Biggest AIT 'loser': 369th Soldier drops pounds to join Army
Pvt. Cristy Woodruff, Advanced Individual Training Soldier with Company D, 369th Adjutant General Battalion, shows off her trim figure next to a pair of 28W jeans. At Woodruff's heaviest, she weighed 296 pounds and wore a size 32W. With healthy dieting and exercise, she lost 134 pounds.

FORT JACKSON, SC -- Drop and give me 100!

One hundred pounds, that is.

That's exactly what Pvt. Cristy Woodruff did to join the Army.

Actually, the 30-year-old mother of three boys, dropped a total of 134 pounds and 11 dress sizes, all in order to become a lean, mean, fighting machine.

Today, Woodruff graduates from Advanced Individual Training as a human resources specialist with her fellow Soldiers of Company D, 369th Adjutant General Battalion, and although her journey to get here has been long and arduous, she said it's been a life saving one.

"I feel so much lighter, and I have so much more energy," said Woodruff, who said her young sons, ages 9, 6 and 5, now have a hard time keeping up with her.

But it hasn't always been that way.

When the Pasadena, Texas, native graduated high school in 1999, she weighed just 99 pounds and wore a size zero. A year later, she gained weight while pregnant with her first son.

Like with a lot of moms, Woodruff's weight increased with each baby. By the time she entered the delivery room in 2005 to deliver her third son, the 5-foot-3-inch woman was wearing a size 32W and tipped the scales at 286 pounds.

Although taking care of three young boys helped her lose some weight, the stay-at-home mom became frustrated with her slow progress.

In 2008, when her husband, Joseph, was about to transition from a career in the Navy to one in the civilian sector, Cristy Woodruff decided she wanted to make her own contribution to the family by getting back into the workforce and getting back into shape.

The best way to trim down and earn a living, she thought, was to join the Army.
So she dieted and walked regularly, shedding a whopping 100 pounds.

Still 40 pounds heavier than the weight limit for her age bracket - and with a body mass index 10 percent higher than allowed by Army standards - Woodruff was sad to find out she didn't meet the requirements to enlist.

Disappointed, but not discouraged, she decided to follow her Army recruiter's advice and make drastic changes to her regimen.

"I started walking, then slowly worked my way to a jog, and then running," Woodruff said. "I pretty much did everything my sergeant from the recruiting station told me to do."

She cut out all fatty and take out foods, cut her dairy intake, ate more fruits and vegetables and participated in weekly physical training with her recruiter as part of Army's Future Soldiers Training Program, which prepares civilians for the mental, physical and emotional challenges of becoming Soldiers.

By September 2009, Woodruff had met the requirements and raised her right hand to swear the oath.

On March 1, she shipped to Fort Sill, Okla., for Basic Combat Training. There, she said, her drill sergeants made her feel bad if she ate anything fattening during chow time, but they also offered incentives if she did well on her Army Physical Fitness Test.

"They'd said, 'Pvt. Woodruff, if you pass your PT test you can have a bowl of ice cream,'" Woodruff said. "So that was my incentive; if I ran a little faster, I would get my bowl of ice cream. And I did take it. It wasn't a generous helping, just a small bowl, but I didn't feel guilty eating it because I deserved it. I had lost the weight and I passed my PT test."

By the fifth week, Woodruff had lost another 20 pounds, and on May 14, BCT graduation day, she was merely a ghost of her former self.

"I hadn't been in the sun much so I was pale white and I had lost so much weight, my family didn't recognize me," Woodruff said. "My husband walked right by me; my kids were looking all around for me. I said, 'Boo!' and they all screamed, 'Mommy!'"

"To me she had always been a beautiful lady," Joseph Woodruff said of his wife. "But she looked like the woman I married again. All I could say was, 'Wow!'"

During her time in AIT at Fort Jackson, she lost more weight and dwindled down her 2-mile run time from 25 minutes to 20 minutes, 19 seconds. Her goal is to get it down to 15 minutes, 40 seconds, to max out on the PT test.

She now weighs 152 pounds and vows to lose another 20 pounds at her first duty station in Fort Riley, Ks.

Woodruff's platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Eric Goodman, said Woodruff's story is an inspiration to anyone trying to join the military and who is battling the same issue.

"It is great that she had that much drive and determination to meet her goal of joining the Army," Goodman said. "It shows if you have a plan and the willpower and motivation to stick to it, you can do it."

Page last updated Thu July 15th, 2010 at 08:26