Women's Health UK

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Talk about frustrating: You’re working out every day and trying to eat right, but you feel like nothing is happening. What’s missing?

We’ll give you the bad news first. There’s no perfect ratio of healthy habits when it comes to getting the results you want, says Harley Pasternak, personal trainer to stars including Ariana Grande, Katy Perry and Kanye West.

While you might think you’ve hit the sweet spot of a balanced diet and exercise regimen, there are some surprising factors that may be sabotaging your goals.

The good news is, they’re totally avoidable. We sat down with Harley to find out what else could be at play.

1. YOU’RE EATING ADDITIONAL CALORIES BEFORE OR AFTER A WORKOUT

A great workout doesn’t equal free calories. “I hear people say, ‘What’s the best pre-workout [meal] to have and what’s the best post-workout thing to have? Unless you’re training for the Olympics, what’s the point of eating a bunch of calories before you burn them and then replacing them with a bunch of calories?” Harley says.

Despite a balanced diet, however, he allows his clients two “free meals” per week—not cheat meals. “You’re not cheating,” he insists. “You deserve them.”

2. YOUR CARDIO ROUTINE IS TOO INTENSE

To avoid losing too much muscle tone from intense cardio, Harley prescribes cardio to his clients in terms of steps—he recommends 12,000 to 14,000 a day.

His tip for getting more steps in? Investing in comfortable shoes, like the Reebok Floatride. “When your feet are happy, you’re more likely to take the stairs rather than the elevator and you’re more likely to walk those extra few streets rather than take the tube or bus,” he says.

Woman Running New York

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3. YOU’RE DOING TOO MUCH WEIGHT TRAINING

For his own clients’ goals, Harley recommends doing two to three resistance movements four to five days a week in addition to getting your steps in. Finding a balance between cardio and weights is key, he says. He likens it to caring for a plant—there isn’t a perfect ratio of air to water, because a plant needs both to thrive.

4. YOU’RE NOT SLEEPING ENOUGH

One element of fitness progress many people tend to overlook is sleep. To make sure you get ample shut-eye to perform and recover at your best, Harley recommends seven to eight hours of quality sleep for his clients.

Girl Practicing Yoga

5. YOU’RE STRESSED

Stress releases more of the hormone cortisol into your body, which studies show can contribute to weight gain. If you’re feeling stressed, place a thumb over your right nostril and exhale through the left for eight counts. Breathe in through the left nostril and hold for another eight. Now, repeat on the other side. Keep going up to 10 times – just make sure colleagues don’t think you’re rummaging around up there.

6. YOU’RE LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE TOO MUCH

“The blue light messes with our brain chemicals, appetite and metabolism,” Harley says. He suggests unplugging from technology for at least one hour per day. What to do with that hour? “Do something that takes some presence, whether it be with another person, eating a meal without your phone, or doing your workout.”

7. YOUR GOALS ARE UNREALISTIC

If you’ve been working hard for a few months, but don’t have a total six pack or triceps definition, that doesn’t mean your body isn’t changing, so keep at it. “You just need to move,” Harley says. “The key to being in great shape is to put your right foot in front of your left foot, then put your left foot in front of your right foot.”

This article originally appeared on Women’s Health US.

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Mollie King is our December cover star. Catch her workout loves (and hates):

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