I have had many people ask me what I am doing differently. It is not just the weight loss they are noticing. I have been told I look happier and seem more energetic. True that.
But it is a difficult question to answer on the fly because it there is not one thing or simple answer.
First, we changed the way we eat and we continue to evaluate all the time based on how we feel and how our bodies respond. That means that there are things my husband and son eat that I don't and vice versa. Basic rules for me: no grains, no legumes, no refined sugar, healthy fats only (lard, bacon fat, olive oil, pasture butter), no preservatives, no additives, grass fed/pastured eggs and meat whenever possible. I do eat yogurt and cheese from pastured sources whenever I can.
ThePaleoMom does an amazing job of explaining why this diet heals the body and the gut as does the book Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. I have Hashimoto's (thyroid autoimmune disease) and I strongly suspect that I would benefit from following the autoimmune protocol but again, listening to my body will tell the tale. Bottom line, your body responds to the foods you eat. Food can heal or harm and it is your choice to decide to nourish yourself.
Second, I changed the way I exercise. I used to run and I loved it and I thought that was the only way for me to stay fit. However, there are studies that show that sustained intense exercise can alter the body's conversion of T4 to T3 (thyroid hormones) which is not good if your body is already not great in that department like moi. I got similar advice from my nutritionist, Tracie Fountain, she talked about catabolic versus anabolic states. Her evaluation landed me in the catabolic state in which your body has a tendency to break down tissues instead of build them up under stress. Either way, I finally listened and started to walk long distances and dance. During my disco ball sessions I throw in some yoga, karate moves, lunges, and planks but I am careful to recover.
Third, I finally accepted that I would need to learn to be kind to myself and reduce my stress filled reactions to the world around me. Brene Brown's book, The Gift of Imperfection, was a real eye opener. I started to meditate more regularly. I made changes at work. I took risks to be more open and honest with those I love and with myself. Every day I make space for myself to enjoy nature, my family, and my friends. I have never felt better.
I have heard many people say they could never do what I am doing. I think they mostly are reacting to changing what they are eating which is ironic because we have never eaten better or enjoyed our meals more. It is simply real food.
I strongly recommend a 30 day period of being super strict on sugars, alcohol, and limiting treats even if they are "paleo". The whole idea is to change habits. I use a little honey and maple syrup now and again now but for the first 30 days I didn't have any, and it was the best decision for me. Very little honey tastes very sweet to me now and we no longer have the habit of daily desserts.
That being said, I don't believe in restricting or counting anything. I think obesity is a symptom of something else that is out of balance with our bodies. If you heal your body it will be the size it was meant to be and that may be a size 8 or 18. You will know when your body is healed because you will feel great and energetic. Just listen to what your body tells you and respond to yourself kindly. That may mean that you can eat some things that others can't and still feel great and vice versa. I don't believe in prescriptive diets that should all over you.
Best of luck on your journey!