Reality TV Star Talks to Sailors about Fitness

SAN DIEGO -- The at-home winner of NBC's season 13 "Biggest Loser" reality television series spoke about healthy lifestyles and physical fitness to Sailors assigned to amphibious assault ships USS Makin Island (LHD 8) and USS Essex (LHD 2) at the Harborside Fitness Center aboard Naval Base San Diego, Jan. 31.

Mike Messina, who lost an incredible 160 pounds during the competition, talked with Sailors about how he changed his life through an improved commitment to nutrition and overall physical fitness.

"Changing your lifestyle is easy it's just changing your mind," Messina told the group of Sailors. "The lifestyle is about making smart choices the majority of the time. If when you wake up you work out and then make yourself a healthy meal, it becomes a routine and then turns into a lifestyle."

Messina, who started the show at a whopping 358 pounds, used Navy basic training as an example of a model lifestyle Sailors should lean towards.

"I feel like boot camp was a warm up for life for Sailors," said Messina. "The military got you ready - everyday you got up, you worked out, you ate, and you trained. It's a model for life."

Messina encouraged the group of Sailors to maintain that mentality in order to stay strong in life.

"There's a reason that the military runs so smoothly, it's like a well-oiled machine," said Messina. "There is a meaning and a purpose to everyday that you guys get up and do your job."

Many of the Sailors asked Messina questions about what types of exercise routines worked for him and what types of food to avoid in order to get rid of unwanted pounds.

"You don't have to change everything, you can still enjoy all the things that you love, but it has to be in small increments," said Messina. "I think that if your start young and take care of yourself, for the rest of your life you will have a healthy good life."

Sailors who met Messina said they walked away with a lot of good advice.

"The most important thing I think we need to do as Sailors is change our mindset on how important is for us to eat right and exercise," said Chief Mineman Enrique Guerra, a representative from Essex's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) division who attended the event. "We need to put it in our heads that if we take care of ourselves, we will live a happier and more prosperous life."

Guerra, who also helps promote physical fitness aboard Essex, said Sailors have a lot of access to gyms on both shore installations and on most Navy ships. He also encourages healthy eating.

"Try restaurants that have healthier foods and eat salads," said Guerra. "When you order hamburgers eat everything don't remove the lettuce or the tomatoes."

Messina's visit was coordinated by Makin Island's MWR division in conjunction with the ship's own "Biggest Loser" competition that began earlier this month.

The ship's competition is intended to help maintain Navy physical fitness standards, supporting the Secretary of the Navy's 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, and ensuring the command's overall mission readiness.

The 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine readiness, safety, physical fitness, inclusion, and continuum of service which builds resiliency and hones the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy.

Makin Island recently returned from a seven-month deployment and was the first U.S. Navy ship to deploy using a hybrid-electric propulsion system. By using this unique propulsion system, the ship saved more than $15 million in fuel costs and the Navy expects to see fuel cost-savings of more than $250 million, over the course of the ship's lifecycle. Lessons learned during Makin Island's maiden deployment prove the Navy's commitment to energy awareness and conservation and will positively influence future ship designs for several decades.

This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve the Secretary of the Navy's energy goals to improve energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase energy independence and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.

The ship is currently undergoing a planned maintenance availability (PMA) at Naval Base San Diego. During this seven month PMA period, Makin Island will receive numerous equipment upgrades, modernization, and general repairs. The PMA period will also ensure the ship will reach the full service life of at least 40 years.

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