National Miss Ohio 2014 Sets Platform On Personal Weight Struggles

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UPDATED: Wednesday March 19, 2014 6:20 PM

You might see Ciera Howell and think she's like any young woman at the gym.  That is, until you hear about the path she took to get here.

"My whole life weight has been a struggle for me.  My parents noticed at age eight that I was getting bigger than all the other kids."

She was ten years young when she started dieting.  Ciera says her family and friends were always there for her -- she wasn't unhappy with them or herself.

The fact that people outside her circle of support seemed to be unhappy with her – however - sometimes brought her to tears.

"They think you're lazy or you don't care about what you look like, but that's not true.  You still have a soul and are a person and all those things," she says.

She was into her studies and theater, but the weight was becoming a bigger problem and was affecting her health; she was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

Controlling it through diet wasn't working for Ciera and it’s why she turned to a form of bariatric surgery that reduced her stomach, which limits what she can eat.

Dr. Maurice Page is part of the Mount Carmel team that treated Ciera.  He says the surgery is not a cosmetic procedure, but a surgery to make patients healthy.  And through that surgery, Ciera no longer has diabetes and doesn’t have exercise-induced asthma.

Doctor Page says the surgery isn't the only reason Ciera saw results.  She knows it was a powerful tool, but that her day-to-day decisions, along with discipline have had a lot to do with her success, too.

Regular exercise and homegrown recipes that pay attention to things like using oil instead of butter and whole grains instead of white flour helped Ciera shed 115 pounds.

"I feel I have confidence to try things I haven’t tried before," she says.

That explains the crown she wears and the title she holds: National Miss Ohio 2014.

But it's not what you might expect from a pageant.

"It’s all about inner beauty.  I did the application process for National Miss Ohio where you fill it out and speak with the director.  They choose you based on that."

Ciera competes with the rest of the country in August.  Her platform: beauty is more than skin deep.  It’s a lesson the years have taught her - one she shares. 

"It’s not just about what you look like on the outside.  It's also about how healthy you are and what you look like on the inside."

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