“Incremental Changes,” Supportive Community Helps Bryan Hricay Lose 100 Pounds

February 19, 2021 by
Photo credit: Bryan Hricay
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When Bryan Hricay showed up for a class at CrossFit Hoboken in NJ, what he saw scared him. 

  • “I looked up and on the white board, in a blue dry erase marker, was written five sets of 20 push-ups, along with three other exercises I had no idea what they were…I knew there was no way I could do 100 push-ups,” remembered Hricay of one of his first workouts at CrossFit Hoboken in the spring of 2019. At the time, the now 32-year-old weighed 285 pounds at 6-foot-5. 

What happened next: One of the coaches helped Hricay adjust the workout so he could get through it, reducing the reps to just five push-ups on his knees each round. Still, Hricay struggled to finish.

  • “I remember there were less than two minutes left on the clock and everyone else had already finished. I was the only one still working and I really hit a wall. I was face down on the floor. There was a puddle of my own sweat around me, and I couldn’t do any more push-ups. I just about got up, walked out and quit,” he said.
  • But then another member approached. “Hey Bry, how many more do you have?” he asked. Before Hricay knew it, the entire class was clapping and cheering for him as he knocked out his final reps. 
  • “I have never been so stressed and feeling like I was at the bottom one moment, and then all of a sudden I was at the top of the world. I finished the workout and felt so accomplished,” he added. It was then that Hricay knew this community would be the key to helping him transform his life.

The details: When Hricay joined CrossFit Hoboken in April, 2019 after a friend encouraged him to take control of his health, he was living a very “complacent life” as an IT consultant. “I was eating whatever I wanted, whenever, and I wasn’t exercising. I was just kind of in a slump,” he said. 

  • During the first three months at the gym, Hricay didn’t change his diet much, except he stopped eating after midnight “and ordering pizza at 3 am,” he laughed. But even making this one small change — plus doing CrossFit three days a week and drinking more water — helped him lose 40 pounds in three months. 
  • Then he hit a plateau. It was time to make another small change, he explained.  “The next step was starting to incorporate more nutrient dense foods into my diet…Slowly but surely, I made small incremental changes over time, so it was never a complete drastic change,” he explained.
  • Those small changes over time have added up, and now Hricay’s nutrition habits are completely different than two years ago. Dinner used to be takeout, delivery, pizza or burgers, and today his “go to” meal is BBQ chicken with Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. As a result, Hricay is 100 pounds lighter than when he started CrossFit, weighing in at 185 pounds. “Overall, I’m just happier where I’m at in life….and more energetic throughout the day,” he said. 
  • Losing the weight also allowed Hricay to achieve one of his lifelong bucket list goals — skydiving — which requires you to weigh less than 200 pounds. “I went skydiving last year and it was amazing. Such an adrenaline rush. And I wouldn’t have been able to do that without CrossFit and becoming an athlete,” he said.

One big thing: A key to Hricay’s success has been avoiding the perfectionist mindset and giving himself the license to have cheat meals sometimes.

  • “I use the 80-20 rule. Eighty percent of the foods I eat are nutrient dense and healthy, but I also like to live a little and have my cheat meal on the weekend. But now when I cheat I don’t feel the need to overindulge and get the appetizer, the dessert, the whole nine yards. Now I can cheat and still not feel the need to overindulge,” Hricay said. 

His message: Support, consistency, and just show up.

  • “Surround yourself with supportive friends, family, or CrossFit gym members, and just show up. Really, the hardest part is just getting started,” he said.
  • Hricay added: “Join a gym, have people around you that will support you and just be consistent and form new habits slowly….Don’t do the 180 degree change with nutrition. Just make small, incremental changes over time. And just keep showing up.”

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