all the weeks since fall has officially started, is with the drink menu offering all those special, seasonal additions at coffee shops and grocery stores. The most famous of those seasonal drinks being, of course, the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks, McDonalds, and Dunkin Donuts (Dunkin makes a delicious pumpkin donut by the way).
The only other seasonal change I notice here is specifically in Orlando - where Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party has been taking place at the Magic Kingdom now - since August… Yes - you read that right - August. Visitors dressed in their Halloween costumes, trick-or-treating down the festively decorated Main Street USA, since the middle of our hot and Endless Summer.
Considering I lost massive weight this past year and am extremely interested and determined to maintain that healthy lifestyle, when all the seasonal pumpkin drinks started to appear on the coffee shop menus, I really wanted to know how many calories are floating around inside those highly-flavored drinks. Well, the news is not so good:
***380 calories for a Grande Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks (!)
***310 calories for a medium Pumpkin Spice Latte at McDonald’s (!)
***420 calories for a medium whole milk Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Signature Latte at Dunkin Donuts (!!!)
The amount of calories in just a single one of those drinks is now an entire meals worth of calories for me. I absolutely cannot even imagine drinking that much sweetness at once anymore. So, to help me maintain weight loss, I have been sticking with my usual unsweetened iced tea, or plain, black coffee this season.
It took me a little while, over a year ago now, but I am very used to ‘plain’ drinks now. Just the thought of ordering one of those lattes makes my stomach turn around. It’s definitely a good thing for my overall health that I don’t even really want or desire those drinks anymore, and I have also learned and acquired a few other wonderful and simple ways of feeling and enjoying the scents of fall without all the extra calories that can go along with it.
Below I’ll explain a variety of ways I’m acknowledging and enjoying the change of season while watching my calorie intake. These are just a few simple ways I am enjoying all that the Autumn season has to offer, without gaining weight, maintaining my weight loss, and not overindulging at all.
Specifically, here are six simple ways I’m enjoying Autumn 2019:
Yes, they come first! Because as they say - candles set the mood. And indeed they do. I went out and purchased a few pumpkin scented candles (room sprays work well for this too) and the scent in my home reminds me of all at fall has to offer. I think of hay rides, picking pumpkins, carving those pumpkins, and the scent of homemade pumpkin pie. And the bonus is that breathing in that heavenly scent doesn’t put one extra calorie into my mouth!
And since I’ve personally been staying away from Bath & Body Works for a few years now, I shopped around for the best autumn scented candles I could find. I enjoyed browsing around my local Pier 1, admiring all the adorable seasonal decor. And I purchased two three-wick pumpkin spice candles on sale for ten dollars each. I thought that was a reasonable price and keeps me away from Bath & Body Works where I used to spend too much money. And because I love candles so much, we picked out some autumn-scented candles at Target as well.
2 ~ I Avoid ALL The Seasonal Drinks - ALL THE TIME
This one is a no-brainer for me. For me - myself - and I - I’ve personally been staying absolutely away from all those high-calorie drinks that happen to be advertised everywhere I look.
I stick with my usual drink order. I do NOT indulge in drinks that have calories attached. My usuals are plain water, water with lemon or lime, always ice cold; plus, plain hot coffee, and hot or iced tea. Club soda or sparkling water. Period. Zero calories drinks. I do not indulge in that department. It works for me. It’s become a lifestyle for me and once something is lifestyle it’s easier to maintain. I do recommend trying it out.
Plus, in place of all those high calorie drinks, I purchased myself an Alex & Ani ‘Pumpkin Spice’ spice bracelet that I’ve had my eye on since last autumn - and I wear it every day. I enjoy IT - and not the extra calories it implies.
3 ~ Get A Real Pumpkin
So simple, right? By purchasing a real pumpkin, which can go for under ten dollars, and small ones, just a couple dollars at the grocery store, you get to enjoy the purest symbol of autumn, every single day. And if you get yours by visiting a pumpkin patch, all the better!
And, pumpkins always look fabulous sitting on the front porch, balcony, or lounging in front of a fireplace mantel.
Plus, you can turn the pumpkin into a project by then painting it or carving it out.
4 ~ Bake Pumpkin Seeds At Home
After we purchase our chosen pumpkin and enjoy the sight of it, on Halloween we carve the pumpkin and scoop it out. Then we bake the seeds in the oven. I always enjoy the scent that is released when carving open the pumpkin… Always so fresh, and smells like a pumpkin patch.
I first clean and rinse the seeds, then lay them on a baking sheet on top of non-stick foil with some sea salt sprinkled on top, and bake the pumpkin seeds in the oven. After they are finished being toasted, the seeds have a taste that cannot be replicated by any store-bought seeds. There is always something most refreshing about toasting the seeds on my own. It tastes better, fresher, and it really is. Plus, pumpkin seeds are one of those autumn delights that are very healthy! No weight gain on this one - in fact, eating nuts and seeds is a fantastic way of maintaining my weight loss.
