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Weight Loss Interview With Celeste
copyright 2006 by Greg Landry, M.S.





GL: We have the privilege of having Celeste with us tonight - thanks for joining us Celeste.

C: Sure.

GL: And I just wanted to spend a little time tonight talking about your story and your weight loss and how you have been really successful with that.To start with, you have lost about 30 pounds, right?

C: About 35 now.

GL: Really? Great! And I remember the first email message I received from you and just the excitement in your message. I think this just really made a big change in your life in a lot of ways. So would you just start by telling us a little bit about that. What is different now? What are you excited about?

C: Well, my overall health, of course, is different. But I think that the other thing too is that because of the success of actually losing weight, how much confidence I have. I tend to be a really, really shy person but I am much more confident in myself in making decisions and stuff like that. And I am really excited about maintaining it. I am excited to see my body take shape. I am excited to see my body do things I didn’t think I would be able to do. Because I am going to be 40 next year. So, it’s a really amazing transformation point in my life. You know, I figure I am going to be 40—I am not really old, but I was pretty set in my ways. 

GL: Good. And you mentioned that you are thinking about going back to school to study nutrition.

C: I am going to become a nutritionist! I was really inspired by you. I like the way you help people. When I first—I had tried by the way—I don’t think there was a weight loss plan out there that I did not try. You know, from juice fasts to lose 10 pounds—I did Weight Watchers. Before I was a vegetarian I did Atkins, Bevone. I mean, forms of those diets before they were really called Atkins or Bevone, but the high protein diet. 

And really—I mean, I would lose some weight on them, but I would never lose a really significant amount of weight and I would never be able to maintain that weight loss, ever. Within a few months, the weight came back. But I guess when I got involved with your program, the huge difference—I had even been to another nutritionist before I actually came to you. The difference that your program gave me, what kind of inspired me to go back to school, was that I was educated about what I was eating, which I hadn’t been before. Actually, I had a book that educated me about whole wheat. I mean, things, you know—things I really didn’t know, you know. And that made a big difference in me. 

And it kind of inspired me to think like—I would like to be able to do what you did for me, for somebody else. My goal would be—I would love to work in a hospital kind of setting, where people have maybe come in, have a health crisis, maybe diabetes or something like that. Where they really have to re-think their food life. I would like to be that person that kind of guides them. So yes—this has completely, really changed my life. I am very excited about it.

GL: Good. Well. Let’s talk a little bit about exercise.

C: Mmhmm.

GL: When you first tried to lose weight this time, were you exercising then? Or did you start as you started trying to lose weight?

C: As I started losing weight. By the way, you were also the first person who ever told me to exercise. Even the previous nutritionist did not tell me to exercise to lose weight!

GL: You're kidding!

C: No. I am not kidding you. I am not. 

When I first started, I was very resistant to the exercise. You know—a million things. “I don’t have the time”. But it is about making that time. But I did notice that I was feeling different on this—I don’t want to say diet—but it is. It is like a life-style really. I felt very different. So I felt like I had a little more energy even before I started exercising. Within a few weeks I started feeling better. And I thought, you know—and every time we had our conference calls, you were stressing the importance of taking your body and moving it around every single day.

Because we really do live life-styles. We go to work. We sit behind a desk, you know. I guess, you know, unless you’re on a construction site or something, we really don’t get a lot of exercise in our day-to-day lives. 

GL: Right.

C: So I started doing that. I started getting up in the morning and just walking at first. And then the walk became like, I did the interval thing, where I would walk and then I would run and then I would walk. I got the heart monitor. And then it just became where I realized that I could run for a longer period of time. And now I am running every day! 

GL: And that is exciting I bet—to be able to do that. 

C: It is! The first time I was able to make a complete loop around the park, I couldn’t believe that. I mean, there was a point when I first started doing this that I thought, “Well, if I can just keep up the walking every day I would be happy with myself.” And then I realized, before I knew it—within six months I was able to complete that loop. You know? And I couldn’t believe it! I couldn’t believe that it was me doing that. It was amazing. So the exercise was huge. But it wasn’t just that—you also encouraged the weight lifting.

