On December 27, 2012, just nine months and a few days ago, I started seriously working to reclaim some semblance of health and fitness.

When I first began eating right, keeping a food log, exercising daily, and adhering to my self-created over-the-counter regime of vitamins, fish oil, and CoQ10 supplements, I simply desired to make it a permanent lifestyle and get my body back to looking somewhat “normal” by getting my weight under 200 pounds. At the time, I was 255.

In January, my highest recorded blood pressure was 170/110, and no amount of deep breathing and meditation could get it below 160/102. I knew those numbers were extremely dangerous, but I refused to see a doctor—I balked at being put on BP meds because I knew I’d lose some of my motivation to change. I blamed all the stress in my life for the extra weight, and vowed to get those BP numbers under control before my annual physical a few months away.

I knew I was rolling the dice, and my prayer every day was not to stroke out before I could get those numbers down.

I got a 3-month membership to the swimming pool, and used it three to five times a week to do my own modified water exercise routine. And the days I couldn’t get to the pool, I got on the recumbent bike in my rec room and pedaled like my life depended on it. Because I knew it did.

But enormous amounts of stress after stress kept coming my way. It was as if I were doing battle with the Universe, and some days I just wanted to give up and “comfort” myself with too much food. Sugary food, salty food, any food. And it was during those darkest times I learned that deep inside I am one stubborn bitch.

By my birthday early in June, my blood pressure (in the doctor’s office, mind you) was 128/78, and I was under 200 pounds for the first time in almost a decade.

I adjusted my earlier goal to a number on the scale where I felt I could be comfortable. Not a number where people would call me skinny, but a healthy, happy number I could live with, and successfully maintain.

More grief, more stress, more disappointments kept piling up. Hit after hit. Death, illness, trip cancellations. I sunk into the abyss and took a one-month detour in which my sanity, and my goals, were nowhere to be seen. But somehow, someway, I got back on track. That stubborn bitch is a lot stronger than I thought.

Today, I am at goal. My goal, not necessarily anyone else’s idea of what I should weigh. Nine months and 90 pounds later, I’m firmly in “the middle sixties.” I am quite comfortable with that. And I’m on to the next challenge… maintenance!