Re: What can I expect?
Exercise, proper nutrition by eating 5-6 smaller meals spread over the day. This will keep your energy and metabolism up. You have to have a certain amount of calories for the body to burn as energy.
Protein can be found through soy products as well as poultry/eggs, lean red meat and fish. These will help give you a "full feeling" because of slower digestion time. Also help keep your metabolism up while repairing muscle/build muscle while during and after exercising. Eating more complex carbs (whole grains/beans/veggies) rather than overprocessed ones will help in the same way. Some fats are needed for the health of your body. Cutting out sugar is a good idea ...these you seem to be doing as a start.
Learning to eat in moderation is both the easiest and the hardest "trick" to reach your goal. There are pills to help suppress appetite and increase energy but if you can do this without them....go for it.
That and an exercise program.
A year ago, I was in much the same boat as you. I rarely ate, it seemed, and when I did....it was the wrong foods or overate. While taking a college women's strength class, I had to relearn how to eat properly and when to do it. At 5'6", I was 245 and it took me a year to lose 60lbs with proper nutrition and the lifting program (3 days a week). It take time, patience, hard work and determination to achieve any goal. I did not see immeditate results until after a few weeks. Mostly in my wardrobe at first. By the end of the first semester, my pant size dropped.
I know this is not the "weight loss" forum and to answer your question properly...You put in as much effort as you wish to gain out of it. It took time for you to be in the situation you are in now. It will take some time to reach your goal. Like I said, it took me a year. With some, it may be shorter depending on your determination and patience. For me, a year of this made sure what I am doing has become a long lasting lifestyle. I have tried other diets before but became too impatient for any of them to show results.
My classes have been over for 4 months now, and now workout at home twice a week. This to maintain what I have accomplished. I hit a plateau a short while back, and did some nutritional/diet adjustments to overcome this. But I know, from what has happened so far....I will reach my goal. But I am also gratified for getting where I am now.
I do have some osteoarthritis in my back and in my shoulders. Before, this did affect how I slept and moved around. I do live a rural lifestyle and raise animals but it was not enough and my diet before was awful. However, both my changed diet and exercise has strengthen the muscles and helped relieve any discomfort.
You are taking a journey though uncharted lands and expect some obstacles...but what you learn along the way is the true goal. How you adapt and adjust to overcome are the lessons most important. The goal is not always what it seems. Do not let fears sway you.