“It’s extremely satisfying to know that all of the work that you do here has a pay-off. You're really changing lives.”
Maria Celada, Senior Consumer Marketing Manager for OPTIFAST®
Losing weight and feeling good are always in season, especially as the weather warms up. Every spring for 10 years, Nestlé Health Science has sponsored the OPTIFAST® New You Contest to celebrate those who have taken charge and want to share their weight loss stories.
The OPTIFAST® program is a 26-week, medically supervised weight-management program that closely monitors and assesses progress toward weight loss, better health and emotional well-being.
To learn more about the OPTIFAST® New You Contest, we spoke to three Nestlé Health Science employees who are involved with running the contest and selecting winners from all of the submitted weight loss stories.
David Green, R.Ph., is General Manager of OPTIFAST® USA. Maria Celada is Senior Consumer Marketing Manager for OPTIFAST®, and Elaine Perry is Associate Director for Obesity Marketing.
What was the idea behind creating the OPTIFAST® New You Contest?
Maria: We wanted to celebrate the people who have managed their weight loss through the OPTIFAST® program. It’s about giving these amazing people an opportunity to share their weight loss stories and inspire others.
David: People who are struggling with their weight, and have all but given up, can see others who are succeeding—whose lives have been changed by OPTIFAST®. Maybe they’ll be motivated to try the program and help get their health under control through weight loss.
What do you look for when selecting weight loss stories for the OPTIFAST® New You Contest?
Elaine: First, we should make it clear that we’re not looking for who lost the most weight. Three things are key: how inspirational, creative, and original the weight loss story is. In terms of weight loss, it’s more about the health and lifestyle gains they have achieved, not the pounds.
Maria: It’s not about losing weight for a friend’s wedding. The OPTIFAST® program is about the benefits of long-term weight loss. We want to see that applicants are improving their quality of life and looking at it as a journey. These people got to the point where they said, “I have to change my life.” They want to live longer, to be there for their grandkids.
We know that people try over and over again to lose weight. What is it about the OPTIFAST® program that helps these winners break the cycle?
Elaine: The OPTIFAST® program is medically supervised and offers a great deal of weight loss support. In addition to a meal replacement plan, there’s lifestyle management, behavioral counseling, medical monitoring, lifestyle and nutrition education, and personalized support. It's a combination of everything that works for them.
David: With the OPTIFAST® program, you can see the results in a short period of time, and that helps people stay motivated to keep going. Read how quick weight loss kept Nestlé U.S. employee and OPTIFAST® user Val Hunter motivated. With weight loss, slow and steady doesn’t necessarily win the race. In fact, recent clinical studies suggest that people who lose weight quickly are not more susceptible to weight regain and, in fact, may in some cases, have better and more lasting results.1,2
Maria: The fact that they don't have to think about planning meals during those 12 weeks takes a lot of stress out of the equation. Less options mean fewer temptations. The limitation of options helps keep you on track. It’s called stimuli narrowing. You are basically giving yourself a break from constant food choices.
You’ve read some amazing personal weight loss stories. Which OPTIFAST® New You Contest winner has moved you the most?
Maria: I’m awed by the life-transforming effect that the program has had on people. One of our 2017 winners, Maxine, had gone from being very limited in what she could do to becoming a vital, active woman again.
Elaine: I was really inspired by Monica, also one of our 2017 winners. Monica completely changed her life in terms of health. She described in a very beautiful way how, as her weight came down, the real Monica came out. She felt very empowered and was now able to live her life to the fullest.
David: Another of our winners, Rob, had a significant physical transformation after losing almost eighty pounds.* He couldn’t travel by plane, and now is able to sit in an airplane seat. What inspires me about all of these people is how brave they are. It takes a whole lot of guts to step into the spotlight and be willing to share your story with other people.
How are the OPTIFAST® New You Contest winners reacting to being in the spotlight?
Maria: They love it! Part of the prize is a trip to New York City and a complete makeover. They’ve actually become ambassadors for the program. Monica has 12 friends who are already lined up to enter the contest!
Has reading all of these motivating weight loss stories impacted you personally?
Maria: Absolutely. You see all of that power inside of them and all that they’ve overcome. It reminds me that I can overcome any challenges I come across in my day and that anybody has the power to change their lives.
*The success stories of these OPTIFAST® New You Contest winners are representative of these individuals only and do not represent all OPTIFAST® patients. OPTIFAST® patients typically maintain a 33-lb. weight loss after one year from starting the program and a 20-lb. weight loss after two years.
- Purcell et al. “The effect of rate of weight loss on long-term weight management: a randomized controlled trial.” Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol, 2014 Dec;2(12):954-62.
- Nackers et al. “The association between rate of initial weight loss and long-term success in obesity treatment: does slow and steady win the race?” Int J Behav Med 2010;13:161–7.