Now that I decided I would like to become a Marine musician, there was one thing standing in my way: my weight. When I enlisted in the Marine Corps (pre-9/11), the height and weight standards had not been adjusted since 1955. In order to enlist, you had to be under your weight max for your height. I had about 7-10 pounds to lose, and I was determined to do it!

My efforts for weight loss started with regular exercise. I ran a mountain in NJ with a friend’s dad on at least a weekly basis in addition to running with my recruiter a few days a week and playing soccer 1-2 times a week. I ran distances I had never ran before and never thought I could. I had a lot of support surrounding me and my efforts, and I probably lost about 2-3 pounds over a month. When that wasn’t doing what I needed it to do, my mom hired a personal trainer for me. (Thanks, Mom! You’re the best!) I went to him 2 days a week on top of everything else I was doing to lose weight. The trainer provided me a nutrition plan which consisted mostly of canned tuna and egg whites. It was a body builder’s nutrition plan for sure. I didn’t cut much weight, but I did get stronger and better at the events for what would become my Physical Fitness Test (PFT) in the Marine Corps. When the trainer’s nutrition plan and exercise regime didn’t do enough in my short time period, I ended up resorting to the cabbage soup diet. If you are not familiar with that diet, it goes something like this: 

1-      Make an obscenely large vat of cabbage soup (cabbage, tomatoes, broth, celery, and onions).
2-      Eat 2 bowls cabbage soup a day and drink water. You may have limited fruits and veggies, and few days in you are permitted to have lean protein too.
3-      Sit on the toilet for 7 days. With all of the fiber and water, you use the bathroom frequently. 

Not to anyone’s surprise, the cabbage soup diet didn’t get the weight off. So my mom took me to my long time family doctor to have my thyroid tested. I had been seeing Dr. C since I was 2, so he knew my history of “big-bones”. When I arrived at my appointment, he said that I looked like I was in the best shape I had ever been in. I explained what I was trying to do and the drastic measures I had taken so far without success. Once the blood work came back normal, Dr. C hesitantly prescribed a limited number of diet pills to help me reach my goal. Guess what: Diet pills don’t help shrink your bones! I lost a little more weight and I lost several more inches, but I still couldn’t make weight.

Finally, my recruiter submitted for a body fat waiver. Basically that meant that the Marine Corps would be OK with my weight not meeting the standards as long as I was less than 26% body fat or less. When I was measured, I think I came in at 22% and officially began my dream, turned mission, to become a US Marine. Regardless of the road ahead, on April 26, 1998, I proudly enlisted in the Marine Corps.