5 ~ Eat the Seasonal Chicken Pot Pie - Just NOT The One Costco Sells
With fall comes an abundance of warm and seasonal recipes, like chili… and chicken pot pie. Every autumn I used to look forward to the seasonal changes at Costco by picking up one of their chicken pot pies. We would cook it for dinner and use the leftovers for lunches and dinners throughout the week. But most store-bought chicken pot pies, including Costco’s extremely large pie, are loaded with tons of calories that I do not need or intake anymore after weight loss. The chicken may be healthy, the veggies inside the pie may also be healthy - but the rest of that pie is definitely NOT healthy. And at 525 calories per ⅙ slice, the pie is extremely high in calories.
So, I’ve decided that with fall, I can still enjoy the seasonal meal of chicken pot pie. I’m just NOT purchasing the Costco version. I don’t need to give up the food. I just need to enjoy it in a more healthy manner. I’m also staying away from the easy-bake Marie Callender's version - which has a whopping 600 calories - in the smaller version!
Instead, on a busy week, we now grab Blake’s Pot Pie. It’s in the freezer section, has 370 calories per pie, and tastes just as good as any other store-bought version. I serve it with a side of steamed green beans, and an easy, healthy, and low-calorie dinner is ready in a flash.
I haven’t had the time this season to make a healthy and homemade version though, so if you have a chicken pot pie recipe that you make I’d absolutely love for you to share it with me in the comments below - please!
6 ~ Indulge - Without Overindulging
Yes, I still eat the pie. I just don’t eat ALL the pie. We bought a pumpkin pie two times this season from the local Winn Dixie. I can enjoy a slice, or two, even including whip cream on the side. But I don’t eat pie all the time, and don’t worry at all if we don’t finish the whole pie before it goes bad. And yes, I absolutely have thrown out the leftover pie, and more than once. I’m not ashamed.
I try not to waste food, but a part of weight loss and weight maintenance is knowing that some food WILL GO TO WASTE. I freeze what I can, I portion out for other meals what I can, I plan ahead like crazy. But there are still some times that food will be thrown away. And part of this pumpkin pie that we purchased did make it to the garbage can. Without my feeling any guilt or feeling bad that food was wasted. If you are looking to lose weight, or to maintain massive weight loss like I am maintaining, you will likely run into having to throw some food away. I have accepted this and do the very best I can not to, but with treats it does happen.
I have learned how to indulge - without overindulging. That means some food waste, some times. Part of my weight loss is allowing myself to continue to have all the treats that I love. In moderation. How can I let autumn pass me by without a piece or two of pumpkin pie? I can’t. I have to be able to eat the “normal” seasonal foods that I love without overindulging. Without - missing out. As they say, yes - everything in moderation.
Although, as I mentioned above, I do not drink all the fancy and high-calorie coffee drinks anymore. The difference there is lifestyle. I have removed any and all high calorie drinks from my entire lifestyle. So I am used to not having them anymore. To the point that the thought makes me ill just thinking about having one of them. I have very successfully removed those drinks from my life. That’s a choice I made. But I love desserts and treats too much to give them up entirely. I WILL continue to eat desserts - a choice by me to keep them IN my lifestyle. Desserts and treats remain. Which is why I moderate, and why I still eat pumpkin pie, and why I am ok with and understand that some of that dessert will end up in the garbage.
And yes, as the saying goes... “Better in the trash, than sitting on my *ss.”
Here are a few other ways I’m enjoying the season…
So even though I don’t drink all those amazingly fun and delicious autumn-themed drinks anymore, I do watch for their arrival onto the menu each autumn as a way to gauge what season I am currently living in. And then, I go about my usual routine. Adding in the flavors of fall in a very healthy, and very sustainable way. ~
Yes! Autumn is here! I wouldn’t really know it by glancing at the environment around me though. The seasonal changes I’m surrounded by are very difficult to notice within my natural environment. It does not cool down outside - I don’t bring out my favorite warm blankets from the back of the linen closet. I don’t unload my bin of clothing for colder weather; in fact, no such bin exists in my closet anymore. And I haven’t ordered any pumpkin spice lattes yet this season either. I’m just waiting for even one slightly ‘cool’ day to order a hot drink; for now I’m sticking with my usual iced tea.
