Living Life ASRX™ | Leighton Brillo-Sonnino by Aaron Bratkovics

Being a dedicated CrossFit™ athlete while also being a full time student can be an extremely difficult task, considering much time each one takes out of your everyday life.

Leighton, a hard-working athlete and diligent student at NYU, is a perfect example of someone who makes it an achievable task to consistently workout while maintaining good grades. During the school year, Leighton attends NYU as a diet and nutrition major, while returning home during breaks to the beautiful city of Santa Barbara, California. During his interview, I asked him what his schedule looked like during the school year, and how he made it possible to keep his eating, fitness, and academics on track. Leighton says CrossFit™ helps him with his academics because he “doesn’t have time to procrastinate in school hence his busy workload”. He wakes up with determination and drive every morning at 6am and proceeds to the gym in order to complete his morning training and eat breakfast. He attends classes for about 5 hours per day, and works out almost 6 hours everyday.

This may seem like an insane schedule for most college students, but he doesn’t mind the strict schedule. He grew up playing soccer, and realized that CrossFit™ helped him become a lot better athlete in his sport. When he stopped playing soccer, he became dedicated to CrossFit™. Leighton told me in the interview that he “spends almost all of my time training or studying and definitely sacrifice a lot of time with friends, family, and sleep”. When people tell Leighton that he is “missing out” on parties or going out, he simply tells them, “When your dreams and goals are as big as mine, I don’t feel like I’m missing out”.

In life, people always have to decide what they want to make a priority and what they are willing to miss out on in order to accomplish a task. He does a great job of balancing his life and making time for his health. Because Leighton has such a busy schedule with working out and school, I thought it must be somewhat difficult to find time to follow his 4,000-calorie diet regimen, so I asked him how he does it. Leighton told me that it can definitely be difficult at times to stay on track with such a high calorie diet, but he makes it work. He bulk cooks food once or twice a week in order to ensure that he will have food readily available to him throughout the week. He also prep cooks food the night before, sometimes, and brings the food to school or leaves it at his gym that he works out at in New York. Even though he is very consistent with his diet, he eats unhealthy food at times. He doesn’t consider these unhealthy foods that he eats “cheat meals”, he simply incorporates some leeway into his diet in order to assure that he doesn’t go on a crazy binge and eat everything in sight. Leighton believes that going on binges or eating big cheat meals isn’t the right way to eat food, so he incorporates the unhealthy food into his diet when he feels that he wants to. Balance is the key to his whole diet.

He currently trains at CrossFit™ 212 in Lower Manhattan with his roommate, Jack, who he refers to as “Ol’ Faithful”, because he’s always there to do difficult workouts with him. In his first competition, he looked around at all of the other people competing, and thought they looked so much better than him, but he had to tell him that he deserved to be there, because he definitely did. Leighton likes to think of CrossFit™, not as a job that he’s required to do, but as something he “loves and cares about that adds structure and purpose to my life”. The most important part of being an athlete is loving the sport that you do, no matter what that may be. It’s much easier to be consistent with something if you love it, so this is very important.

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