He Served His Country, But Not Himself
Curt McGinnis dropped over 100 pounds and got himself back in fighting form
Weight Before: 265
Weight After: 160
Vitals: Curt McGinnis, 30, Mackinaw, IL
Occupation: IT analyst
Time Required to Reach Goal: 18 months
The Setback After graduating from high school, I enlisted in the Army National Guard. Basic training whipped me into amazing shape, and I was excited about my future with the military. But then my wife and I had three children within 8 years, and the stress and lack of time turned many of my meals into fast-food blitzes of burgers and greasy pizzas. Eventually, I failed all my physical-fitness tests. I should have been able to run 2 miles in about 16 minutes, but I couldn’t do that distance even in 20. And the Guard wouldn’t promote me with a body like that. I left the military in 2002. I’d reached a dead end.
The Wake-Up Call When I was in my mid-20s, my dad had an obesity-related colon rupture and spent 6 weeks in a coma. And yet as my own body grew bigger, I was too comfortable to be scared. I needed something much more immediate to change me: embarrassment. In May 2008, as my family was packing up to go to a swimming pool, I stood in front of a mirror and knew I wasn’t swimsuit material. I stayed home and sulked. That day, I decided it was time to make a change.
The Food I’ve tried fad diets, and they’ve never worked. So this time I revamped my entire eating routine. I traded burgers and pizza for lean proteins like grilled chicken and tuna. I swapped soda for tap water. And I quit ice cream in favor of frozen blueberries and other fruits. It hasn’t been easy, believe me. So after a week of healthy eating and exercising, I allow myself one day to barbecue with my family or dine out with friends. The trick is to not go crazy: I’ll have a small burger with a side of green beans, or two slices of thin-crust pizza. I even reward myself with a few beers each weekend. But only a few.
The Fitness Working out is easier if you have a goal, so I set mine high: to one day meet my old military fitness requirements. To do that, I ran 5 days a week. I found the exercises I liked the most for each part of my body (for my back, say, I love doing deadlifts, dumbbell rows, and lat pulldowns) and then tried to include at least one favorite in each workout. Now I spread my lifting throughout the week—I work some muscles one day and give them a rest while working others the next. Along the way, I’ve set smaller goals: a half marathon—I’ve done two!—and a full marathon this year. (Wish me luck.)
The Reward Being Army-fit again has boosted my confidence, and I think it’s made me a better husband and dad. I was proud to shed clothing on our recent vacation to Myrtle Beach. But I’ve always felt I have unfinished business with the military. I often dedicate that last mile or that last rep to soldiers overseas—and now I excel at those fitness tests I once failed. I’m in better shape now than I was fresh out of basic training, and I’m ready to finish what I started: I think I’m ready to reenlist.