I lost 50 pounds recently, so hopefully I can impart some of my experience to you in a meaningful way.
The first thing is to **think of a diet as a lifelong lifestyle change, not a short-term fix. **
Set goals for an ideal diet and exercise plan. I suggest talking with a dietician, fitness trainer, or finding a program like Nutritionalysis (I did this at the local Gold’s Gym) to get you started. Make certain your food choices are ones you personally like and can live with. No one I’ve known sticks with a diet plan eating foods they find unpleasant. Make certain you are eating the right number of calories for your activity level (again this is where a dietician or trainer can help).
Gradually change your foods. Most people I’ve talked with had problems sticking with any new diet that radically differed from their current diet. That being the case, make changes gradually to acclimate your body.
Example - if you use 80% lean ground beef, switch to 90% lean. After a while, maybe you switch to ground turkey or chicken.
Maybe this week you decrease the size of your dessert in half, and the following week reduce it again. After a month or two you cut out dessert altogether, or save it for special occasions only.
Maybe this month you drink one cola a day instead of two, then the next month you switch to diet cola, then the next month you cut out pop altogether.
Maybe you switch from ice cream to frozen yogurt.
Whatever changes, make certain they get you closer to your ideal diet plan.
Set realistic goals. If you are overweight, don’t think you’ll lose 10 pounds in two days - lose the weight gradually. It took me 18 months or so to lose 50 pounds, but I’ve kept it off for almost two years.
Exercise more. This can’t be stressed enough, whether your lifting weights, perfoming aerobic exercise, or both. Building muscle will increase your basal metabolic rate - i.e. you’ll burn more calories in a day even when you’re not exercising. Exercise also helps build self-esteem, relieves stress, and makes you think twice about eating junk (“I’d have to run HOW many miles to burn off this Twinkie???”).
Eat smaller portions, and eat more frequently. Eat 4-6 times a day instead of the normal 3. Eat smaller portions during these meals so you don’t exceed your set daily total caloric intake. Doing so will keep your blood sugar level more constant, your metabolic rate up, your body from going into starvation mode. You’ll feel better, have more energy and burn more calories. I find it harder to overeat as well - or at least overeat as much - mainly because my stomach’s shrunk down from where it was three years ago. I attribute this to eating smaller portions.
Listen to your body. People tend to crave what their body needs, so there’s no problem eating what you crave unless it’s nutritionally worthless. If you are craving a chocolate bar, eat a small amount, just enough to satisfy the craving. Denying yourself can, in the long term, make the craving worse and start to unravel your diet plan. Make certain the craving is not triggered by an emotional need.
Don’t give up. I’ve known too many people that think once they’ve ruined their diet for the day, they might as well pig out the rest of the day and start again tomorrow. Realize you may fudge (non pun intended) a bit and still be fine as long as you keep your long-term goals in mind. Many successful diets even work in a “cheat day” where you can eat not whatever you want but be a bit more lax once a week.
Remember, you will discover a lot about yourself while making dietary changes. Some will be easy, some will be tough. If you fall down, pick yourself up and don’t dwell on your ‘failures.’ Always work towards your goal.
Hope this helps.