When Walker Elementary School student Abby Mistric was diagnosed with early onset diabetes two years ago, she didn’t take the news lying down.

Abby, who turned 13 on Friday, followed her adult brother, Kenny Mistric, to the CrossFit Upshot gym in Denham Springs in October 2016, and she hasn’t looked back. Since then, she said she has lost 40 pounds and turned a few heads with her weightlifting progress.

“If it wasn’t for Kenny, by this time I’d probably have Type 2 diabetes, be 300 pounds and sit on the couch all day and not do anything,” said Abby, now a seventh-grader at North Corbin Junior High.

She is confident in that assessment because Type 2 diabetes runs in her family, she said. She knew she wanted to lose weight and figured exercise had to be part of her strategy along with diet.

It didn’t hurt that her brother had the same goal.

In February 2016, he started losing weight before his wedding three months later. He was successful but began regaining weight after getting married, so he went back to Upshot CrossFit. Since then, he has dropped 80 pounds to his current 268.

“I had started here, and she wanted to do something active,” Kenny Mistric said.

Abby was going to classes at a karate studio not far from the gym. Finishing early one day, she went to the gym to wait on her brother, who was still working out.

“Instead of doing all the work I had for school, I stopped everything and watched,” she said. “I was so fascinated, and I fell in love with this place just watching it.”

Abby started doing deadlifts, box jumps and kettlebell swings. It took a couple of months to make any noticeable strength gains, and her weight initially went up before falling. At 5 foot 3, she weighs 215 pounds.

When Abby started doing back squats, where the barbell sits on her shoulders behind her head, she could lift 95 pounds. Recently, after seeing her brother warming up on that lift with 225 pounds, she decided to try. To his surprise, she did it. She can deadlift 300 pounds, raising the loaded barbell from the floor to hip height.

“She’s come leaps and bounds,” Kenny Mistric said. “It’s amazing to see the different things in here she’s been able to accomplish. … That’s something she wants to do, more powerlifting weights. She’s not the gymnastic-endurance, but she enjoys the powerlifting.”

Abby said she is trying to increase her endurance to be able to run 5K events, and a longer-range goal is to compete in the CrossFit Games, an annual international fitness competition. The youngest age category begins at 13, and she plans to work out for another year to build the necessary strength to become competitive.

The teen said her presence in the gym is welcomed by the mostly adult workout crowd. Her peers don’t understand.

“At school, the other kids, they hate it,” she said. “They ask me all the time, ‘Why do you torture your body? You’re basically killing yourself doing that.’ I tell them, ‘I don’t care what you think. This is something I love to do.’”

Follow George Morris on Twitter, @GWMorris.