There are many who start with a desire to serve, but get sidetracked once they discover there is a height and weight and/or body fat standard to get into the military. Often just this obstacle alone will deter people from moving forward with their goal of serving this country. In fact, recent reports have stated that the number one reason why 18-22 years-olds who want to join fail to get accepted is not because of medical issues, high school education, or criminal history, BUT because of failing the height, weight, and body fat standards. This is a sad reality in today's America, but it is completely preventable. Here is a very typical email received this week concerning that demographic who wants to serve:
Mr. Smith - First off, I want to thank you for providing free and helpful fitness advice for future military hopefuls. I'm a 20 year old male going into my senior year of college. I'm 5'11", and 245 pounds. I obviously don't meet standards for the military, but I would really like to try for OCS after I graduate. My main problem is being able to commit to and be consistent with a diet and exercise plan. Do you have any suggestions that would help me stick to them, so that I'd be ready by this time next year? Thank you very much, Daniel
Daniel, you are very smart to give yourself a year, because that is typically what it takes to not only lose weight, but to get physically prepared enough that you will not hurt yourself with over-training injuries associated with running a 2-mile platoon run. There is good news and REAL news (not bad news if your attitude is right): First, the GOOD NEWS: You are young. Typically, a young person making minor changes to his/ her diet and activity level will produce both weight loss and fitness results in a relatively short time. Also, at your height and weight, you will typically lose your first 20-25 pounds pretty quickly, which will enable you to run farther and faster, thus producing additional calorie expenditure to lose more weight. Also, simply drinking more water than you (likely) do now will help with quick weight loss too. At your weight, try adding a gallon of water a day while dropping sodas -- the results will come quickly.
Now for the BAD NEWS: This takes discipline. Initially, you will likely get by on your first few weeks of a workout program on motivation, but might fail to do a workout "when you do not feel like it." This is WHEN YOU MUST TRAIN. This is how mental toughness, personal confidence, and good habits are built. You will ALWAYS feel better after a workout than if you skip a workout. Get out of the skipping habit and into the doing habit. Breaking habits are just as tough as building new habits, but completely doable in as little as your first month with consistent training. If you are not running now and don't have a foundation in running, I would recommend starting your cardio-based training on non-impact options like biking, elliptical machines, rowing machines, or swimming. See ideas for workouts. Once you drop the weight at least 20-25 pounds, we can add running programs to the routine.
The REAL NEWS: It is difficult to out-work a crappy diet. Eat natural foods for energy like fruits and vegetables. Eat lean meats (fish, chicken, beef) and avoid too many processed sugars (sweets, breads, pastas) for daily consumption. See ideas with the Lean Down Plan. Drink more water and avoid sugary drinks (juices, sodas, alcohol), as the extra calories from just these alone can quickly ruin a 1000 calorie burn workout. No need to starve yourself, but eat smaller servings and never walk away from the dinner table so full you want to go take a nap. Eat for energy to train the next day.
Here is a great plan to get started: Beginner Fitness Routine - Weight Loss / Fitness Focus
Once you figure out what branch of service you want to start preparing for, check out the Military/ Police Fitness Training Pipeline for ideas regarding specific steps to your fitness test and future training.