RICHMOND, Va. — Two-years ago, overweight, out of shape and dealing with some tough personal life challenges, Army Reserve Sgt. Demos Moore, had reached his breaking point. The future of his Army career was looking bleak and his health was in serious jeopardy. He knew he had to make some big changes in his life for his health, his well-being and for his career. Little did he know just how much of a change he would make. A change that would transform him both physically and mentally in the days ahead.
Moore, a native of Cleveland, Ohio and a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist assigned to the 377th Chemical Company, 485th Chemical Battalion, 76th Operational Response Command, has dealt with more than his share of adversity in his lifetime.
His early childhood found him living in a broken home with his two sisters and younger brother, where food was so scarce, sometimes all he had to eat was oranges, and Moore was often so hungry he even ate the orange peelings in an effort to stave off hunger pains.
That all changed though in 1995 when he and his siblings were adopted along with six other children, and moved to Richmond to become a bonded family consisting of 13 kids.
In his new home and environment food was no longer hard to come by, and it would be his loving foster grandmother who had the most influence on the young Moore. She provided him with plenty of good life advice such as stay in school, say no to drugs, respect everybody and have fun no matter what. “I stick to that advice to this day,” said Moore. “I give that same advice to my kids, and I stick firm to those values that she instilled in me.”
Moore, now a father of three with a fourth on the way, added to his childhood set of values when he joined the Army Reserve in 2011 at 21-years-old. A decision that was partially sparked by his sister, who was already serving in the Army and was deployed to Iraq. She bet Moore one-hundred dollars that he wouldn’t join the military. He won the bet, but laughs and admits she still hasn’t paid him the money. “I thank her for pushing me to join the Army,” he said. “It’s been one of the best decisions of my life. It has taught me a lot of things, but most importantly values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless-service, honor, integrity and personal courage. Those values and the values my grandmother taught me have gone a long way towards getting me to become the person who I am now.”
Moore completed Army basic training and 10-weeks of specialized training at the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Soon after he joined his reserve unit and began his normal drill routine assuming the role of citizen-Soldier, working full-time at a fast food chain in the Richmond area to support his growing family.
Things seemed to be going well for Moore for a few years, but eventually the pressure of raising a family, working full-time and meeting his various obligations, began to weigh on him and problems began creeping into his life. “I had recently gone through a break-up and I didn’t really have anyone to talk to,” said Moore. “I just got lost. I was spending a lot of time on ‘couch city’ playing video games, not eating healthy and I gained a lot of weight.” In fact Moore who stands at five-foot six-inches tall, was tipping the scale at a very unhealthy 250 pounds (Army standards put his maximum weight at 167).
“I just didn’t feel good at all,” he said. “When I laid down to sleep I would deal with constant bad heart-burn.” One of those restless nights almost ended tragically when Moore awoke with food stuck in his throat, making him unable to breath and fighting for his life. “I was like that’s enough, I’ve got to do something about this.”
Meanwhile, Moore’s lack of fitness was also starting to cause problems in his Army Reserve career, causing his promotion to sergeant to be put on hold after he failed a physical fitness test.
The test came during a routine battle assembly weekend, where the two-mile run event was more of a challenge than Moore could overcome. “After one lap around the track I just died out,” he said. “I was walking around the track and I remember an officer trying to motivate me, and he said something that I really didn’t like. He said, ‘you know what Moore, you don’t have any heart.’ Those words really affected me, and they just kept playing in my head over and over. Hearing that forced me to dig deep inside myself and find the person I really was."
After failing the physical fitness test with a two-mile runtime of 24 minutes (seven minutes over the minimum), his unit enrolled Moore in the Army Reserve's Fit For Life training camp at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. Fit For Life is a two-week intense fitness camp designed to help Soldiers who are not meeting Army height and weight or physical fitness standards, while also enhancing Army Reserve readiness and retention. It was there he met numerous leaders who helped inspire and encourage him, and it was there he began to embrace physical fitness as a way of life.
