Over 40 Amateur Of The Week: Bikini 360

Crystal was determined to never feel uncomfortable in a bikini again. She set specific goals, rallied around her family, and stood proudly on the NPC bikini podium!

How Did Your Fitness Journey Begin?

On July 11, 2012, I turned 48 years young. I'm married and a full-time mother of two beautiful children ages 9 and 11. Back in April 2011, reality hit me after I came back from a Caribbean vacation with my family.

While looking at photos of the vacation, my children asked me why there were no photos of me in a bathing suit? The truth is I was embarrassed of how I looked and felt about my body. I really never watched my diet and was convinced that doing cardio 3-4 times a week was my answer to getting a great physique.

I did not consider myself overweight, but I had very little muscle tone and a high percent of body fat. Surprisingly, I always incorporated exercise into my daily routine and had well-qualified trainers. I spent a lot of time and money, but never saw a dramatic change in my body.

In May 2011, I finally told myself I was ready to change my body once in for all! I started researching trainers and techniques online in the Los Angeles area. My research came up with "fitness coaches" who prepare their clients for fitness competitions. At first, I was intimidated when I read about fitness competitors. I thought the last thing I wanted was to be big and muscular.

As my research continued, I realized that the women, especially in my age group, looked lean with well-defined muscles and no body fat. They looked like athletes. I read about how strength training with heavy weights, if done properly over time, would give me the best results. I was convinced and ready to work hard.

My original goal was to get my body in amazing shape. Then, I went to my first NPC competition. That was when my life changed. I saw bikini and figure girls onstage and knew I wanted to be up there. With the encouragement of my family, I began preparation for my first NPC show.

The pressure was on and there was no turning back. My fitness journey and training began in June 2011. I took progress photos with measurements and began documenting everything. At this point, I weighed 150 pounds. I listed everything I ate from the moment I woke up to when I went to sleep.

For the first time in my life, workouts included heavy weights. I began strength training four days a week, alternated between upper and lower body days, incorporated abs, and performed cardio at least three days a week. I took it very seriously, told myself that there were no excuses, and began training like an athlete.

It has been a little over a year and I have lost approximately 35 pounds. I have muscles in my arms, back, and legs that I never saw before. I had more muscles at 48 years old than I had in my twenties. My body is toned and my posture has changed dramatically.

After months of hard work and clean eating, I competed in my first NPC bikini competition on March 10, 2012 and received a third-place trophy. I didn't stop there. On June 9, 2012, I competed again and received two additional trophies (second place in Master +45 class and fourth place in Masters +35 class). It was an honor to place so well in a lineup of such well conditioned fellow athletes. The feeling of accomplishment after the show was exhilarating!

What Workout Regimen Delivered The Best Results?

I'm fortunate to live in Los Angeles where there are beautiful and well-equipped gyms on every corner! I prefer to work out in a small gym where I can work out efficiently and not waste time. I allow myself one hour of strength training per day, four days a week. I do my cardio at least three times a week at my favorite place: Body Theory Fitness Center, located in North Hollywood, California.

What Nutrition Plan Fueled Your Body?

Nutrition and clean eating was the key to my transformation. I didn't see a change in my physique until I made the decision to stick to a clean diet and nutritional program. I stopped drinking alcohol and cut out all sodium and sugar. I replaced my daily morning latte and muffin with a protein drink and oatmeal. I began eating every 2-3 hours. As a full-time mother, I was in my car most of the day, so I bought a large cooler and put all my healthy snacks and protein drinks inside.

How Did Your Passion For Fitness Emerge?

After my June 9, 2012 show, I joined Kim Oddo/Body by O to help me get to the next level of training and competing. Kim created a new customized workout and nutrition plan for me and inspires me to stay on track and achieve my fitness goals with advice and motivation.

I surround myself with everything fitness and those involved with the fitness industry. I have a new athlete page on Facebook which helps me stay connected with other fitness competitors. I enjoy following other competitors progress and love exchanging information regarding motivation and fitness. Every year, I plan to compete in at least one NPC fitness competition and I will make it a point to schedule a photo shoot twice a year. Both will help me stay in shape and keep me excited about showing off my new physique and hard work.

What/Who Motivated You?

I would have never been able to achieve my body transformation without the unconditional support of family. My husband and two children motivate me every day. They played a huge part in my fitness journey and their support and positive feedback kept me going when I got discouraged. And, of course, my first fitness coach supported me in the very beginning, Michele D'Angona. She gave me the confidence to get on stage and make my career as a fitness competitor a reality.

Where Did You Go For Inspiration?

I frequently get asked by mothers and women over 35 about how I got inspired to transform my body and my life. Frankly, inspiration came from the beautiful fitness competitors on Bodybuilding.com and Musclecontest.com. On the days I felt tired or unmotivated, I would spend hours looking at the fitness competitors and before and after photos. I loved reading about the amazing transformations. I bought 2-3 copies of the popular fitness magazines every month and I put them in our bathroom, kitchen, office and my car. I still use them for inspiration and motivation. I thought to myself, "If they can do it, then so can I!" Today, I gain inspiration from looking in the mirror and saying, "Wow, I can't believe that's me!"

What Are Your Future Fitness Plans?

Currently, my personal goal is to continue training and eating correctly so I can maintain a healthy lifestyle and look my best. Today, I put myself first and will in the future. As a result, my family and friends benefit from my renewed energy and positive attitude. I look forward to enjoying sports with my children, including swimming in a bikini. I'm a happier person.

Instead of thinking about dieting, I think about preparing for my next competition. Currently, I'm preparing for my next NPC show scheduled for November 2, 2012. Thanks to Kim Oddo and the continued encouragement and patience of my family and friends, I now have the tools and motivation to achieve my future fitness goals.

What Is The Most Important Fitness Tip?

Be patient and be reminded of your daily progress no matter how small. Take it day by day. If you fall off your meal plan, miss a workout, or have a setback, don't panic or get discouraged. Start fresh the next day and have no regrets. Be proud of yourself for making the initial commitment to change your life and transform your body. Surround yourself with positive people who support your decision. I could not have done this without the support and encouragement of my family.

Who Is Your Favorite Bodybuilder/Fitness Athlete?

I have many favorite fitness athletes/competitors. I admire fellow Body by O, Team Oddo's Angel's, Nicole Wilkins, Amanda Latona, and Sonia Gonzales. I also admire Kim Dolan Leto for being a competitor and a mother.

How Did Bodybuilding.com Help You Reach Your Goals?

Bodybuilding.com is great. It's by far the best website out there for information and motivation. Its Store is the best. It's easy to use when ordering supplements and contains informative reviews. I love to read "What's New at Bodybuilding.com." It helps me connect me with others who have the same goals and helps me stay motivated. Of course, I love Jaime Eason. She is so inspirational.

Photographic Credit: Nga Azarian, Photographer, www.graphicmusclephoto.com; Rob Sims, Photographer, Bruce Rosenberg/Owner: Megabyte Media, Inc., www.mbmvideo.com

Trainer Credit: Michele D'Angona, Kim Oddo/Body by O (my current fitness coach/trainer)

Hair/Makeup Credit: FouFou Makeup, foufoumakeup@gmail.com; Laurie Hagstrom/Owner: Cheat the Beach Competition Color Spray Tan