So you pinned all those smoothies to your weight-loss board, and you still don’t have a flat stomach. Or maybe you tried a weight-loss supplement, and as soon as you stopped taking it, the weight came back. Maybe you’ve tried dieting the traditional way and something is not clicking.

Do not be ashamed. Fad diets, those that claim benefits like “this smoothie will slay fat” and supplements marketed to target key fat-burning areas are often misleading about how little they will actually do for weight loss in addition to how terrible they are for long-term health. For someone struggling with weight issues, easy hacks for losing weight can seem like a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately, the best way to lose weight and keep it off is the easy to say, hard to do mantra: “Burn more than you consume.”

But where do you start with that? Will adding a walk at lunch help you lose weight? Realistically, adding a walk or exercise without evaluating the proportions you’re putting in your body, along with your other behaviors, will not change your body’s makeup. You must count all the calories you eat or drink and aim to eat less than you burn. For example, a 140-pound woman might burn around 1,750 calories a day. If she wants to lose weight, a good target number for her to consume a day would be 1,450 calories. If she adds in a walk she might see the weight come off slightly faster, but it would still take several weeks for weight loss to be obvious in the mirror and on the scale.

Again, it sounds easy but time consuming. Unfortunately, the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to lose weight slowly. If you lose it too quickly, your body will think something terrible is happening externally and work to replace lost fat stores immediately. You also risk not developing healthier, habits which also help in keeping weight off after you have lost it.

Have you tried to consume fewer calories than you burn and still haven’t lost weight? Check out these reasons your previous attempts may have not worked.

Not measuring accurately

If you were eyeing portion sizes instead of using measuring cups or kitchen scales, you could be setting yourself up for failure before you even pick up a fork. If you do not have time to measure your portions or you’re not sure where to start, the plate method is a good technique for approaching meals.

Eating too little (and then giving up)

Counting your calories to make sure you’re staying within your target goals is important, but counting your calories to make sure you’re eating enough is also important. Many inexperienced dieters dive into a new meal plan either thinking 1,000 calories is enough or simply not doing the calorie math daily to make sure they are hitting their targets. If you eat too little, you will have a hard time sticking to your diet.

Imagine eating a tasty and filling breakfast – maybe eggs on a piece of whole-grain toast with a bit of low-fat shredded cheese on top. You arrive at work feeling satisfied, but a co-worker brings in doughnuts for everyone. You’re not hungry thanks to your breakfast, so you’re fine with passing. If you had skipped breakfast or settled for only a cup of coffee only, those doughnuts may have been irresistible.

Practicing all or nothing

Let’s go back to the doughnut scenario in the last paragraph. So you ate breakfast and you’re not hungry, but those doughnuts your co-worker brought look really good. Everyone else seems to be enjoying them and you’re the only one who decided to pass. In order to get through these tough situations, some people have a designated cheat meal once a week where they indulge and eat one item they’ve been craving. Keep in mind this is a cheat meal, not a cheat day.

Others opt for moderation throughout the week. If you really want that doughnut, maybe someone would be willing to split one with you. You could exercise an extra twenty minutes and cut out about two hundred calories from one of your other meals to make up for the doughnut. The key is to do this infrequently, doing your best to stick with your diet plan; however, giving yourself some room to go off course occasionally will help you stay on track for your long-term goals.

If dieting were easy, there wouldn’t be hundreds of supplements claiming to do it for you. If you’re struggling to lose weight, you’re not alone. Ask your friends and family to support your efforts by either joining you on your weight-loss journey, helping you find tasty and healthy meal options or checking in with you and your goals as time goes on.

Finally, constantly remind yourself that all great changes take time. It may take a year or two, but at the end of the road, you’ll feel better and have the habits you need to keep the weight off. Follow M Power on Facebook for motivation and weight-loss tips.