A Perfectly Portioned Autumn

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It’s that time of year again, my favourite time when the smell of autumn lingers in the air and everything feels new and possible. Every year I have such high hopes for autumn. I promise myself that I shall be out revelling in it as much as possible. I imagine the long walks in my favourite knitwear, my ochre scarf wrapped around my neck as I kick up leaves in my walking boots. But for me, autumn always comes with a side serving of trepidation and fear. Because autumn is as much about food as it is about being outdoors. It’s the season of harvest and abundance, tempting me with big roast dinners, warming stews and wholesome soups. I love to plan walks where I know there's a cafe so I can sit and enjoy my cake and coffee as the light fades around me. For me, autumn gives with one hand and cruelly takes with another. 

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Weight and unhappiness go together. They don’t actually exist side by side in a line with a starting point and an end. They actually live in a circle and rotate around each other constantly. You are unhappy so you eat. You gain weight. You are unhappy about this so you eat. You gain more weight and so it goes on. Insert dieting into the circle and the circle becomes even bigger. You are unhappy so you eat. You gain weight. You diet. You are unhappy. You eat. You gain more weight. But is it possible to break this cycle? If you were to take a pair of scissors and make a cut at some point on the circumference, where would you cut? The answer? I think you make the cut just before the unhappiness creeps in again because that's the point at which the cycle gathers pace and starts over.

But how do we make ourselves happy? We can’t just wake up one morning and say, ‘Today I am going to be happy and that’s an end to it!’ There’s no magic wand. Happiness is something we have to build up gradually, one brick at a time, until we have a structure that is secure and can withstand anything that's thrown at it. If sadness and a feeling of self-worthlessness is a wolf lurking outside then I want my house to be built using bricks not straw. 

As with all buildings though, we need to start with the foundation stones. Look around you and list all of the positive things in your life. These would be the things that bring you pleasure or comfort. Try not to make them food related; we all love watching Strictly with a huge bowl of crisps balanced on our legs but we need to be realistic! In my case my list would comprise of having the house to myself, spending time in my garden, taking long walks with Sizzles, shopping for fresh, organic produce with my basket, socks warming on the Aga, going to bed early to read my book, listening to classical music, a cup of tea in the great outdoors, fresh flowers on the kitchen table and warm, candlelit baths. I know we all lead busy lives and it’s become so much harder to put ourselves first but I truly believe it’s because I have stopped finding time for myself that my weight has increased. I no longer feel grounded in my own life and I’ve lost my sense of wellbeing.

 Planting my spring bulbs is always a highlight of the year.

Planting my spring bulbs is always a highlight of the year.

 He is the best company and I love to see him enjoying the outside too.

He is the best company and I love to see him enjoying the outside too.

 There are no shortages of beautiful places to walk up here. The Falkland Estate in autumn.

There are no shortages of beautiful places to walk up here. The Falkland Estate in autumn.

 Toasty toes and woolly socks. 

Toasty toes and woolly socks. 

How many of you wake up in the morning and ask yourself, ‘What have I got to do today?’ Even before you’re out of bed, even before your hands are cupped around a steaming mug, you’ve made a mental list of all the pressing jobs that are awaiting your attention. I do this every morning and it puts a dampener on the day. It immediately plunges me into a negative frame of mind, one that I will undoubtedly try to crawl out of later that morning with the help of a handful of biscuits. So instead, I’m going to try a new approach. I’m going to wake up and ask myself, ‘What do I want to do today?’ Those other jobs; the ironing, the shopping, the kitchen floor, the days in school, they’ll all still be there, but by promising myself a small window of time during the day to do what I want to do, I know I will start to build my happy. 

 I love hay bales. There's just something about them that makes me feel comforted. I don't always have time for a long walk but somedays just a stroll down the lane before I tackle the ironing can make all the difference. 

I love hay bales. There's just something about them that makes me feel comforted. I don't always have time for a long walk but somedays just a stroll down the lane before I tackle the ironing can make all the difference. 

I’m always asking myself how I got here. I was a daughter of the 80s and 90s, raised by a mother who like so many was told that any food more than 3% fat per 100g was evil. I can still picture her in the sitting room following an excercise video after a hard day at work. When I think about this I realise how utterly bizarre it was. No one loved the outdoors as much as my mother, my love of the countryside comes from her. So why on earth didn’t she come home and go out for a soothing walk? After endless surgeries as a practice nurse, surely some time to herself in the great outdoors would have been so much more beneficial than jumping around in Lycra in front of the television? And that’s the problem. I’m left with so many dieting battlescars and confsusions that I no longer know how to sustain a healthy balance between living and eating. Why is it that even after a long walk in the fresh air I still think that my only food option is a few cucumber sticks with low fat hummus? Surely if I’ve walked the length of the forest on the other side of the loch I can have a buttered crumpet or a mug of hot chocolate at least? Surely there’s a balance?

 Can I really have my cake and eat it?

Can I really have my cake and eat it?

Then along came Sally...

She is the founder of fitnaturally and contacted me through Instagram, telling me she could help. She wholeheartedly believes that she can encourage me to change my eating habits and help me to find that sense of wellbeing that has eluded me for so long now. She has offered me one month’s worth of free, bespoke nutrition plans to help me lose weight and feel better without feelings of deprivation or guilt. In exchange, I am going to write a weekly blog, telling you all about my experiences. 

So what is fitnaturally? Well...

fitnaturally is more than just weight loss, it's a weight loss and healthy eating approach, with practical tools, that resets people's relationship with food for the rest of their lives. There are no fads, food is from all food groups and there is no calorie or points counting, no minutiae or obsessiveness. It's good old fashioned eating based on three wholesome and tasty meals a day that don't take forever to make and don't contain obscure ingredients. Alongside the weekly nutrition plans comes coaching in activity, sleep and relaxation, eating psychology and the importance of relationships and community. All the things that provide a framework for feeling better and being healthier. There are plans for individuals, families and sportspeople and there is absolutely no requirement to be 'ripped' or any such unrealistic goal! fitnaturally is not a diet, it's gentle nutrition to help your body find its sweet and happy spot and stay there. It's ultimate aim is that people don't worry and obsess about food but instead eat delicious, easy food according to hunger and fullness, most of the time. It's not something that one person in a house is on, it's something that everyone will enjoy and benefit from. Many people have not only changed their bodies but their minds and their lives after joining fitnaturally and feeling the joy of it's calm approach to health.

Nourish . Move . Restore . Connect

Sounds good doesn't it? I must admit that I’m feeling very optimistic. So tomorrow is my first day. My bespoke nutrition plan came through on Wednesday after having filled out a detailed questionnaire and I’ve spent the last few days going through it. I’ll tell you much more about the food and the plan itself as the weeks go by but tomorrow I'm going to start the day with a glorious breakfast of full fat Greek yogurt, fresh raspberries, honey, oats and cream, yes cream! Then I'm off on a long walk with Sizzles to embrace the start of my favourite season after which I’m coming home to Roasted Tomato Risotto and woolly socks. I might even light the fire. Are you intrigued? Then follow along with me via my blog and instagram account as I nourish, move, restore and connect with myself and the world around me. 

 Everyday should start with porridge and it's even more delicious when it's made with full fat milk. Oh yes! Full fat milk! My mother would be knocked down with a feather. 

Everyday should start with porridge and it's even more delicious when it's made with full fat milk. Oh yes! Full fat milk! My mother would be knocked down with a feather.