A mum who was obese for two decades before her father’s health scare inspired her to lose 70kg has revealed the simple tricks that helped her achieve her goal.
Crystal Turk, 32, lost nearly half her bodyweight thanks to the changes she made shortly before her dad Robert’s fourth heart complication.
She was determined not to follow in the footsteps of the 64-year-old, whose unhealthy lifestyle led him to suffer a heart attack at the age of 41 and three atrial fibrillations.
The fear of suffering similar problems motivated Crystal to change her life and become a better role model for her sons, Brendan and Zachary.
First she embarked on a ‘21-day fix’ in October 2014, which consisted of eating whole foods in small portions and doing a 30-minute workout every day.
Despite struggling with the daily exercise, she never gave up and eventually the routine became second nature to her.
This tactic led Crystal to lose more than 44kg in nine months and the full 70kg after two years.
‘Watching my dad live an unhealthy lifestyle pushed me to change my life for myself and for my family,’ Crystal – who is now a 71kg personal trainer – tells New Idea.
'I feared for my dad’s life then and I still do today. I try to guide him in the right direction, but I know change is very hard, especially when we get older.
‘I was hoping that if my family could see that change was possible, they would begin to change their unhealthy habits also,’ she explains.
Crystal says she was determined to teach her sons how to live ‘a healthy and active life’. But changing wasn’t easy.
‘Doing the workouts was very difficult when I weighed more than 136kg,’ Crystal admits. ‘It was also difficult mentally getting into the habit of doing them every day. I had to force myself at times.
‘The first three weeks were the hardest, but after that I didn’t look back.’
One simple trick Crystal employed was to write down every single thing she ate.
‘It just became normal for me to document every meal and every snack I was eating each day,’ she says.
‘Something just clicked in me. I told myself that if I didn’t truly want this, I wouldn’t have been doing it. That’s what motivated me to not quit, it’s mind-over-matter and you have to truly want something in order to have that drive.’
Documenting her weight-loss journey on Instagram, Crystal caught the attention of many users who found inspiration from her accomplishment.
She then decided to become a certified personal trainer to help others achieve their goals, too.
‘Once I started losing weight, I quickly pushed myself into the fitness community, especially with my social media posts,’ Crystal says.
‘I soon realised that I was motivating a lot of people who followed me. I thought if I became a personal trainer and actually helped them through their journey of dieting and exercise, I would be able to motivate them even more.’
Now half the size she was, Crystal is fundraising so she can have her excess skin removed.
But her life has changed for the better.
One major change is that she has an increased energy level and is able to have more fun with her kids. In addition, Crystal, from San Diego, is now a keen runner. When she was in high school, it would take her 16 minutes to run 1.6km compared to just nine minutes now.
But the most valuable change, she says, is being able to finally love herself.
‘Having self-love for myself is one of the best benefits – I’m able to look at myself in the mirror and know that I love myself and have pride in myself.’
Crystal’s day on a plate before
About 2.5 cups of sugary cereal with milk.
Ham and cheese sandwich with mayo, bag of chips, cookies (or some other sweet treat).
Typically fast food: Full-size fried beef with fries, guacamole and cheese plus rolled tacos, or an ultimate bacon cheeseburger meal with a large fries and soft drink.
1-3 cups fruit.
Individual packs of desserts from grocery stores and bags of chips.
Crystal's day on a plate after
¹⁄³ cup steel cut oats with flax meal and 1 cup fresh berries (no sweetener), 2 whole eggs with
2 egg whites scrambled.
A protein bar.
2 cups salad mix with chicken breast, onion, capsicum and light dressing plus 1 small apple.
110g protein, 2 cups vegies (zucchini/broccoli/baked carrots), ½ to 1 cup of complex carbs (sweet potato/brown rice/quinoa).
½ cup of berries or frozen fruit.