I reached my goal weight VERY slowly, over the course of a year. Exercise is crucial, of course.
I don't track calories, but I do focus on nutrient-dense foods. Because hunger can awaken me through the night, I have a ritual bedtime snack --a bowl of sherbet, glass of chocolate soy milk, whole wheat toast with peanut butter. It's easier to stay on course when I'm anticipating a small reward at the end of the day.
Monitoring and maintaining is the biggest challenge now. Gaining a couple of pounds is predictable during a vacation or holiday, It can be discouraging (I'm afraid to start gaining again), but so far I haven't had a serious gain.
I never thought I'd get back to anything close to my ideal weight! Again, my approach has been slow and steady, with no sense of deprivation or hunger--focusing on lifestyle choices instead of losing weight.
The Spark community provides great encouragement! 2360 days ago