Crystal Rowell is a fighter. After being diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of 18 and undergoing an operation to remove her entire large intestine, Crystal was cancer-free but still in pain. She lost her health insurance and became bedridden for seven months with another mystery disease. During that time she gained 80 pounds and says she didn’t even recognize herself. Today, she’s 90 pounds thinner, and healthier than she’s ever been in her life.
The happiness Crystal felt after her cancer scare, was quickly replaced by sadness and frustration when she began experiencing excruciating pain in her abdomen. She was finally diagnosed with peptic ulcers and Cushing’s Disease. Once the medication kicked in and she was on the road to better health, she looked in the mirror and knew it was time to tackle her weight loss.
During her recuperation, the lack of activity and emotional eating had taken a toll on her body. “When, I was able to take a good look at who was staring back at me in the mirror, I couldn’t believe what I saw,” she explained. “It was shocking. The damage done to my body was no longer just on the inside. I didn’t know the person staring back at me.” Crystal started her weight loss journey by, “going cold turkey on all sweets, fast food and soda.” Then, as she felt physically able, she began walking on the treadmill for an hour a day and using the My Fitness Pal app to track calories.
During her journey, Crystal’s resolve had to be strong, even when she felt weak. She feared the damage done to her body and her dependence on medication would keep her from achieving her goals but she kept pushing forward. When the nagging voice in her head told her to give up, that it was too hard and wasn’t worth it, she ignored it and instead, focused on the future. “The mind is very powerful,” she said. “If you are able to envision it and believe in it, you can achieve it.”
Crystal says her biggest triumph came when she was cleared of all medical restrictions. Today she maintains her weight by walking, doing cardio for 30-45 minutes and resistance band workouts every other day. She does treat herself to a “cheat day” once a week but says even that is done in moderation.
Along the way she had to distance herself from people in her life who were not supportive of her weight loss goals. ” I fully believe that the person you are or want to be, is a reflection of who you surround yourself with,” she said. “This includes family. Blood or not, if they are part of what is bringing you down, they have to go.”
Crystal’s future goal is to continue to grow stronger, physically and mentally, and obtain her master’s degree in business management.