A teenager stunned his family and friends by losing over one hundred pounds in the short span of seven months for one reason: to join the army.
Luis Enrique Pinto Jr., 18, was determined to be the first member of his family to join the armed forces. But he had one problem: the teen surpassed the Army’s weight requirements. At 317 pounds, the teenager knew that he had to shed the extra weight to reach his goal.
Pinto, a former offensive lineman for his high school football team, missed feeling like he was a part of a group effort. He knew he wanted to pursue the kind of life where he could be a part of something bigger than himself, according to the Army News Service.
“I transferred that same mentality over to life after high school,” he said of his desire to continue being a part of a greater mission, the way he had as a football player. With this in mind, the 18-year-old set about dropping the necessary pounds.
His two biggest supporters were his mother and his army recruiter, Staff Sgt. Philip Long. Long initially doubted Pinto would be able to make the adjustments to his lifestyle, but he showered the teen with encouragement anyway, urging him to keep chasing his dream.
Long said that Pinto’s dedication was remarkable, considering how many potential recruits give up, even if they only have to shed a few pounds.
“They never put the effort into it,” he told the Army News Service. “They never actually care enough and they don’t go anywhere. And then you turn around and you got someone like Luis.”
“To have that heart and that drive to keep pushing forward, it’s impressive. It got him to where he can enlist in the Army,” he added. “That mentality is going to carry him through his career and through life and he’ll be extremely successful.”
The teen hit the gym, using high-intensity cardio training and a stricter diet to drop the weight.
“Running wasn’t my strong suit,” he said. “Carrying all that extra weight and trying to run definitely increased my time.”
Still, before long, he started to see progress.
When Pinto was tempted to give up, he remembered the advice his mother gave him.
“One thing she told me is to just show up,” he said. “Just show up and don’t worry about the workout that’s to come. You show up at the gym and once you’re there, you’re already there so might as well just get it over with.”
When it finally came time for Pinto to take the Army’s Occupational Physical Assessment Test, he passed with flying colors.
“Every event was like it was made for him; it was easy,” Long said in an Army news release.
By this time, the teenager had lost 113 pounds, weighing in at 204. He had cut his mile-time nearly in half, running the distance in six minutes and thirty seconds.
Next, Pinto hopes to make it to 190 pounds.
“Hitting my goal weight definitely isn’t my end goal,” he said. “There’s still way more to come. I still want to get better.”
He doesn’t have to worry about making it past the test anymore, though. After all his hard work, he was finally able to enlist and is now set to begin basic training in September. Pinto will serve as a 14E, operating the Patriot weapon systems.
He said his weight loss has inspired new confidence that he hopes will further enable him to serve his country with pride and determination.
“When I was big, I was really insecure,” he said. “Now I’m walking with my head up high.”
The teen’s inspiring journey proves anything can be achieved with courage and commitment, and dreams are worth chasing — especially if they take a little hard work.
“You’ve got one life. I don’t want to wake up and do the same thing every single day,” Pinto said. “There’s a whole world out there.”
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