Congrats and Happy Birthday! I turned 50 this month, also
i loved your story and i love it when people include their full story if/when they post their pics, every little detail DOES help even though we all know it basically boils down to portion control, clean eating and moving your body.
What really stuck out at me was the Diet Coke. I finally decided to tackle my weight issues this last year after 15 yrs of being overweight and went from a size 22 to a size 12 in about 10 months time (or more) and interestingly never really drank soda's at all while i was overweight but i am picking up the habit of drinking about 2-3 a week and i am thinking that i should just go back to drinking NONE. They aren't a trigger for me as far as i know but kind of a "treat" but maybe they do do something physiological in the body as far as weight loss (well i know artificial sweeteners are bad) so thank you for that, i think i will drop it for a month and see what happens.
I think you found the right keys: CONSCIENTIOUS eating and moving your body. Go girl!