How I Got This Body: I Stopped Caring About the Scale, Started Lifting Heavier Weights, and Still Drink Wine

Photographs courtesy Lauren Brown.

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

Who I am: Lauren Brown, 33, DC Public Schools program manager from Arlington.

What inspired my transformation: “First, I noticed that I started to feel self-conscious about my body in a way that I had not experienced before. This became particularly clear once I turned 30 three years ago. Even though I cook almost every night and eat very healthy most days of the week, my body just started to lose its definition and become what I call, ‘softer.’ I also started to recognize that the way I felt about my body was having an impact on my overall happiness.”

My exercise routine: “I workout at MADabolic Arlington five times per week, with rest days on Wednesdays and Sunday. The workouts at MAD fall into three categories: Momentum, where you are building intensity over the course of the workout. Anaerobic, where you are working at 100% for 100% of the time. And Durability, where the intervals are usually longer, lifting heavy weights at a slower pace. MADabolic is athletic training rooted in science, which allows me to get exactly what I need to avoid boredom and to make continuous improvement. They have recently added yoga for athletes so I have started to take advantage of that as well.”

My healthy eating plan: “One thing I am really proud of is that I have always been a lover of healthy food. Cooking is my favorite hobby so I love to make healthy food taste delicious. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely indulge in desserts and wine. But I believe in balance and listening to how your body responds to what you’re consuming. I recently completed Whole30 for the first time, and now I’m even better about reading labels and reducing the consumption of sugar and processed foods. I stick to mostly Whole30 rules during the week and am more free spirited on the weekends.”

We live in a culture that’s obsessed with what is on the outside. I started shifting my perspective to wanting to feel better on the inside.

How I transformed: “It’s been one year since I started my ‘transformation.’ I have lost about eight pounds, which probably doesn’t sound significant. But I recently learned that I gained leaned muscle mass and lost body fat, which is exciting. Now I don’t even pay attention to the scale. At MADabolic, we use a colored weight scale (white, teal, gray, black) that goes from lightest weights (white) to heaviest weights (black). I started in the white category and now I’m consistently lifting in gray. I also notice that it takes much less time for me to recover during Anaerobic workouts, which is very exciting.”

How long it took: “I started to notice a real change in my body after just two months at MADabolic. My arms were becoming more defined, and my upper abs started to come through. I’d say the ninth or tenth months have been the most exciting. When I look at my body I feel really proud. Not just because I look good, but it has had a significant impact on how I feel overall.”

How I stuck to my goals: “My favorite thing about MADabolic is the community. Now I have a whole new set of friends that share similar health and wellness goals. When one of us isn’t in class on a regularly scheduled day, we ask about each other.”

How I feel now: “Before, I felt self-conscious. And if you spoke to my friends or family, they would describe me as one of the most confident women they know. Pretending to feel great about myself felt inauthentic and exhausting. Now, I really do feel great, inside and out.”

One piece of advice: “Think beyond how you look, toward how you feel. We live in a culture that’s obsessed with what is on the outside, so it is very easy to wish you were taller or thinner or fill in the blank. I started shifting my perspective to wanting to feel better on the inside. When I thought about the goals I wanted to achieve, I realized that I needed a healthy mind to accomplish them.”

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

Correction: A former version of this article listed Brown’s age as 30.

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.