If you're trying to drop a few pounds before the Christmas party season, you're probably hyper-aware of what you're eating and how much exercise you're getting.
No matter how hard you're working though, there are certain simple mistakes that could be tripping you up without you even realising. Don't let the little things ruin your weight loss progress – keep these common mistakes in mind!
1. Not eating enough vegetables
The recommended daily amount is five portions of fruit and vegetables a day – but aim for more if you can, especially when it comes to nutrient-rich foods like kale, spinach and brocolli. Try to fit veg into every meal, including breakfast. Keep it simple – blend some kale into a green smoothie or add a tomato and some spinach to a morning omelette. Easy!
2. Skimping on breakfast
A glass of OJ or a black coffee by itself does not make a balanced breakfast. Try to eat foods that are high in protein, fibre and slow-release carbohydrates so that you're not craving sugar come 11am. Museli with added mixed seeds is a great morning option that'll fill you right up, or if you want something hot try porridge, or eggs and spinach on wholewheat toast. Whatever you do, don't skip breakfast entirely – it's just not going to help in the long run.
3. Getting discouraged when your weight loss drops off
It's natural that you'll lose more weight at the beginning of a diet, as water weight drops away. Reaching a plateau a few weeks in is not a sign that things aren't working, so don't give up just yet. You'll get back on track next week as long as you stay motivated and focused.
4. Slacking on healthy eating after a workout
A killer session at the gym is not a licence to dig into the Ben & Jerry's – well, not all the time anyway. Your body burns food faster after a workout, but keep to high-protein meals that'll help your muscles recover and will re-energise you.
5. Blaming your lack of time
Try to make healthy eating and regular exercise a solid part of your lifestyle rather than something you just do when you have the time. Even if you were rushing out the door and had no time to make lunch, avoid the Spar chicken fillet roll and go for a healthier option like a wrap or hearty soup. Likewise, if you can't make that hour-long spin class, try to integrate exercise into your day in other ways – taking the stairs, getting off the bus a few stops early or going for a twenty minute walk after work.
6. Not getting enough sleep
When you're tired and cranky, you're far more likely to reach for that high-sugar snack. The hormones that control hunger and appetite are heavily influenced by the level of sleep you get – so try to get at least seven to eight hours per night where possible.
7. Ignoring weights at the gym
Weight loss isn't all about cardio, ladies. Lifting weights gives your metabolism a serious boost, meaning you'll get fitter faster and will burn more energy while you're at it.