(If diet and exercise stuff is triggery for you, please page down. Also, please note, I totally support anybody's right to define the terms by which they live in their body and to be healthy at any size. I'm an athlete with prehypertension and three diabetic grandparents. For me, it really was a matter of life and death to become more active and take some stress off my heart and joints.)
Here's what I looked like in 2004:
Photo by Michael Curry. Wow, look at that Hammered ARC.
That's actually a flattering photo except for the giant zit on my chin. Here's an unflattering one:
Photo by Trevor Dufault, circa 2006. Tiny feet!
Shortly after that Worldcon, I realized that I was not doing myself any favors and that if I didn't want to die of diabetes and hypertension, I needed to eat better and exercise. There have been a lot of ups and downs, and I don't actually know what my peak weight was (I didn't get a scale until December of that year, when I had already been making efforts for a while) but I'm guessing it was roughly a hundred pounds more than I weigh now. So call that 290 pounds, since by year's end I was at 250 and change.)
More significantly, I couldn't get out of a chair without grunting. And we won't talk about my blood pressure. I lost a bunch more weight in the first half of 2005, and it came back in the last half when I was busy getting divorced. Sometimes, other stuff gets in the way.
Anyway, when I got back to the East Coast, I got pretty serious about exercise and tracking my food and limiting alcohol and simple carbs. It has not always been easy, and there have been setbacks.
But I ran five and a half miles this morning, and I dusted the dog by the end of it. Usually, he's the one dragging me.
Here's what I look like now, at 187 pounds:
Okay, it's blurry and my hair's wet. But I promise smell good!
I still am twenty-thirty pounds from my goal weight... but at this point it's a matter of protecting my joints when I run and climb. I'm healthy, I am happy with the way I look, and--as I said--I can run five miles.
Lessons learned: the Discipline (my personalized version of the Hacker Diet: tracking calories expended versus calories consumed, making sure I get enough protein, limiting simple carbs and eating plenty of complex ones and healthy fats) works, and leaves me feeling awesome. 130 pounds may be the socially acceptable maximum weight for a 5'8" woman, but it'd be fucking ridiculous on me. Staying healthy and fit takes a lot of work, but it's probably worth it. And I don't feel like I'm a third smaller than I used to be--and sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and think, "Where did I KEEP it all?!" I have lost more than the weight of my dog. And he's a big dog.
Morals of this story: It is often possible to get healthier, no matter where you start. I feel younger and more vigorous at 40 than I did at 33. Since I pretty much missed my thirties the first time through, I am going to retroactively declare those my eighties, and start over.