Have you ever encountered a person who captures your attention and compels the need to ask what they are doing that makes them stand out in the crowd? Diana L. Thornton is one of those people. When I first met Diana four years ago, I saw her from across the gym and I said to myself, “I would love to look like her.” I got off the treadmill, made my way to where she was standing and introduced myself. I pointed to her body and asked, “what would it take to look like you?” Her response was “do you really want to know?”
We both laughed, talked for a few minutes then she gave me her card. Diana told me a little about herself. She had been a personal trainer for 16 years and fitness competitor since 2009. She told me to call her and a few weeks later that’s what I did. Very soon thereafter I began training with Diana and had the most amazing and intense personal training experience I have ever had.
Due to some unforeseen health issues I had to discontinue my workouts, however, I stayed in touch with Diana. Her energy, drive and passion has never ceased to amaze me, so I decided to interview her as an inspiring role model for people, especially women, aged fifty plus.
It is never too late to achieve your greatest potential and to discover your true purpose and passion. The only obstacle standing in your way is you! We sat down together and discussed her fitness journey.
EB: Tell me what got you started on the journey that has brought you to this point in your life.
DLT: At the age of 19 my boyfriend convinced me to take a bicycle ride. Afterwards my legs were really sore! I discovered I liked that feeling. I was inspired to begin jogging and I started to lose body fat, but I really didn’t feel better about myself.
When I turned 29 (pregnant with my 3rd child) I joined a gym and started working out with weight machines. After the birth of my 3rd son I took a 2-year break from the gym, and when he was two I joined the gym again determined to get my body back in good shape.
There was a trainer on staff and she helped me get set up on a weight training program, and that was all it took. I saw results in the first month and I was hooked! In January of 2000 I became a personal trainer wanting to help others achieve their fitness goals. In 2006 I decided I wanted to take things to another level and I started working with a coach who trains fitness competitors.
My diet totally changed and I became more serious than ever. My body completely changed finally getting all the puzzle pieces together. I did my first competition in 2009 at the age of 52 and won the overall, beating women half my age. I proceeded to do 17 more shows because I have so enjoyed the process of contest preparation. I have learned so much.
I feel if you decide on a fitness goal and follow a good workout and nutrition plan you will achieve results. There are no shortcuts for hard work, sacrifice and dedication and there is no greater reward than accomplishing the goal that you’ve worked so tirelessly to achieve!
EB: What has been your biggest struggle?
DLT: My relationship with food. I love to eat! It is an emotional and comfort thing. But I’ve learned that if you are disciplined most of the time you can enjoy a cheat meal once or twice a week.
This keeps you from feeling deprived and stimulates your metabolism. It has taken me years to develop the level of focus and commitment that I have. Anything worthwhile takes time. Setting and achieving goals is the best way to develop that discipline.
EB: What has been your most powerful realization?
DLT: It would be that it is 100% possible to be in control of your body. I spent many years fearful of gaining weight and falling into the trap of settling for mediocrity.
✅ Set realistic and obtainable goals.
✅ Never give up.
✅ Live outside your comfort zone.
Only there will you find the best version of you! Always be striving for improvement. Don’t allow yourself to become complacent because that is a prescription for falling back into old bad habits.
EB: What are you most proud of?
DLT: I’m most proud of the affect I have had on the quality of life of the people I’ve worked with over the years. Their physical, emotional and psychological changes have literally been “food for my soul.”
I’ve been blessed with the gift of inspiration and I feel it is my responsibility to use this gift to help others.
I’m also proud of my own progression both physically and emotionally. I have learned so much over the years about discipline, dedication and sacrifice that have allowed me to grow exponentially in all areas of my life.
EB: How empowering has it been to be 61 and to achieve the level of success in bodybuilding that you have accomplished?
DLT: Very much so! I feel blessed to be in my best condition at this point in my life. I actually thought my days of looking tight, fit and healthy were over when I turned 30!
Little did I know that my fitness journey had only just begun! I’ve continually improved every year which proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that age is truly just a number!
EB: What is a key lesson you have learned along the way? Any other lessons you would like to share?
There is no substitute for hard work.
There are no magic pills, miracle drugs or procedures that will give you the healthy and fit body you long for.
There is no greater reward than to reach a fitness goal through hard work and dedication. The confidence this accomplishment creates translates into every area of your life!
EB: What are your goals for the next 5-10 years?
DLT: In the next 5-10 years I would like to continue to find myself in my best physical condition, to always be a good example. I would like to still be seeking opportunities to help others.
I want to continue learning and growing. I plan to have my hands in several different businesses that promote nutritional and health related products. I also plan to do some motivational speaking engagements.
EB: What inspires you?
I am inspired by:
- The excitement and anticipation that accompanies a new challenge.
- Encountering people with untapped potential and providing them the tools necessary to achieve their goals.
- People with a perpetual positive attitude despite their circumstances.
- People who have an unending wealth of knowledge and constantly desire to learn more.
- People who have a genuine heart for giving back.
EB: Do you have a favorite quote?
DLT: “No excuses, just results.”
EB: Who do you look to as a model for how you live your life?
DLT: There are so many people that I have looked to as role models in my life. My mother’s unconditional love and support was the first.
There have been others along the way who have exhibited strong character, a generous heart, a tireless work ethic, a selfless attitude, a humble nature, an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, a positive outlook, as well as, a life lived with integrity. My wish is to daily incorporate each of these attributes into my life.
EB: Any tips for anyone, man or woman, who wants to live life to the fullest?
DLT: To live life to the fullest we must always begin with a positive attitude. Do some soul searching. Find what truly drives you and brings you joy and fulfillment. Immerse yourself in it.
- Surround yourself with people who will help make you a better person.
- Set realistic goals and don’t let anything derail your efforts.
- Continually strive to improve yourself in some way.
- Don’t let yourself become complacent.
- Find ways to give back every day.
- Live with intensity!
EB: Anything else you would like to add or share?
DLT: I can still remember vividly being 17 years old looking out my window to see a neighbor who appeared to be in her 30’s mowing her lawn in a bikini. I thought to myself “I am only 17 years old and that woman looks better than I do.”
I have always felt different than other women. I spent many years trying to be like other women so that I would fit in. Something clicked inside me one day around the age of 40 and I decided to forget trying to fit in. I decided to work with the body I was given and do whatever it took to be the very best version of myself that I could be.
I had an epiphany one day some years later when women started telling me that they wanted to look like me! I tell everyone to use others as motivation but always strive to be the very best version of yourself. At that point you will radiate with confidence and people will be drawn to you. Life is too short not to give it everything you have each and every day!!!