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Airman shed 100 pounds so he could enlist

Dec. 8, 2012 - 09:46AM   |   Last Updated: Dec. 8, 2012 - 09:46AM  |  
Airman 1st Class Mitchell Imlah lost more than 100 lbs. in order to join the Air Force.
Airman 1st Class Mitchell Imlah lost more than 100 lbs. in order to join the Air Force. ()
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An Army recruiter once told Airman 1st Class Mitchell Imlah that he'd never be able to shed 100 extra pounds and join the military. That pronouncement changed Imlah's life.

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An Army recruiter once told Airman 1st Class Mitchell Imlah that he'd never be able to shed 100 extra pounds and join the military. That pronouncement changed Imlah's life.

Imlah visited an Army recruiting center in October 2010 near his hometown in Bevent, Wis., to find out what he'd have to do to join the military.

"They basically laughed me out of the office when they saw I was almost 300 pounds," Imlah, 19, said.

His journey to a slimmer, more-recruitable Mitchell began after that day and by four months later, he'd dropped 30 pounds. Wanting to lose weight faster while maintaining a healthier diet, Imlah made more lifestyle changes. This time, he went to an Air Force recruiting center.

"The recruiter, Tech. Sgt. Jesse Dettman, knew I was going to get a better career out of the Air Force, and was completely supportive," Imlah said.

"We made a deal: I told him that if he didn't give up on himself, I wouldn't give up on him either," Dettman said.

They sat down together and went over a routine Imlah could follow so he could lose weight in an efficient and timely manner.

"I told him where he needed to be, so he could qualify, and he stuck to it. He's a very motivated individual," Dettman said.

Dettman allowed Imlah to volunteer and work with those recruits in the Delayed Entry Program in addition to his workouts and new 700-calorie diet. Imlah also stopped by periodically to check in with Dettman and show him how he was progressing.

"I switched to eating six meals a day that added up to 700 calories, and two to three hours in the gym, lifting, running and cooling off my muscles afterward in the sauna," Imlah said.

Imlah needed to reach a 197-pound maximum for his 6-foot frame. He finally weighed in at 193 pounds.

After more than a year of shaping up, he reported to the Milwaukee Military Entrance Processing Station on Feb. 2, and on March 20 was at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland to begin basic military training.

He wanted to be an explosive ordnance disposal technician at first, but he graduated May 7 to attend phase I medical technician technical training at the Fort Sam Houston Medical Education and Training Campus in San Antonio. Remaining in San Antonio, he completed his phase II training Oct. 22.

Maintaining his workouts, today he weighs 203 pounds, still working two to three hours daily at the gym and adhering to his 700-calorie diet when necessary.

"I had a reason for coming back and continuing to push myself. I'm glad I went for it," Imlah said.

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