From Sedentary to Sensational

How one mom got fed up, resolved to change her life, and went from 35 percent body fat to dedicated gym rat.

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Age: 35 | Height: 5’6”

Starting body fat: 35% | Current body fat: 15%

Weight before: 180 lb | Current weight: 130 lb

The biggest challenge: “It was incredibly difficult to share my before pictures. I worried about what people would think about me, but then I thought, if I could just help one other person, this will be worth it.”

“I’m sick of this, and this was not the person I was created to be!” Crystal McCarthy recalls saying to her 180-pound self as she tried to squeeze into her jeans. “I am a spectator in my own life. I have no energy, and my life is passing me by.”

McCarthy had struggled with her weight since high school, and as the years passed, the pounds piled on. At 34, McCarthy was already on medications for high cholesterol and a thyroid condition, and she had lost her confidence and her identity.

“Many days I would just lie on the couch, too exhausted to play with my own children,” she admits. “I was also suffering from frequent headaches.”

After refusing to buy bigger clothes, McCarthy decided the time to change had arrived. First, she reversed her poor eating habits, swapping junk food for nutritive, healthy meals, and quickly shed 20 pounds. She then took on a 90-day fitness challenge and set her sights on running a 5K. “At first, I couldn’t run more than a quarter of a mile,” she says. “So I set my 90-day goal to run a 5K without stopping.”


She began walking on a treadmill, and each time, her goal was go a little farther or a little faster than she had previously. She shed a little weight, and ran her 5K exactly 90 days later. Then McCarthy set her next challenge: to compete in a triathlon. “Just the idea of me doing a triathlon seemed absurd, so I think that is what drew me to it,” she says, laughing. Fast-forward 90 days: She crossed the finish line, ready to move on to her next goal.

The newly minted triathlete had managed to drop 55 pounds through improved nutrition and a cardio-based training program; however, she wanted to add some muscle to her smaller frame. “I could make myself do cardio and run, but I really didn’t know anything about strength training,” McCarthy says. So she hired a trainer who helped her put on 5 pounds of lean mass in three months. “In the last couple of months, I reached this happy place, and I’m not stopping,” she vows. McCarthy is off all her medication, and she even did another challenge — a six-week program to get six-pack abs — and succeeded!

“I’ve finally found what motivates me, and it’s the challenge to overcome self-doubt and to do things that I always believed were impossible for me,” she says. “I have never been athletic, but I truly believe that if I can do this, anyone can.”

Crystal McCarthy’s Training Routine

Day 1: Back and biceps, cardio

Day 2: Chest and triceps, cardio

Day 3: Circuit training intervals

Day 4: Lower body, cardio

Day 5: cardio

Crystal trains abs five days a week.