One of the instructors at the camp, a sergeant first class, seemed to take a special interest in Moore’s situation and pushed him harder and further than Moore thought possible. “He really inspired me,” said Moore. “He stayed on me and rode me for 14-days straight. I remember asking him at one point, ‘why are you riding me so hard and not everyone else?’ He replied, ‘I don’t know you, but I can see the beast inside you trying to get out and you won’t unleash it.’"
There were also others helping to inspire and encourage Moore, and among them were a couple of senior noncommissioned officers who ultimately left a lasting impression on him.
One of those was Command Sgt. Maj. Arlindo Alameida (retired), former command sergeant major, 99th Regional Support Command. “One of the things CSM Alameida told me after he saw me struggling with running, was that I had to change my mind set,” said Moore. “He said when it hurts, it’s just my mind telling me to stop, but just ignore it and keep going. If you can do that, you will overcome and others will follow you. That made a lot of sense to me, and I immediately began to put that into practice."
Another senior NCO instrumental in Moore’s success was Command Sgt. Maj. Jeff Darlington, command sergeant major, 76th ORC. “CSM Darlington pulled me aside and told me that he saw a natural born leader inside of me, and that other Soldiers were looking to me for leadership,” said Moore. "That meant a lot to me, so I put it in the back of my mind to help motivate me as I worked out and pushed myself.”
Moore admits the assistance and inspiration he received at the camp helped him get mentally back on track. “They sparked the old me to come back,” he said. “They sparked the competitiveness in me and the desire to be physically fit like I had been in basic training."
The following year, Moore would attend another Fit For Life training camp, but this time, he attended, not as a participant, but as a cadre member at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. “It was fun,” said Moore. “I got to share my experience with other Soldiers to help motivate them and show them that they could overcome physical challenges just like I did. It was a very rewarding experience.”
After the class ended, Moore’s desire to help others didn’t. Today he continues to help others by interacting with them through social media, posting motivational workout videos, encouraging others, posting his daily diet and even helping create workout routines for Soldiers at home. “I just love doing it,” said Moore. “I’ve been getting messages from Soldiers asking me to help them out virtually with meal prep plans, workout routines and I just love it. It took Command Sgt. Maj. Darlington seeing that leadership ability in me, and me to believe it and act on it, for things to take off and now here we are."
Some of the people Moore helps are fellow Soldiers and friends, but some are total strangers. “When I see a message from a total stranger reaching out to me for help, I get teary-eyed,” said Moore. “Someone is going outside of their bubble to get help from me, and I know what that feels like. When someone reaches out to me, I’m going to respond to them. If they are reaching out to me that means they want a change in their life. For them to not know me and do that, just makes me feel good.”
Moore, who works at the Defense Logistics Agency as a warehouse specialist in his civilian capacity, says he is currently working out with approximately 35-40 different people, both in person and virtually.
“I’m all for somebody who wants to change,” said Moore. "I feel like if you change your mindset and start working out, you are going to feel a whole lot better throughout your day. Your attitude is going to change for the better, and who knows you might even inspire someone else along the way.”
Moore often tells those what want to work out with him, “If you show up, we can show out.” “If you give me 100 percent, I’m going to give you 150 percent,” he said. “When I see someone working hard, and I know they are hurting, but they are still pushing themselves through it, that inspires me. That makes me feel like I’m doing something positive for them and then they give that positive energy back to me. It just excites me, it gets my blood pumping and I just want more and more and more. I just love it."
Seeing others meet or exceed their fitness goals, seems to be the fuel that keeps Moore’s drive burning. "I just love to see the outcome,” he said. “When someone tells me they can’t reach a goal or they can’t do something and then you see them hit that goal, and you see their tears, their laughter, the crying, it just fills me up with joy, because I’m helping them reach the potential they know they have, but they don’t know how to bring it out. I’m pushing them hard, riding them the whole way, because I want them to believe in their potential and see it for themselves. Once they get it in their mind and believe they can do it, it’s only a matter of time until they do, that’s my motivation.”
