One of my major goals when I began my weight loss and fitness journey was to once again fit into my Marine Corps dress blues uniform in full compliance with MCO 1020.34g (that’s the Marine Corps Order on uniform regulations) and wear it to the 241st Marine Corps Birthday Ball in 2016. Being in full compliance means being in height/weight compliance as well as ensuring all aspects of the regulations are met. As a Marine who was discharged honorably, I am permitted to wear any Marine Corps uniform at any time as long as it is within compliance with the aforementioned Marine Corps Order. It is customary for us old Marines to wear our dress blues at Birthday Balls.
When Sherry and I were doing our first Whole30, we were making goals, and one of the things that came up was that she was sad that she never had an opportunity to go to a ball or military function with me. This gave me an idea: why not try to get back into dress blues and take her to a Birthday Ball? I told her that I wanted to take her to the next birthday ball and that I would wear my dress blues, and she thought that it was a great idea, but that it was far-fetched. I have to admit that I was with her on that; it was a good goal, but one that had (I thought at the time) little chance of happening. I was over 130 lbs overweight from Marine Corps standards, and losing that kind of weight in 14 months is very hard to do.
During the past 14 months, there were times when I thought that I wouldn’t make it. I was making great progress, but it never quite sunk in that I could do it. It wasn’t until around June when it looked like it was actually a possibility. Then, when August rolled around and I was so close, I figured it was time to start looking at uniforms. I measured myself and found that I was easily within the size I wore when I left the Corps, and actually even thinner.
In early September, I purchased a full set of dress blues and tried them on. They fit, and I was ecstatic. I took my glasses off and stared at myself in the mirror. I looked like my old self, even in uniform. It was a moment of victory for me, and I savored it with a quick selfie.
The final moment when I realized that I’ve accomplished so much in a year came when Sherry and I walked out of our hotel room and walked downstairs to the ballroom. There were other Marines standing around in their dress blues, and as I walked up, they greeted me. I stood there with them, talking, and the old feeling of camaraderie and brotherhood came back. I was among my own, and I deserved to be there in my uniform. I did’t look or feel out of place, and I was honoring the Marine Corps by following the MCO on uniform regulations to the letter, as any Marine should when wearing our uniforms. It felt amazing.
Sherry and I had a wonderful evening. She enjoyed the ceremony, the dancing, and talking to other former Marines. My good friends Steve and Anita were there with us, and the evening was truly special because of them. I did drink a fair amount of alcohol (as did most of the other Marines there) but with the exception of a headache the next morning, I’ve suffered no ill effects. We have decided to make this an annual thing, and we are already looking forward to the next one.