I continue to see former service members suffer from weight-related maladies. How such a disciplined group of individuals can accept health problems that are avoidable and continue to ignore the writing on the wall perplexes me. Before you get butt-hurt, here’s some truth for you.

First and foremost, I am just like you. I was a warrior, and I was in great shape. I kept my PFT scores in the top 15% my entire 11 years of active duty. With that said, I still ate like crap and didn’t care enough for my body to keep this up when I got out. Like most service members, I kept eating like crap but as age and a lack of PT caught up with me, I became obese. I let myself go. This is a common picture among service members, and we seem to accept it as the norm. This needs to end.

Yes, many service members have health issues related to their service that stem from physical limitations. The problem I have is that many of these service members use these physical limitations as justification to let their weight balloon to unsafe levels. Further, when their weight gets excessive and they become obese, it exacerbates health issues and causes new ones. This is completely avoidable.

I loved my time on active duty, and I thoroughly enjoy my time in the National Guard, but one area the military is very weak on is teaching proper nutrition and its relation to weight. Any Marine, Soldier, Airman, or Sailor will tell you that to lose weight, all you need to do is a lot of PT. “Sweat it off,” is the most common advice heard from the chain of command when a service member is over their maximum allowable weight. This is horribly bad advice, however, and misses the mark when it comes to attacking the source of the weight issue.

Eating. Food. Nutrition. This is where weight comes from. PT makes you strong and fit, but what you eat is what will determine your weight. Low carb, high fat (LCHF) diets will allow you to lose weight WITHOUT PT. This is important, and when it comes to service members with disabilities, VERY important to get through to them. Changing what you eat will make the largest impact on your weight, and in turn, your health.

I lost 110 lbs in one year without a single step of PT. I didn’t lift a finger and I didn’t sweat a drop to lose a single pound. I didn’t starve or suffer, either. I just ate meat and vegetables and the weight dropped off me like a Mk82 from an F/A-18’s pylon on a bombing run. I proved it could be done, and it didn’t take Superman strength or any rocket scientist intelligence. Just some good ol’ fashioned determination, motivation, and perseverance; things that service members are well accustomed to.

Stop accepting poor health as the norm. Stop blaming your weight on a lack of PT. Take charge of your life, and your health by making healthy eating decisions. I’m not saying, “Eat less and PT more.” That’s dumb advice. I’m saying eat smart. That’s it.

Service members dying from weight related or weight exacerbated maladies is unacceptable, and it’s time we stop allowing it to happen.

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