Aspiring Marine pursues body-changing dream

January 18, 2016 — by Frederick Kim

With every day of painstaking training, Chen knew he was one step closer to achieving his dream: becoming fit enough to become a U.S. Marine.

Struggling to catch his breath, junior William Chen sprinted home on his last 100-meter dash, after spending the hot, summer evening completing four set of 20 uphill runs and 100 sit-ups bleacher runs near the school’s football field. He could feel the aching pain in his legs increase with every step he took.

With every day of painstaking training, Chen knew he was one step closer to achieving his dream: becoming fit enough to become a U.S. Marine. Chen said he has looked up to the U.S. Marines ever since he was in middle school, admiring  them for their bravery in times of need throughout the world. Chen’s family history also encouraged him to admire the U.S. Marines.

“My family fled instability in China during the Communist takeover and left my family split,” Chen said. “Based on what my parents tell me, the Communists took away my relatives’ land in China because they were associated with the old government in some way, and they were forced to work in labor camps.”

Chen hopes to become a Marine to prevent suffering like this from happening to other people. Since undertaking a lifestyle change eight months ago, Chen has lost 51 pounds.

The life-changing goal, however, has not been easy to accomplish.

“It was really hard to stay away from fast food, as I used to eat it every day,” Chen said. “I really didn’t think I could even make it past 20 [pounds].”

According to Chen, ending this habit was even more difficult because he didn’t cook for himself. Often times, his mother would instinctively offer him Jack in the Box for dinner even when he asked for a salad.

Though Chen initially struggled with defying his urges to return to old eating habits, he set smaller goals to benchmark his progress. He first tackled his McDonald’s eating habits, deciding to order an artisan sandwich as a healthier substitution for his usual six cheeseburgers. He then continued this trend, ordering healthier alternatives in other restaurants.

In the beginning, Chen said he was “confused and overwhelmed with all the nutrition and diet information online.” But with the help of his friend junior Max Vo, Chen was able to identify the false statistics and misleading data to a more understandable level.

“I let him know what food to eat to achieve a balance of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and taught him how to track his calorie intake,” Vo said. “It took a while for him not only to learn, but also be able to adapt.”

Understanding the necessity of proteins and fibers, Chen became more cognizant of including these aspects into his daily diet. He also made sure to include carbohydrates before his workouts, so that he had the energy he needed to exercise.

Despite the initial hurdles, Chen felt a surge of support when people noticed the change in his body, since many noted that he “looked smaller” coming back from summer vacation. After three months of strict dieting and weekly workouts from fitness websites, Chen found that he had lost 51 pounds, 11 pounds more than his initial goal of 40 pounds.

“I was shocked when I passed my initial goal especially, since I didn’t know what I was doing at first,” Chen said. “Getting the results made me happy.”

Though his workouts have become more sporadic recently due to  school commitments, Chen is still working toward his next goal of achieving a six pack by using the school’s weight room five to six times a week.

Through the hours of hard work in the gym, Chen has not only become stronger physically, but also mentally, making him feel more prepared to become a U.S. Marine.

Chen’s commitment in his New Year’s resolution is contrasted with his overall care-free and funny nature as many people see him.

“He always screws things up and acts like a clown by dancing and yelling weird things,” Vo said. “But when he focused in the summer, I was pretty impressed and I didn’t expect it.”

Despite people’s views on Chen, Chen knows that New Year’s resolutions can be difficult.

“People should know that when [you] make a New Year’s resolution and when you give things time, you will see what you want to see,” Chen said. “Results don’t come overnight.”

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