Tag Archives: military

Miss Kansas is Anything but the Beauty Pageant Norm, and We Love It

“I try to be like my dad, he’s where I get my characteristics and strength,” said Miss Kansas Theresa Vail. She went on to call her father her role model, but she hopes other young women find inspiration in strong females. Based on how people are responding to her participation in the Miss America pageant, it’s almost guaranteed that many will be looking up to Theresa Vail.

Theresa Crown

Raised as a self-described “military brat,” Vail moved around a lot. She was bullied as a child, and nearly ended her own life at the age of ten. Seven years later she joined the Army. Now she is a sergeant and has recently signed on for six more years of service. Only the second representative of the military to compete in Miss America, Vail has broken quite a few barriers. She was America’s Choice in last weekend’s pageant, which earned her a place in the Top 15 and placed her just outside of the Top 5 overall.

It makes sense that her platform is “Empowering Women: Overcoming Stereotypes and Breaking Barriers.” One of the biggest stereotypes Vail overcame was the thought that Miss America contestants shouldn’t have visible tattoos. Instead of hiding her large tattoos, Vail proudly displayed them.

“I told everyone before I left for Miss America that whether I win the crown or not, if I can change people’s opinion, then I’ve done my job,” she said. Many people’s opinions of Miss America and the women who compete for the title are based on how the contestants look. The focus on body image and self-confidence is something Vail has already encountered while she has been serving as Miss Kansas. (more…)

Mess Hall Makeovers Help Obese U.S. Army to Slim Down

I’d like to nominate America as a candidate to participate in The Biggest Loser 15. But if they’re too busy, maybe the U.S. Army could fill in, considering our troops’ swelling obesity rate is now a national security concern. Apparently, as U.S. citizens ascend toward new heights of corpulence, so goes the armed forces.

The army has historically had stringent fitness demands, and “boot camp” is synonymous with hellacious physical exertion, so the weight gain can’t be for lack of trying. From 1992 to 2007, more than 24,000 soldiers were discharged for falling short of the Army’s weight standards.

Fortunately, the U.S. Army’s Military Nutrition Division may have an answer. In a recent intervention conducted at five dining halls on Fort Bragg, N.C., researchers found that replacing foods heavy in fat and sugar with fruit, veggies, whole-grains, and lean meat significantly improved the nutritional health of the soldiers and led to weight loss. “Go for Green” placards with nutritional information were placed around the mess halls to incentivize the soldiers. (more…)

The Four-Star Diet is Not a Book for People Who are Attracted to Fad Diets

I would never guess by her images on Google that Laura Wellington used to struggle with her weight. But she uses diet-talk to describe her former mindset when she says, “I’m just in my self-destructive mode, but I can always go back on a diet.” Eventually, Laura does change her perspective in many small ways that add up to a critical mass when she becomes fundamentally changed. Exactly how she did it is not the point. Laura is simply writing about the lessons she learned for living a meaningful life along the way.

Somehow, Laura, a young widow, mother of four, owner of a TV show and brand, turned it all around. In trying to explain how she did it, she was inspired by a presentation, A Leadership Primer, on victory in business and life made by General Colin Powell. She applied Powell’s twenty principles for business to a weight-controlled life, and she sprinkled her new book, The Four Star Diet, with personal anecdotes and advice from inspirational leaders like Gandhi and Einstein. The book has only 136 pages and you don’t have to read it in order.

Laura Wellington believes that weight control is about taking personal responsibility for choices in less than optimum circumstances.  As a result, she asks you to “reflect daily,” “look below the surface,” and “live fearlessly!” When General Powell asserts, “Endeavors succeed and fail because of the people involved,” Laura interprets it as, “Birds of a feather flock together,” and then explains how positive role models provide invaluable visual lessons, while toxic people in your life must change or perish. She takes no prisoners, in the best possible way. (more…)

10 Ways We’d Improve the US Navy’s Fitness

Obesity is rampant across the entirety of the US population. Epidemic is one word often used to describe the increasing weight that is creeping in on more than half of our citizens. For as sexy as they can look in those sailor suits, and physically demanding their jobs can be, even the members of the US Navy aren’t immune. The National Institutes of Health reported in November that 15.1% of male US Navy personnel are obese. However, for the confined space they often live in on submarines, the obesity rate “remains below U.S. nonmilitary comparison data.”

Posted on the Navy Times today, the problem is something that they’re asking for crowd-sourced support in alleviating, even if that means from civilians. The publication posted that, “A recent audit of the Navy’s fitness program revealed that many commands do not take fitness seriously, and that there’s too little accountability at the top.” In a business where fitness is everything, much like law enforcement or firefighters, the physical fitness should be a priority to everyone.

Navy Times is asking people to email their thoughts on both personal experiences regarding fitness in the Navy (for instance, “are you allowed time to work out?”) and how to improve the fitness of the Navy. While they’re likely looking for answers primarily from their own men and women, they’ll no doubt hear from anyone who stumbles across the article who want to share their two cents. Like us!

We’ve got ten tips for the Navy to improve the fitness of its personnel. When people are fitter and healthier, and encouraged to be so, they think clearer, have fewer days off work, are more productive, not to mention generally have better overall morale. We’re sure all of this would be appreciated by everyone in the Navy, from the top down.

Be Accountable. Enact a buddy system where each person is accountable to another for their workouts, diet habits, and even other health changes like smoking. This shouldn’t be a commanding officer, but a peer, that way you eliminate any fear. The relationship should be supportive and mutually beneficial.

