I guess you could say that I've lost weight twice. The first time that I remember gaining some weight in a concentrated period of time (not sure how much) was after studying abroad in the Carribbean for a summer. My host family overfed me...It's hard to refuse politely when you're not completely fluent in the language, so I ate!!!
I got back and started graduate level study. Sometime that winter, I got sick with a GI illness for a week and realized that my clothes were loose after that. I had never tried to lose weight before, so this was quite a shock. It got me interested in the idea that I could be smaller than I was. I started eating less and exercising more. I think the lowest I got was about 132. I bounced back up into the high 140s during my 3rd year of grad education due to the stressful work and no perceived time/energy for exercise. My last year of study was much better, and I got to exercising again and got down to around 138-142.
I then moved to another city, started a very stressful job where working 120 hours per week was not unusual. For the first 6 months I maintained/lost a pound or two because I was so stressed I didn't eat much. The second 6 months were a different story. I stopped cooking completely; I ate the food they provided at work and purchased all my meals by takeout or delivery when I was home. Food was all that I had to look forward to. It was my entertainment, my excitement, my company.
When that job ended, I moved to another city, had much better hours, and I stepped on the scale and realized I was nearing 160 pounds. Prior to that I had asked myself questions like, "Did I always have this bulge below my belly button?" and "Did I always have this fold of flab on my back?" I had been in denial, and I had told myself that maybe I did!
I decided to decrease the eating out and start exercising intermittently again, and the weight started to drop slowly. At some point, I got tired of cooking again and started eating easy meals (lean cuisines/microwavedsweet potato with soup/carrots, pretzels,and sweet and spicy marinated tuna packs) for lunch. For dinner I always had a lean cuisine or healthy choice meal.
I also quit eating any of the free food at work that looked unhealthy, and later, I just started bringing my own food regardless--less thinking and deception with "healthy-looking" stuff. I have to admit that my calorie levels Mon-Fri were pretty low, and then I would indulge on the weekends and eat whatever I wanted. My weight dropped very slowly or maintained on that plan. I wasn't really consciously trying to achieve any weight goal, and I wasn't unhappy with my size at that time, so I didnt' care how quickly it came off.
I stopped working several months ago (I'm now getting ready to start my new job). I was concerned that my indulgences on weekends would start to spread into Mon-Fri since my schedule was much less strict, so I decided to try to eat evenly every day of the week. I quit all junk food/unhealthy foods, even on weekends. I had time to cook, so I threw the frozen meals out the window and started cooking again. I exercise regularly. I eat pretty similar foods every day and love them. I also discovered this site and fitday at that time, and the rest is history.
I've lost about 5 pounds since I started eating evenly every day, kind of unintentionally. I've struggled a little with finding the right calorie intake for maintenance since I started calorie counting, and I'm currently working on slowly raising my calorie intake to see how high I can go. I've been exercising regularly for the last several months, too.