It's getting to that time of the year where our diets and our motivation start to stall but, before you throw in the towel, ask yourself this - are you giving yourself the best chance at weight loss? Any diet or lifestyle change is difficult and takes time and lots of patience. Especially when you feel like you're not making any progress. But with just 5 small steps, you'll soon find yourself on the road to successful weight loss.

Eat the Right Amount of Calories
There's a misconception that when you diet you must cut your food intake down to virtually nothing but this is just as bad for your body as too many calories! Instead, use an app like My Fitness Pal, a calorie counting app that will give you a safe intake of calories based on gender, height, activity level and the amount of weight (up to 2lbs/week) you want to lose. Every day you can input your meals and snacks to keep track of the calories you're eating. It's vitally important that you weigh everything that you put into the tracker though or you'll think you're doing better than you actually are. Things like licking the peanut butter spoon can add an extra 100 calories to your diet without you realising. If you do that every day you'll be eating 700 calories more than you think a week, which can easily eat into your weight loss. The app also allows you to add in any exercise that you've done and will reward you with extra calories for the day, which you can eat or not.

Be Adventurous with Cooking
Slip-ups in a diet often come down to a lack of adventure in our diets. Sure that omelette is healthy, but imagine eating it every day for your lunch. It won't be long before you're sick at the idea of one and are reaching for an unhealthier alternative. Instead, look online for healthy recipes and snacks that will make your diet more varied and interesting. Pinterest is particularly good for recipes as you'll find loads of ideas including low calorie, low carb and low fat.

Take Progress Pictures
The biggest cause of falling off the wagon in your diet is due to the scales. You work hard all week and then step on the scale to see no loss, or worse, a weight gain. However, our body weight fluctuates all through the day and the scale doesn't account for any muscle gains either. A much better way to measure your progress is through photographs and measurements. Take these once a month and compare them even if the scale isn't moving you'll definitely see the changes.

Invest in a Fitness Tracker
Fitness trackers like Apple Watches or Fitbits might seem like an expensive toy but, in reality, they can be an essential tool in your weight loss journey. It's recommended that we all move at least 10 thousand steps a day, which you might think you do easily. Yet many are shocked at just little they move when they start tracking their steps. These trackers are great for motivating you to get up and move more, especially if you enter step challenges with friends. Ones with HR monitors are also advantageous for tracking your calories during exercise.

Treat Yourself Occasionally
Of course, just because you're dieting doesn't mean you can't treat yourself occasionally. If you deny yourself the things you crave all the time then you are far more likely to binge on bad foods and go back to your bad habits. Although you shouldn't be giving in to every one of your body's cravings, every now and again shouldn't hurt and will give you extra motivation to try really hard the following week. If you're missing your Friday night takeaway or a bar of chocolate after a hard week at work, then there's no harm in giving in every now and again, but try to choose wisely. Swap the milk chocolate for dark chocolate, which has scientifically proven health benefits, and rather than a large, fully loaded pizza, choose a smaller thin-based pizza with low fat cheese and vegetable toppings. Or, if you like Chinese, choose a steamed meal rather than a deep fried alternative and pair it with boiled rice - take a look here at the healthier dishes your local restaurant has available.