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I am a mother of five children. I have always been a big girl since about the age ten. When I reached the age of 15 I managed to only be 25 lbs overweight. Once I got further along in high school, working in my grandparents deli, I gained over 75 Lbs. After having my first baby, I went from 175 to 235.

Throughout my other pregnancies the weight kept increasing. I am now at 345 lbs and just so disgusted in myself. I have developed arthritis because my joints can't handle my weight, I get winded walking up one flight of stairs, I also have depression and anxiety (low levels right now), but I am a full time mom, full time student, and I never exercise. I eat all of the wrong foods, sometimes feeling like I just can't stop eating. There have been times that I have gorged myself.

So considering I am at home all of the time, what exercises can I do to get a good start at an exercise program, and what kind of foods should I be eating? I took a nutrition course in my Associates degree but learned nothing obviously.
I just want to be healthy, take the weight off my joints, and be able to lose weight so I can get up and down the stairs without being winded, learn how to eat, and just overall, be in a better place in my life.

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Note that Nutrition questions are often off topic on this site, check the faq. Yours however is on topic as it incorporates achieving physique milestones. As I stated in my answer cooking related questions are on topic on Seasoned Advice but when it comes down to true nutrition question you might want to check out the proposal for a new Nutrition site on Area51. –  Baarn Dec 30 '12 at 16:19
    
Yes please don't hesitate to join the nutrition proposal here: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/44550/nutrition –  Mew Jan 1 '13 at 2:26

6 Answers 6

  1. Make an appointment with your doctor. You have some health issues that you need to address with your doctor so that you can create a healthy weight loss plan. Your doctor will also monitor your progress and health improvements which will help keep you motivated along the way.
  2. Get knowledgable help - The fastest and surest way for you to make a dramatic life change is to get some professional help. A doctor and dietician will help you reach your goals more efficiently than trying to go it on your own, especially since you have grown up with unhealthy eating habits. (Given that you have 5 children, you owe it to them to prepare better meals in proper portion sizes and avoid creating unhealthy habits in them.)

    The better team you create around yourself, the better chances you have of succeeding. A buddy that will encourage you to walk when you really rather not, a dietician that is reviewing your food journals, a doctor that is measuring your progress, &/or a counselor that is helping you look past your emotional blocks to see a better future all have a place in helping you transform your unhealthy habits into a new healthy lifestyle for you and your children.

    3. Create your plan of action: Meal planning, portion sizes, exercise schedule, new lifestyle activities with your children, and mental/emotional exercises to help you succeed.

    4. Get started on your plan. Take a look at the steps mentioned in this question and answer about losing weight. Best of luck. Just need to get started.

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Here is an additional problem. My health insurance does not cover a dietician, and my doctor is not allowed to talk to me about nutrition or any form of weight loss. I do have a counselor and I am currently working through past instances, but none about my weight. I think I need a new once because I don't feel like anything from my past or my current life has changed. It sucks being a psychology/mental health counselor and I get more information about therapy than I get from my own lol. Thanks for your thoughts, I really appreciate it. :) –  Michelle Dec 30 '12 at 3:52
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Why can't your doctor talk about nutrition? –  Mew Dec 30 '12 at 7:12
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You definitely need to get the medical clearance from your primary care physician before you start to exercise. There could be several underlying factors. If insurance doesn't cover those things for you, check local hospitals and medical schools. A lot of times those facilities will have programs for people of all shapes and health conditions to take advantage of. Just remember to start slow, consult professionals, and NEVER compare your progress to another persons. Good luck. –  Grohlier Dec 30 '12 at 17:23
    
@Michelle, I'm curious like Chris as to why your doctor can't talk to you about "nutrition or any form of weight loss." Your doctor can certainly monitor your health. And here is a link to the out of pocket expenses in getting a registered dietician. At 345 pounds, losing weight becomes a priority to avoid additional health problems, some that can be life altering. So, if your insurance is a problem, it would be worth it to you to pay out of pocket for a dietician. You may need to re-work your budget, but health is a priority. –  BackInShapeBuddy Dec 31 '12 at 0:14

You sound very much like an emotional eater--someone who eats to comfort themselves from the stresses of life. If so, this is the primary problem you must solve.

