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Guardsman makes major changes to serve country

By Pam Cunningham, Reporter
Published On: May 06 2013 07:00:00 PM CDT
Updated On: May 07 2013 05:50:16 PM CDT

A Berks County man recently won his battle against obesity.

READING, Pa. -

Private Douglas Shook of Birdsboro, Berks Co., plans to be a medic after he completes basic training for the Army National Guard.

"If I was the weight I was I would never be able to do anything of that sort and I'd be a detriment to the unit and everything else," said Shook, who showed a photo of what he looked like when his nephew Ryan was a newborn and he was 310 pounds. "I see myself there, but I wasn't happy, not by any means."

Now, Ryan is more than 2-and-half-years-old with a fit and healthy uncle.

"Physically, it feels amazing. It was to the point where I couldn't even climb a flight of stairs without being out of breath, and now climb five flights kind of turn around and go let's go do it again," said Shook.

It took him five years to be able to enlist in the National Guard because of his weight.

"With the weight standards through the military, that was well out of the question," said Shook.

Once a week since December, Shook would meet with a National Guard recruiter, SSgt. Walter Harman, to get measured.

"I want to work with this guy and I want him to get in," said Harman. 

The military has a weight guideline based on age and height. Shook is 183 pounds and is well below the body fat percentage guideline.

"Unfortunately, most Americans do struggle with weight nowadays. And for somebody to be as motivated as him, especially that's the type of people we look for - they're motivated, highly educated, it makes our military better and it makes our community better," said Harman.

Maybe you don't want to be in the military, but Shook said having a goal helps.

"Everyday, just keep reminding yourself that you got it in you and you're able to do it," Shook said.