October 20th is looming, silently, stalking me from a few months in my future. It causes fear and anxiety and loathing. If there was one part of my Navy life that I wish I wouldn't have to live, it is this:
THE SEMI-ANNUAL PRT!
The semi-annual PRT (Physical Readiness Test), and the associated height-weight/body fat measurements are the Navy's way of ensuring that there is at least some amount of relative health within the ranks. Now, speaking as a large man, the biggest problem area for me is the height-weight/body fat area. Here's how it works:
1. You step onto the scales. The Navy allows a pound for clothing, but only if you're in PT gear, so make sure you're in the lightest shorts and a t-shirt you can find, or at least that's how it used to work. Now you're supposed to wear the official Navy attire, which is ok since it's fairly light overall. Anyway, if you're over your weight limit (for me it's 196), then you move on to step 2.
2. The PRT coordinator or his assistant will measure around your neck to get it's circumfrence. Then he/she will measure around your waist just above the naval. They shouldn't call it the waist. I'm a nerd and I don't wear my pants that high. But I digress. Then they subtract the neck from the waist, plug it into a formula, and if you're less than 23%, you're good to go.
3. Up to a few weeks later, you take part in the stretching, curl-ups (a watered-down sit up), push-ups, and a 1.5 mile run. I haven't had much trouble passing that part in years. In fact, I've only failed one time in this area in my career, and it was after I had already grossly failed step 2.
A sailor must pass both parts of the assessment to have passed the PRT. If you can run like the wind, do push-ups until the cows come home, and curl-up your way to a new moment of zen, but you're too big, you fail and it hurts your evaluation. If you are skinny as a fencepost, but can't run, or don't have the ability to do the other parts, then you fail.
And here I am again, waiting until a few months out before starting a program to pass it. I've failed too many in my past, and I'm determined not to do it again. This is not a game...it is my career. The Navy takes Physical Health a lot more seriously now than it used to and my health is not the greatest.
Yet I'm woefully unprepared to kill this enemy of mine. It's my fault...I love food. Because I love food, I lose the battle for my height-weight ratio. I don't know what to do about it. Honestly I don't. I don't just lack discipline in this area, I loathe discipline in this area. It is a stronghold of Satan in my life. And let me tell you, he has a rugged, well-built, almost-impregnable fortress!
So I need to change. Boy, have I said that before! I need to do better. I need to master my stomach. Actually, I can't. I need God to master my stomach!
I've started reading the official Navy way of reducing one's weight, and it seems to be pretty solid. I can't know right now how it will work out, but I do know that this isn't going to end if I don't take the first step, so maybe today is the first step. We'll see.
What would you tell someone you know who struggles with weight? What kind of encouragement would you give? Advice? Have you struggled with weight?