Paul McKenna's book I Can Make You Thin was the best book I came across for solving this, suffering from emotional eating myself, and I must have read about 30. Why We Get Fat and Wheat Belly were also fantastic, making me realize it's not just about calories in versus calories out, but what constitutes those calories. I discovered that the foods I used to somehow be attracted to most caused me to want to eat again very soon, because of the addictive 'high' I was getting from them and eventual blood-sugar crash.

Exercise is the hard way lose weight, compared to better eating. It takes a lot of work, typically unsustainable over a long period (especially when time challenged), to burn off the extra calories from poor food choices. It's almost unfair that you'd have to walk an hour to burn off the excess calories from a single, poorly chosen meal. You don't have to eat salads and please don't go on a diet, just learn what poor food choices are and make them the exception rather than the norm. Don't be in a rush, it takes time to change your lifestyle.

Exercise also increases your appetite, making you feel hungrier than if you hadn't exercised. A positive of exercise however is that it can make you mentally stronger in resisting bad food choices, knowing a painful exercise session was all for nothing if you indulge.

I would try to incorporate exercise into your current activities rather than dedicating time for it, simple things like parking a short distance from the school and walking to collect the kids, or from the mall. You'll enjoy ease of parking and instil some good habits into the kids as well. Park a little farther as you find it getting easier.

Learn to see chores as exercise and they become more tolerable. By sprinkling exercise throughout the day, it'll serve as a constant reminder to make good food choices, something we can easily forget when our blood-sugar levels are screaming for attention.

Don't look at TV weight-loss shows and compare your weight losses to theirs. These TV shows have full time trainers, dieticians, the contestants dangerously dehydrate themselves for the weigh-ins and the shows scale time down for dramatic effect, with one weeks loss really being two.

You can try joining an online weight-loss site like MyFitnessPal to get a good gauge on just how many calories you are eating, but having designed and run an online community weight-loss program for 6 seasons, I came to disbelieve in the community aspect of losing weight. If you need a community to answer to, losing weight is not as important as it should be for you. More learning and/or reinforcement as to the disastrous health effects is required--this is after all longevity we're talking about and it's no secret obesity kills.

You have to want this for yourself, not because you have to answer to someone, or for their admiration.

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+1. I 100% agree that the majority of weight loss comes from proper dieting, and that exercise is a drop in the bucket compared to it. I would argue though that calories in vs out is all it comes down to in the end. While the smart food choices (as we both noted) satiate more, if you are disciplined enough you can eat whatever you want and come out thinner so long as you watch the end calories. Hell, I ate a diet of daily fast food and lost weight through it just to prove this point once. Healthy? Hell no (google: CVD), but this was just concerning fat loss. –  Moses Dec 29 '12 at 7:50
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I am downvoting this answer. It is basically a decent answer, but does not address the biggest factor, get a medical professional involved. This first thing anyone should do when at such a weight is determine if exercise is even advisable. Also, you recommend a couple of books that are fad diet based, and basically exist to scare people. Macronutrients are not bad. You can't point at one macronutrient and say "BAD BAD! YOU MAKE FAT!" Yes, it may have worked for you, but I would also bet there were a lot of other factors that went into it as well. –  JohnP Dec 29 '12 at 15:03
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I am asking here because my insurance does not allow me to seek a medical doctor, dietician, nor a nutritionist. –  Michelle Dec 30 '12 at 3:56
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@jontyc - Yes, it's true a lot could be answered by see a professional. However in this case, it's a good idea. Many others can be answered without necessarily needing it, but a vastly overweight, lifetime sedentary person asking for exercise and diet advice, coupled with the emotional issues is in my book a mandatory visit. –  JohnP Dec 30 '12 at 16:07
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@michelle - I'm sorry about your insurance situation, but honestly, I would pay out of pocket to see a doctor. There is a reason that the first words of any competent worker in the fitness field says to see a doctor first, and it's so that you don't roll the dice with your life. –  JohnP Jan 3 '13 at 14:44

A great place to start would be watching this young woman's youtube videos. She started out in a similar place to you (not knowledgeable about nutrition, overweight her whole life, ~330Lb, etc.), and has lost approximately 180 pounds over the course of a few years. Many of her videos contain extremely practical and specific advice, and her story is pretty inspirational. I think the most important thing she did was research losing weight for 4 months before starting on her weight loss plan. When she started, she knew pretty much what to expect, and was motivated to continue tweaking her plan as some things worked, and some didn't.

