JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq -- Spc. Eric Mickelson, from Madison, Wis., of the 602nd Maintenance Company from Fort Hood, Texas, has been struggling with his weight and the Army physical fitness test since Jan. 2006.

Mickelson lost a total of 100 pounds since he first deployed in April 2008 and has gained more confidence after weighing 284 pounds and two failed APFTs. He passed his first APFT in September 2008 and weighed 184 pounds by March 2009.

"I started out motivating him and now he motivates me," said Sgt. Cleveland Wright.

Wright, a resident of Savannah, Ga., and supply sergeant, became involved in helping Mickelson by spearheading a remedial APFT program to help meet APFT and Army weight standards.

"My motivation began to change," said Mickelson. His "outlook and motivation" about his weight and physical fitness began to change and became more positive.

"I learned to concentrate on myself," Mickelson said.

Mickelson continues to participate in all 5K runs held at Joint Base Balad to help improve his run time.

Mickelson said the secret of his weight loss was following a high protein diet, taking multivitamins daily and walking everywhere on base. He also incorporated physical fitness in his daily schedule at least twice a day.

His advice to those who might be struggling with the same issues, "You got to check yourself and change your attitude first. Then, you got to want to do it and you can't be forced to do it!"

With the help of sister back home, Mickelson became a member of a 24-hour health club in Sun Prairie, Wis., and looks forward to continuing his physical fitness regime upon his redeployment.