By David Cederstrom, Chronicle Staff Writer
Chris Ruckert, 24, of Hartford, says he dreamed of joining the U.S. military, but it didn’t look possible a year-and-a-half ago when he weighed “a fraction away from 400 pounds, 399.6.”
Then he lost 193 pounds.
Now down to 207, he was inducted into the Marine Corps on Feb. 3 and went to their Parris Island boot camp in South Carolina.
“It had been my dream since I was a kid to serve in the military,” says Mr. Ruckert who moved here with his family from Long Island five years ago. “I wanted to serve my country and do my part, but because I was overweight, I never could.”
At nearly 400 pounds, “I realized that something in my life had to change.”
Mr. Ruckert said he had heard about the Ideal Protein Cellular Nutrition Plan weight reduction
program, offered locally by Queensbury chiropractor Dr. Jonathan Gerber.
“Finally my father and I decided it would be a good idea to try and take this step in the right direction,” Mr. Ruckert said.
He said he went to one of Dr. Gerber’s seminars, and lost 14 pounds in his first week on the program. “At that point I realized that if the change is going to be this drastic, maybe anything is possible,” he said.
Recruiter said: Come back in a month
Mr. Ruckert said that in September 2012 he’d gone into the recruiting station and told the sergeant,
“Sir, I’m going to become a Marine.”
He said the sergeant told him to come back in a month.
By then Mr. Ruckert had lost about 60 or 70 pounds, and he said the sergeant began to take him more seriously.
“Ever since then I’ve been training to become a Marine, along with losing the weight,” Mr. Ruckert said.
Mr. Ruckert said he’s heard that the majority of Americans these days who want to serve their country in the military can’t because they are overweight.
He said that for him, joining the military was “not so much a choice, as a calling. I feel that my entire life, I’ve been drawn toward this,” and he thinks he’ll be able to do it well.
Mr. Ruckert said losing 193 pounds has “turned my life around 180 degrees.”
He adds, “Boot camp is going to turn it around another 180 degrees.”
Asked why he chose the Marines, Mr. Ruckert said that setting out to lose nearly 200 pounds is “a bit of a physical challenge. I want to see how much farther I can push myself.”
He said his research indicated “the Marine Corps has got some of the highest physical training standards that any branch has” — mentally as well as physically.
“They’re creating educated warriors, people who are able to think on their own, so I’m very, very pleased with my decision to join the Marine Corps,” he said.
Mr. Ruckert said he plans to make the Marines his career and serve a full 20 years. “I’m going to give everything I’ve got to my country, before I leave and pursue another career.”
Marines invite Dr. Gerber to speak
Dr. Gerber is also headed to Parris Island. He is one of 20 representatives of various weight loss programs invited by the Marine Corps to speak there. “I’m going to actually be living the life of a Marine for a full four days” of boot camp, Dr. Gerber said.
“This is going to be a great trip. I’m really excited to be able to educate…about what I’m doing in upstate New York.”
Dr. Gerber himself once weighed 260 pounds in 2008. He said he was skeptical about the Ideal Protein program at first, but tried it and lost 95 pounds in four months.
The diet involves meals of set portions featuring a mix of proprietary high-protein packets, vegetables and other high-protein foods such as chicken, its literature says.
The high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet was developed in Europe over 20 years ago for athletes who wanted to stay lean but maintain muscle, program literature says.
It says a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet encourages the body to burn fat for energy, while the refined sugar and starches (carbohydrates) abundant in the typical American diet promote fat storage.
Dr. Gerber said that beyond losing weight, the goal is to change people’s lives, to educate them how to eat right and choose the right foods.
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