I've read a lot about losing weight, and lost around 50 pounds in the last year. I don't think anyone but you can figure out a diet/exercise routine that will work for you. You need to find a set of dietary changes and ways to introduce exercise into your life that will lead to long-term changes. I can recommend a few things that worked for me, but they may not all work for you. I'm sure there are things that will work for you that no one here has listed. Experimentation is key. I'd suggest trying out the ones that sound appealing or manageable (especially the first one), and go from there.

  1. Track your weight. There are various online tools for doing this. I use The Hacker's Diet, though I've heard good things about MyFitnessPal. I know it's depressing at first, but actually seeing variations over time as you make changes to your diet can get very motivating. Whatever you track is something you can affect. Many people keep food diaries and count calories, but I've never had the wherewithal to do that.
  2. Eat a high protein diet. This means lean meats and cheeses, eggs, thick greek yogurt, beans and lentils. Protein increases satiety (the feeling of fullness), and will help preserve lean body mass as you lose weight.
  3. Eat a low sugar diet. Anything that's sweet other than fruit is probably best consumed only sparingly, preferably not at all. This includes fruit juice of all kinds and pop.
  4. Get smaller plates and glasses. This makes the food that you're eating look bigger. Everyone is sort of on autopilot when we're eating, so the best place to diet is before it's on your plate.
  5. Or better yet before it's in your house. I try to keep all junk food out of my house. When I do decide to get junk food, it's really, really inconvenient, and I try to only buy as much as I'm going to consume when my resolve is weak. I learned this lesson the hard way when I was quitting smoking: all the cigarettes I brought home I would smoke in short order. A lot of people can have a few cigarettes when they're drinking and forget about it the next day. I'm not like those people. It's the same thing with junk food. Many people can eat a few chips and put the bag back in the cabinet. For many obese people, the bet that you can't eat just one is a sucker's bet.
  6. Monotony is your friend. Eating a monotonous, high protein, high fiber diet has made cutting back on calories so much easier for me. I eat oat bran and plain greek yogurt for breakfast. Every day. I eat lentils or black beans 4-5 nights a week. The monotony makes me want to eat less of the food overall, and the fiber and protein make it more filling.

Good References:

  • Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink. He describes a lot more techniques for "tricking yourself" into eating less or eating better, as in the small-plate thing above.
  • The Slow Carb Diet by Tim Ferris. I hate his writing style, but he does go into detail about basically the same diet that I've found helpful. (Ignore the claims about losing 20 pounds in 20 days or whatever.) It's a decent set of simple meals to start with.
  • The End of Overeating by David Kessler. He describes what foods are most likely to lead to overeating: basically a combination of starch/sugar, fat and salt. These foods are literally addictive (like drugs), and drive overeating.

As for exercise, I would say start with walking, but if that's difficult because of your arthritis, I don't know. Try to move however is comfortable for you, even if it's not much. I'd suggest getting some 5 pound hand weights and just sort of playing with them while you watch TV. For example, lift your arms out to the side, do bicep curls, etc. A Youtube search for "exercises for the morbidly obese" turned up a number of home-videos of exercise advice from very overweight people, many heavier than you. I'm not specifically recommending any of them, but they seem like a good place for you to start your research. See which exercises look attainable and safe and try some of those out.

Weight loss is a really agonizingly slow process. The main point is to make sure that it's consistent. Getting down to a healthier weight is probably a multi-year commitment. Losing a pound a week is a pretty agressive, but doable target for most people. But even a pound ever two or three weeks is still movement in the right direction. Expecting faster loss is what discourages a lot of people.

