Guard Your Health is a resource for Army National Guard Soldiers and family members. Find health-related tools and information. Hear from fellow Soldiers and Families. Make medical readiness part of your personal mission.

Finding a New Outlook on Health

man lifting barbells

SGT Jeffrey Nelson was always active growing up, but health and fitness were never a priority. By the winter of 2016, the Utah Army National Guard Soldier started feeling depressed and unsatisfied with his health. Itching for a change, he was finally inspired to take charge of his health and wellness thanks to a friend. 

Adopting Healthy Eating Habits

Nelson’s biggest challenge was finding the motivation to dedicate himself to living a healthier lifestyle. He realized that his struggle centered around eating healthy.

“I hate the word diet,” Nelson said. “I always felt restricted while dieting and it was always so hard for me to stick with it.”  In the past, failure to follow a diet wrecked his confidence and motivation.

But this time, instead of dieting, the Utah-based police officer started practicing mindful eating. With this shift in thinking, Nelson felt free to eat whatever he wanted, as long as the focus was on getting healthier.

His new healthy lifestyle involves eating high-protein foods (such as eggs and chicken), plenty of green veggies, and foods that are low in carbs. One of his favorite high-protein snacks is canned chicken with a seasoning or condiment, like barbeque sauce. He explained this quick option is perfect when meal prepping doesn’t fit into his busy schedule. 

Embracing the Gym

Nelson also began joining his buddy at a local gym that specializes in strength and conditioning routines. He soon fell in love with the workout environment and found a supportive community that keeps him coming back. “It is something that has become a positive motivator in my life and I enjoy going every day,” Nelson said.

While Nelson typically hits the gym six or seven days a week, building a routine was a challenge at first. He explained that learning the mental strength to get out of bed for early morning workouts took some time.

Along with motivation, Nelson struggled with self-doubt during his fitness journey. “A lot of times we get hung up on being out of shape. I had such a self-confidence issue,” he said. “I didn’t want people to see me at the gym.”

Eventually Nelson stopped worrying about the possible stares at the gym. He kept showing up each week and working towards his fitness goals. Over the past year, he has dropped nearly 70 pounds and cut 12 percent body fat off his frame.

For Soldiers lacking motivation or feeling discouraged, Nelson suggests stepping away from the scale. Nelson encourages Soldiers to instead focus on their progress and being consistent, and the results will follow.

“My motto is ‘Be better every day.’ If Soldiers take that approach with their work, gym, and food, they are never going to fail.”

Want More?