5 mistakes busy women make when it comes to weight loss

weight loss women

I talk to many busy mums (and dads) in my work. Out of all my clients, busy mums seem to be the ones most concerned with their weight and health. After consultations with dozens of busy people over the years; I noticed similarities between them that may be hindering their weight loss goals.

So if you’re a busy mum (or dad, or just plain busy) and weight loss isn’t happening as you’d like; read on for some common habits that can impede success.

  • Mistake 1: Morning routine

You’re up bright and early, hitting the ground running the second the alarm goes off. Well, maybe you hit the snooze button once (or twice), but now it’s time to face the day. Manic morning as usual, there are a million things to do and you are out of the door in a blaze of bags, children, noise and somehow, already running late. There was no time to eat breakfast, again! So you grab a muesli bar from the cupboard on your way out the door. It will have to be eaten while driving to work, again.

How it gets in the way of weight loss

Eating food while distracted (driving, on the phone, working) can only mean a totally unsatisfactory meal. It’s well documented that eating while busy or distracted leads to overeating. Why? The distraction of driving, a laptop, or

other focus of attention causes us to lose track of how much we’re eating. Our brain doesn’t register we have eaten, or how much. So we end up eating more.


And the days that breakfast just didn’t happen? You will be running on empty all morning. Sure, the coffee hit gives a burst of energy. And if you are super stressed? In times of stress the body releases a hormone called cortisol. The cortisol coursing through your body will suppress your appetite. But long-term, too much cortisol leads to a host of medical issues. So running on adrenaline from stress, or caffeine, fuels you for only so long before it starts to affect your health. We need some good quality fuel to feed our brains and body in the morning. Eating something small can also prevent overeating come morning tea time when those biscuits in the kitchen start to look really tempting.

Solution 1
Take just 5 minutes to sit down and eat something. This might be sacrificing 5 minutes of your morning routine, but the long term benefits will be worth it. Make it easy on yourself and have plenty of options available in the kitchen for a good start to the day (keep yoghurt, fruit, nuts and oats on hand and you have dozens of combinations for breakfast).Try some easy breakfast ideas here

Mistake 2. Salad for lunch

Great, you packed a salad for lunch, this will definitely help with losing weight. A huge mix of salad leaves, tomatoes, some cucumber and a tin of tuna to help you reach that weight loss goal.

How it gets in the way of weight loss

A salad for lunch is great! But when it’s just a salad, a few vegetables and some tuna or other protein like chicken or eggs those afternoon sugar cravings are going to hit really hard.

Why? When we don’t eat any carbohydrates in a meal, it doesn’t take long before our brains start to get hungry for some glucose (glucose is what our brain needs to function). Carbohydrates include things like bread, rice, noodles, pasta as well as less nutritious carbohydrate containing foods like biscuits, chocolate, coke and sweets.  This is where it can get tricky, if your brain is craving some glucose, you might find to start to crave something sweet and can give in to the temptation of the less nutritious stuff.

So what can you do? Easily fixable, just add in some carbohydrates to your lunch to feed your brain and stave off the afternoon sugar cravings. Aim for a fist sized serve and experiment, maybe some couscous mixed in to your salad, a couple of vita wheats or a grainy bread roll on the side.

Mistake 3. Afternoon tea 

It’s like clockwork. You notice it every afternoon. Your eyelids start to droop, a yawn or two slips in and perhaps even a fantasy about crawling under your desk for a mini-snooze.

You will be please to know that at 3pm, most people experience this slump in energy. It has something to do with our body’s natural circadian rhythm and is perfectly normal. Where it can hinder your weight loss goals is when you find a pull towards sugary foods that will pep you up. A hit of sugar to the system will definitely give you an energy hit, but it won’t last long, and typically these foods are kilojoule-laden and not too kind to our weight.

So what can you do? Next time you do a shop, stock up on healthy snacks you can store in your desk drawer, work fridge or cooler. Having healthy snacks on hand will help maintain contact energy levels and be kinder to your weight loss goals. Try things like chic-nuts, nuts and seeds, yoghurt, healthy muesli bars or fruit. All of these are quick and easy to buy so prefect for time-pressed mums.

Mistake 4. Pre- and post- gym supplements

Work’s done and you’re annoyed at yourself for not eating the way you wanted to (damn Ellen for bringing in those cupcakes!). You promise yourself you’ll make up for it in the gym. Feeling virtuous about this decision you head to the gym, ensuring you have a pre-workout drink that your PT suggested. You might sip on a Gatorade during your workout, or finish up with a post-workout snack as you heard that these can replenish your electrolytes and help build muscle.

How it gets in the way of weight loss

If your workout is of moderate-intensity (that is, you can still hold a conversation, but would find it hard to sing), and an hour or less, then pre- and post- workouts are not really necessary. Especially so if your goal is weight loss.

For muscle gain or very strenuous workouts (high intensity and lasting over one hour), then yes you might benefit from the added nutrition, but for the average person wanting to shift some weight, the extra kilojoules from the food and drinks will hinder your weight loss goals.

So what can you do? Stick to your 3 main meals and 2-3 healthy snacks. These will provide you will enough protein and carbohydrates to fuel your workouts. If you are adding in extra pre- and post- workout snacks and drinks, you will be exceeding your kilojoule intake and won’t be losing weight. Water is the best option for a workout drink, and unless your workout is very intense and longer than 60 minutes you will certainly be able to replenish any electrolytes in your next meal or snack.

Mistake 5. Not enough sleep

So you made it through the day, and all you want to do when you get home is go to bed. But as it always seems to do, time gets away from you once you get home (dinner to be made, homework to be supervised, and let’s not even mention the huge pile of ironing that needs to be done) and before you know it, it’s nearing midnight and your sleep time is being eaten into.

How it gets in the way of weight loss

Sleeping less than 6 hours a night has been linked to weight gain and obesity (not to mention depression, anxiety and increased stress levels). Being tired during the day makes it more likely that you will reach for energy-boosting foods which often means sugary foods and caffeinated drinks. Plus, if you’re tired, exercise will be the last thing you feel like doing, and as for preparing a healthy dinner? Forget it, it’s a quick and easy takeaways instead.

So what can you do? Sleep must be a priority if you want to lose weight and become healthier. It’s not always possible (shift workers and new mothers are most vulnerable when it comes to poor quality sleep), but aim for at least 6-8 hours a night. Yes this might mean less time for household tasks and you might miss you favourite TV show, but if you are serious about making some healthy changes, prioritise this time for your body to rest and recover and see how much better you feel from it.

What things have you found have hindered your weight loss? Did you make a small change that had a great effect on your health?

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