You eat the right foods (mostly) and you faithfully work out (usually) but the midriff fat lingers (forever!) so what’s the deal? If you can’t get the bulge to budge, you need to resort to some pro tricks that personal trainer Rachael Attard swears will flatten your tummy. Try her secrets, and here’s another tip: Have patience. Your insides will change well before the new you shows up on the outside. Even the pros have to work at getting rid of fat around the midriff and keep a watchful eye on what they eat.

Track your snacks 

You could be unconsciously sabotaging your best efforts if you eat right at mealtimes but fail to monitor your snack habit. “’It’s so so easy to eat mindlessly when you’re bored, stressed or binge-watching Gilmore Girls,” Attard writes on her blog.

Give yourself a 15-minute delay before you pop that tidbit when the snacking urge strikes. Drink water instead and then see if you’re still craving a morsel. If you’re still hungry, make your snack a healthy apple with nut butter or hummus on a carrot stick.

Design a nutrition plan

Focus attention on your entire diet once you’ve tackled snacking. Draw up a nutrition plan for all your meals and buy groceries based on that plan. Eating by design doesn’t have to feel punitive. “I follow an 80/20 rule when it comes to eating,” Attard says. Eating healthy, nutritious food 80 per cent of the time allows her to eat controlled portions of her favorite foods the remaining 20 percent.

Think before you drink.

The food you eat while drinking is most likely to be stored as fat. “Your body will burn off the alcohol first, and if you’ve had more than two drinks, it is highly unlikely that you will burn off all the alcohol before the night is up,” she says. Unfortunately, alcohol shows up more around your belly than anywhere else. One alcoholic drink each day won’t block your effort to flatten your belly, according to the personal trainer. But don’t save up all those drinks during the week and the splurge on a weekend party.

Use the right exercises

Adding resistance training to your workout is important if you are targeting belly fat. Light versions such as Pilates will work, but you’ll see the fastest results with high intensity interval training or HIIT. Make sure your resistance training includes workouts that specifically target lower abs if you want. Allard says that’s the area where she finds most women have excess fat.

Don’t mistake fat for bloat

A chubby tummy that refuses to melt away may not actually be fat at all. Bloating affect every woman at some time in their lives, and you may easily mistake bloating for fat.  Here’s how to distinguish between the two culprits. Prevent bloat by drinking plenty of water, eat healthy food and tracking what you eat. That should help you identify what is causing the bloat.

Exercise patience along with your abs

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see great ab definition within just a few days. Stick with the program. The changes will start internally before you see them as a flatter stomach. Losing fat and achieving a lean body “takes time and patience”, says Attard.

Read More: 6 Mistakes You’re Making When Trying to Avoid Belly Fat