Part I is below. Read it first, unless time flows backwards where you live (Idaho, I'm looking at you).
The big challenge I had in figuring out rules and such was that I was worried about what would happen when I was done. I mean, it's all fine and good to go nuts on tons of protein if that helps me lose weight, but what happens when I add carbs back in and still have bacon cravings? So I decided faddish type of things were not going to work long-term, and instead I had to teach myself to live a different lifestyle. And this is how I did it.
1. First and overriding rule: my calorie intake stays below 1800/day and above 1200/day. Why above 1200? So my body wouldn't start packing on fat when I started eating more in anticipation of starvation. That idea seemed to be well documented, so I incorporated a minimum as well as a maximum. I usually go between 1500 and 1700 on a given day. At first it was a bit time-consuming to count, but now I can do it all in my head quickly.
2. No calories from bad sources, since I need my nutrition. In other words, no candy bars, ice cream, brownies, potato chips, etc. This later morphed into a "no high fat food" thing, so I eliminated peanut butter and similar. I did that because I started looking at my carb/protein/fat intake percentages and found I was getting enough fat naturally as it was (a 65/35/15 level). Also, I theorized that it takes more energy to convert protein into body fat than fat into body fat, although I have no idea if this is true. It sure sounds good, though.
3. Exercise a lot.
4. Never cheat.
5. Excuses are for wimps.
I implemented the first two rules very, very strictly at first. I had a list of about 10 foods I would allow myself to eat, and I would automatically say no to anything else. Period. In retrospect, I think it may have been a not-so-hot idea from a health perspective, but it was a fantastic idea from a mental perspective. It gave me access to great willpower because it was easy to see if I was cheating or not. I no longer have a list, but I do tend towards foods I tend to eat more often than not.
The exercise bit was my way of saying that I should do things I liked. I continued to play basketball and football and added in some volleyball and softball - things I liked. And then I started running. More on that in Part III. I've become a bit of a nut on that lately.
The last two rules were nods to the fact that (1) I had tried to lose weight before and had always failed, mostly because I'd had one bad day that turned into a bad month and (2) I had been using the execuse that I was a "big guy" and therefore wasn't all that fat - which was a horrible lie I told myself, and I don't believe it when anybody says that anymore.