News: Mind over matter in weight loss
Story by Spc. Elayseah Woodard-Hinton
QATAR - Many people will begin the new year with resolutions dealing with their health and wellness.
However, for one Soldier, it did not take a new year to make this resolution, but a desire within to improve himself and to become a better leader for his Soldiers.
"I found myself playing with my kids outside a lot before we deployed and I was getting tired, physically," said Staff Sgt. Hector Soto, supply sergeant, D Battery, 2nd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery. "I got tired of being that guy. I got tired of being tired."
Before deploying to Qatar, Soto's doctor suggested he lose 25 pounds, which would possibly add five years to his life.
"My goal was to come here and lose 20 pounds," said Soto. "I ended up doing that and I figured why not try and lose 40, why not try to lose 50 and now I am trying to lose 100 out here."
Soto weighed 319 pounds when he deployed in January 2008.
Eleven months later, Soto was 238 pounds and continues to work towards his goal of losing weight and inches.
"I was 13 percent over body fat with a 52 inch waist, I was really embarrassed about it," said Soto. "Now I'm 3 percent under body fat and I'm not finished yet."
Since losing the weight, Soto has used this new found determination and drive in other areas of his life.
"I was able to start college for the first time while I was out here," said Soto. "I've earned 24 college credits, which I've never did. A lot of it was me holding myself back. Right now I have the attitude like nothing's going to stop me. I want to do everything."
Soto admits that it was his leaders and family who pushed him to make the initial steps to change his lifestyle and continue to do better.
"First sergeant George was a big part of that. If it was not for him here and my wife at home, I'd probably wouldn't even be given an opportunity to be where I am at right now," added Soto.
Although, Soto has always had a passion for his job and pride in being a non-commissioned officer, he has become even more focused on trying to motivate Soldiers who may be struggling in the same areas he has overcome.
"I am really good at what I do, I am passionate about what I do, I love my Soldiers," said Soto. "I got tired of them running back for me at the end of formations when I should be running back for them."
Understanding that he has challenges he still must overcome, Soto continues to take action and lead by example.
"You have to be realistic with your goals," said Soto. "To be honest, I couldn't do 10 minutes on the treadmill without falling out and losing my breath. Now I am running outside for about an hour at a time. I went from not running at all, to taking other Soldiers out for a run who need help."
Soto is happy to help and give tips to Soldiers who are looking to lose weight or improve their physical fitness; but ultimately, the desire and will to do this has to come from within.
"It's mental and it's a complete lifestyle change," said Soto. "Once you get there you can't stop, either you maintain or you push harder."