Name: Debra Turner
Location: Redondo Beach, CA
Why I decided to transform
I was active until my 30s. Then I started drinking, smoking, and getting minimal sleep. I became sick and developed an auto immune disease that gave me pustular psoriasis blisters on my feet and hands. My body turned on itself and was attacking my skin as if it were a foreign object, which left me in a wheelchair unable to walk.
I still worked full time but lived alone in constant excruciating pain and had to crawl on my knees to use the bathroom. I saw no hope in sight. Every doctor I went to gave me topical ointments or excuses why they couldn't help me. I went to a top dermatologist at UCLA Medical Center who prescribed such high-powered drugs that I required blood work every two weeks to make sure my kidneys weren't failing. That was the last straw.
Rather than bandage the outside, I was referred to an internist who worked from the inside out and literally saved my life. I was on the brink of suicide when I wheeled myself into her office wailing in pain. She prescribed a diet of lean chicken, brown rice, vegetables, herbs, and vitamins and said I couldn't have alcohol or caffeine.
I made a full recovery within a few weeks of changing my lifestyle and was out of the wheelchair. The effects of the psoriasis remained with me for years afterward and the nerve endings in my feet are permanently damaged. At age 40, I decided to quit smoking after 25 years. I already watched my mom die of esophageal cancer, numerous relatives suffer emphysema-related illnesses, and my father strapped to a breathing apparatus. I put down the cigarettes, picked up sneakers, and decided to get up and walk until the nicotine craving stopped, which was usually at the 10-minute mark.
This continued until I realized that I liked walking and kept going. It was a big deal to someone who was diagnosed with asthma at an early age and still had nerve pain from my bout with auto immune disease. Soon after, I joined a gym and started hitting the weights. Then I was turned onto hiking in the neighboring mountains which is my passion. Being in the fresh air surrounded by beauty and my own thoughts was a wonderful escape when my dad's health declined and he passed away from a slew of preventable medical issues like high blood pressure and cholesterol.
I hit the weights and cardio machines then (2006-2008) but knew nothing about clean eating. I thought my diet was fine. Four years later, I had zero energy and was 25 pounds overweight. I still went to the gym, took boot camp classes twice per week, and ran trails every weekend but kept gaining weight. I don't believe age means being relegated to Zumba and yoga.
I set out to prove myself right and reached out to a friend and colleague, Dianna Moore, who went through a transformation to become a bikini competitor. I realized that bikini bodies aren't born and don't necessarily belong to 25-year-old gymnasts. Dianna taught me the true meaning of clean eating and working out to see noticeable improvement.
Within weeks, my body slimmed down, tightened up, and I became more youthful. I had energy to burn. Since I started Dianna's program in April 2013, I dropped 33 pounds and cut my body fat in half. My size 8 jeans are now a size 2 shorty short. At nearly 49 years old, I can try on all clothes and bikinis and it looks great. This is a lifestyle that will follow me forever.
How I accomplished my goals
I had enough of running around in circles, getting my butt kicked in boot camp class, and trail running every weekend only to see my waistline expand. I couldn't understand what was going on but refused to give in. I hired Dianna to be my coach and she created meal plans and exercise routines based on my fitness goals. At the time, I had one goal in mind: to cut my body fat in half.
I wasn't focused on the scale so much because I knew that I was gaining lean muscle. I accomplished my goals by consuming more food more often and learning about nutrition. I also had to report every few days on my energy level and send photos and measurements every week. Nothing kept me more accountable than knowing I had to strip down to a bikini every week and take pictures of myself.
There were times when I didn't feel like my body changed but compared my photos side-by-side to remind myself how far I came. I also switched up my cardio to stay challenged.
What aspect challenged me the most
Getting my body used to good, clean meals and eating a lot was the most challenging. Taking weekly photos was challenging in the beginning.
My future fitness plans
I plan to bulk up more and take my body as far as I can. I will keep following the clean eating lifestyle. At age 49, I may consider entering a competition so I can inspire middle-aged people.
Suggestions for aspiring transformers
- Take photos to stay accountable.
- The scale shouldn't be a measure of success.
- Hire a coach.
- This is a lifestyle change, not a diet or quick fix.
How Bodybuilding.com helped me reach my goals
I use Bodybuilding.com for all my nutritional needs. I recommend the site to everyone who asks. I receive my orders quickly with free gifts. The exercise routines from fitness experts keep my body guessing. The videos that accompany the articles keep my form correct.
Debra's Top 5 Gym Tracks
- "Walk" by Foo Fighters
- "Roar" by Katy Perry
- "Royals" by Lorde
- "It's Time" by Imagine Dragons
- "Shake It Out" by Florence & The Machine