How a single mom used fitness to turn her life—and health—around for her son.

My name is Crystal Caldon and I live in Tacoma, Washington, where I work as the assistant sales manager for 24 Hour Fitness West Seattle. I have a 14-year-old son, James, and I love spending time with my family and cuddling with my kitties.

Ten years ago, I was overweight and decided to make a change. I’ve since lost—and kept off—55 pounds.

This is my transformation story.

Crystal and her son in December 2004

24Life: Tell us about your fitness journey—where does it begin?

Crystal Caldon (CC): The journey began at a time in my life when it was just me and my son, James, against the world. I found myself in the statistical position of being a young, single mother. I wanted to be the best version of myself I could be so that my son would grow up with a mother who gave not only financial security, but was also actively engaged in spending time with him—having enough energy to play with him and be involved in his life. My mother was a single mom who did not do that with me, and I wanted to do better for my son.

24Life: Do you remember what you said to yourself or the exact words or moments that you decided you wanted and needed a change?

CC: The day after my son’s father left us I remember saying to myself, “Your mother was a single mom who was unable to support you financially, unable to be without a man, who gave up trying to be healthy and let herself go. Because of that she didn’t spend time with you growing up. You are in the same position statistically, but you have what she doesn’t: grit. Be more, do better for James.”

24Life: What kept you motivated to stay the course?

CC: Progress kept me motivated, and not just the physical changes. I felt better. I played with my son more because I had more energy.

To make progress I had to learn to trust the process, trust that a healthier version of me would come if I put in the work and pushed past my perceived limits.

24Life: Were there moments of self-doubt? What did those look like and how did you overcome those?

CC: I prefer to think of my fitness journey as an evolution. That being said, I still have moments of self-doubt, thoughts that I’ve been stagnant and not progressed. That’s when I remind myself that I have to push past my perceived limits and trust the process. Results have followed before in the past, so I’ll do that to continue the evolution.

24Life: What surprised you the most about yourself during this journey?

CC: I never went back to that dark, unhealthy place. Because of the work I put in I have a totally different life that makes my old life seem like a bad dream. I’m healthy, my son is my “homie” and I remarried a wonderful man who treats me like a princess and is an amazing father to my son.

Crystal and her husband in December 2016

24Life: What was the most challenging part of your journey and how did you overcome it?

CC: The most challenging part of the evolution is comparison. Social media paints this picture of what you “should” look like in order to have value. It forces you into a state of constantly comparing yourself to others: You should have certain curves—but only in the right places. You have to be a certain weight or dress size. You have to have a certain skin tone, hairstyle, eyelash length. You have to have ribs/abs to show off in a “mirror selfie” along with a thigh gap. I overcame that by finding value in myself through my faith in Jesus and my family … and by quitting social media for nine months!

24Life: Did you have a specific goal in mind?

CC: To be the hottest chick in the retirement home when I reach my golden years. And to become a trainer and work with people in situations like mine. I had to figure it out on my own. I know for most that’s hard to do, and I want to reach out to them so they don’t have to go at it alone—and actually get them results that will change their lives.

24Life:  What is your go-to workout?

CC: Running. Nothing clears your head like a solid run.

24Life: What advice do you have for others who are just starting out or want to quit?

CC: Enlist help. That’s where I’m at in my evolution. What worked in my 20s isn’t working in my 30s. I’ve enlisted the help some of our trainers at 24 Hour Fitness and I’m seeing the gains! It’s worth the investment in yourself.

24Life: What did you do when you would make a mistake or fall behind schedule or get frustrated with your results?

CC: Take accountability for the plateau. I could blame genetics, or stress or a work schedule, but the blame game will hold you back from progressing. A favorite Rocky Balboa quote comes to mind:

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

24Life: What’s next for you? Do you have any current goals you are pursuing?

CC: To continue growing my career at 24 Hour Fitness and become a certified trainer.

Please note that the results that Crystal has experienced are unique to her, and your results may vary. Always consult your health care provider before undertaking changes in your diet or fitness regimen.

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Photo credit: Courtesy of Crystal Caldon