GL: Right.

C: So I do lift weights three times a week. The weight loss has been great, but it has been the weights that have given me a very, very sculpted body. You know, I have a lot of definition in my arms now that I never had. I have shoulders! I never had that. So I do the weights three times a week. 

GL: Good. Now, I know that you mentioned that you have also done a few races, which are—I think, very motivational to exercise consistently. And I think you said you found the same thing. So at what point did you do your first race? Was it several months after you started exercising? Did you set that as a goal? Tell us about that.

C: The first race I did was the Susan Komen Breast Cancer Race. I really said, “I am not going to run. I am going to walk it.” But the thing that actually got me walking in the morning, was—there was one of the weekly newsletters that you sent around saying, “Sign up for something you can’t get out of”, kind of thing. You know. Sign up for something that you can’t back away from. And I had raised something like $400 or $500 and I was like, ”Oh my God, I can’t NOT show up!” So it really made me get up and walk every morning. The first race I did, I walked most of it. But I finished it—3.1 miles. That was the first year. This year I ran the whole thing and it was like nothing—3.1 miles. It was like, “Oh my God, it was easy!” It is amazing the difference a year can make, you know, just from where I started to where I am now. 

GL: Right.

C: But now I am also running my second race this weekend, four miles. So. It is really exciting, raising money again for another charity, God’s- Love-We-Deliver.

GL: God’s-Love-We-Deliver?

C: Mmhmm. They are a charity that started out delivering meals to people who have AIDS and cannot get out of the house. Now they just basically have expanded the program. They still deliver meals to AIDS patients, but they also deliver meals to people who are just shut-ins and can’t get out. It is just a really wonderful program. It is one of my favorite charities.

GL: Great. So—is that a 4-mile race?

C: Four miles, this Saturday.

GL: You know, you have an excellent point Celeste. And I think you are not the only one I've heard say that. When you lock into something and commit to it and pay for it—sign up for the race, pay your entry fee, and you feel committed— You are much more likely to be consistent with exercise if you know you are committed to that and you have to do it. So that’s great. Good way to start. 

C: It is. This is really, really exciting for me. Like I say, when I look at myself now—and the photos are on your website—[laughs] I am AMAZED. It is like psychologically, I don’t think I ever realized how heavy I had gotten until I started losing the weight. And is what is amazing to me is that people I hadn’t seen in a long time who I ran into did not even recognize me. 

GL: I bet you are having fun with that!

C: It was fun. Because somebody said to my husband, “You know, I don’t know—I saw you around town with some girl!” 

GL: [Laughs}

C: And he goes, “That’s my WIFE!” And they go, “No way!” And he says, “Yeah, that’s my wife!” So it was a little bit of fun. I was like, “Well, you shouldn’t have told him.” You know. But, yeah, it is exciting. It is hard to believe when I look at myself, it is actually hard to believe the life I had before this. Because it is so much a part of my life now, that I am like, “I can’t imagine that there was time when I wouldn’t have gotten up and worked out.” And it is that—you know. In the beginning it was slow for me. I am not going to deny that it was a struggle. There may have been a few times that I would curse you, actually. “I can’t believe that Greg thinks this is a good idea!” You know? But now, I get it. There is that point when you make that connection. You completely—“Oh! I get it! Look at me!” You know? I do feel better. There would be a point where if I didn’t exercise, I would feel like I wasn’t going to have as good a day.

GL: Yes. Now, other than the motivation of looking forward to the races, Celeste, is there anything—especially early on when it gets tough—is there anything that motivated you? I mean, in starting to see a little progress, for example, motivation—what kept you going when you thought about just throwing in the towel?

C: What kept me going was this was something that I had done for me. That is really what kind of kept me going. It was the first time I really made a step that this was going to be completely for me. And it was that that really kind of kept me going, remembering why I started this. That it was just for myself. And for the first time I was really proud of myself. And I think that is what really kept me going.

