I'm male, 5'11, age 29. In 2008 I went from 260lbs to about 160lbs with very little exercise, and have hovered around that weight since then. My weight will fluctuate, with a high of around 175lbs. When I hit a number I'm uncomfortable with, I lower it by dieting, almost exclusively by eliminating carbs. This is a reliable solution to lose weight, but I have practically no muscle definition, which makes sense as I rarely work out.
I also have excess fat or skin in my gut area -- I'm not sure which it is (or even how to tell), but I'm ready to get to the next step in terms of fitness. My goal is to maintain about 160-165lbs and "replace" the fat with muscle. I'm aware that "replace" is a misnomer, but I'm worried mostly about doing the wrong thing and gaining weight.
I have access to a gym with no barbells but plenty of cardio and dumbells. I also have a 15lb and a 45lb kettlebell.
I would love suggestions on how to start building muscle through an exercise plan and an eating plan. (I think 5x5 and Starting Strength as programs have to be ruled out by virtue of no barbell.) I am currently in a no-carb cycle and at 161lbs. I feel terrible about myself when I'm over 165lbs, so I'm trying to preserve my self-esteem and stay under that number while doing what I need to do to build muscle.
Any thoughts would be most appreciated.