Sunday 16th April, 2006


Cevelle weighs in on a new life

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Cevelle Creque struts along Ariapita Avenue, showing off her new figure. Creque, who has long battled obesity, has already lost 135 pounds and hopes to reach her goal of 170 pounds. Photos: Karla Ramoo

Laura Dowrich-Phillips

[email protected]

Three years ago, Cevelle Creque weighed about 355 pounds. Today, the 26-year-old hairdresser is just under 220 pounds and is focused on reaching 170 pounds. For Creque, the significant weight loss was not the result of any magic injection, surgery, miracle pills or fad diets, but rather her simply sticking to the age-old combination of exercise and eating properly.

Sounds easy, but the journey has not always been smooth as anyone who has tried to lose weight would know.

“It’s all in the mind,” said Creque, who confessed to complacency whenever she shed a few pounds.

Creque was not always a big girl. As a teenager, she weighed about 130 pounds. When she migrated to Wisconsin in the US to attend school at the age of 16, her weight problems began.

“They make fast food so economical. It is easier to spend US$2.99 on McDonald’s fries and a milkshake than buy food to cook,” she said.

Added to that, Creque used food to comfort herself during challenging times.

The weight gain was fast and significant.

“It came on before you knew it. Inside, you want to be smaller, but you don’t have the strength or the willpower to try,” she said.

Asked how the weight gain impacted on her psyche, Creque said she was more concerned about the impact it had on other people.

“Changing jobs, you had fears that you wouldn’t be hired because you’re too fat. Even for this current job, I thought they wouldn’t want fat people because, you know, this industry is very image driven,” said Creque, waving her hands as she spoke while working at Hair and Such located on Ariapita Avenue in Port-of-Spain.

In the US, Creque said, people were too busy

living in their own bubbles to pay attention to her. But back home, people were just plain nasty.

“I went to a party and hear a fella say ‘Look at that one, ting, ting, ting, she eating for two.’”

It was on her aunt’s encouragement that Creque first decided to lose weight. Her aunt runs the popular Marlene’s Weight Loss classes which Creque attended.

“I really didn’t want to lose weight, it seemed like such hard work,” said Creque. “I’d go to the meetings with her and I did that for months. I started off losing an average of five pounds a week, then three pounds, two and a half pounds. The initial set came off really fast.”

Marlene’s, said Creque, restricts participants to a 1000 calories a day diet. A major component was drinking lots of water.

“It’s ten glasses a day for someone at a regular weight. For every 25 pounds you are overweight, you have to drink an additional glass. I was drinking 18 glasses a day. I remember drinking water till I felt to vomit,” she said.

Although Marlene’s programme runs for nine weeks, Creque attended consecutive sessions until she lost just over 60 pounds.

“After the first batch, I got complacent. I was feeling better and I got lazy and just stopped. When you’re over 300 pounds and you reach close to 200, you just say ‘Eh heh, I there.’ I would go home and eat as usual.”

Back then, Creque’s only exercise was walking around the Queen’s Park Savannah. That in itself was an experience.

“I remember the first walk was a nightmare. I did it in two hours. I walked, sat down, walked, sat down. It was too much weight for me to carry. People told me I was startling to watch,” she recalled, when asked about the public’s response to her.

“The first time, I felt kind of down watching all the nice people walking and I wondered why I couldn’t be like that,” said Creque whose attitude eventually changed to “I’m fat, but I’m doing something about it.”

Her brother and her current job literally got her on a treadmill.

“My brother lives away and one day, when he was visiting, I was cutting his hair and he was telling me how big I was and how I was unattractive to men. Imagine hearing that from your own flesh and blood.

“He said, ‘Imagine you cutting my hair and I feeling your belly touching me. Imagine doing that to a client,’” she recalled.

It was around that time Creque was hired by Hair and Such. Her work day began at 10 am but her ride left home at 6. To pass the time constructively, Creque decided to join the Long Circular Health Club.

That was last September.

“The first day I hated it. I felt like I didn’t know how to operate anything. I felt like all eyes were on me. I didn’t know who to talk to,” said Creque who didn’t bother to hire a personal trainer because she didn’t see the need to spend the extra money once she was assessed and given a programme with which she could work.

“Losing weight is expensive. You have to pay for gym, protein shakes, clothes,” said Creque. Nevertheless, she persevered and lost 21 pounds in the first six weeks.

“I felt good. Amanda, a friend I made in the gym, felt so proud. She was very helpful.”

In the gym, Creque also motivates others by sharing diet and workout tips and sometimes grilling them on what they ate the previous day.

Despite her continued success at dropping the pounds, Creque still has to battle temptation.

“When I first started, I told myself I am on a mission. When I broke the diet the first time, I said, ‘So this is what I am missing.’ I broke it with pholourie,” she said with a laugh.

Creque said she decided not to deprive herself of anything, but to manage what she consumes.

“Yesterday, for lunch, I had buss up shut with potato, pumpkin and beef but in the night, I had a cup of tea and soup. You have to balance,” she said, advising that one thing people should never do is go to the supermarket when hungry.

“You will buy everything on the shelf,” she said.

Apart from the challenge of pushing herself in the gym and finding the motivation to continue without becoming complacent, Creque is now battling some wardrobe issues.

Everything she owns is now too big and she’s reluctant to buy new clothes because she is determined not to stay at her current size.

“I have a lot of clothes to give away. I went from a size 36 pants to a size 18,” she boasted.

Losing weight has also enhanced Creque’s social life. She is now more outgoing and confident and participates in outdoor activities. Even something as

simple as climbing into a maxi-taxi with-

out effort is an achievement for her.

“The little, everyday activities people who are slim take for granted, are hard for big people. Simply walking down Frederick Street during the day, or even at Carnival time is difficult,” she said.

High in praise for her bosses Angie Thomas and Sandra Goring and co-workers who support her weight loss efforts, Creque’s advice to those who want to lose weight is to start now.

“Don’t put it off another day. I wish I had done something sooner. The rewards are limitless,” she said.

Speaking of rewards, Creque’s biggest to date is her love life which she describes as excellent.

Smiling coyly, she would only say her relationship with Joel is very recent and that she has decided to move to Central Trinidad with him.

She wasn’t into dating before, she said, because she was on a mission.

Losing weight changed that.

“The smaller you get, the more eyes you turn,” Creque said. “I turned his and he turned mine.”

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