Stand Up. Get rid of the space-eating standard office desks and install standing desks. This will get your personnel up out of their chairs and on their feet, which promotes more movement, better posture, and overall better fitness.

Promote Personal Training. Certifications, that is. The NESTA personal training certification is now covered under the GI Bill tuition allowances. It can help individuals not only prepare for a career after the Navy, but help them keep themselves and their peers in shape during. (more…)

Memorial Day Food is Trumped by Remembrance and Respect

Fat-free potato chips and low-calorie onion dip may grace your picnic table this Memorial Day. Or maybe an ice-cold beer is your perfect accompaniment to the spirit of freedom that dances across your weed-free yard. And nothing says “barbeque” more than an extra day off of work, but sometimes the food and drink takes the spotlight away from the real reason for the celebration. We must not forget the brave men and women who gave their lives so we can feel safe reveling on our shaded back patios.

For some, Memorial Day is just another unmemorable day that makes for a three-day weekend. For others, it is simply an opportunity to try their hand at baking a deep dish apple pie for a neighbor. While many Americans have a sense of disconnect to the idea of war, few gravely understand first hand the sacrifice it takes to have enough nerve to stand up for what they believe.

Instead of stockpiling the turkey hotdogs or turning grandma’s bean dip into the highlight of the day, take a moment to sit quietly and give gratitude to those who died at war. You don’t have to listen to Taps, but you can be sensitive to the real reason for this special American holiday. (more…)

Zac Efron Beefs Up to Play Soldier in The Lucky One

Disney heart throb Zac Efron is paving his way as leading man in Hollywood. His newest role as a soldier in the romantic movie The Lucky One required him to transform his body into combat shape, and it wasn’t easy. The Men’s Health cover model opened up to the magazine about exactly what it took to make a believable Marine, and what he learned from these real life heroes along the way.

Efron and his director went to the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton to meet with real soldiers to prepare for his new role. The vibe on base was all business and Efron was inspired, and maybe a little intimidated, by the soldiers who had experienced two or three tours of duty already.

“They were my age. 23, 24, even younger,” said Efron. “And most of the staff sergeants were not huge guys. They were about my height, 5’9″, 5’10”, some shorter, but all very stocky. And I’m there in a backward hat and Vans, walking around like I’m still in college. It’s much different from the lifestyle I’m living over here. Where do you start the conversation? I didn’t know what to say, what questions were inaccurate.”

Efron trained for 4 months, 5 days to week to prepare for his role, eating around 3,500 calories a day spread out over 6 to 8 meals with a heavy emphasis on protein for muscle growth- and when I say heavy, I mean heavy. Breakfast alone consisted of “A shake and, you know, an eight-egg omelet. I got used to it at the time, but I wouldn’t recommend it,” Efron admitted. “It’s not practical to do for a long period of time.”

While the regimen was tough, Efron loved seeing the results of all his hard work.


NESTA Personal Trainer Certification Now Covered by GI Bill Tuition

National Exercise & Sports Trainers AssociationThe GI Bill reimbursement benefits for veterans will now cover the expenses of the National Exercise & Sports Trainers Association’s (NESTA) Personal Fitness Trainer Certification Program. A career in fitness seems like a fitting career path for many former servicemen and women, because physical and mental discipline are such an important aspect of military training.

“We are very pleased to now offer military personnel the ability to earn a Personal Fitness Trainer Certification through our tuition reimbursement program, which they can complete online at their own pace,” commented John Spencer Ellis, the founder of NESTA. “At NESTA, we truly salute the brave men and women who serve every day in the United States Armed Forces and thank you for your service.”

The online certification program consists of video lectures and a digital manual. The self-paced program is entirely online, and will teach personal training students how to asses clients, teach techniques and design fitness programs. The classes are concluded by a 100-question exam, which is also administered online.


Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition Changes Lives One Year at a Time

If you haven’t heard the concept behind the hit new television show, Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition, then you have been missing out on a very inspiring show. This show follows a different obese person each episode as they complete one of the hardest challenges of their lives: losing weight and redefining their lives in one year.

This week’s episode featured Alex, who at 23-years old weighed 459 pounds, which made him morbidly obese. Alex had battled his weight since he was a young child. Although Alex has always loved the sport of baseball, he quit playing in high school because he was afraid of being made fun of due to his weight. His lack of physical activity and  his love of fast food and hamburgers (one of his favorite meals: a hamburger with the bacon and cheese cooked into it and on top of it) showed a diet high in fat and calories that obviously lead to his obesity. Before his mother died from cancer 4 years prior, she made him promise that he would take better care of his health and lose weight. Alex finally decided it was time to honor his mother’s memory.


U.S. Soldiers Turn to Drastic Weight Loss Methods

An Army Times article reported this week that soldiers are taking drastic steps to meet the military’s weight standards. Soldiers have admitted to taking diet pills and laxatives, starving themselves and getting liposuction in order to meet what some see as impossibly low weight standards.

Liposuction saved my career — laxatives and starvation before a PFT sustains my career,” an anonymous soldier told the weekly paper. “I, for one, can attest that soldiers are using liposuction, laxatives and starvation to meet height and weight standards. I did, do and still do.”

Almost half of all uniformed men and women in the US Army do not meet the weight standards, according to a 2009 military fitness report, and those officers are then made to use tape measurements to determine body fat percentage. If the percentages are too high, the soldiers cannot earn promotions or hold leadership roles. A further failure to lose weight is grounds for job loss. More than 24,000 soldiers were discharged between 1992 and 2007 for failure to meet weight standards.