Shh! Do you hear that sound?
It’s the collective sighs of relief from parents and carers up and down the country as the kids finally go back to school!
Whether you've relished the extra time spent with your little darlings, making memories and having fun, or you've struggled to balance work and home life for what can seem like a very long six weeks, there’s no denying that one way or another, the summer holidays throw our usual routines out the window.
Even those who don’t have children can feel the grip of a tighter waistband after all the indulgences that come with summer—like holidays abroad, staycations, BBQs, and sunny evenings drinking in the pub beer garden.
I for one am a creature of habit, and the healthy habits I’ve learned through being a WW member have become part of my daily and weekly routine—like meal planning, batch cooking, and taking packed lunches on days out instead of choosing the easy grab-and-go fast food.
Still though, there’s just something about the school holidays that sends my routine haywire, and whilst I have tried to stick to plan as much as possible, I certainly haven’t said ‘no’ to treats with my boys (Rhys, 9 and Ryan, 4) on a day out.
Balancing food and fun
That’s where my new attitude to mindfulness comes in—I cut myself a bit of slack during the school holidays and aim to maintain.
I find that if I aim for a loss at these times, I can put too much pressure on myself, and this can lead to one of two outcomes. I either restrict what I’m eating and avoid a simple cream tea, or just out-and-out binge with the attitude of ‘What’s the point? I won’t lose weight whilst the kids are at home and there’s so much temptation about, I may as well eat everything in sight'.
Neither attitude is healthy, so finding that middle ground is really helpful for me. I still track on the app to see where I’m at, I still only eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full, and I make smart swaps too—like a single scoop of ice cream in a regular cone, as opposed to three scoops in a chocolate coated cone topped off with clotted cream and chocolate sauce (yes, I actually had that many moons ago)! I join in and have a treat but I don’t go overboard, and that feels good.
I’ve always admired ‘outdoorsy’ families who get out and about together in the summer (or any season for that matter). So, I was very proud of Rhys, who learned to ride his bike unaided just before the holidays—he’s had a great time getting out on his bike with his friends over the summer.
I actually felt quite envious and ended up going out on my bike too, which was a total NSV (non-scale victory) for me as I haven’t ridden a bike since my teens! I’m looking forward to keeping the momentum going with lots of weekend bike rides. It’s a lovely way to spend time with my boy, get some fresh air, and earn those FitPoints® too.
And as the kids go back to school, we notice a change in the weather with autumn rolling in. The colder days and dark nights make me turn to those hearty and filling one-pot meals. My slow cooker is out all year round to be honest, but it never goes back in the cupboard at this time of year!
Back to school recipe inspo!
One of my favourite recipes is from the WW Chicken cookbook ‘Paprika chicken with lentils’. This recipe works really well in the slow cooker, but you can also cook it on the hob or bake it in the oven, as you prefer.
500g butternut squash (peeled, deseeded and chopped)
1 carrot (chopped)
1 courgette (chopped)
Calorie-controlled cooking spray (4 sprays),
1tsp cumin seeds,
1 onion (chopped)
1 garlic clove (chopped)
3 thyme sprigs (leaves picked and chopped)
2 spring onions (trimmed and sliced)
2 red chillis (chopped),
300ml passata with basil
200ml chicken stock made with 1 stock cube
1 Portabello mushroom (diced)
500g chicken breast Fillets (skinless and chopped)
40g red lentils (rinsed) and handful fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped)
1. Brown off the chicken in a large pan misted with spray oil. Transfer to your slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients apart from the lentils. Leave the slow cooker on ‘low’ and let it do its thing whilst you get on with your day.
2. 10 minutes before you are ready to serve dinner, add the lentils to the mix and stir through.
3. Plate up and garnish with the chopped parsley.
This recipe is full of protein and fibre to keep you full and satisfied. Plus it’s 0 SmartPoints! My leftover portions get put into freezer bags or Tupperware containers and frozen for another day. Perfect to pull out of the freezer and zap in the microwave when me and the boys get in from work and school.
Make the most of new routines
I hear so many of my WW friends talk about looking forward to getting back into a routine once the kids are back at school—it really does seem to help.
Whether you’ve managed to stay on track through the holidays (I applaud you), or you’re coming out of the summer feeling a little more ‘fluffy’ and sluggish than you’d like (I’m with you), let’s press the reset button this September and embrace everything the new season has to offer our overall wellness.
Crisp walks in the fresh air whilst autumn leaves are falling… using our Weeklies for cosy nights in with candles lit and a treat plate to enjoy… and for the girls, the double benefit of thick tights that keep our legs warm and hold everything else in (and up)!
One thing I find that is constant all throughout the year though, is the amazing support I have from my WW Workshop and the online community (especially WW Connect and Instagram!).
Well done on surviving summer, everyone. Now the kids are back to school, the first thing I’m going to do is earn some FitPoints getting the house clean and tidy again!
Feel free to follow me and my story on Instagram: my handle is @amys_ww_diary.