Sometimes getting fit is more about toning up than dropping pounds. How three people lost fat, gained muscle, and transformed their health, despite losing no more than ten pounds.
Weight lost: 1.8 pounds
Change in body composition: Lost 4.8% body fat
Job: Product manager for a health-care start-up.
How long it’s taken: Eight months.
How she works out: After teaching herself to lift weights by watching YouTube videos, Holtzman started seeing results when she incorporated high-intensity interval training (HIIT) classes. She takes Cut Seven’s group classes—which are part interval training, part functional training, with activities such as dragging sandbags and doing bear crawls—four days a week. On two other days, she bikes or does yoga for active recovery.
How she eats: Holtzman used to avoid carbs, but then she met with a nutritionist who trained her to track her intake of protein, carbs, and fat. She shoots for 45 percent of her daily caloric intake from carbs, 30 percent from fat, and 25 percent from protein. “I almost immediately felt more satiated and ended up eating less because my diet was more balanced.”
Her noticeable change: “Once I started doing higher-intensity workouts that incorporated resistance, weights, and sprints, I saw myself getting more toned within the first month.”
How she feels now: “Until this year, I didn’t have goals that weren’t education- or career-focused. Working towards an athletic goal has been a big confidence-booster and has made me more willing to go outside of my comfort zone.”
Weight lost: 8 pounds
Change in body composition: Lost 4% body fat
Job: Program manager at DC Public Schools.
How long it’s taken: One year.
How she works out: At MADabolic Arlington five times a week, with rest days on Wednesday and Sunday. MAD workouts fall into three categories: “Momentum,” a series of intervals that build in intensity; “Anaerobic,” intervals at “race pace,” or maximum effort; and “Durability,” slower intervals with heavy weights to build endurance.
How she eats: Sticks mostly to Whole30 rules—replacing sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, and dairy with “real” food such as fruits and vegetables—during the week. Brown is more “free-spirited” on weekends.
Her noticeable change: “I gained lean muscle mass and lost body fat, which is exciting. Now I don’t even pay attention to the scale. 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.”
How she feels now: “I am lifting weights I never thought I could, hitting the targets on the cardio machines, and feeling so confident in my skin.”
Weight lost: About 10 pounds
Change in body composition: Lost 7%body fat
Job: Restaurant investor.
How long it’s taken: One year.
How he works out: Cardio in the morning—either running, rowing, swimming, or the elliptical. To build strength, Doyle works with trainer Errick McAdams. To make the workout harder, he’ll sometimes wear a weighted vest.
How he eats: Doyle still eats foods he loves, but in moderation. He hasn’t given up carbs, but he avoids eating them late in the day. If he’s going to indulge in dessert, he won’t also have alcohol—he limits himself to one or the other. He also eats multiple small meals throughout the day, never more than 500 calories in one sitting.
His noticeable change: “My overall health transformed dramatically. I sleep better, fill my fridge with healthier items, and always stay very hydrated.”
How he feels now: “I am constantly amazed at what the human body is capable of. I am much more focused on gaining lean muscle at the moment and have been gradually improving with exercises I couldn’t even do in the beginning, like multiple dips and heavy benching.”
Shot on Location at The Future of Sports. Hair and Makeup by Carrie LaMarca at THE Artist Agency.
This article appears in the January 2018 issue of Washingtonian.