Look, I've read all the same articles you have and done all the same research. It really boils down to a very simple equation - burn more calories than you take in - very simple math. But if it was always that simple or easy we wouldn't have the issues with weight in this country that we do.
So, knowing what I know about the simple caloric equation, how am I going to accomplish my goal of losing 15 pounds and keeping it off? Because caloric intake is where the keeping it off part is really going to come into play. I could work out 8 hours a day (note: I really couldn't) but if I'm taking in too many calories it won't make a darn bit of difference. I'm also not going to starve myself in order to lose the weight, that's not healthy nor is it a long-term solution. Plus I really do love food - the enjoyment of a meal is a great joy in my life. But I need a strategy going forward that will allow me to lose weight, keep it off and still partake of awesome deliciousness.
1) The beginning of any good plan starts with the fundamentals and with this one it's eating well-balanced, healthy meals that aren't full of processed junk, added sugars and additives. This I pretty much have down - we eat like this most days so I feel comfortable with this part of my life.
2) So, I'm eating healthy meals but now I need to cut out around 200 calories a day to lose at least pound and a half a month (the math is that 3500 calories equals one pound). To hit that goal, I really need to cut back on the snacking. If I stopped nibbling between meals, that would probably be my 200 calories right there. I eat when I'm stressed, bored, hungry....pretty much it's a comfort thing. I need to find something else to do or I need to eat a piece of fruit. I'm going to experiment with the old 'drink a glass of water if you're hungry' and see if it works. Hey I read about it on Yahoo so it must be true. It would probably also help if I didn't have quite as many snacks available....I need to work on that. I must also have the stomach of a preschooler because when 10:30 hits, I'm ready for snack time and I'm actually hungry. Pistachios and raisins are going to be my go to snack (note, add pistachios to the grocery list). It used to be almonds but since they're now persona non grata in these parts, pistachios will have to do.
4) And then....vino is SO keeno BUT I lost 6 pounds like 'that' (imagine snapping fingers) last year when I cut it out due to some hot flashes that decided to hit way too early for my liking. Taking a sip of wine made my ankles sweat. Seriously. Not much fun so I cut it completely out for several months and lost weight without changing anything else. Then I decided to see if I could drink again and, well, I could, so I gained back everything I had lost. I'm not giving up wine but I'm cutting it back to a glass or two a week.
5) I have a gorgeous cousin who lost her baby weight over time by only eating till she was 80% full. I've tried this and it's way harder than it sounds. My mouth just wants more of whatever delicious thing it's eating and next thing I know, I'm stuffed. Consciously thinking about what I'm eating and how my body is feeling - this is a huge part of what I want to improve.
6) What's left, is my weakness, my downfall, my Achilles heel if you will. That damn leftover Easter chocolate (or any sweet treats). Mmmmm. Dark chocolate eggs stuffed with chocolate raspberry ganache. Have mercy. Mama ate most of those goodies and they were good. Really good. And I had at least one every day. Just couldn't stop myself, I mean if I was eating them then that saved Jacob the sugar right? I ate the last one yesterday and now I'm going cold turkey because cool turkey doesn't work for me. It's all or nothing. I've done this many times (sadly) so I know what I need to do. It's insidious that desire for something sweet, it sneaks in when I'm stressed (or bored) and next thing I know I'm stealing my son's candy and hanging my head in shame. I won't cut out chocolate completely because a life without chocolate is a like life without sunshine but I will keep myself to one small intense square from an amazing chocolate purveyor (my current favorite is Dandelion Chocolate).
These are all things that I can do or change easily (well except for the sweets craving, that one is a bitch) and if I'm successful I will well be on my way. This is not a 'diet' per se, it's an integrated lifestyle change. One I have had various levels of success with in the past but since I'm not getting any younger and because weight is so much harder to lose as we grow older and because I'd like to be in a healthy and physically fit way before I turn 50...I'm going to make this stick this time.