Health

How I Got This Body: Less Fad Dieting and Diet Coke, More Seltzer and Fitspo Friends

Photographs courtesy Kristi Cook.

Welcome to How I Got This Body, our look at some of the amazing things the human body is capable of and the Washingtonians who put their bodies to the test. Want to share your transformation story? Email ccunningham@washingtonian.com.

Who I am: Kristi Cook, 27, a healthcare management consultant from Arlington

How I transformed: “I’ve lost somewhere between 30 to 40 pounds since 2009, and about ten of those pounds were lost within the past two years. Most people would say that’s a pretty low number over such a long period of time, but I’ve built a good amount of muscle in the process. However, the most significant change for me has been my shift from fad diets and sporadic exercise routines, to consistency in working out and eating healthy, wholesome foods.”

What inspired my change: “Most of my teenage years and early-to-mid 20s were comprised of the vicious diet/binge cycle. For weeks or months, I would try out a new fad diet to only give up a short while later and begin eating everything in sight. Throughout middle and high school I was a multiple sport athlete and therefore very active, but following high school, I exercised very infrequently. In the fall of 2015, I came across fitness trainer Kayla Itsines’ account while scrolling through Instagram and learned about her BBG (Bikini Body Guide) program. After learning more about her focus on the mental side of fitness and health and discovering the BBG community, I became inspired to make a long-lasting change.”

My exercise plan: “Almost two years ago I started the BBG (Bikini Body Guide) program, which revolves around three 28-minute resistance (or HIIT) workouts a week. It also incorporates three to four low intensity ‘workouts’ per week, which can be any 35 to 45 minute low-impact exercise of your choice—even something as simple as going for a walk. I used the BBG guides for about a year and a half, and have since tried to mix it up by taking cycling classes at Flywheel, weight lifting, and going on walks/jogs. Once in a while I like to throw some yoga and dance fitness into the mix as well. I’ve realized that it’s so important to find a type of exercise that you enjoy, otherwise, it may not be sustainable. On average, I exercise five to six days a week; I like to get my workouts done in the morning before work, so that way I can never say that ‘I have no time’ or that ‘something more important came up.'”

My healthy eating plan: “The biggest change I’ve made has been adopting more of a paleo lifestyle by eating less processed foods and instead eating more fresh fruits and veggies, protein, and healthy fats. However, I have to confess that I don’t stick to the paleo diet 100 percent, and I haven’t ‘banned’ a single food from my diet. If I’m truly craving a treat, I will have it in a small portion. In the past, I’ve found that completely restricting a particular food/food group altogether leads to binges later down the road (at least for me). Another big change to my diet was switching out Diet Coke for seltzer water (black cherry is the best!), though I do admit to having a Diet Coke once every few months if I’m truly craving it. I know this sounds incredibly cliché, but it’s important to have balance.”

I like to get my workouts done in the morning before work, so that way I can never say that ‘I have no time’ or that ‘something more important came up.’

How I stuck to my goals: “Almost two years ago, I found the BBG community (on Instagram) as my source of inspiration to get me started. Several months after making a fitness account of my own, I ended up meeting some of the girls in real life. We quickly became friends and to this day we continue to get together for workout classes or just for fun! I’ve come to understand the importance of surrounding yourself with people who have health and fitness goals similar to your own. Ever since making a lifestyle change and being consistent with my meal prepping and fitness routine, it has become second nature to maintain a (mostly) healthy lifestyle and continue reaching my goals.”

How my feelings about myself have changed: “Before making a lifestyle change, I would often become upset because I didn’t feel comfortable with the way I looked or how I felt in certain clothes. I won’t lie and say I never feel that way anymore, but those feelings are now few and far between. After becoming consistent with my health and fitness routine, I quickly noticed improvement in both my mental and physical state, energy levels, and overall happiness.”

One piece of advice:  “My biggest piece of advice would be to ensure consistency! Meal prepping is a great way to make sure you’re not making impulse decisions when it comes to food. As for your exercise routine, try to find something that you enjoy so that it doesn’t feel like a chore. If you get bored easily, you should switch up your workouts from time to time—just make sure you remain consistent in doing something that works for you.”

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.