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Americans, by and large, are by and LARGE. 70% or so are overweight or obese. That’s a problem. And it even extends into the military. Military Times reported yesterday that the number of overweight troops (all branches) is up fourfold from 2001.

Recent military health data shows that about 7.8 percent of the force — or about one in every 13 troops — is clinically overweight, defined by a body mass index greater than 25.

That figure has roughly doubled during the past five years and is up fourfold since 2001, when about 1.6 percent of troops were diagnosed as clinically overweight.

Top Pentagon officials are rewriting the forcewide guidelines for body composition standards and the methods for officially evaluating it. For individual troops, a diagnosis of obesity can stall a career or lead to involuntary separation, making these policies are central to military life.

Some Pentagon officials worry that overweight troops pose a threat to combat readiness because they may not be able to move as quickly in ground combat and if they are wounded, it is more difficult for their buddies to pull them to safety.

In the military some of the overweight, maybe most, are individuals who are muscle-heavy. BMI is a dumb number that does not differentiate between fat and muscle. Still, many soldiers, sailors, and airmen are tubby. Jarheads are safe. The trend is growing like that in the general population.

fat-cute-soldiers-3

Not going to beat the Russians … or the mortality odds. Web Ecoist.

I sat down with a segment of that broader population yesterday afternoon. I was at one of America’s better cigar shops (what’s new?). There, I pounded through my review of The Nine Laws. As I did so I listened to and vaguely participated in three or four conversations.

A crazed Scottish biker raved about drunkenly dodging his armed and angry wife the night before. (Stereotypes exist for a reason, folks…). The rest of the topics concerned personal health. The lack thereof, rather. These men are my friends or at least pleasant acquaintances. They’re middle-aged to older and better off financially and socially than most. They’re also, as a group, a bit on the round side.

Some talked about their recent visits to the doctor. Others were headed to the doctor. One was recently released from the hospital. Blood pressure up. Weight up. Cholesterol up. Medication doses up. Insurance rates up. Etc. Good meals were a frequent side topic. Good Scotch and Bourbon was consumed generously right then and there.

I generally ignored the mildly depressing announcements of ailment and woe.

Then Big Brian walked in. Something was immediately and noticeably different. Big Brian ain’t so big as he used to be. Once somewhere in the 330-350 lb. neighborhood he’s now down to around 270.

His doctor told him to lose weight or die. It scared him into action. And action he took. Drastic action. He adjusted his diet and lifestyle and the pounds began to flee.

He sat down and immediately directed questions at me, the house fitness nut. At 270 he’s ready to start phase two: working out.

This conversation I actively participated in. I recommended one of the best gyms in the Southeast. Work permitting, he’ll sign up next week. I estimate, with steady work, he’ll be down to 220 in 6 months. That’s over 100 pounds dropped in less than a year. That’s amazing.

I say “Big Brian” because that’s his name and because he’s a large man. Probably 6’3″ or 6’4″. He can carry 220 or so in healthy fashion.

Of course, he has choices to make. Given his age, intelligence, and size, he could easily and rapidly convert into a powerlifter or a bodybuilder. It’s possible that in 6 months he might still weigh 270, though of a totally different composition.

I think he’ll opt to go slim and lean. However, it’s nice to have options.

If he can do it, you can do it. The soldiers can do it. 70% of America can too. Become a loser and be a winner.

As for yours truly, I’m doing fine this week. Nothing serious to report. My back has fully recovered from the dead-lifting fiasco last week. I even did a light test set the other day. Things are great, except…

I’m supposed to take a murder of middle school preteen / teen girls to a large amusement park next week. It’s Howl-o-Scream or run Daddy into the ground night or something. I’m sure they’ll have a blast. I ‘d prefer to throw my back again. Prayers, please…

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