(CNN) – Nicole Durham says she was not bullied and didn’t have a health scare, but she was tired of being overweight.
When she finally decided it was time to lose weight, she knew she had a long way to go.
She needed to lose around 100 pounds and decided she would approach it like a marathon instead of a sprint.
Durham weighed 175 pounds throughout high school but carried it well, saying much of it was muscle.
“Nicole was overweight, but it didn’t ever seem to bother her,” said Denise Durham, Nicole’s mother. “She had a lot of friends, was on the tennis team and always seemed happy.”
By 2010, the 25-year-old weighed in at 258 pounds.
“So many times I would tell myself, ‘Today you’re going to start making changes,’ but I never did. Today always turned into tomorrow,” she said.
In 2012, she realized she was afraid of hiking with her friends because of the physical strain and hated shopping because clothes didn’t fit right.
She was tired of the mental toll that being overweight took on her and fed up with feeling bad about her body.
“One day, I made sure today was today and started right then and there,” she said.
At that point, she weighed 235 pounds.
She started with small changes, realizing that quick and drastic moves would be a recipe for failure.
“The exercise was the toughest part, as most people can attest to,” Durham said. “I started slow. I walked a ton and danced my butt off, literally, with ‘Just Dance’ on my Nintendo Wii.”
In January, Durham got serious and cut down on her meal portions.
She also cut out desserts and bought sugar-free items to satisfy cravings.
Durham says she swapped “white foods” for whole grains and also cut back on alcohol.
“Beer and I basically took a break in our relationship,” she said.
Slowly, walking began to mix with jogging, then it became jogging with a little walking.
By summer, it became running, and her video games were shelved and replaced with strength training and biking.
Durham used a food app to help track her diet, ensuring a proper balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat.
Her goal was to eat five to seven servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
She also stopped drinking beverages that contained calories.
“I stuck to a simple mantra of eating less and better, and working out more,” she said.
She hit her goal weight of 143 in November of 2013, one year after she started.
“I work hard, eat pretty conscientiously during the week and have fun on the weekends, now that I’m working on maintaining,” Durham said.
Because her weight loss was a lifestyle change as opposed to a diet, she said she had to find a way to make it work for the long run.
She says she knew that she’d be eating things like pizza and beer on occasion and wasn’t going to starve herself to maintain her weight.
“I definitely don’t feel like I’m missing out, because I work out to stay active and to balance it all,” Durham said.
She lost a little more weight after reaching her goal as she worked on finding a good balance of reintroducing calories without eating poorly.
Today, she weighs 135 pounds, give or take a few.
Durham bicycles, hikes, runs and lifts weights.
Outdoor activities are no longer stressful and daunting, but rather enjoyable and liberating.
It may have taken her years to get here, but for Durham, slow and steady won the race.