Still, it's worth getting started for two reasons. The first is that even relatively small weight loss can lead to significant decreases in the risk for diseases like diabetes. The second is that all weight loss is just trucking on with good habits. If you mess up, don't exercise, binge eat, whatever, none of that matters now. What matters is what you do today, not what you did yesterday that you weren't supposed to. That was the key insight for me both with quitting smoking and losing weight. If I slipped up and smoked a cigarette, that didn't mean that I "started smoking again", it meant that I "had smoked on one occasion". Similarly, if you eat too much one day, that doesn't mean you've stopped losing weight. It's just a temporary setback, not an end to the journey. Good luck!

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+1 for the suggestion of becoming personally empowered to understand and handle the problem. –  jontyc Jan 3 '13 at 21:08

First off, let's just start by defining what it means to lose fat. Fat loss occurs when your body takes in fewer calories than it burned that day. It makes sense then that you can lose fat by either eating less (take in fewer calories) or exercising more (burning more calories). It is therefore invaluable that you calculate out your daily caloric needs, so you know exactly how much food/exercise you need in order to lose weight. Since 1 pound of body fat equals 3500 calories, a reasonable expectation of weight loss is 1 pound per week (500 calorie deficit per day).

I eat all of the wrong foods, sometimes feeling like I just can't stop eating.

Notice how in the first paragraph I said "consuming fewer calories," and not "eating less?" That was carefully worded because you don't have to necessarily "eat less" but instead Eat Smarter (tm). If you start eating the right foods you will be satisfied more often and less likely to overeat. The wrong foods, like chips or soda, are high in calories but do very little to satiate you, whereas healthier foods (especially ones high in fiber) will give you the nutrients you need and satisfy your hunger much sooner. If you want a soda, replace it with green tea. If you want a fatty or sugary snack, replace it with fruits, nuts, or yogurt. This is Eating Smarter (tm) and will help you be healthy, get the calories your body needs for energy, and stay satisfied throughout the day.

So considering I am at home all of the time, what exercises can I do to get a good start at an exercise program

Start small and work your way up. I mean this both in terms of exercise duration and exercise type/intensity. Before getting into a full-blown program I would consult a doctor and get their opinion on what your exercise intensity level should be. Until then, stick to walking. I would **start walking for around 10-15 minutes per day, 3-5 days per week; over time and as your body permits, gradually increase the time walked and number of days exercised. While I don't know your living situation, I would imagine the best time/place to do this would be at your college (either in their gym, or just walk around the campus). You could also turn this into a family activity and walk with your kids (or pets). Maybe even go to a park and walk around there while they play. There are so many options and ways you can be creative with this, the choice is yours!

What kind of foods should I be eating?

From a purely weight loss perspective, the type of food you are eating doesn't matter; all that matters is your calories consumed at the end of the day. That being said, I will reiterate what I mentioned earlier where certain foods like chips or soda are purely empty calories and do little to satiate your body and thus make it a lot harder to keep yourself below your target daily calories. This does not mean they make you fatter, it only means they make it harder for you to get skinnier! Eating Smarter (tm) will go a long way to correct this imbalance and keep you under your target calories.

Don't consider this a diet, consider this a change in lifestyle.

I am now at 345 lbs and just so disgusted in myself.

Take this feeling and use it as motivation to change your lifestyle. It is all to common for people to get excited about exercising / dieting but fall off the bandwagon after a month or two (I myself am guilty of this)! Getting started is the easy part, the hard part is having the mental tenacity to keep yourself motivated and stick with your new lifestyle.

