There are 1,000s of dietary tricks for losing weight, but most can be distilled down to the three straightforward habits of most successful weight-loss maintainers.

1) Eat mostly vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Study after study shows that low-fat, fiber-rich meals are what produce long-term weight loss. Studies show that kids, teens, and adults who eat the most vegetables are also the least likely to gain weight. In addition, healthy, normal-weight people spontaneously lose weight and fat mass when they eat all they want, as long as it is low-fat and high in fiber-rich grains and produce. As I discuss in detail in Eat Your Way to Sexy, three-quarters of the plate or snack should be made up of these wholesome, minimally processed foods.

2) Exercise daily. Almost all successful dieters exercise regularly.

3) Lose weight gradually. You want an eating plan you can live with for life and that ensures you lose fat, not muscle or water, weight. That means losing no more than about two pounds a week. No one should drop below 1,500 calories a day without being monitored by a physician or dietitian. Increase exercise, not cut calories further, if you can’t lose weight on this low-calorie plan.

It’s also important to focus on health. Throw out the word ‘diet’ from your vocabulary and focus on feeling. Your ultimate goal is not just a certain jean’s size or number on the bathroom scale, it is a lifelong commitment to be the best and healthiest you. Your plan and goals should reflect a lifetime commitment, not to lose weight and keep it off, but to modify habits so they support health and, ultimately, maintain the best weight for you.