Written by Thomas Goering, NCCM USN(RET)
Published: April 19, 2010
Updated: February 13, 2019
As per written instruction, your Recruiter is discouraged from promoting specific diet plans. The Navy wants to reduce the possibility of the Navy becoming liable for any ill effects various diet plans may cause. You should seek advice of qualified health care professionals before starting any diet plan. I certainly am not qualified to endorse any weight loss method; however, I think, since my retirement, I am now qualified to tell you how to gain weight, but that is for another time.
I have been following @GeoffBreedwell on Twitter, and via his Facebook account since his journey to join the United States Navy began. His journey to gain acceptance into the Navy has been full of disappointments and triumphs – I remember days that he wasn’t really sure he would be able to make it, but he always seemed to put a smile on his face (at least as I could see through his comments, we have never met face to face before) and move forward. You see, like many people who want to join the military, Geoff was over the weight limit, quite a bit over as a matter of fact, but no amount of extra cellulose was going to keep him from his dreams of serving. Geoff realized that he is the master of his own destiny; he took charge of his life.
I asked Geoff to put down on paper his journey; there is inspiration in this young Future Sailor’s words;
At the start of April in 2009, I had got engaged to a wonderful woman. She is now my wife, and at that time, I had only some idea of what I wanted to do with my life, being a Sailor in the US Navy. There was one hurdle. I had to lose 65 pounds. I was at 256 when I started, and right now, I am proud to say that I am at 186. I have enlisted within the Navy, and my ship out date is in late August.
Recently, a friend asked me how I lost all of the weight. I told them the truth: Diet and exercise. Now, it’s never just that easy. There’s a lot more to it than that, and it is a hard thing to do. I’m not going to lie to you, but I am going to simplify it. There are a lot of smaller battles. Think in small increments, and you’ll be surprised how far you’ll go.
I’ll show how I did it, and how you can do it too. You can follow these steps, or even find steps that work better for you. However you do it, just know that you can, and that there are people who believe that you can do anything that you set your mind to.
First off, we’ll start with the diet. I log all of the food that I eat at Livestrong (the Web site). It’s free to register and maintain, and it’s a very easy thing to do. Not to mention, that it, or any other counting calorie website, will help you keep a running tally on how to live your new life with the food you eat and the workouts that you do.
As with any diet, you will need some “Pro Tips” to help you get started. Much like learning anything new, these 8 “Pro Tips” are just to get you started. Once you have started losing the weight in greater amounts, you will know what works for you and what doesn’t.
Here are the 8 “Pro Tips.”
- NO SODAS. Water replenishes your body faster than anything else. It keeps you hydrated, and it will keep your body going into the tip top shape. The more water you drink, the better. Just make sure you do not go over 120 oz or below 64 oz. (A regular bottle of water is usually about 16 oz.)
- NO EATING PAST 2000 (8PM). Anything past 8pm will be saved and when you weigh, you’ll be up the next morning.
- EAT 5 SMALL MEALS A DAY. Your stomach stays fuller this way, but you’ll want to make sure that you keep your snacks smaller than your full meals. It’s all about balance with your calories.
- EAT AS MUCH FISH AS POSSIBLE. The protein and fiber in the fish will keep your body clean, and it will help turn that muscle into fat. That’s tilapia, salmon, halibut, haddock, etc.
- DON’T EAT RED MEAT PAST 1800 (6PM) AND CARBOHYDRATES PAST 1900 (7PM). It takes your body longer to digest red meat, and your body needs carbohydrates for energy. When do you need energy at bed time?
- CUT OUT ALL COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES. That’s fried foods and junk food (even those that say 100 calories) completely. These are not good for your metabolism, and the amount of sodium within these foods will retain water like a balloon. You’ll gain water weight, rather than lose it. Replace these foods with fruits and veggies.
- READ NUTRITION LABELS VERY CAREFULLY. This is the most important step. Here are some important places to look: Calories, Serving size, Servings per container, fat, carbohydrates, protein, sodium, fiber, and sugars. The lower in fat the better, the higher in protein and fiber the better, and the lower in sugar, carbohydrates, and sodium, the better off you will be. You will be able to understand them quite easily when you know how to read them. Then just go off of what is more important to you. When you input what you ate into The Daily Plate, just match up the closest values for your food and select it. Keep a running total to see how close you really are.
