Whatever It Takes...
...Not To Be A Fat Body.
Calling myself a “fat-body” sound harsh? Yeah, maybe. But if I were still in the Marine Corps, thats exactly what I would be labeled because I most definitely would NOT meet the height and weight standards. In fact, I would be 20 pounds over my max weight, and probably wouldn’t make the taping requirements either (taping = the Marine Corp’s way of measuring us in order to determine our body fat). Seems crazy, right? Well, it’s true!
At the end of my career in 2015 I weighed about 155lbs and was anywhere between 27% and 29% body fat with only ~108lbs of lean body mass. Can you say #SkinnyFat?
Fast forward to right now: I’m 174lbs, am in the same range for body fat %, except now I have 124lbs of lean body mass.
For the sake of simplicity, lets put it like this >>> I weigh 20 pounds MORE, have 16 MORE pounds of LEAN body mass, and am the SAME body fat percentage, yet I would be considered “over weight” and out of Marine Corps height and weight standards.
Okay, so big deal. Why am I sharing this with you? Well, before I knew anything about nutrition [and I mean for real, not the shit I read in People, Us, or Cosmopolitan magazines], I tried several fad diets, popped fat-burners like they were magical candies, and put my body through some extreme and very unhealthy things just to ensure that I was never over my maximum weight requirement. (for those of you who aren’t aware, being outside of Marine Corps height and weight standards is one of the main ways to kill your chances for promotion and reenlistment) I wish I could say that the things I did were a rare occurrence, but sadly some of these are pretty common in the Corps.
People would do almost anything to make weight.
- Fad diets
- fat burning pills (excessively and abusively)
- water pills
- sitting in the sauna in a plastic suit or sweats
- starvation diets
- juice fasts
- water only fasts
- lemonade detox/cleanse/diet
- cabbage diet
- whole body wraps
- throwing up
- not eating
- excessive cardio on top of whatever extreme measure they were already doing
You get the idea. I myself did 9 of those things over the course of my career, and by doing those things, my physical fitness test (PFT) scores suffered. (we always weighed in right after our PFT) I’d be depleted, have no strength, energy, was often really dehydrated, and then I’d go out and run 3 miles, attempt 100 crunches, and attempt to flex arm hang for 70 seconds. Go ahead and ask me how that worked out for me.
Even if I made weight, I never felt like I looked good enough, and I definitely didn’t feel like I was strong enough, or fast enough. I just didn’t feel like I was “good enough” overall and I developed body dysmorphic disorder. Even when I was at my thinnest or lightest weight, I felt fat. I was never satisfied with how I looked and my answer was more extreme measures, just spaced over time instead of bunched together before a weigh in.
If you think these extreme measures are solely a female thing, you are wrong! And if you think these things started after I was in the Marine Corps, you are doubly wrong! Check this out:
- A male friend and I entered the delayed entry program at the same time. We had the same recruiter, attended the same poolee functions, and we were also scheduled to ship out on the same date. He was overweight when we “DEP’d” in, but he was accepted because the recruiters “knew” they could help him make weight before shipping him off to bootcamp. They didn’t really work with him as far as nutrition (except telling him to eat less), but they did give him a pretty intense cardio program. Their main concern was that he made weight, and was able to pass a PFT (which he almost didn’t pass because he got so weak that he couldn’t even do 3 pull ups). Anyway, I don’t remember how many pounds he still needed to lose in the 2 days leading up to us leaving for bootcamp, what I do remember is the recruiter telling him what he could do to ensure he dropped the weight in a very short time. He was told to buy some epsom salt and mix XX amount in XX amount of water and drink it, and if he needed a final push at the end, he was to take laxatives and/or try enemas.
Yes, you read that right. We were taught/conditioned to do whatever it took before we even left for bootcamp. If he wanted it bad enough, he would do whatever it took - and he did. Only he still didn’t make weight and had to wait another month before he could ship out. This Marine struggled his entire 4 years with weight and with his PFT. Yes, he earned the title of Marine and served successfully for 4 years, but at a cost. He tried these extreme measures at a minimum of 2x per year, sometimes more often. He was set up for failure from the very beginning because the recruiter wanted to make his quota. I often wonder how this Marine’s career would have been different, or if he would have reenlisted, had he been given the time and been taught the correct way to lose weight.
Moving on…If you read my my previous blog, “I didn’t know how bad I felt”, then you know I learned a lot and changed my life in 2013, but before then, I would still try the newest and hottest fad diets, and ultimately just yo-yo’d and lost/put on the same 10lbs for years!
You might think, “thats great that you could lose 10lbs whenever you wanted” or “thats great that the most you ever put on was 10lbs”, but lets be real here…it was 10lbs of fat that was put back on, and it was mainly water weight (and muscle over time) that was lost. After each weigh in and eating “normally” again, the weight came right back. I was never building any muscle either, instead I was losing muscle every time I ate ultra low calories paired with excessive cardio, and I was putting myself at risk for heat exhaustion, heat stroke, metabolic damage, and other serious injuries.
Needless to say, I am 1,000% in a better place now than I ever was while in the Corps. If you’ve ever tried any of these things, are are currently caught up in a vicious, unhealthy cycle and want to get out of it, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you however I can.