I'm living proof that an indoorsy, unathletic woman with PCOS in her late 40's can lose 115 pounds on moderate diet and moderate exercise.
I was always chubby, usually about the second-heaviest girl in the class. My mother tried to get me to diet in high school but it didn't "take". When I was in college, at 18, I went on my first serious diet, from 166 down to 134. I still had terrible eating habits, though, so I started gaining again almost immediately.
I joined ROTC partly because I wanted to serve my country, partly because I got a scholarship, and partly because I thought the military weight limit (147 or 148) would be good incentive to keep the weight off. Unfortunately, it felt like a straitjacket and put me under constant stress. I flirted with disordered eating as a way to stay out of weight trouble, which I mostly did (though I flunked a few weigh-ins). I was on active duty from 1982 to 1986; when I got out, I was so happy not to have to deal with the weight limit anymore that I gained 70 pounds in one year!
Through my life, I went on several diets and could lose weight or gain weight, but could never really maintain a weight. I made the mistake of trying to eat low-fat when I dieted (though I really had no way of knowing it was a mistake, at the time). Having PCOS, a high-carb diet was the worst thing for me. I was hungry 24/7. All The Time. It's no wonder that my weight rebounded when I was done "dieting", especially since I still had terrible eating habits.
In 1989, at the age of 27, I dieted from 225 to 173 before I stopped dieting and started to regain again. By the mid '90's, I was in the 240's. I tried low-carb in the early 2000's and did fairly well, probably down to around 220, but, after a week trip where literally all there was to eat was carbs, I got off track and never really got back on.
Something changed in the mid 2000's. One is that I sort of got my head together. I was mildly to moderately depressed pretty much my whole life, but never really considered treatment because I thought it was just my personality. I had some scary downswings but was strong enough to withstand them without any permanent damage to my external life.
In the mid '90's, though, I had a scary enough downturn that I decided to try medication. I'm really glad I did--it improved my quality of life a lot, and may have saved my life. I was on and off meds for about 10 years, including an amicable but still painful divorce in 2002.
By 2006, somehow I got my head together, and I've been depression-free and med-free since then. I also made a decision to stop worrying about food for a while. I gained a little extra weight, but I honestly think that was one of the key steps that set me up for success on my latest weight-loss journey.
At the end of 2008, I weighed 260 pounds. On December 29, 2008, I decided that I Was Ready. Despite all logic and previous experience with traumatic and unsuccessful diets, I somehow knew that it was different this time.
I decided to count calories and try to limit, but not eliminate, carbs. I started at 1500 calories a day. In the spring I started walking about half an hour (about 1 1/2 miles) six times a week (I'm still walking six times a week, without fail). I lost exactly 2 pounds a week for the first 15 weeks, then the pace started to slow down.
The milestones kept adding up, though. August 3, 2009: 50 pounds lost (that's about when people started to notice). September 28, 2009: Onederland. December 28, 2009: 77 pounds lost in one year. February 8, 2010: 81 pounds lost, 179 pounds no longer obese. August 30, 2010: 155 pounds, more than 40% of my original weight lost. October 25, 2010: 110 pounds lost before my 49th birthday. And I officially weighed in at goal on December 21, 2010.
I know that maintenance will provide its own set of challenges, but I think I'm ready. I had cut back to 1400 calories a day in mid-2010; I now estimate that maintenance will take about 1700 calories, but I'm going to raise my intake to that level slowly and cautiously. In 2011, I hope to fine-tune my maintenance regimen, and I may also try to start doing some strength and flexilibily exercises.
Here are some photos. I'm including the one from when I was 155 mainly to compare the effect of the last ten pounds.