  1. Set reasonable goals. If you set unreasonable goals, and then don't meet those goals, you are setting yourself up for failure which can make you depressed, angry, and more likely to relapse into your bad lifestyle. One pound a week is a reasonable goal, and that comes to 52 pounds per year of weight lost.
  2. Take baby steps. When you first start exercising and dieting, your first instinct is to do a complete 180 and change everything all at once. Fight this urge, and instead make changes slowly. Gradually build up to what your target lifestyle is. This will make it a lot easier for your body and mind to transition into your new lifestyle, and make you a lot less likely to relapse.
  3. Monitor your progress. Do this by tracking your weight, body fat %, and body mass index. Also take pictures so you can visually see how far you've come.
  4. Hold yourself accountable. Find people to lose weight with that keep you motivated and hold you accountable to your new lifestyle. This can be real life friends, paid support groups like weight watchers, or free/open support groups through facebook / meetup.
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+1 especially for Type of food does not matter. However I want to add that some online tools do not produce reliable results for morbidly obese (or worse) individuals, in general they are often too high as fat doesn't require the same energy as muscles or organs do. –  Baarn Dec 30 '12 at 13:39
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@Moses Eating Smarter (tm)?? –  Mike S Jan 1 '13 at 23:05

I've worked with my mom on several occasions over the last 10 years to try to help her with her weight battle. The most recent attempt she was at 280. We've had many great successes and some failures over the years. Here's a few of my thoughts from working with my mom.

Mental

The greatest point of failure that I've experienced with my own mother has been emotions. We've made great progress: one time she lost 70 pounds over several months, another time, through a very strict meal regimen, she lost 30 pounds in 30 days, but the breaking point was depression and thoughts of failure. When she would hit a weight loss plateau would often be when she would give up and return to her old mode of operation.

Try to remove all emotion from this. This really requires a lot of mental reprogramming. Perhaps looking in a mirror, a certain number on a scale, seeing a certain person or a certain food triggers a depressed emotional state. Whatever those things are need to be identified and you need to retrain your brain to not go there. It's hard, but do whatever you have to do turn off those negative emotions.

Maybe it helps to think of this as your job. Maybe you think of it as a scientific endeavor. The more emotion you involve in the process, the more unstable the process becomes.

I think the starting point and by far hardest point of any weight loss plan is learning to control your emotions. You can't let depression get in your way -- easier said than done, I know -- but you have to find a way to be radically committed to change. Whatever meal plan or exercise program you undertake, you have to know this is what you are going to do every day of your life whether you see results or not. You have to do it because you have a conviction that it's the right thing to do.

Support

While there needs to be a part of you that is 100% committed to being successful even if it seems like your own family doesn't think you can actually pull this off (my mom felt that way), you need to find people you can lock arms with who will yank you back up when you are down, and you need to do the same for them. Lone rangers rarely win. Maybe it's a forum online, a local group, or check with your local hospital to see if they have a nutrition class/support group. Often times hospital-based groups have expert dieticians that can give you advice for your specific situation, keep you accountable and can be much cheaper than commercial weight loss services.

Diet

Sure, you need the mental edge to stick with a diet. That said, what I recommend to you below is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself and causes some of the quickest results I've seen (second only to the ketogenic diet, but the diet below is actually sustainable for the long haul).

It's called the Slow Carb Diet. A guy named Tim Ferris has really promoted this, and check out that link, you will see phenomenal success stories. This is what I had my mom on when she lost 30 pounds in 30 days. During the same time, she dropped her glucose levels from a diabetic range (135) to around 85 points and dropped about 75 points from her total cholesterol.

Basically, you're eating black beans, lentils, split peas, almonds, green vegetables, and chicken.

And you avoid like the plague all dairy, all fruit, all grains and anything white (egg whites are okay though).

Spend one afternoon each week preparing all of your food. Get out the crockpot and throw in your beans and lentils. Pre-package all of your beans in ziplock bags for the week. Eat nothing that isn't pre-bagged and pre-planned. Feel free to fill up on your beans so you're not hungry. The food isn't exciting, but the results are.

If you have the fortitude to commit to that every day for the rest of your life, you will see dramatic results. You just can't help but win if you find the strength to not waiver from this diet.

