Let’s just be real for a second. How “inspiring” is it to see one of the usual “fitthick” “fitchick” women on social media flaunting washboard abs and buns of steel? Their photo feeds read like an athlete’s diary with posts of nothing but the gym, working out and “inspiring” us to eat clean and train dirty. Scroll back months or even years on their timelines and it’s hard to find a photo of them “out of shape.” Yes they might have been skinnier, less toned and not as firm back then, but nothing to really complain about. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to the gym and working out as well and I admire these women for their determination, focus and toned physiques; but here’s what I find even more inspiring. A 28-year-old school public school teacher who literally shrunk half her size, going from a staggering 360 pounds to 180 pounds in just three years. The self proclaimed “Lyfesize Barbie’s” transformation is nothing short of amazing and my version of inspiring! I’ve known Crystal Clarke since my junior high school days in C.H. Reeves, but I had to admit to her recently though, that when we first became friends on Facebook, I blindly accepted the invite because the person in her profile photo was that of a familiar stranger to me. Someone I vaguely recognized. I admitted also that I had to scroll through older photos of her to remind myself of who this girl was! And there she was, the bubbly, always smiling schoolmate I remembered, the heavier version. I was stunned! This can’t be Crystal! Her body, her features, her attitude all were different. I was immensely impressed. I’ve been following (and admiring) her on social media for a little over a year now and decided it was time for someone to showcase a real weight loss journey, a real story of triumph and winning back your body and how she went from full figured to fashionista!
My breaking point happened back in 2012 when my mom and I were sitting on the couch watching the TLC hit series “My 600 Pound Life.” There I was stuffing my face with an enormous plate of curry chicken and a two liter of grape soda when my mom looked at me and pleaded, “Chrissy, I don’t want you to be like this lady on this show. Please look into going on a diet and I promise to help you with your weight loss journey by buying and preparing all of your meals.” At that point, I had never dieted before in my life but promised my mom that I would give it a try and begin ‘fresh’ that following week. I spent the following few days researching diets and decided that the Atkins low carb diet would be the easiest to stick with.
MiniSkirts and Microphones (MAM): How did you start your journey and how did you make the decision between a regular diet and making a lifestyle change? How much weight did you lose? If you don’t mind saying, what weight are you at now?
Crystal Clarke (CC): I knew that in order to keep the weight off, I had to make it a “lifestyle change” and immediately decided to do away with the concept of ‘dieting.’ I did not weigh myself until exactly three months after beginning my weight loss journey and I was amazed that I had lost 32 pounds! This motivated me to keep going and proved to me that losing the weight was rather possible without any pills, magic teas/shakes or surgery! Three years later, I have gone from 360 pounds to 180 pounds…a grand total of 180 pounds lost! I am proud to say that I am literally ‘half my size!’
With a new look and now just half of her former self Crystal’s inner fashionista emerged! Take a minute and go through her Instagram feed and you’d be treated to the most “on fleek” outfits, amazing make up artistry and a woman with confidence out of this world.
CC: I am a pretty simple laid-back girl who enjoys simple ‘dinner and a movie’ nights! I love teaching, traveling, shopping and make-up artistry. Call me superficial, but one of the greatest rewards of this journey was being able to walk into any normal store and not having to shop in the plus sized section! For the first time ever, I was able to wear and feel confident in clothing such as fitted dresses, skinny leg jeans and cute rompers as I went from a size 24 to a 10!
But Crystal says despite her accomplishments thus far the work to maintain her new body never stops. From a strict diet, to giving up some of her favorite foods and drinks and doing strenuous work outs, Crystal says this part of the journey has been a job all its own.
MAM: What foods do you miss most and how do you handle cravings?
CC: My daily diet consists mainly of protein (meat, poultry, fish and eggs), non- starchy vegetables. Typical snacks are veggies, nuts and chesses. The only beverages I consume are tea/coffee and tons of water (a gallon per day). During the initial stages of my weight loss journey, I went to the gym and exercised three to four times per week, consistently! Typical exercise regime consisted of 30 to 45 minutes on the elliptical and about 30 minutes strength training using free weights (dumb bells). With the recent demands of work and school, I have not been able to be as consistent as I used to…but I do get work-outs in at home. As most are aware, being on an extreme low carb diet means totally eliminating carb-rich foods such as bread, rice, pasta, sugar, pastries etc. until you have reached your goal weight then you can gradually reintroduce whole grains (‘good carbs’) into your diet. With that said, the foods I miss most are pasta (shrimp fettuccine), cake and ice cream! Although my cravings for these foods have decreased drastically, when I do crave ice cream I opt to purchase sugar free ice cream instead. As for the fettuccine and guava duff…well, I do have these as ‘planned cheat meals’ once in every ‘blue moon’. Being a former soda addict who drank liters of soda a day, I am proud to say that I do not miss it at all and have not drank soda for more than three years now! I went from a size 24 to a 10!
With an extremely supportive group of family and friends cheering her on, Crystal says her transformation has been even more easy to go through. Now at 180 pounds, Crystal says she sees herself shedding even more pounds, but first she’d have to face her team.
CC: For the most part, my family and friends were extremely supportive throughout my weight loss journey. Month after month, they were astonished at how quickly I was losing the weight and transforming right before their eyes. As of recent however, most of them are of the opinion that I do not need to lose any more weight and do not support my ultimate goal weight of 140 pounds…I plan to lose these last few pounds before my birthday next June.
CC: The major downside to dramatic weight loss is excess skin. After losing nearly 200 pounds, I am left with excess skin on areas such as my tummy and arms. I am currently saving towards surgery which is estimated to cost around $20,000. Although I was always a rather confident person, my self-esteem has sky rocketed and I enjoy being able to finally look and feel ‘normal’. It is always a great feeling to have people who haven’t seen me in years barely recognize you and comment on how much weight you’ve lost and how great you look! Overall, I am also happy that I am able to be more physically active, especially in my new career as a teacher! After my surgery…I am looking forward to wearing a two piece bikini, mini-skirts and back-out tops and dresses!
Crystal has chronicled much of her journey on her social media profiles, oftentimes showcasing her meals, comparison photos that show the drastic weight loss, her defeats, triumphs and a great role model for anyone who needs it. Now, this is what I call inspiring!