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thedrifter
12-15-08, 09:03 AM
Slimmed-down Marine now headed into harm’s way, in more ways than one
We’re looking for a few good men . . . who don’t waddle

Perhaps you heard or read the recent feelgood human interest item about Ulysses Milana. If not, here’s the gist. Milana, age 23, was determined to pursue a military career, but his time spent as a culinary student, and his affection for pizza and wings and beer, had left him making the scales groan to the tune of 330 pounds.

The Army and Navy recruiters didn’t exactly lock the doors when they saw him coming, but they made it clear that there wasn’t a uniform made that he could, or would be allowed to, fit into. “You’ve got to lose weight,” was the universal rejection.

Until it came to the Marines. He was too fat for them as well, of course, but in a twist on the classic Marine image, they decided to make less of a man out of him, setting up a workout program for him and sticking with him so doggedly that he was dropping 20 pounds a month.


The fact that his wife, a nurse, was markedly cutting his food portions, also played a serious role. Not to mention the considerable impact of the new No More Beer rule.

In any case, in November, after 11 months of this regimen, and having lost an imposing 140 pounds, Ulysses was happily off to boot camp. Presumably that is the story’s happy ending, to the extent that happiness and boot camp are not mutually exclusive.

But, a warning to Ulysses, and to anyone else so desperate to lose weight that they might consider giving this Join the Marines Motivational Ploy a try: you could wind up in Iraq. And their are few more hazardous places for an American in uniform on the face of the earth.

No, we’re not talking about the combat element. We’re talking about the food in the mess halls, which is so rich and sumptuous and copious and caloric as to be a veritable mine field for anyone inclined to weight gain.
Let’s get the phrase “Battle of the Bulge” out of the way right up front and be done with it

The majority of the 150,000 American troops stationed in Iraq live on large bases, with large dining halls, serving up large portions of just the kinds of food that make the eater large. Here’s just a partial list from a recent Associated Press visit to one base:
barbecue ribs
fried chicken
rib-eye steak
lobster tails
crab legs
roast turkey
cheeseburgers
fries
onion rings
breaded shrimp
chili
crepes
pancakes
omelets
waffles
burritos
quesadillas
bacon
polish sausages
milk shakes
smoothies

And then, God help you, comes dessert, which gets its very own partial list:
carrot cake
triple chocolate cake
strawberry cheesecake
banana nut cake
apple pie
cherry pie
pecan pie
various puddings
assorted cookies
ice cream bars and cones and sundaes with syrup and whipped cream and berry toppings

And that’s just inside the dining hall. Outside are the PXes, with their aisles of sugary/fatty snack foods; and for that home-away-from-home touch, scaled-down McDonald’s and Burger Kings and Pizza Huts and Taco Bells. It has gotten to the drastic point that exploding devices are not the only serious threat to the health of American soldiers.

Given the classic truism, “An army travels on its stomach,” we threaten to wind up with one that can scarcely move. And the military has become genuinely concerned. Which is good news for Ulysses. Because now, every American in uniform is assigned a physical training program designed to maintain fitness and is weighed twice a year, with those who’ve porked up placed on strict diets.

In addition, the mess halls have begun posting the entrees’ caloric, fat, carb and nutritional contents at the buffet, in addition to which the dessert station now imposes a two-ice-cream-bars limit.

Indeed, war is hell. But these days, on the warrior’s waistline as well.

Good luck, Ulysses. And remember: “Semper fi” is Latin for “no seconds.”

(By Robert S. Wieder for CalorieLab Calorie Counter News)

Ellie