Three years ago, I gave myself a deadline, a goal, to lose 60 pounds. I failed at Weight Watchers three times before I actually succeeded, and I’ve never regularly gone to a gym. I was over 200 pounds and quickly approaching 50 years old when I decided to become a delegate in the Mrs. New Jersey America Pageant…(It) became my carrot on a stick.
Being overweight and finding myself on daily blood pressure medication wasn’t enough to get off my butt to get serious about weight loss. Knowing that I will compete against girls half my age while I’m on stage wearing a bathing suit somehow motivates me while giving me a deadline to be in tip-top shape.
This year, I competed at the Mrs. United States Pageant in Las Vegas. It was one of my most challenging pageants ever. I’ve learned that I can perform under pressure and I’m more than comfortable with public speaking. I can ace any job interview after sitting in front of various pageant judges, whether it’s one-on-one or standing in front of a panel.
People keep asking me, “How did you lose the weight?” I tell them that you have to find what works for you, but my best advice is to set a reasonable date from which you cannot renege.
I once thought weight loss was impossible; that those who were dramatically losing weight had some trick up their sleeve they weren’t disclosing. Instead, I found it would be one of the hardest things I would ever do — and did I mention that I birthed three children?
The weight loss took three years. I didn’t gain it fast; I couldn’t expect it to come off fast and stay off. This type of long-term discipline is very difficult. To make it even more challenging, I have a husband who is trying to gain weight — he would eat a cheeseburger in front of me! Oh, how I hated him, but in reality he’s my biggest supporter and I adore him.
I can walk into a room looking great and maybe I’ll get a glance or two, but let me walk into a room with my sash and crown and it becomes a conversation starter. Listening is an art these days and not many people seem to know how to do it well, but when I am in my regalia, people really do listen. I am able to bring awareness to my charities and sponsors that I represent. So yes, I will compete again.
I’ve found that not only are beauty pageants a way for me to stay in shape but I gained a huge voice for various animal and children’s charities in which I volunteer. One day, I will be that older woman on stage at the Ms. Senior America Pageant with her blinged-out cane, but know the reason I’m up there, will be much bigger than me.
By Janice Celeste, who is a Flanders New Jersey author, motivational speaker, animal rights advocate, webmaster of JaniceCeleste.com. and grandmother when not competing in beauty pageants.