Health

How I Got This Body: Turning 40, Ditching Paleo, and Losing 100 Pounds By Doing CrossFit and Counting Macros

How I Got This Body: Turning 40, Ditching Paleo, and Losing 100 Pounds By Doing CrossFit and Counting Macros
Kristin Lucia, before and after her incredible 100-pound weight loss. Photo courtesy of Lucia.

Want to share your transformation story? Whether you lost weight or gained muscle, I want to hear from you! Email me at kolsen@washingtonian.com.

Who: Kristin Lucia, 41, manager of the cancer registry at a local hospital
Lives: Alexandria
Height: 5’8″
Start weight: 264.6 pounds
End weight: 160 pounds
How long it took: Two years and three months to hit 100 pounds

Turning point: When people meet me, I typically have a smile on my face. This was no different when I was at my heaviest; however, I wasn’t truly happy on the inside and I used a smile as a cover a lot of the time. The heavier I got, the less happy I was with myself. I carried a lot of weight for a number of years but still played intramural sports to stay active. In 2015, I got sick and had to have surgery. I wasn’t able to work out or play any sports for a number of months after the surgery. During this time, I gained even more weight. I never realized how much fitness played a part in my life until it was taken away from me. I was very unhappy and tried to fix how I felt with food and drinks. Looking back, the “Band-Aid fix” made things even worse. When I was released to exercise in January 2016, I vowed to myself that I would never take exercising for granted, ever again.  

Exercise: During the first year of my weight loss, I signed up for a triathlon. I followed a free online training program that started off very easy and progressed in distance as months went on. I joined a gym that had a pool, because I knew that I could at least get myself to swim more often if my body was hurting from running or biking. The gym came with a free personal training session. I remember the look on the trainer’s face when I told him what my plan was to get back in shape—that I couldn’t afford his services—and was going to do this on my own. It definitely motivated me to prove him wrong! 

Photo courtesy of Kristin Lucia.

After a few months back in the gym, I decided to go back to CrossFit. I had done it in the past, but I never was consistent with it. I started off with the minimum membership, and then as time progressed, increased the number of times I went. Starting in August 2017, I decided that I would focus on CrossFit more and became an unlimited member at CrossFit Adaptation. I believe that any exercise program you enjoy is what you should continue to do. If you enjoy it, you’ll continue to go, and it won’t feel like you’re forcing yourself to exercise. CrossFit Adaptation was not only my gym, but it also was a support system. Everyone in there helped me through my journey, pushing me along day by day. Today, I regularly go to CrossFit five to six times a week, depending on how my body is feeling. Listening to your body is key. There may be a few weeks when I’m only able to go four times. The needed rest is just as important on those weeks.

Diet: During the first year-and-a-half, I tracked my calories and followed the Paleo Diet, where I excluded dairy, sugars, and legumes. I was able to lose weight, but easily got off track when life got busy. I didn’t have a lot of energy, because I wasn’t properly feeding myself and under-eating (unknowingly). In October 2017, I starting working with a nutritionist and followed a macro-based program. This is where I’ve seen the most physical and mental changes. Like exercise, you have to find something that fits your lifestyle. I found that excluding foods from my diet only made my body feel like it wanted them more. I also don’t enjoy cooking.  I like to eat when I’m hungry, and that’s where I ended up getting in a lot of trouble. I would order food to go (which wasn’t the healthiest most of the time) instead of eating at home. 

Macro counting is where I’ve seen the most change in my body composition. The fat started melting away and made the muscle underneath more visible. With macro counting, I can eat any type of food I like, and I learned that I needed to eat more food than I actually had been eating on previous diets. It also helped me get in a habit of planning my meals, which helped me stay on track and allowed me to have food ready if I was hungry. With macro counting, you know what your food for the day is, and it’s ready to go. I’ve been tracking macros for eight months, and it really feels like my new normal. I definitely found something that I can call my “lifestyle” change in eating and not a “diet.” 

Photo courtesy of Kristin Lucia.

How she stuck with it: I think the biggest thing that has helped me stick to my goals was the support from my friends, gym, and family. They’ve been my biggest cheerleaders. My lifestyle changed a lot, which took time away from some of them. With that said, they’re all still supporting me, even if I don’t see them as often as I used to. As I started to drop the weight, I started to feel like a small part of my old high school athletic self again. As time went on, I would reach a goal, only to set a higher goal.

Realizing how much support helped me through my journey, I recently started an Instagram page (@fitat40_believeandachieve). I would browse through Instagram during my journey for motivation and wanted to do the same for others. I’ve already received a number of messages from old friends I haven’t spoken to in years—and even individuals I’ve never met—asking me about the different things I’ve done to get to where I am today. I started the Instagram page to hopefully motivate others, but I’m finding out it’s helping me stay motivated and positive each day as well!!

Fave splurge: After changing my eating habits, I learned that hot wings and tacos are my FAVORITE THINGS! If I splurge, it would probably be one of those! I also have to mention thin crust pizza back home in Northwest Indiana. That is a must when I visit! 

Photo by Jennifer Cody/Egomedia Photography.

How she feels now: Before my weight loss, I was a very sad person on the inside with not the best confidence. Now, I feel like an entirely different person. I walk into a room and don’t think instantly that someone is talking about my looks. I feel like I fit in. I know now that I fit in before, but mentally it was always a struggle for me. With the weight loss, I’ve gained the confidence I once had years ago.

I’ve lost nearly 105 pounds as of this month. My body composition has drastically changed. I went from a 53-inch waist (I wore long dresses all the time, but I believe I would have been a size 26…) to a size 6 now! My energy levels are through the roof, and I’ve seen a drastic change in my focus. With losing all that weight, you’d think I’d have a hard time maintaining my strength. However, I’ve been able to keep all of my strength along with increasing it in some Olympic lifts and powerlifting movements. From head to toe, my overall health (in all aspects) has improved, and I could not be more grateful for it!

Photo courtesy of Kristin Lucia.

Newfound body love: Right now, I have to say that I think my body can do anything I set my mind to. With CrossFit, there are so many different skills, from lifting to gymnastics. I’m currently 41, and I have no doubt in my mind that I will get any skill I put the time and energy towards. This is kind of crazy to think, because two years ago doing three burpees took my breath away. I couldn’t run more than 20 seconds on the treadmill without having to walk to get my breath back. Now I’m doing bar muscle ups, ring dips, speeding through workouts that I would’t have even finished before, and I have my eyes on bigger skills to come later this year! It really is amazing to see what my body can do, and I’m having so much fun in the process! 

Workout wisdom: Age is just a number. I say that all the time now, because I never thought I could do this as I turned 40. You hear all the time that weight loss is so much harder as you get older, but it’s all a mindset. Also, I think timing is everything and finding what best works for you. It won’t be the same for everyone. Looking back at my two-year journey, I didn’t lose the weight overnight. I had setbacks, but I would get back on the wagon. In October 2017, I found the “lifestyle” change I needed to keep going without making it feel like I was restricting myself from anything.  

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

Want to share your transformation story? Whether you lost weight or gained muscle, I want to hear from you! Email me at kolsen@washingtonian.com.


Questions or comments? You can reach us on Twitter, via e-mail, or by contacting the author directly:
Kim Olsen
Associate Editor

Kim Olsen joined Washingtonian in 2016 after moving to DC from Pittsburgh, where she earned an MFA in nonfiction writing at the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Alexandria.