When I first moved down here a few years ago in the springtime, I was very curious about how I would witness the seasons changing in Florida compared to experiencing four very real and legitimate seasonal changes that take place annually in Illinois. That first spring here was heaven on Earth. Sunny every day - perfect weather - blue sky. I was outside all the time. The funny thing was that everyone, and I mean everyone I met during that first season here said that they hoped the weather would improve for us to enjoy it. I was sooooo very and desperately confused. Here I was in perfect weather - it was still snowing in Illinois. I really didn’t know what these people all meant??? It took time for me to understand. Time, and experiencing the seasonal changes for myself. What was there to improve? The weather was literally perfect!
It was then that I learned about Florida cold fronts. If it was a nice 85 or let’s say 86 degrees outside, and then a cold front came through, dropping the average weekly temperature to a very low and very cold 83 degrees, everyone hoped for a warm front. Everyone spoke of the cold front. Everyone talked about hoping the weather would improve. When will the weather improve? That’s exactly what was happening during my first season here, it was a perfect and ideal temperature, calm weather. But maybe it was 83, instead of the more ideal 85? It was enough for me to be drinking coffee outside, when in Illinois I still would have been wearing winter clothes. But to Floridians, it was cold out.
After three years, if the wind is blowing just right I too get cold now sometimes when the dashboard reads 85 degrees... and I laugh every time… Never thought it would happen to me. I’m truly acclimated to the Floridian climate, and it happened quite fast too. So during that first year living through fantastic and then even more fantastic weather, the seasons blew in and out barely even with me noticing a change.
So how does one mark all the seasonal changes in a place where the weather stays practically perfect in every way, year round? The seasons were always tied to weather for me in the past; now, I relate seasons to the events themselves that take place during and within a season.
I learned real quick that if I wanted to enjoy fall in the Sunshine State, the best way for me to acknowledge such a seasonal change living in my new home was to put out a pumpkin scented candle… and maybe some autumn themed dish towels placed strategically in the kitchen. That way, every day when I walk in the kitchen, I look at a pumpkin towel and say to myself, oh yeah, that’s right, it’s Fall. Other than that, I could still drink my coffee outside, swim in the ocean, and drive with the windows rolled down, even though the autumnal equinox could be long since passed.
Maybe I could change the color or style of my swimsuit instead of getting out some autumn sweaters? Should I change the color of my purse, or the style of wreath hung upon my front door? Some or all of the above do help the transition. Today I put out my favorite ceramic white and orange pumpkin candle holders on my kitchen table. I even purchased a burnt orange tank top to wear this season instead of buying a burnt orange sweater.
Back in Illinois I thoroughly enjoyed the changing color of the leaves and then the falling leaves later in the season. I loved fall. Sometimes I thought it was my favorite season? I embraced the warmer days and cooler evenings. Evenings cool enough at the beginning of autumn to leave the window open at night. But later in the season the windows were closed, and then remained tightly shut for the remainder of fall and winter. And every year, usual mid-to-late fall, there reached a point where it always became officially much too cold in the house. And then, just like clockwork, the annual debate began of discussing how long can we last until we turn on the heat for the first time that season. It was a running joke, how cold can we sleep at night? At what point before it becomes unbearable and much too cold in the house to focus on anything else but how cold it is? I’d pull out layers upon layers of blankets to place upon the bed to help prolong our time in a house without the heat running. And we tried to function in the house during the day. It was a test of will, and stubbornness. I would not want to give in first. Like a child trying not to blink in a staring contest, sitting across from my friendly opponent, who is also trying desperately not to blink. Who will blink, my husband or me? Which one of us will be the one to turn the heat on? Who will break first? Usually my stubbornness would win out and my husband would be the one switching the heat to ON. His excuse would be that he wouldn’t want the pipes to start freezing. And that is exactly where my love of all things fall end. And I’d think to myself, is fall really my favorite season? Forget the cold, I’ll take the Florida sun any day.
I recently heard someone say that Florida is ‘Bizzaro World.’ And that only in Florida do we celebrate Halloween in August (at Walt Disney World). And that as fall comes round every year how else would we even know that autumn has even arrived unless we ‘force the sh*t out of fall’... I laughed hysterically and could not agree more with that statement. Maybe fall still is my favorite?...
So, in honor of acknowledging and celebrating the changing of the seasons, I’m ‘forcing the sh*t out of fall’ today with my pumpkin decor and pumpkin scented candles. I even hung an autumn themed dish towel in the kitchen. There - I’ve done it. Box checked. Season changed; season acknowledged. Time for people to keep on swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, and soaking in that sun. Enjoy the morning coffee outside on the front porch, eat dinner outside at the local fish camp, watch the turtles, gators, and snakes enjoy their natural surroundings. The globe will keep spinning and rotating onward. And we can all acknowledge and celebrate its angle of rotation once again during the winter equinox come December, on the beach, maybe with a peppermint latte sitting next to me in the sand. ~~~
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