I Corps leader setting fitness example

Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell says losing 40 pounds improved his mobility and job performance

By Somer Breeze-Hanson/JBLM PAO on February 14, 2013

During his 30-year Army career, I Corps Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxell has promoted fitness for Soldiers.

"Too many times in Iraq or Afghanistan I would see Soldiers breaking down because they weren't training right and they weren't fueling themselves right," he said. "If we're truly tactical athletes - which is what we are - then we have to train them."

When Troxell returned home last June from deployment his vitals checked out fine, but his joints were bothering him. Turning 49 next month, Troxell thought maybe it was his age, but the doctor told him the best thing for his joints was to lose weight.

Weighing in at 227 pounds in June, Troxell's initial goal was to slim down to 200. But the "cleaner" he ate and the more he trained, the more pounds he shed and the better he felt.

"All of a sudden my performance in my workouts, my performance in my job, my ability to be more mobile was getting better and better and it became addicting," he said.

Seven months after meeting with the doctor, Troxell dropped 40 pounds off his frame and weighs in at 187 pounds. But the journey wasn't easy. Troxell takes medication for hyperthyroidism, a thyroid condition that makes it easy for him to gain weight. But he understands the medication is not a substitute for eating right.

A competitive bodybuilder 15 years ago, Troxell returned to his strict training diet. Every morning he packs a cooler with five of his daily six meals and carries it everywhere he goes. Even at meetings with catered meals, Troxell pulls out the salad he packed and turns down the warm fudge brownie with ice cream. People ask him how he shed the weight and he responds: "focus, discipline, hard work and understanding you have to deal with being hungry."

Every night for seven months Troxell ate his last meal of the day at 6 p.m. and went to bed thinking about cheeseburgers and ice cream, but he kept focused.

"It's understanding what my goal is and not losing sight of that," he said.

One day a week Troxell allows himself a "cheat day" when he eats and drinks anything he wants. He splurges on his favorite fast-food hamburger meal and indulges in snack cakes to recharge himself for the next six days of strict eating.

Different from his bodybuilding training and diet, Troxell isn't just cutting weight, he is losing weight with no plans to gain it back. He invested in new Army uniforms once his old uniforms became too big.

Troxell continued his normal physical training schedule six days a week, powered by his new eating regimen. In the gym he is flipping logs and tires, slinging chains and carrying rocks, and outside the gym he's eating clean.

Troxell started a Facebook page, "Team PME (Physically, Mentally, Emotionally) Hard," to discuss training, nutrition and explain how to focus on weight loss, not weight cut.

"I want Soldiers to understand that if an old guy like me who is busy and always on the road - if I can do it - then a young Soldier can do it," Troxell said.

The senior NCO now finds himself running faster than young Soldiers at the gym and climbing "Jacob's Ladder" for longer periods. His motivation is to be an example for others to attain their fitness goals.

"My focus now, especially through this page on Facebook, is to continue to provide people dialogue and hopefully inspiration to say, ‘I can reach my goals,'" Troxell said.