Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness and nutrition courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+.
For as long as she can remember, Lucy Hilton was overweight and her family’s Portuguese heritage meant a dinner table filled with bread, sweets, meat and potatoes every night. “As a child, I ate ice cream for breakfast while watching cartoons,” Hilton says. “Eventually, I stopped getting on the scale and wore jogging pants all the time.”
With no foundation of healthy habits, Hilton reached 225 pounds by age 21. “I ate what tasted good, and what tasted good were sweets and carbs,” she says. An unhealthy marriage further contributed to her weight gain.
Fitness and Nutrition Starts and Stops
In her early 30s, Hilton finally found the confidence to leave her marriage, move back home and start over. “I started moving my body more, which felt good, but my diet still needed work,” she says. “I started reading fitness magazines and began to incorporate meal-planning tips into my routine.”
Things really kicked into gear when she met her now-husband Derek, who was following a sugar-, dairy- and wheat-free diet — and challenged her to try it for a month. Hilton ditched the ice cream in her freezer and jumped on board. She also expanded her food horizons to include sushi, lamb, seafood and salads — without the heavy dressing — and with the help of a boot-camp class, she had soon lost 30 pounds.
Despite her success, life got in the way. Hilton went back to school to become a dental hygienist. Her workouts and healthy eating habits were sidelined, and her weight began creeping back up.
While mourning the death of her father in 2013, Hilton realized she had stopped prioritizing herself — again. “I knew that to be happy, healthy and strong for those around me, I needed to put my health first,” she says. “That might seem like a selfish thing to say, but it’s an important piece of the puzzle for anyone who struggles with their weight.”
Hilton spent a few more years yo-yo dieting and working out sporadically, but in 2017, she took on a new challenge: to do a figure competition. She hired a competition coach to help with her training and nutrition and began a 16-week contest prep program. Hilton swapped out her granola bars and boxed cereal for vegetables, salads and healthy proteins and fats. “Detoxing from sweets was probably the hardest thing for me. However, as long as I stuck to my plan, those cravings waned,” she says.
She also became an early bird and began to go to the gym at 4 a.m. “I found a gym ‘family,’ and once that family knew my goals, they pushed me to work harder on those days I just wanted to nap!” she says.
Hilton competed in her first figure show in April 2019, taking third in Novice Figure and second in Masters Figure at the NPAA BC Classic. She now has her sights set on bringing an even better body to the stage in April 2020.
Location: Nanaimo, BC, Vancouver Island, Canada
Occupation: Registered dental hygienist
Athletes: Nicole Wilkins, Jamie Eason Middleton, Tosca Reno and Erin Stern
Exercise: Lying leg press on the Smith machine
Advice: When I come face to face with my old food vices, I ask myself, Why I am craving this? Am I thirsty? Tired? Bored? Then I walk away. If I am still craving something, I will have a small bit to satisfy the craving and will never regret it or feel guilty because life is about balance.