In 2003, Daphne Conour hit a turning point — actually, a series of them. Today, she's 100 pounds lighter than she was then. It's weight she has kept off for three years. The journey from there to here took 3 1/2 years. And Conour's destination looks completely different from the place she started.
Conour, who lives in Andover, has been battling her weight since she was in high school. By 2003, it had crept to 260 pounds.
Seeing pictures of herself, looking in dressing room mirrors and barely being able to walk down the street made her to want to change.
But what really prompted action was applying for health care coverage. "They wouldn't take me" because of her weight. "That, practically speaking, woke me up."
She'd heard about Weight Watchers and knew it would allow her to continue eating out while making small changes to her habits.
But it took her a month to get up enough nerve to go to a meeting and learn how much she needed to lose to get to a healthy weight.
She was embarrassed and scared at the meeting, and she cried in her car afterward, "feeling like this was impossible."
And then she started writing and calculating: It was July, and if she lost 1/2 to two pounds a week, as Weight Watchers suggested, she could lose 30 pounds by Thanksgiving, enough for people to notice.
"That helped calm me," said Conour, who is director of worship and small groups at Maranatha Worship Center.
She continued eating out, but she ordered a smaller hamburger and fries rather than the super-sized version. Next, she added sandwich shops and supermarket salad bars to her options.
Conour, 32, also started eating breakfast at home sometimes, having yogurt and cereal or an egg-white omelet. Gradually, she added lunches and dinners.
The thought of exercising was overwhelming, so she didn't really do any for the first four or five months.
"The first thing I did was walk in my house... which meant walking in place," she says, because she lived in a tiny apartment. Then she added walks outside.
Now, she uses exercise videos in the morning because it's all she has time for — "I have gained a husband and four kids."
She met the man who became her husband after she'd lost the weight; he has been supportive of her efforts to keep it off, helping her track food intake and making dinner suggestions that take into account what else she's had to eat that day.
Conour has learned to tweak family meals or make accommodations for herself: When the rest of the family has biscuits and gravy, she'll have biscuits and toast, "and, of course, smaller portions."
She continues to track her food input daily, using a Weight Watchers application for her smart phone.
"If I don't write it down, I gain weight," Conour says.
She tries not to weigh herself every day, and the most her weight has fluctuated since hitting her goal early in 2007 is 10 pounds.
Conour still weighs in at her weekly Weight Watchers meeting — where she is now a group leader. After more than three years at her target weight, she says she still learns from other group members, as well as sharing with them.