- SLEEP. Your body burns calories while you sleep. How? Your body repairs the stress and fatigue that you have built up throughout your day. You need at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
Next up, exercise, working out, or as I like to call it: PT (Physical Training).
This is the most important part of losing weight. You can put good food into your body, but if you don’t burn off the fat, it won’t necessarily come off. This, as in dieting, is different from person to person. These workouts are only what worked for me. You are more than welcome to go by what I did, but if you find something different that works, stick with it.
Now, before I really get into this, I MUST issue this warning. If you have not worked out in a while, I suggest stretching EVERY DAY for at least 15 minutes, three times a day. This includes touching your toes and any basic stretch. Do not worry. If you can’t do them then work as hard as you can to do so. This goes for all your stretches. The more you stretch, the more limber you will become.
The big thing about working out is progression. If you pace yourself when you’re starting out, then you will be better off, rather than just trying to become the PT king right off the bat. It all depends on your physical condition.
I started off by doing a basic Navy PFT (physical fitness test) with a personal trainer. If you don’t have a personal trainer, it’s OK. You can have a friend, family member, or your local recruiter assist you. Recruiters are there to help you get qualified and help you enlist.
The Navy PFT results of my test were: 20 push-ups within 2 minutes, 28 sit-ups within 2 minutes, and a 1.5 mi run in 28:30. I was horrified. At 256 lbs, and I didn’t want to even guess what my body fat percentage was. Now, I am able to do 48 pushups in 2 minutes, 65 sit-ups within 2 minutes, and I am able to run 1.5 mi in 11:59.
I was able to attain my goals due to my progression. Again, it’s just the little goals. I set myself up. I did the work. That’s the most important thing. If you’re going to work out, don’t cheat. You are only cheating yourself. You’re only creating more work for yourself. Stay strong. Hold on. You can do it. I believe in you.
There are tons of workout plans out there that can help you. Here is what I did starting out: 50 push ups (3x a week), 100 sit-ups (3x a week), and cardio for 20 minutes (3x a week). I didn’t do 50 pushups all at once. I broke it down into doing two sets of 25 (breaking that down doing 15 and then 10). You can break it down as much as you want, just as long as you do the amount.
I then increased it as that workout got easier. The usual amount for it to get easier was 2 weeks. Every 2 weeks, I increased my work out. I challenged my body to do more, and it wanted more.
Once you get your body knowing that you want to work, you’ll most likely discover something the same as I did. Eventually, your body will crave the work. It will crave the pain, the pressure, the tests of its endurance, and the joy of the second win. You notice this once you skip a workout for any reason, and you feel slow, down, dragging. Get your blood pumping again, and watch your mood change.
As you progress, your weight will shed, and your body will change. Don’t look for a change every day. When you’re starting out, it’s not recommended to weigh every day. It will drive you crazy. It drove my wife crazy, who weighed herself every morning until she realized that her mind was better balanced if she didn’t. She has lost over 70 pounds, and she is pushing for more.
Your body, at its core, is a machine made to work. It’s up to you to make it work. If you don’t work it, your body will slowly shut itself down. Heart failure, liver failure, diabetes, kidney failure, as well as several other diseases and disorders can have great affect on your body. The risks of which will slowly creep upon your body if you let it rot while you live. My advice, do the work. You’ll be happier in the long run.
After losing these 70 pounds and finally being called a “Future Sailor,” (which is now the official title for those who are in the DEP program), I feel a sense of pride that not everyone else can feel. I feel equal with the ones that are there with me; standing side by side in the columns and rows of the formation of new Sailors in the parking lot behind the recruiting office. Skinny, fat, built, or muscular, they are all friends, brothers, and sisters in my mind now.
In losing this weight, I have changed myself. I have become a better person with more discipline than the one before him. I have earned a shot at becoming a United States Sailor. Now, it is time for me to retain my focus, and kick myself into a higher gear. It is time for me to work, both mentally and physically. It is time for me to continue my path. It is time for me to become a Sailor in the United States Navy.
More importantly, it’s time for you to become a better person. It’s time for you to attain your goals. You can do it. I believe in you.
Congratulations, Geoff! Remember, your real journey is just beginning; if you attack this journey with the same vigor you displayed just to get to the starting line, you will have an amazing life. I am proud of you.