For many years, Raleigh chef James Castellow was like a doctor telling patients to quit smoking and then excusing himself for a cigarette break.
Castellow served healthy food to his customers at North Raleighs Zest Cafe & Home Art but would grab fast-food burgers on his way home.
Then, on Jan. 20, 2012, Castellow, now 34, and his wife, Betsy, high school sweethearts, welcomed their son, Brighton, into the world.
At the time, Castellow weighed about 355 pounds. He realized he needed to make some changes. Ive got to be here for (my son), he thought. Ive got to see him hit all his milestones in life.
Castellow started eating healthier food, such as lean proteins and vegetables. He gave up most carbohydrates. He cut back on beer. And he started an intense exercise regimen four days a week at a Rex Wellness Center.
By Thanksgiving 2012, Castellow and his sister-in-law ran the Ridgewood Shopping Centers annual Turkey Trot, an 8-kilometer race on Thanksgiving Day in Raleigh. In August, he completed his first sprint triathlon. Since his sons birth, Castellow has shed 135 pounds and now weighs about 220.
His transformation has been so amazing that hes influenced the women in his life to get healthier too.
His mother, Diane Castellow of Raleigh, recently joined a gym. His mother-in-law, Sally Carbrey, 65, also of Raleigh, joined WeightWatchers. She has lost 60 pounds in 11 months. As a result, she no longer avoids walking up and down stairs and has been able to push off knee replacement surgery.
Spurred by the success of her husband and her mother, Betsy Castellow, 32, joined WeightWatchers last February. She has since lost 30 pounds.
It hasnt been easy, Betsy Castellow admitted. The couple both work full-time jobs while being new parents, but they have made healthier lifestyles a priority.
Betsy said she and her relatives have had strong motivation. First, theres her son. Its Brighton, she said. Hes been such a motivating factor.
And she said, James example is super inspiring. Theres no excuse not to do it. Look at how far hes come.
Weigl: 919-829-4848 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @andreaweigl