It is just an unbelievable feeling. You can’t imagine not wanting that. And I really am incredibly proud of myself. And I haven’t been able to say that much in my life, where, “I am so proud of myself for this or that.” You know? Most of us go to jobs that we are not necessarily crazy about. I am one of them. You know? Maybe I wish I had more money, or, you know? But this is something that I really can concretely say, I am really proud of this. I accomplished it with complete commitment to myself. I can’t say completely on my own, because you were such a help. But I can say that I did this completely for myself.

GL: Yes. And you did the work.

C: I did the work. And it was hard! But the payoff was huge, huge.

GL: Well. Let’s talk a little bit about eating. First of all, wrapping exercise up—Just to make a point, Celeste, to people out there who are in the process of weight loss or maybe just starting. Exercise has obviously been an integral part of your losing weight. Can you imagine doing without it? can you imagine having lost weight without consistent exercise?

C: No, to tell you the truth, no. I mean, I will admit that I lost a few pounds in the beginning because I was just simply cutting calories. But that stopped quickly as well. As quickly as some of that weight came off, exercise was the key to the weight loss. There is no doubt in my mind that getting my heart in its proper range and working out—that was what did it. You know? That was it. 

GL: Also, most people that are successful at weight loss and have been exercising consistently tell me that it’s not just the physical aspects, the physiological aspects of caloric expenditure, but that their daily exercise or near-daily exercise puts them in a healthy frame of mind and thus helps their eating to be consistently healthy. Did that happen for you?

C: It does. Just because you are taking that time—especially when I am doing the runs. When I am just doing my run. Not the weight so much but when I am doing the run. Or for some people, just starting the walk. It is a way of getting my day ready mentally. Mentally I prepare what I am going to eat for the day in my mind, so that I know when I am done I am going to go home and prepare my food for the day. So, I know the minute I get in the door what I need to do. It is a way of organizing yourself and your day. And taking that space is very helpful for me.

GL: Okay. Let’s talk a little bit about eating. Going into this, what would you say were your biggest problem areas as far as eating? Was it what you were eating, how much, when, etc.? Tell us a little bit about that. And eating-wise, what changes did you make early on? What did you find easy to stick with?

C: The first changes I made were that I got rid of—white bread was gone. I haven’t eaten white bread in over a year. Everything became whole wheat. And more vegetables. Even though I ate a lot of vegetables, I actually added more vegetables. And I eat most of my calories before six o’clock at night. When I come home there is no heavy dinner. Maybe a bowl of cereal.

I would do that for dinner with soy milk. I actually don’t eat a lot of cheese or milk. I am really not quite a vegan but it is really rare that I actually have cheese or milk.

But that is what I will do for dinner. Most of my calories—I actually eat more now that I did before I was on your weight loss plan.

GL: Now, was that a change for you Celeste? Did you typically come home and eat dinner?

C: Yeah. I wouldn’t eat during the day that much. I ate at night. I think part of was that I was kind of heavy and I didn’t want people to see me eating. So I would just come home and I would just—I would start eating dinner and I would not stop until I went to bed. 

I would be so hungry at night. It was a huge problem for me. And it would usually be, you know? Like I said, I could eat a whole loaf of Italian bread with butter! I am not proud of it. That would be an ultimate dinner for me. 

GL: You know, just for the people listening and people who will be reading this, that is such a typical scenario, Celeste. Most people, or many people, eat very little during the day and typically will eat nothing all afternoon even if they do eat lunch. And they come home at 6:00, 7:00, or 8:00 at night famished, and when you are that hungry, you have very little control over what you eat and how much you eat. And like you said, it is often just kind of a continuous eating thing from dinner until bedtime, with a huge meal. That is the worst possible scenario for weight and health.

C: It really is. It is almost like drinking yourself into a stupor night after night, with food. Because I would basically eat until I would just have enough strength to brush my teeth and wash my face and go to bed! And it was every single night I was doing that. Every single night.