Moore views helping others with their fitness goals as a way of giving back the way his foster family has given so much to him. “My foster grandma didn’t have to help me or my siblings but she did,” he said. “That means the world to me. This is just my way of giving back some of the blessings I’ve received in my life. If you want help I’m going to extend my arms to you.”
Moore now works out a couple of hours a day, twice a day, four-days a week, and he has the results to prove it. In just the past four months, he has dropped more than 40 pounds.
Although he is proud of his physical accomplishments, the rise from rock bottom didn’t happen overnight and it came with plenty of challenges. “At first it was the mental challenge of just getting back into the routine of working out,” said Moore. “Getting my mindset right, knowing that it’s going to hurt, but pushing through that anyway and not stopping. Eventually, day by day it has gotten easier. The pain is still there, but I know I can deal with it, and each day I can go an inch further than I did the day before. I just push myself to the limit. I push myself past what I think I’m capable of. It comes down to either I’m going to die on this workout or I’m going to make it through this workout. If I do encounter an obstacle I can’t go over or around, I’ve learned to scale back and come at it from a different angle. I’ll try to find someone who has been through it and take what they have learned and apply that to my everyday life. It’s been working."
Moore has not only embraced fitness as a way of life, but in fact he is only a couple weeks away from graduating school as a certified personal trainer. “I’m looking to get my own studio space someday to branch out and help others,” he said. “I’m always telling people invest in yourself. If you take care of your body now it will take care of you later. My motto is: Take care of your body, because it’s the only place you have to live."
In addition to his personal fitness goals, he also has some lofty goals for his Army Reserve career. “I want to become a drill sergeant someday so I can train Soldiers and inspire them to be their best,” he said. “Becoming a drill sergeant has always been a goal of mine since joining the Army. I look at a drill sergeant as being that expert that knows the standard and teaches that standard. I want to be the example and show Soldiers that if I can do it, they can do it too. I want them to know that a person’s size, shape or gender has nothing to do with being successful or overcoming challenges. If you put your mind to it, you can do it. Just go after it.”
Moore also admits he would like to move up the ranks and become a command sergeant major someday to help inspire others the way they have helped him. “I want to follow in the footsteps of CSM Darlington,” said Moore. “He is a great man. He has helped me tremendously on this journey and I would like to become like him someday, to help and lead others like he has helped me."
Darlington also seemed to be impressed by Moore’s efforts and motivation. “When I first met Sergeant Moore, I saw the look in his eye that he truly wanted to improve,” said Darlington. “I am just amazed at how far he has come, and the internal drive that he has that’s motivating him to pass on his knowledge and experience to others. I think it’s a true testament of him as a Soldier, motivating others to pursue their fitness goals and trying to give back. That’s the definition of living the Army values.”
Soldiers of Moore’s unit have also taken notice of the big changes he has made. “Sergeant Moore has made a complete 360 degree turn around in the past couple of years,” said 1st Sgt. Justin Lloyd, company first sergeant, 377th Chem. Co. “He was a good Soldier, but he has matured and grown into a great NCO who just shines as a leader.”
Even Moore’s platoon sergeant who has known Moore for over six-years now, says he has seen a big change in him. “He has come a long way through some personal issues and challenges during the past couple years,” said Sgt. 1st Class Shaun Chaitan, platoon sergeant, 377th Chem. Co. “He has made a complete 180 degree turn from just coming to battle assembly and going through the motions to being someone his peers look up to, to get things accomplished. He has transitioned into a leader now and he has taken on a lot more responsibility as a NCO. “
The mile-wide smile etched across Moore’s face tells the world that his transformation is a proud accomplishment. “Being physically fit, has changed my life tremendously,” he said. "If you feel great and look great, you are going to be great. I feel healthier, I look healthier, I’m not lagging anymore, and I get to share that by teaching and mentoring others. When I look in the mirror now, I’m happy with who I see. That’s how it all started. I looked in the mirror and didn’t like who I saw, so I had to do something about it. Now when I look in the mirror, I like who I see looking back at me.”