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Lesson: Take Charge of Yourself

A Future Sailor’s Weight Loss Journey

Written by
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;

Geoff Breedwell - Before and After

Geoff Breedwell, Before and After

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.”

  1. 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.)
  2. NO EATING PAST 2000 (8PM). Anything past 8pm will be saved and when you weigh, you’ll be up the next morning.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

29 Responses to “A Future Sailor’s Weight Loss Journey”

  1. AW1 Tim says:

    Good on you! In my own case, I put on a great deal opf weight due to medications and 5 rounds of surgery. I have one more to schedule at some point, then hopefully that will be it.

    I’ve taken 45 pounds off this past year. I really only did a few slight mods to my diet. Most of it was walking. I usually walk 3-5 miles a day, and by grazing, vice having 3 standard meals, the weight came off and has stayed off. I still have another 30lbs or thereabouts to go, but I feel good about what’s happened so far.

    What helped me greatly in my weight-loss effort was to not look at the final goal, but to concentrate on short-term increments of 5lbs each. The first goal was to drop 5 lbs. Then it was to drop another 5lbs, all the while keeping it off, etc.

    That worked for me though, as you state, there is no hard and fast rule for everyone.

    Best of luck in your Navy future. If I can ever help, don’t hesitate to write me.


  2. Geoff Breedwell says:

    Thanks AW1!! I didn’t see this comment until now, sadly enough.

    But just as an update, I ship out on 20100707, so I am vastly getting ready to go. I will be enlisting as an e-2, and within the SECF field. I am aiming to be an STS.

    Thanks for reading, AW1, and everyone else who has read this!! I really appreciate it!!

  3. George says:

    Congrats on shipping out,Im ready to enlist and I am starting a workout plan prior to even going to MEPS so that I can be ready to ship as soon as possible,good luck with your future as a Navy recruit and I hope to be seeing you out on the high seas soon enough…

  4. anthony says:

    best blog yet! very inspirational thanks man!

  5. Whitney says:

    Congratulations on your success! I am also in the process of losing weight to join the navy which has always been a dream of mind, I have lost 35lbs so far since Jan, and plan to lose about 30-45 more pounds. You are a inspiration, and again congrats enjoy the navy.

  6. yenner says:

    Again, as I said on your other post, it’s weird b/c without ever seeing this I’ve adapted a VERY similar strategy and at ~125 pounds lost it’s worked so far. :) Thanks for sharing.

  7. Justin says:

    Hey Congrats I just got in to the dep program. In the nuclear field. I had to drop 45 pounds. 186 down from 231. :) working for 175 though. Keep it up everyone. Good luck.

  8. Justin says:

    Forgot to mention my weight loss was from April 2011 to present. Frequent running and cardio. A low calorie diet. And vitamin/mineral supplementation.

  9. NCCM(ret) says:

    Congratulations, Justin, keep up the great work!

  10. Kasie says:

    Wow conrats this story is very inspirational. I too am trying to get into the navy. I have dropped 20 lbs so far and have 5 more to go. I wont make weight, but I will be 33% body fat. I am 34% now but my recruiter wants to wait till I hit 33% for me to go to meps. Best of luck to everyone.

  11. Christian says:

    Er. I’m thinking you actually WANT the extra cellulose. It’s the primary building block in vegetable matter!

    Cellulite, on the other hand…

  12. D says:

    Im down from 286 to a even 200 today, I have four pounds to loose before I can join and I can’t get them off

  13. NCCM(ret) says:


    You have been doing great! 86 pounds lost is outstanding, keep up the great work, it will happen!

  14. Wendy [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    Thank you for the advice on losing weight! I weigh 164 and i got to drop down to 130 so i needed some good advice on losing weight i’ve been a soda junkie for a long time, and it’s not easy to give up. I want to lose this weight and i thank you for the encouragement!

