Like most women my age, I've tried my share of diets. The more extreme/restrictive ones lasted about a day (apparently it doesn't count as the atkins diet if all you do is eat something other than a bagel for breakfast), but I've stuck with it a few times and lost an amount of weight that I was happy with for that time. For some reason, probably a combination of eating too many cookies and not walking Milton very much, I've gained a few pounds.
A few years ago, I used SparkPeople, which is just a caloire counter. It worked and I learned a lot about food in that time. I've also used Weight Watchers, which is also a calorie counter, except they use their own points system instead of just straight calories.
Here are some tips I've picked up. I have no idea if they will be helpful to anyone other than me, as everyone's body is completely different. But I thought I'd share. I'm not a nutritionist, personal trainier, or really anything other that some chick who wants her pants to stop leaving that weird line in her fat, so they're pretty basic.
1) Sometimes, when you think you're hungry, you're actually just thirsty. So keep a water bottle near you at work and keep hydrating. As someone with a bladder the size of a pea, I am well aware of the annoying problems that this can cause, but water is SO GOOD for you.
2) Eat your vegetables! And fruits. There are infiniate resources available with every possible piece of information about what veggies you should eat when and why. I find it completely overwhelming and I start to overthink the whole thing. Just eat stuff that is different colors more often that you eat other things. I try to add the veggies into other foods so that it isn't just a pile of rabbit food on your plate. Also, try out things that you haven't eaten. I think that everyone tends to gravatate towards what they know, which for many is what they ate as a kid. In my house, that was mostly green beans and broccoli; both are good, but there are tons of other vegetables out there, check them out.
3) If you don't like it, you don't have to eat it. Most people I know still seem to have this "must choke it down so my parents aren't annoyed at me" type mentality. Guys, we're grown ups now, you don't have to eat something you hate. Before throwing in the towel, I would research some new and different ways to prepare your "most hated food EVER", but if you don't like it, you don't. There are tons of different kinds of vegetables out there to choose from, choose the ones you like.
4) Find a kind of exercise you like and can do consistently. Mine is walking Milton. I try to walk on my own some too, and occaisionally I'll go to yoga or lift some (very light) weights at home. I'm honestly not a big fan of working out overall, but I do like to walk, so I'll stick with that. A couple of my friends try to run sometimes, we're going to start up with that again. I'm only going if I can have a sweat band like the heart below.
5) Don't skip meals. You'll just end up crazy hungry and eating everything in sight. Similarly, don't ban entire groups of food. It's just sad and mean to yourself. Be nice to yourself.
6) Don't go crazy. It's really easy (for me at least) to get a little obsessive over the calorie counts and the number on the scale and whatever it is. Just don't do it, it's a lot of wasted energy, it ends up making your miserable, and it's not particularly healthy physically or emotionally. I think that if you stick to a decent diet (mostly real food, reasonable portions, working out sometimes) you'll lose weight when your body wants to. Unless you have to fit into some kind of horrible bridesmaids dress in 4 days. In that case, get to juice cleansing or drinking water with cyanne pepper and syurp or whatever it is. Those pictures last forever.
7) Watch the portions. Here's a pro-tip: if you got it at a restuarant, it's about twice the size of what you're supposed to eat. Eat off of a smaller plate so your food doesn't look so lonely or have a giant pile of veggies so it looks like more. Also, sip water throughout the meal and either talk to your dining companions or read. It will slow you down and force your body to tell you when it's actually full. Apparently this is not the same time that all the food is gone. I just learned that.
8) Read this blog. There are lovely decent for you recipes and pictures of a super cute pup. And I hear the woman who writes it is ok too.