I ran through a diet like the south beach diet and afterward wanted to maintain my weight. This is what I'm doing now to hold things steady. I've mostly tried to replace the worst things I was eating before with good stuff.
|Doughnuts, cake, cookies||Wheat toast, sugar-free jam|
|Snacky foods, chips, etc||Apples, carrots, grapefruit|
|Juice, soda, sweet drinks||Water, low-sugar hot cocoa|
|Worst of the fast food... fries, soda, shake||Stick with a hamburger|
One reason it was such a no-brainer to leave sweets out of my diet is after going through the south beach diet twice, I never want to do it again. It is a pretty miserable few weeks. Sugar is an addiction and eating it makes you want to eat more of it after the high passes. I felt a real feeling of withdrawal when I gave it up during the no-carb phase. If you try south beach or something like it, I'd suggest you get a friend to do it at the same time. Both times I had a pact with a coworker and had to show I could stay with it.
Juice may be derived from something "natural" like fruit, but it's just a slightly less refined form of sugar than the pure stuff. No one should argue with the idea that it's better to just get the good stuff direct from the fruit.
I discovered I need to take a multivitamin. The corners of my mouth get tender and painful if I don't keep that up, a vitamin B deficiency. I suspect I'm getting less fortified flour, possibly the only redeeming value in cake, etc. I miss out on now.
On exercise... exercise without fixing your diet isn't likely to work. While waiting to see dad finish the St. George marathon, I was amazed to see runner after runner cross the finish line who were clearly carrying an extra 30, 40, 50 pounds. It's quite possible to be fit and still overweight. I've started exercising recently but most of the weight loss was before I started that.