Routines and a solid plan are what it takes to lose weight and keep it off.
Would it come as a surprise if I told you recent survey shows that fancy diets aren't any more likely to result in weight loss than a phone app or sensible eating plan? Even the CEO of Weight Watchers cites routine as his primary weight loss strategy. While he makes healthy choices, my guess is that the routine really sets him up for success.
Your overriding philosophy must be to eat less and exercise more. This is what you need for a positive weight loss experience.
• Develop a plan for mindful, healthy eating that includes, ideally, 3 meals and 2 snacks. Be ruthless in cutting out unhealthy foods and rigid in setting up healthy meals.
• Shop weekly or as often as needed so that you have the food on hand for these meals and snacks. Take them with you to work if you can.
• Plan for unusual circumstances like eating out, traveling or vacationing. Decide in advance what you'll eat in restaurants, and what you will not eat. It may seem a bit eccentric, but you can take snacks with you when you're traveling to maximize good choices. Consider vacations a trip into health, not an excuse for unhealthy behavior.
• Develop a plan for regular exercise that includes, ideally, 4 days a week at 30 minutes a day. Make the time, starting with 10 or 15 minutes if necessary. It gets easier.
• Try to find a workout buddy which helps motivation and commitment. Hire a trainer if you can't find a partner.
• Choose the forms of exercise that you like the most. Dancing, kickboxing, kung fu, yoga, biking, running, swimming…it doesn't matter! Make it authentically you.
Once you have your plans, try them for two weeks in a fairly rigid, routinized way. Yes, the same every day. How terrible is it to eat oatmeal and fresh blueberries every morning for breakfast? It makes life easier, decreases the need for willpower and it makes you more likely to have what you need to stick to your plan. It also makes you less likely to veer off in unanticipated and unproductive directions.
After your two weeks are over, tweak as needed. It's fine to make changes as long as you make them with your ultimate goals in mind, not just because you don't feel like going to the gym. What goals? To have a weight loss and, eventually, weight maintenance plan that you can actually commit to long-term and that you will really enjoy.