When he walked into CrossFit South Shore in Bohemia, N.Y., last March 29, Michael Lucca weighed 430 pounds. After years of failed diets and a nonexistent exercise routine, it took a child’s simple curiosity to make him realize just how dire his health situation had become.
“I had even got to a point where I stopped trying,” says Lucca, 38. “I was sitting down watching television with my youngest niece and she touched my stomach and it jiggled. She was like ‘Wow, how does it do that?’ Instead of being embarrassed or getting angry about it, it woke me up. Quitting and being reserved to being heavy wasn’t an option for me.”
Several weeks later, Lucca ran into his brother-in-law, who had started CrossFit while enrolled at the Suffolk County Police Academy, and noticed how much he’d trimmed down. Lucca swallowed his pride and pulled him aside to ask what he’d been doing.
“He mentioned CrossFit and the paleo diet,” Lucca says. “He told me I was better off going and talking to trainers. I went to a gym the following night and talked with Doug, one of the trainers at CrossFit South Shore. I gave him my credit card and said ‘I’ll be here tomorrow.’”
It was the start of a transition that’s been nothing short of amazing. In 10 months, Lucca has lost more than 160 pounds from his 5’9” frame, attending five workouts per week and shifting to an all-paleo diet.
“When I first showed up, they had me jumping onto a 45-pound weight for box jumps,” he says. “Now I’m jumping on an 18- to 20-inch box. Within less than a year’s time, I’ve seen a major improvement. I went from doing no deadlifts to where I can deadlift over 300 pounds.”
Prior to joining CrossFit, Lucca’s prior athletic experiences were limited to pickup football or basketball games as a teenager. Once he settled into his career – he’s a computer consultant for a school district on Long Island – he found it easy to put on weight if he wasn’t active.
Now, in addition to starting to do a number of as prescribed workouts, Lucca is starting to participate in athletic endeavors outside of CrossFit. He ran three 5K races in 2011 and plans to do several more this year, along with his first Tough Mudder competition.
He’s also signed up for the CrossFit Games Open workouts, despite some initial hesitation.
“I wasn't sure I was ready for the workouts for the Open, especially since I am currently unable to do certain exercises such as pull ups, but after speaking with my coaches, I decided to sign up,” he says. “I'm not sure what to expect, nor do I know how well I will do, but I guarantee I will give 100 percent effort at whatever is thrown at me.”
Currently at 270 pounds, Lucca is still shedding weight and plans to hit the 200-pound weight loss mark in the next few months. He’s also looking to complete his first unassisted pull-up by the end of the year. For now, he continues to plug away, feeling better than he’s ever felt in his adult life.
“It’s so liberating I can’t even describe it in words,” Lucca says. “I can’t put it into words.”