The largest collection of data available on long term weight loss reports that "diet and exercise" are the key factors to both losing, and maintaining weight. Interesting that almost half of those in the study over 5 years noted that maintaining their weight was easier than losing it in the first place. Something to look forward to after getting to your ideal weight! This is also more evidence that there's no "magic pill" or diet that works for the long term. Sticking to the basics, concentrating on small lifestyle changes that include watching what you eat (and don't eat), regular activity or exercise, drinking lots of water and lowering/managing your stress works every time.

National Weight Control Registry

"Individuals were enrolled in the registry if they had lost at least 30 pounds and had maintained a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for 1 year or longer. Despite extensive histories of overweight and failed dieting attempts, registry members have lost an average of 66 lb and maintained the required minimum weight loss of 30 pounds for an average of 5 years. Nearly every participant used diet and exercise to initially lose weight, and nearly every subject is currently using diet and exercise to maintain his/her weight loss. Registry members report that weight loss has led to significant improvements in self-confidence, mood and physical health. Surprisingly, 42% of participants report that maintaining their weight loss is less difficult than initially losing the weight."