The words “diet” and “exercise” often appear in the same sentence, but if there’s disharmony between the two, you won’t get very far on the road to weight loss.

Putting in hours at the gym or on the jogging path is great, but what’s on your plate is equally important. Here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind on your journey to a slimmer, healthier you.

Step up to the dinner plate

It’s a good idea to place diet before exercise in the order of importance. That Sunday indulgence of a belly-busting meal means you’ll have to do an awful lot of exercise just to work those calories off.

So remember this simple principle: calories in, calories out. Consuming more calories than you can burn off each day will result in a dismal weight-loss balance sheet.

Exercise can also stimulate your appetite. You’ve probably had the experience of scarfing down a lot of food after a strenuous workout. The exercise meant for weight loss won’t deliver the expected results if you aren’t fueling your body with the right foods.

Focus on proper nutrition first, and use exercise to complement a well-rounded weight-loss plan.

Change you can stick with

Some folks can eat kale and quinoa all day long. For the rest of us, such hard-core food choices aren’t necessarily sustainable. It’s best to settle on change you can stick with over the long haul.

A healthy diet shouldn’t be confused with deprivation. A menu comprised mainly of salads may produce exciting short-term results, but that’s likely to get old quickly. You’ll soon be back to the poor eating choices which got you into larger clothes in the first place.

Concentrate on portion control and get more fresh vegetables on your plate. Don’t eat with the objective of feeling stuffed. Meal times should be about satisfying your hunger and meeting your body’s needs.

It’s also a good idea to come clean on your dietary weak points. Snacking is a wobbly area for many of us. Instead of salty potato chips, substitute healthier options like popcorn or nuts. Swap out those calorific desserts and candy bars for fresh fruit. Remember the moderation rule doesn’t go out the window because some foods are healthier than others. Portion control still applies.

Adopting the right exercise routines

Huffing and puffing it out at the gym is all well and good, but are you doing the right mix of exercises to get the weight loss results you’re going for?

Your body needs muscle to burn fat. It’s critical to get the right combination of resistance training and cardiovascular exercise. A healthy mix of weight training with time on the treadmill is more likely to take inches off your waist. Alternating between lighter weights with more reps and heavier weights with fewer reps will give you the muscle tone you need to tackle stubborn fat. Don’t forget to establish rest days between weight routines. You can fill in those days with cardiovascular exercises like running or cycling.

Additionally, periodically switching up exercise routines is always good strategy. You are likely to become stranded on that dreaded weight loss plateau as your body adjusts to set workout habits. Keep surprising your body and your body will eventually surprise you.

If you are struggling to make a dent in your weight, take an honest look at your balance between diet and exercise. You are sure to see those results come in if you prioritize dietary changes combined with the right physical activity.