I think one of the biggest things for me is preparing everything that I am going to eat ahead of time. Knowing what I am going to eat every single day is a huge thing for me because I know what I am going to have for breakfast, I know what I am going to have for a snack, I know what I am going to have for lunch, I know what I will have for another snack, and I know what I am going to have for dinner. When you don’t know, it is really easy to go off track. So I prepare everything ahead of time. Whether it is the night before, or right after my run—getting up a little earlier, there is no room for me to say, “Oh. I need to grab something fast,” during the day. That was a huge help to me, preparing everything so that I wouldn’t have any excuses to go off of my eating plan.

GL: That is an excellent point, Celeste. You know, so many people come into a weight loss program not wanting to, or not thinking that they need to spend the time planning. And I just think that’s critical. You bear that out. If you don’t PLAN what you are going to eat you will end up eating things that are quick or available. It is just critical that you have that planned and set up. Because when you are hungry you are just not going to take the time to find or prepare something healthy. So, that is excellent.

Would you take us through a typical weekday now, and tell us how that goes, as far as exercise and eating? Just take us from the time you get up in the morning.

C: From the time I get up in the morning—which I get up a little earlier now because I have to fit everything in before I go to work. I get up in the morning, I will go for a run. That takes me, by the time I get to the park and do the run that is almost an hour right there. I come home and I take maybe 15 to 20 minutes to prepare my food for the day. 

I don’t have my breakfast until it is almost like—I am not going to eat anything until I prepare my food for the day. Which means, you know, my vegetables that I am going to snack on, my sandwich with whole wheat bread that I am going to have. I like peanut butter, so I usually have a peanut butter sandwich. But I have eaten egg salad sandwiches which are just as good. You can find a couple of pretty great recipes that aren’t really outrageous in calories. And then, when all my food for the day is prepared, then I will have my breakfast. Which is usually either soy yogurt with a little bit of granola, which I really like. Or, a bowl of some type of whole wheat cereal with soy milk, which is very nice.

Sometimes I will put a little bit of dried fruit in it. But again, you have to be careful. Because you have to watch everything. You know, every thing you eat and drink has some calories. So you want to be careful. You want to measure what you are putting in so you know how much you are eating. 

So I have my breakfast. And then I go through the day. I have my little baggies with my vegetables and my lunch, and sometimes a piece of fruit for my snack in the afternoon. Like I said, I am eating five times a day, which I hadn’t been doing before—breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and then I come home to a really light dinner. Which can either be—if I have had granola in the morning, I might have a bowl of cereal for dinner. Or, if I have had a bowl of cereal in the morning, I might have a protein shake at night.

But I am not insane about it. I know that the holidays are coming up. There will probably be sweet potatoes with butter—but I know that I can have one. And I might, you know, if I am going to be eating a little bit more, I am going to be very careful anyway. But I might exercise a little longer, too. You know? Everything has to have a balance to it.

GL: Right.

C: I went through the last holiday season and I was careful. I enjoyed everything. I just enjoyed it in moderation.

GL: Good. Good point. 

C: The holidays are tough. 

GL: So, the majority of the time, Celeste, it sounds like you bring your lunch and snacks to work. Is that right?

C: All the time. I never eat out, to tell you the truth. One, it is kind of expensive. But I think the second thing is, having more control over what I eat has been the biggest part of maintaining what I have done.

And like I said, you know, I’m not crazy. Some people will, you know—I have gone out with friends and I have eaten out. And I have had potato skins with a little bit of cheese on it. I know that maybe one or two is enough. 

You should be able to go out with your friends. And you should be knowing—And people drink. Drinks have alcohol. I tend to just have water.

GL: Yes. That’s a good point, Celeste. 

C: Calories, you know?

GL: That’s right. It is very concentrated calories. And eating out, like you said, you need to be able to handle that and do that every now and then. But especially when someone is in the weight loss process, that is one of the things that needs to be limited. Because it is usually hard to consistently find healthy food. And when we are at a restaurant, we are more tempted. There is just a lot more temptation. So at least for a period of time it is just very helpful when somebody can bring their own lunch and snacks.

