He Said, She Said: Wife concerned, Soldier husband might have body image issue Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 February 2015
By Shaun and  Pamela Collins
Special to GUIDON
This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

My husband is in danger of not meeting the height and weight restrictions for the Army; he is not fat by any means but he has a wide stature and is short.  

Mike is 5’3” and weighs 176 pounds. He does look wide, but there isn’t really any fat on his body. His legs are huge, but its primarily muscle.  Now his command is refusing to check his body fat percentages. I am worried about his future in the Army. He is trying to lose weight but he is not being very successful. He is working so hard, and I am concerned that he is going to get a body image issue. How can I help him?

  I’ve known a lot of Soldiers in my career who were great at what they did, but their body type was not conducive to meeting the standards established in AR 600-9.  Most of them struggled and fought to meet standards for years before realizing that they were likely to never see their way to retirement because of this conflict.  

Most of them decided to voluntarily find somewhere in the civilian workforce to apply their trade and moved on to an environment that did not always make them feel they were on the razor’s edge. Although this took a lot of stress off of their day-to-day life, when I talk to them now, most wish they had been able to stay until retirement. Some stayed in and fought with their bodies until they either made it to retirement or were separated; it’s my observation that these were the people who enjoyed their careers the least, because every day was a potentially the beginning of the end.  

Sit down with him and let him know you are on his side (no matter how this goes), see a nutritionist and maybe a counselor.  There are healthy ways to address this as a team — don’t work against each other, but you need to face this challenge together, please don’t suffer in silence.  

  Weight issues are an individual endeavor.  What I would say is don’t make it your issue. Make him healthy meals but don’t monitor his food intake. The more you judge, the more of a body issue you will create.  

You may also create a “closet eater.” People don’t like to feel controlled, and the more you try and control someone, the more likely they are to rebel, even if it’s not in their best interest. You can offer to go for walks with him after dinner, don’t bring junk food in the house, and be a good role model.  Beyond that, this is really his struggle. Any effort to make it your struggle will backfire.  

(Editor’s note: Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are, so if you are facing a difficult situation, ask them. Send your question to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it This column and other original content from Mr. and Mrs. Collins can be found at http://militarysuccessnetwork.com. The opinions expressed are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 March 2015 )