Exercise

Any exercise needs to be low-impact at this point for joint health. I really recommend finding a gym that offers child care. If that isn't an option, look into getting a used elliptical machine on Craigslist and workout before the kids wake up. You should perform at least 45 minutes (and work up to more) of slow cardio every single day. Slow cardio is to keep your heart rate around 65% of your max, or generally about 110 to 120 beats per minute depending on your age. Since this type of cardio is so boring, you will want to find something engaging to watch or listen to, whether its just a good TV show or a great lecture series from iTunes U. At any rate, if you don't take your mind off the cardio, it will be much harder to perform.

Depending on how much time you have to commit, I'd also recommend working in some basic weight training to start building some muscle mass. Tons of benefits here, from endorphins to boosted metabolism.

Never look back

When a person begins to gain fat, that person's fat cells begin to grow, divide and create more fat cells. It doesn't matter what you do, those fat cells will be with you for the rest of your life. You can shrink them down to nearly nothing. But if you ever over feed them, they will come right back and return you to your heaviest weight in short order. That's why you can't ever look back.

This might sound a bit intense, but be prepared to never find joy in food again. You will find joy in your children, you'll find joy in becoming healthier every day, in doing the right thing for yourself and your family, and you'll find plenty of joy in living a significantly longer, disease-free life. But any enjoyment from food will disappear. You'll begin to eat only to live, and not the other way around.

Advanced Issues

There is a very small segment of overweight people who have a genetic disposition to being overweight. This isn't the case for most people, but certain people have a very efficient metabolism that allows them to survive on very few calories, which makes a regular diet impossible. If after a serious and strict regimen you aren't seeing any weight loss after several months, talk to your doctor to see if you may be one of these people. In such cases, bariatric (lap band) surgery may be the best way to control your weight and add years to your life.

I hope something in here will help you along in your journey. Best wishes.

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I highly dislike diets that try to force you into strange eating habits. While this might work for some people, it isn't proven in any way that this has an advantage over normal diets (calories in less than calories out). –  Baarn Dec 30 '12 at 13:42
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The purpose of this diet is as much for lowering cholesterol and glucose levels as fat loss (livestrong.com/article/…). Also, the intention is to promote a complete shift in lifestyle so that old habits can be broken and new ones formed. Of course, everyone is unique, so I think the wide variety of responses here will allow for someone to choose what they believe will work best for them. –  Shane Dec 30 '12 at 18:10
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-1 for the promotion of a fad type diet. Studies have continually proven that it's calorie restriction that is the best way to produce consistent weight loss. Any kind of major calorie restriction will produce major weight loss in the initial stages. Drastically changing a diet in such a fashion has a VERY high failure/relapse rate, however. Gradual, sensible changes to diet and lifestyle that can be maintained over a long period of time are the best bet. A person didn't gain 30 lbs in 30 days, why would you try to lose it that fast? –  JohnP Jan 3 '13 at 15:22
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I never recommended calorie restriction. In fact I recommended to fill up on the food that's allowed on the diet. In addition, I personally wouldn't call the diet I proposed a fad. Eating beans, lentils, vegetables, lean meats and nuts is just eating healthy. It may not be for everyone, which is why it's great there are so many different answers available. The rapid weight loss at the beginning is just a result of clearing excess carbohydrates out of the body which causes a drop in water retention. That can be very important for someone experiencing joint pain as Michelle mentioned. Thanks. –  Shane Jan 3 '13 at 22:44

Your weight is a health issue, so take everything you read on the Internet, including my following answer with a grain of salt. If you can - per your comments I know you are not able to right now, but do as soon as you are - try to talk to a professional. Be careful.

So considering I am at home all of the time, what exercises can I do to get a good start at an exercise program

As you are overweight any extreme movement will put unnecessary strain on your joints. So stay away from those exercises and sports for the moment.
As other answers already pointed out, walking is a really good activity.
Another good activity that takes the load off your joints is swimming.
I'd try to concentrate on the right diet however until your weight allows for activities to be easier.

what kind of foods should I be eating?

