January 08, 2007 12:00 PM

Until now, “the last time I felt good about my size was when I was 22,” says Etta Saunders, a Gaithersburg, Md., personal-property appraiser. “My metabolism slowed,” and an aversion to exercise and fondness for pizza caught up with her. By 2003 the big 4-0 loomed, and the 5’7″ Saunders weighed 256 lbs. “When you hit 40, I was told, it’s harder to lose weight.” Harder, but not impossible. A knee injury prompted her to pick up Dr. Phil McGraw’s The Ultimate Weight Solution. Inspired, she started biking, strength training and eating low-fat, high-fiber foods such as brown rice with chicken and green beans. By March 2005 she hit 125 lbs.—less than she weighed at 22. If anything, says Saunders, now 43, age has served her well. “There is a maturity, a stick-to-it factor,” she says. “Three years ago I wasn’t able to climb my own stairs. Now, I just went on a trip where I hiked the German Alps!”

AGE 43 125 lbs.

SIZE 0

AGE 39 256 lbs.

SIZE 20

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