This weekend, my wife and I attended the Houston Marine Corps Coordinating Council’s 244th Marine Corps Birthday Ball. This was our third time attending in four years (I had to miss last year due to drill at Fort Hood), and we had a great time.
My uniform was slightly tighter than in past years, and I attribute that to my not being able to run since early August when I injured my Achilles heel. I’ve been doing stretches and some light physical therapy for it, and it’s helping, and soon I think I will be able to run. In the meantime, I’m lifting weights, and after taking 10 days off from lifting while on vacation in New England and Canada, I’m finally back to lifting the weights I was lifting prior to going on vacation.
It’s good for me to attend the Birthday Ball every year. It’s good to be reminded of the things we were taught as Marines, and the tenets we live by. Leaving active duty or the reserve doesn’t relieve us of our duty to our fellow Marines, our country, and ourselves. I am currently a Soldier in the Army National Guard, and I feel fortunate to be able to continue to serve at my age. Being among fellow Marines who were close to my age (some younger, many older), I was the only one who was still active in the military in some way.
I used to be one of the many people online who used to say they’d love a chance to go back, to serve again. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always fun, but when it is fun, it’s incredibly fun. Most of all, it satisfies the desire to serve; to answer the calling. Before I took control of my weight, my health, and my fitness, I thought there was no way I could ever return to the service. I lamented my situation, my poor health, my lack of fitness as I climbed a single flight of stairs only to find myself winded for minutes.
I finally got sick of being down on myself and was reminded of a conversation with my brother-in-law, Robert. He helped me at a time when I was really down on myself, and he walked into the room where I was laying in bed, under the covers, and he didn’t yell. He didn’t insult me. He stood there and said, “Look, Marine. I know things might not be what you wanted or expected. But you’ve got this. You’ve tackled tougher. You’ve handled worse. You just need to reach down, grab a hold of that courage you have inside you, and use it to get past this. You’re a Marine. You can do anything you set your mind to. Don’t let the Marines of the past down. Don’t let me down. Most of all, don’t let yourself down. Get up, get to it, and attack whatever problems you have with everything you’ve got. You can do this.”
It took a lot for me to finally get my mind in the place where I needed to be to get healthy, so I started doing research. Then, my cousin Sarah talked to me about weight loss and Whole30. After a successful first round of Whole30, my wife Sherry and I transitioned into Paleo, and fast-forward four years, I’m still 130 lighter than I was when I started, although I will admit that I have 15 to 20 lbs to lose until I’m at a weight I am comfortable at. Not being able to run has really taken a toll on me.
It was after I lost 130 lbs that I began thinking about the service. I wondered if they would take me back. I called the Marine Reserve, and they said they would allow me to join, but due to my rank and MOS, I would have to join a unit in Minnesota. Being that I live in Texas, I took a pass on that offer and called the Army National Guard who accepted me and allowed me to train into a new MOS as a Fire Direction Control NCO. I was able to enlist in February of 2017, and I recently extended my current enlistment for another three year period.
We can all sit back and accept our fate and watch life go by. Or we can decide that watching and doing nothing is unacceptable, and we can reach down and grab a hold of our strength and courage, and we cam make the changes necessary to avoid slipping away into poor health and being unfit. If you want to lose weight and get fit, you can! It’s not easy (it never is), but it is possible. It will take a long time, but results can be seen typically within a month. For me, it took about three months before I could see it in the mirror, but the scale was rewarding me almost daily.
Change is possible. Change is within your grasp. You just have to reach for it and accept the workload it will take to make it happen.