  15. caldwell says:

    i personally lost over 40 pounds to join!!!! so i know where you are coming from. i was 125 before i had my son 3 years ago and let my self go i was over 200 pounds when i first walked into the recruiting office. i was told i needed to be 170 to join. so i left and came back 2 months later with the weight gone!!! I am actually leaving for boot camp in 3 hours!!! i had not seen your story before today but i did use many of the same techniques. people THEY DO WORK!!!!

  16. Joe says:

    im in the process of losing weight to joined, ive been working out for 3 weeks now and ive lost 20 pounds so far. im down to 269, im 6 foot 4 and i still got another 48 to lose, but im working towards it. my dream is to be in the navy, and im trying to make it come true. i havent talked to a recruiter yet but im going to when i drop a few more pounds. thanks for the inspiration :)

  17. Stefani says:

    I am trying too loose weight as well so I can join. It’s so nice to read this story an all the comments. I only have 10-12lbs to loose and I have been really hard on myself and I have only just started. I’ve already been working out before deciding to join the Navy but I haven’t been as hardcore about it. Now I’m doing 20-30 minutes of cardio a day and strength training since I can barely do one push up. Lol. Thanks again for sharing your story and all the comments. :)

  18. Michael says:

    I’ve been training for about 6 weeks now trying to lose weight to join, but nothing seems to work. I just can’t seem to lose the last few inches on my waist. I’ve timed my running and can get a good score and pop pushups and situps out easy enough, but my waist is holding me back. Dieting and exercising regularly. Any advice?

  19. Michael says:

    Oh yeah 210lbs 67 inches tall 41 inch waist and 16.5 neck.

  20. NCCM(ret) says:


    Remember, this is a journey and not a sprint. Stick with it!

    The best advice I can give is to repeat the advice Geoff provided above – follow the 8 “pro tips” and the methods he employed in his write-up.

    To catch everyone up, Geoff is now an ET3 (E-4), and stationed aboard a submarine in Georgia, and doing great!

  21. Marilyn says:

    Wonderful blog! Now I will need to get with a recruiter to help me get down to the required weight, because I suck doing this by myself. I am 10 pounds heavier than the required weight for a female to join. I have not gotten my body fat measured yet, but I will in a couple of days.

  22. Edith says:

    My daughter has wanted to enlist but was having problems losing weight nothing seemed to be working until she found boot camp Las Vegas. She works hards every morning and the weight is coming off. So if your wanting to lose weight see if there is a boot camp in your city. Its hard work and she is meeting a lot of friends that makes it fun and exciting. Good luck everyone you can do it.

  23. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Thank you for the insight; I am sure your daughter will do well!

  24. Kyndra says:

    I’ve heard many people talk about having to loose weight to join the Navy what about having to gain weight? I’ve been small all my life it’s just the way I am, currently I am 5ft and around 89 pounds (I’ve never heard of another person like myself). Any advice?

  25. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I recommend asking your doctor, but a high carb diet seems to have no problem putting the weight on me.

  26. Margot says:

    I can’t help but notice that the author lists COMPLEX carbohydrates as something to avoid, rather than SIMPLE. Simple carbs are your sugars and your junk foods. Complex carbohydrates are necessary for brain function and survival. It would be a good idea to fix that.

  27. Andre says:

    Awesome story! I have to lose 20 lbs within a month if I’m going to make this happen. I am 5 ft 9 and 206 lbs.

  28. Anais [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    Awesome!!! This is motivating me more. I already lose 60 pounds but I have to lose 60 more to go to the boot camp. This is one of mu frustrated dreams cause I was gonna do it when I was 18 but I decided to do a lot of things first. Now, I want to do it. I’m almost 26 years now and my decision is straight: I want to be a sailor and served to my country. I’m gonna start my training today with my dad (a retired national guard). I know I’m gonna be in that boot camp soon!!! I’m so excited!!!!

  29. jasmine says:

    I have 30 lbs to lose for boot camp or 5 inches but either way I hopefully will be joining this year. It’s my new years resolution, the first one I’ve had since I was a child. Thank you for your story.

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