I think this is the core question for loosing weight. As already pointed out by @Moses it does not really matter what you eat, but how much you eat.
Calories in have to be smaller than Calories out.
Which brings me to:

Learning to shop, cook and diet

Many people will tell you to eat healthy but they forget to tell you how this actually works. The below advise is only a guideline, to give you some ideas to start with.

learn to diet
There are a lot of strange diets out there that try to force you into even stranger eating habits and provide you with pseudoscientific explanations why this should work.
However research has not yet show any diet to be better than another. The only thing that really matters is Calories in less than Calories burned (yes, I am repeating myself).

Diets often come with the problem that the food seems to not taste good. But honestly, what is good taste? Taste isn't a universal thing, but something you learned. If you start positive thinking you can convince yourself to like more food than before. Actually don't be so harsh on yourself and try strange exotic things, start small; try some pieces of raw veggies before cooking, maybe you want to add them to a salad once.

Write a calorie diary, track everything you eat and try to get an estimate of how much Calories you ate each day. There are tools and online sites out there that may help you, but a simple excel sheet (or a piece of paper) can work, too.
Weigh yourself daily, too and track this (again, online, excel or piece of paper). It is completely normal that the weight changes around 5 pounds from day to day, so you will might not see results before the first week or even month.
Calorie calculators are only a rough estimate and might even be extremely off your true calorie expenditure, so use them as a guideline, but your weight - and the loss of it - as the main measurement. A small warning, don't try to lose too much weight or rush things, this is unhealthy and may even get dangerous at some point.

Very important thing: Don't lie to yourself!
My grandmother always says "I am just eating one piece of cake, I don't know why I put on weight", ignoring that the cake consist mainly of double fat cream and marzipan. Oh yeah and her piece was always double sized.
"I only eat one piece of bread for breakfast" … but with half a pound butter, two slices of cheese and a slice of ham.
You want to lose weight for yourself, so be honest to yourself and you will achieve results if you believe in yourself.

cooking
The food industry knows what we like mostly, out taste buds party when eating salty, fatty things spiced up with glutamate. So a lot of ready made sauces in pulverized form mainly consist of those three ingredients. I wont talk about the salt and glutamate here, as for weight loss the high fat is the problem.

Instead of prepackaged food, cook yourself. You don't need fancy premade sauces, for a simple sauce you just need to learn to make Roux (with olive oil instead of butter), and add low fat milk. If you do it right you can make a relatively low caloric base sauce and adjust how it tastes afterwards.
Eg If you like mac'n'cheese you could add some cheese and broccoli, try to get ahold of full grain noodles if you can. Reduce the amount of noodles and fill up with more vegetables.

Diet isn't simply what you eat, but also what you drink.
Sodas, juices and alcoholic drinks contain a lot of calories. If you don't like drinking pure water try to mix juice with water and try to increase the water/juice ratio.
Industrial juice often contains a lot of aromatic substances and sugar, so as you are at home anyway, make your own juice. You don't need a professional electric juicer to start, simply use a citrus juicer.
One gallon of hot water, some slices of fresh ginger and juice of two or three lemons makes for a perfect winter (hot) and summer drink (as ice tea).
Tea is also a good idea. Drinking may even satisfy your appetite.

Eat things that make you full, but are light in calories. A bowl with low fat yogurt, cottage cheese and fresh pineapple (or another fruit, eg kiwis, oranges etc) is low in calories but pretty satisfying.

I could give a lot more examples, try to be creative, incorporate vegetables and fruits in your diet. A better place to ask more specific cooking questions would be cooking.SE however.

shopping for food
When shopping for food, turn the packings and look for calories, try to learn what food have low calories. Some things will not have calories printed on them, such as fruits, but a simple google search for ${food} calories (eg pineapple calories or butter calories) will get you there.
There are some pitfalls, too. Some stuff is marketed as low fat, but actually contains more calories than higher fat stuff. In my supermarket there is a yogurt with 0.1% fat that has the same amount of calories as the 1.5% yogurt. This is because thickening agents and added sugar add their calories to the food.

Buy lean meat that has less fat.
Fat isn't necessarily bad, as I pointed out above the main concern is calories. There are low fat or low carb diets out there. Truth is, you need both but they can both converted to each other by the body. Don't take extreme measures but reduce both of them.

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