I've lost over 45 pounds and kept it off for over three years so far. And best of all, I didn't do it by starving myself.
I've considered myself overweight for most of my adult and childhood life. Oddly enough, I had always been fairly athletic, and exercised regularly throughout my life. I had strong willpower. But I just couldn't seem to keep weight off.
I lost my weight by signing up for weight watchers online. Weight watchers online is a program that allows you to conveniently keep track of the food you eat. All of it. I don't think weight watchers is magic; instead, I think the process of making eating a deliberate and measured action is what helped me. I like numbers. I can do numbers.
What I found by recording everything I ate is that a small number of foods accounted for a large amount of calories. Beef, fries, bread, snacks. I've largely eliminated these foods from my diet. It's not that I can't eat them, I just don't feel that the value is high enough for the calories to eat them a lot. I was able to decrease the number of calories I ate without starving myself by eating smart. The other benefit of recording food is that there are some replacement foods that are significantly healthier. For me, I started snacking more on pretzels, which I found a lot more filling, but contained less calories than many of the other snacks I ate.
After about a year, I stopped using weight watchers. I had internalized most of the good behaviors, and no longer needed to record everything I ate. I continued to lose weight, slowly but steadily. Eventually I stopped at a healthy weight, and I feel great. Over time, even though I was never starving myself, I started eating higher calorie foods and exercising more regularly to offset it. On that note, for burning calories, exercising longer and with lower intensity is better than short, intense workouts. I like to use the elliptical; I can exercise for 90 minutes without killing myself, and burn over 1000 calories. I've found that playing video games at the same time really distracts me from the act of exercising, and even makes it enjoyable.
If you're skeptical, and think you know enough about dieting to not record everything, think again. There are simply too many surprises. Go to your favorite restuarant's website and look at the nutrition information. I used to go to Chili's quite often. I haven't been there for a long time. I don't know how they cook their food, but it's insanely high in calories. Even seemingly safe foods like salad can be high in calories depending on the dressing. The opposite is true as well. Some fast food, like KFC, can be very low in calories (although probably bad for other reasons). Over time, you'll learn what fills you up and doesn't have a ton of calories. If you just start "eating less" without any data, you'll still be eating the same inefficient foods, and you'll probably gain your weight back after you can't take it anymore.