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Therapy, CrossFit help South Ozone Park woman drop 85 pounds

Cassey Burrell, 34, of South Ozone Park, is

Cassey Burrell, 34, of South Ozone Park, is seen in June 2015, when she weighed 276 pounds, and in a more recent photo, showing off her more than 80-pound weight loss. Credit: Cassey Burrell; Steve Pfost

Cassey Burrell, 34, of South Ozone Park, says even though she played softball and basketball growing up, she always had a weight problem. She tried lap band surgery in 2012 but gained back the weight she lost. In 2013, Burrell was eating food for comfort. By 2015, she had gained 75 pounds. When she saw a candid photo of herself, she says she was stunned. “You see yourself every day in the mirror, but you really don’t see yourself the way others do.”

For eight months, Burrell saw an emotional-eating therapist. “She helped me identify and handle triggers,” she says.

“I learned to talk about things. If I was angry or upset, I knew to not eat a pint of ice cream but instead either work out, go for a walk or do something with my son. Kids will bring a smile to your face before you know it’s happening.”

She lost 35 pounds and says “a lightbulb went off.” She came to embrace working out. “It was my stress reliever,” she says. “I enjoyed working out and seeing transformation. When I thought I wasn’t losing fast enough, I was still seeing my body changing. Once I knew that, I fell in love with the process.”

She adopted low-carb eating and in 2017 discovered CrossFit, a branded fitness plan that incorporates high-intensity interval training, weightlifting and other exercise disciplines.

“It’s a community, a vibe. They were very welcoming,” says Burrell.

Burrell says her blood sugar and blood pressure are now at safe levels, she no longer needs airline seat belt extender. She has lost 85 pounds and wants to lose another 20.

Burrell practices intermittent fasting, limiting her eating to within an eight-hour period. Her first meal is lunch, which can be a protein such as grilled chicken, salmon, tuna or brisket on mixed greens. Dinner is usually steak, salmon or mackerel, grilled or broiled, and vegetables such as sautéed squash or zucchini and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.

She attends a one-hour CrossFit class four to five times a week and starts with 30 minutes of warmup and strength training followed by CrossFit WODS (workouts of the day, a prescribed series of rapid exercises). She does cardio training separately two to three times a week. Sundays, and sometimes Thursdays, are rest days.

“Be honest and self-reflective. Ask yourself, ‘Am I really happy this way?’ Once you cut back on eating, it will became habit. Everything else will fall into place. Consistency is key. You need to be mindful of what you’re putting in your body 85 percent of the time. You’ll be happy two weeks later when your pants are loose.”

About Cassey:

  • Occupation Investigation analyst for a credit union
  • Height 5-foot-2
  • Before 276 June 2015
  • After 191 December 2018