C: Absolutely. When I started the weight loss plan, I didn’t eat out. I didn’t do anything for six months. It was six months before I even ate in a restaurant. Because I really wanted to see something very significant before I even thought about that. And when I went to the restaurant—I went to a Mexican place with my friends, I actually only ate half of it. And I made a point of saying, “There is a lot of cheese and stuff, and I only need half of this.” And I wound up making two meals out of it. And I was really full, believe it or not, just eating half of it. 

GL: Great. Anybody have any questions? 

Now, the other thing, Celeste, what about snacks? Give us an idea what kind of snacks are your favorites, what you use, what has worked for you.

C: Some of my favorite snacks are raw vegetables. I was lucky that I really liked vegetables. I just wouldn’t really take the time to prepare them for myself before I started losing weight. So, I can snack on—I love raw cauliflower. I love tomatoes. I love snacks like that. Those aren’t for everyone. But sometimes they give these nuts and fruit mix, like nuts and dried fruit—

GL: Right.

C: And you know, a quarter-cup of that, which is about roughly 140 calories, is actually a pretty filling snack. And the most important thing is—make sure you drink eight glasses of water a day. That also will fill you up.

GL: That’s right.

C: A lot of times I would think I was hungry, I was actually really thirsty.

GL: Yes.

C: So, sometimes when I think I am hungry—In the beginning, the very, very beginning, when I was re-training myself to eat earlier in the day, the nights could be really tough and long when you thought, “I think I’m hungry.” I would sit down and have a glass of water. And it turned out I wasn’t really that hungry, I was thirsty.

But those are the kind of snacks that I like. I like things like raw vegetables. I am lucky enough that I like nuts and dried fruit. But again, everything in moderation. I like granola. I like to snack on that.

GL: It sounds like you eat a lot of cereal too. You eat it for breakfast or dinner.

C: I do. Like I said, I am lucky that I like cereal.

GL: It’s a good, quick, healthy meal. You can’t beat it for that.

C: You really can’t. If you get a really good cereal and you have that whole—like how to measure—I think it is in your manual actually, how to measure a good cereal. When you get yourself a really good cereal, because there a lot of cereals that just aren’t worth it. But if you find a really healthy cereal—I found a really great Raisin Bran that I like. It is Skinner’s Raisin Bran. It has no sugar added to it really. Because a lot of raisin bran has sugar on the raisins. And I found this really great Raisin Bran that is pretty low on calories. It is whole wheat. You know? I love it. It is very filling. Whole wheat really also gives you a very nice feeling. You are full without feeling too full. And because your body burns it slower, you feel fuller for longer. 

GL: It sticks with you.

C: It really does stick with you. Like I said, a good cereal—it’s a very healthy meal.

GL: One more question, Celeste, and we will wrap it up.

C: Sure.

GL: Was there a point where you realized—As you mentioned, you had tried to lose weight several times before— Was there a point where you realized, “I’m really going to do it this time”? How motivating was that?

C: The point I realized that was from the first phone call. The start-up meeting phone call that you have, the welcoming kind of meeting. 

That was when I knew. I just can’t explain it to you exactly, but I knew that I was going to do it this time. Because you were talking about different personality types. 

You said, “Well, you know, the perfectionists, if they don’t get it right the first time,”—you know, “I can’t do this.” And that was me. It was like, “Oh my God, I mean, how does he know me?” 

It was your approach to it that really made me realize that I knew from that moment that I was going to do this. I didn’t know how long it was going to take. I didn’t know any of that because I had never been on a successful weight loss program before. But I knew from that moment, that I was going to stick with it. And within the first couple of months I saw changes in myself. I knew I had not just changed my eating but I had really changed my whole life-style. So it was really that first phone call.

GL: Well, Celeste, you have been a big help and an encouragement to people. I really appreciate you coming on tonight.

C: Sure! 





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