AUTUMN

Dannii of Hungry Healthy Happy gives her top 10 tips for mindfulness

Autumn is nearly here, and whilst we have started to shift our eating over to everything autumnal, it is time to think about how we can stay on track and the challenges that we face during the cooler season. We are looking at how to be more mindful, and small changes we can make this autumn and how that can help you to be a healthier and happier you!

At Hungry Healthy Happy we love sharing healthy recipes to inspire you to get creative in the kitchen and try something new, but we also think it's important to focus on the mental side of things too, as sometimes that can be half the battle. Just changing your mindset and your attitude in how you approach a healthier lifestyle can make all the difference. After all, happy people make healthy choices. 

Let's face it, it can be much easier to stay on track during the summer when we don't want to turn the cooker on and will happily dig in to a fresh leafy green salad or a colourful fruit salad. But as soon as those trees start to change colour and the air gets a bit cooler we are ALL about the comfort food, hot chocolates and staying on the sofa as much as possible, and we can fall off track quicker than you can say "where are the marshmallows". But, it doesn't have to be that way, and by using these tips you can still enjoy cosying up on the sofa with your favourite food and stay on track with your goals. 

1. Make the most of the cooler weather and take your workouts outside
Whilst some people might use the colder weather as an excuse to not workout, autumn is the perfect time to take your workout outside. In my opinion, hot, summer runs are the worst and it's a struggle to get to the end. But a crisp early evening autumn run as the sun is setting is just the best. See the change in weather as a positive thing, lace those trainers up and head outside. You don't have to go for a run, go for a walk instead. Walking is a massively underrated exercise and go and find those crispy leaves on a long country walk. Get the whole family involved too.

2. Comfort food can be healthy too
Comfort food gets such a bad reputation of being unhealthy, but there are lots of ways to make it lighter. Stews and casseroles are the perfect way to sneak in lots of extra vegetables to your diet for an added healthy boost and you can make lighter fruit crumbles topped with oats to make use of seasonal fruit and still have family favourite comforting desserts. Autumn means it is time to get your slow cooker out, which can save you so much time in the kitchen, whilst creating healthier and cheaper comforting meals the whole family will love. Check out some of our slow cooker recipes here. 

3. Plan, plan, plan
One of the reasons why people go off track in autumn, is because it is back to school, everything becomes more structured and there is less time - which is why planning is key. Plan your workouts and schedule them in when you can. Maybe you need to get up at 5:30am before anyone else is up to do 20 minutes of zumba in your living room or maybe you will do some weights in your kitchen whilst you are preparing dinner. Whatever it is, plan it in to your day and you will feel so much better for it.

Meal planning is another key way to stay on track, especially when the change in season means you have less time. On Sunday evening, spend an hour flicking through some recipe magazines, the Weight Watchers website or take a look at our recipe section, and plan your meals out for the week. Not only will it save you time, but having something planned out will help to stop you ordering a takeaway. 

4. Get the kids involved
For mums in particular, their own health is often put on the backburner at the expense of busy family schedules: three in five (58 per cent) say that their child’s routine impacts their own ability to maintain a healthy lifestyle, with half (48 per cent) saying they find it hard to find the motivation to exercise around their child’s busy schedule. Well, you have a couple of options here. The first one is to get the kids involved in your workouts - you could go for a family walk/run or do a burpee competition in the living room. If you are struggling to workout because you are taking them to football practise, use that time to go for a run yourself while you wait to pick them up. It's all about adapting your schedule where you can and doing a little bit where you can. 

5. Make homemade healthier takeaways
Save yourself some money and calories and make your own healthier takeaways at home - they are much easier than you think. Consumer research commissioned by Weight Watchers of 2,500 Brits showed that 19% of people ate more takeaway when the weather turned cooler. There is nothing wrong with a takeaway every now and then, and that's the great thing about Weight Watchers - nothing is off limits, but one takeaway a week can easily lead to 2 or 3 and that can be bad for your bank balance too. Try making your own pizza, so you can load up the veggies and control how much cheese goes on it, or give this 10 minute Spinach and Chickpea Curry a try. 

6. Make the most of extra TV time
The cooler months are naturally going to mean less time outside and more time inside in front of the TV, but that doesn't mean you have to turn in to a total couch potato. Instead of spending the advert breaks on your phone checking Facebook, why not get up and do a few squats and lunges. You might be surprised how many you can fit in during an hour show. This is a TV advert that we do when we can. 

7. Don't buy into Christmas just yet
I am the biggest fan of Christmas and I would put up my tree tomorrow if Dave (Scrooge) would let me, but we still have a long way to go. We are about to be inundated with Christmas adverts on TV and the shops are already filling up with Christmas products. Whilst you might think you are being prepared by stocking up on tins of chocolates and mince pies already, unless you 100% know you aren't just going to devour them as soon as you get home and end up buying more eventually, then leave the Christmas food shopping until Christmas. 

8. Keep an emotional eating diary
Our mood can change when the season does and for many people their mood lowers with less sunlight and more rain. Whilst we can't control the weather, we can do other things to try to deal with emotional eating. Try keeping an emotional eating diary that tracks how you felt before and after each meal. You might be able to correlate certain meals with certain feelings or situations and see which areas you need to work on. For me, it was always spending time with certain people and I knew that was something I needed to address. 

9. Learn to relax
Whilst it's important to stay active, it's important to take time to relax too. Life can be so hectic that the more stressed we are, the easier it is for us to go off track. One of my favourite ways to relax in the colder months is to take a bath. I know, I know, if you are a parent then that isn't the easiest thing in the world when you have your kids following you to the bathroom. But, if you can find 10-15 minutes when they have all gone to bed, then run yourself a bath and just take 10 minutes to yourself. Clear your mind, forget about your to-do list, because it will still be there when you get out of the bath. Or just take 5 minutes to sit and have a cup of tea or coffee. 

10. Positivity and being thankful goes a long way
A positive attitude can be the difference between staying on track or self sabotaging in my opinion (or at least it was for me). I used to put myself down at every opportunity, especially when a change of season meant shopping for new seasonal clothes and it just sent me in to a negative spiral. Try starting the day with saying something positive about yourself. Acknowledge everything that your body can do, not just what it looks like. Be thankful that you woke up this morning and all the amazing things that you have going on in your life. 

Instead of seeing the colder months as a negative thing, join myself and Weight Watchers in staying on track this autumn. Get outside and enjoy the fresh air, cook some healthy comfort food and focus on positive changes.