By Valerie Berkowitz, R.D.
Updated: July 25, 2013

It seems so simple: Eat right, exercise, get some rest, and you will lose weight. But maybe it's not so simple. According to Jessica Bartfield, M.D., who specializes in nutrition and weight management at the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery & Bariatric Care, diets fail for four reasons:

1. Underestimating calories consumed

2. Overestimating activity and the calories burned

3. Poor timing of meals

4. Inadequate Sleep

If you think these reasons account for your lack of dieting success, here are four secrets to change your luck.

Secret #1: Underestimating calories is not an issue when you don't have to count them at all.

Really. Don't deprive yourself and eat when you are hungry, selecting foods that will keep you full instead of those that provide a quick pick-up and then leave you searching for more soon after. Have three meals that each incorporate a variety of foods, protein, and fat, and drink water or zero-calorie beverages. If you are hungry between meals, have a snack or "mini-meal," not junk food or a 100-calorie snack pack.

For example, maybe you have a Western cheese omelet with 1/2 cup fruit at breakfast, a burger patty alongside grilled vegetables and a baked sweet potato with a thin pat of butter for lunch, and then dine on shrimp scampi and broccoli atop spaghetti squash with a side salad.

RELATED: Learn more surprising reasons why you should stop counting calories if you want to lose weight and eat right.

Snacks could be peanut butter celery boats, plain Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fresh berries, peppers and hummus, two squares of dark chocolate and up to 10 nuts, or a small handful of homemade trail mix (shredded coconut, nuts, and seeds).

Secret #2: For weight loss, diet counts more than exercise. If you are not counting calories for food, then do not sweat over how many calories you burn during a workout.

Be active and enjoy your exercise. "Just do it" to help boost your metabolism and maintain weight loss. If you need some workout ideas, try these interval training plans or simply grab a jump rope and follow this fat-blasting routine.

Secret #3: If you don't want to eat, then don't. But don't binge either.

Try a fast. In the January issue of Scientific American, many studies point toward intermittent fasting (IF) as an approach that shows promise in promoting health and longevity.

Or just focus on increasing awareness of your own hunger, which is your body's way of telling you to eat. Listen to yourself so you can notice when your stomach sends those "Hey, I'm empty and need food" messages-and then satisfy it! And if you're uncertain if you are in fact hungry, check out this hunger scale.

RELATED: When the need to nosh between meals hits, fill up with one of these three snacks that help you lose weight by knocking out hunger.

Secret #4: Establish a bedtime routine to help you get the shut-eye you need.

Turn your bedroom into a sleeping sanctuary and do whatever you need to make it as dark and comfortable as possible. Then avoid caffeine or any other stimulants from food, beverages, supplements, or medicines, and refrain from drinking anything a couple of hours before you plan to hit the sheets.

Now go ahead, jump! Try these one or all four of these secrets. You have nothing to lose but weight.

Nationally known as an expert in weight loss, integrative nutrition, blood sugar, and health management, Valerie Berkowitz, M.S., R.D., C.D.E. is co-author of The Stubborn Fat Fix, director of nutrition at The Center for Balanced Health, and consultant for Complete Wellness in NYC. She is a woman who strives for internal peace, happiness and lots of laughs. Visit Valerie's Voice: for the Health of It or @nutritionnohow.

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