Area I Soldier finds loss is gain
CAMP RED CLOUD -- A year ago this month Maj. Jerry Rider decided it was time to go hot on losing weight so he'd get down to the right one for his height.
He weighed around 225, which put him many pounds over for his height of 5 feet, 10 inches. He had a 42-inch waistline. He was 48 years old.
As a health care professional -- he's an Army physician assistant currently assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division Surgeon's Office at Camp Red Cloud in Uijeongbu -- he was all too familiar with the major health risks of being overweight. Heart disease and diabetes are only a few of the life-threatening hazards.
"If you carry weight around your waist too long you're set up for high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, all those things, cancer," said Rider, 49. "You're at much higher risk for all those diseases."
And he has a family history of diabetes.
He enlisted in 1987 and served as an infantry medic before becoming an officer in 1997 upon graduation from the Army's physician assistant school.
Besides health risks, there were career considerations: Army fitness standards require that Soldiers keep within the right weight range for their height.
Get over that range and the Army requires Soldiers to drop to proper weight within a set time, and checks their progress periodically with a tape measure.
"I was getting taped by Army standards and I didn't want to get taped anymore," said Rider.
He also knew he'd be retiring from the Army in October, 2014 and wanted to reenter civilian life in good physical shape.
So Rider went into action. He set his ultimate weight loss goal at 165 pounds. At the time, he was nearing a PCS move to Korea.
"So the first thing I was going to do, I wasn't going to bring my car to Korea. So it forced me to have to walk everywhere. I chalked it up as a plus that I didn't have my car because in the states you drive everywhere and you get used to being lazy. You get to jump into your car and go anywhere."
A second step was a modified Atkins diet high in protein.
"You can have fat too but no sugars, no breads," said Rider. "You can have some nuts, but mainly proteins like meat and eggs and stuff like that." And absolutely no fried foods.
Rider also cut back on alcoholic beverages and upped his water intake.
He got to Korea in August.
By October he'd added running to his get-fit regimen.
By November his weight had dropped from the 225 of July to 194.
Meanwhile, he'd found Korea to be an ideal place for getting fit, especially because of its abundance of walking paths and hiking trails.
"It's really a walker's paradise," he said. "A lot of Koreans use it as their pastime sport."
So Rider's been out on the hiking trails continually, usually covering about five miles per outing.
At the gym he works out on the Nautilus equipment and the elliptical machine. And in his room he keeps some free weights that he brought over from the states.
Overall he's kept himself to a high-tempo fitness schedule: six days a week, first a walk, then the gym.
It's paying off. Inches kept melting from his waistline. He had to go out and buy new clothes.
As of last week he was already down to 171 -- a 54-pound drop in the space of a year and close to ten inches off his beltline.
"It's a worthy goal to lose weight and get into shape," Rider said. "I feel more confident in myself. And I feel better about the way I look, and get to buy new clothes. Get rid of old 'Big Man' clothes.
"The longer you're overweight," he said, "the shorter your life is. So if you lose weight, you can prolong your life. You can add years to your life by losing weight."