I have recently experienced an amazing transformation of my body, health, and general well-being, and this is what happened:
I went on holidays at the start of October 2007 when my weight was about 70kg. About 9 weeks later, the weighing scales showed 65.1kg. And another few weeks later my weight stabilized at about 62-63kgs at which it has been since. And I still ate every dessert (including sticky toffee pudding with a butterscotch and cream sauce...).
So, how did I do it? What's the big secret? First of all, I did have a good bit of weight to loose - my body fat percentage was not at a minimum to say the least. Extra padding here and there, yenowaddameen. It would be a whole lot harder if your body fat percentage is at the lower end of the spectrum. Secondly, I exchanged sweets with dried fruit, white (low GI) bread with whole meal (high GI) bread - I even bake a lot myself! A good guide to eating low GI with a few helpful recipes is the book "The G.I. Diet" by Rick Gallop. I eat less carbs in general, but therefore more veggies and fruit (5 pieces of fresh veg and fruit a day? Let me count: 2 apples, 1 banana, 2 plums (count as 1 portion), 1 kiwi, 1/4 honey dew melon, a salad made out of mixed leaves, baby spinach, cherry tomatoes, mushroom, cucumber, raisins and sunflower seeds and a low calorie dressing - that's about 8 portions and I haven't even eaten my dinner yet! And I munch through most of it quite evenly during the day. Sometimes I feel like I'm constantly eating all day long - and sometimes I wonder what my colleagues think who survive on a small sandwich and a coke for lunch....
Another thing I do is to try and balance all your intakes of protein, carbs and fat during the day. If I only eat a salad, I try and add some tuna and some seeds for protein and fat. If I have a pasta dish, I have chicken with it.
Oh - a propos frying - buy a George Forman and a non-stick frying pan and try to use no or only very little of a high quality oil (i.e. the lots of mono-unsaturated fat ones, such as olive oil etc). Avoid fatty meat.
Another thing I did was to try and eat the lower calorie dessert if there is one available and if it tastes nice too. (I don't believe in eating food you don't like). Oh - cutting down on all things bad of course - but not cutting out. When I go to the cinema I still get a bag of mixed sweets (a little smaller though) and when I go to a party I still eat some crisps (not the whole bag though) and drink my cider.
I found that a great snack to keep hunger at bay are dried fruits or Nairn's oatmeal cookies. Eat one, wait a few minutes and you won't be hungry again in a while.
But, most importantly, I don't starve myself. If I feel hungry, I eat. But I try and eat something healthy and low GI to keep me full for longer.
The other part of the big "secret": Sport. I cycle about 10 hours weekly and commute an additional 4 hours on a bike per week. On my level of intensity, this means I burn about 7000 calories more per week (this corresponds to about 1kg of body fat....) than if I didn't do any of these. And the great thing is, since I consistently exercise, my metabolism has gone through the roof. Whereas before, I would notice an extra cream cake immediately on my thighs, now I can eat 3 desserts and it would not make the tiniest difference - rather, I notice that when I overeat I produce and awful lot of heat - seems all my extra calories are just being transformed into hot air :) And this comes from a girl who thought she would never attain her pre-adolescent figure again!
Hmmm - not so big a secret after all - just common sense, huh?