John Iness, 24, didn’t need a New Year’s resolution to lose 135 pounds. His motivation came from somewhere deep inside.

“Eventually, I thought I needed to do something with my life,” Iness said. “I’ve been thinking about joining (the Army) for some time, but the weight has always been a problem.”

Iness, who worked security at Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant in Somervell County, said his lifestyle contributed to his weight gain.

“McDonald’s was my friend,” Iness admitted. “I was one of those who would eat at McDonald’s for breakfast and lunch.”

Tipping the scale at 325 pounds in February 2008, Iness decided to take action. He formulated a weight loss program that would make basic training look like a spa retreat.

The first thing he did was limit his caloric intake to 1,200 a day.

“I ate a lot of Lean Cuisines,” Iness said.

He would start his day at 4:30 a.m. with a cardio workout. For breakfast, he would make two eggs, two pieces of low-fat bacon, toast and juice.

Iness said he would fix a snack, then he would have a Lean Cuisine at lunch. In the afternoon, he would get another 100-calorie snack and one more Lean Cuisine for dinner.

By limiting his snacks to 100 calories each and his meals to 300 calories, Iness was able to manage his calories easier. But he said changing what he drank made the biggest difference in the first few weeks.

“No more sodas, just water or a zero calorie drink,” Iness said. “Once I cut out the sodas I lost 20 pounds the first week and a half.”

With immediate results and newfound motivation, Iness ramped up his workout schedule from 30-minute sets, three times a week to 45-minute sets five days a week.

His regime included weight training, cardio and running. He was also attending Tarleton State University to work on a criminal justice degree, so he would take every opportunity he could to walk across campus and while he was working at the nuclear plant.

Iness was driven and if he missed a workout, he would push himself harder the next time. Then, he started exercising about an hour a day, six days a week.

“I ran two miles one day and I thought I want to run more. So, I ran three the next day,” Iness said. “One day I ran six miles and only stopped because I got thirsty.”

Iness said he lost the majority of his weight by June, weighing around 235 pounds. On July 7, when he began the process for joining the Army, they marked his weight as 223 pounds. When he went to Fort Leonardwood, Mo. for basic training, he weighed 208.

“It was harder at first but it got easier as I went. Monday’s were always the worst,” Iness said. “I saw results within the first month and eventually I would wake up before the alarm.”

“People get discouraged because they’re losing weight and then they stop,” Iness said. “Before, I’d lose five or 10 pounds real quick then nothing and I’d give up. You’ve got to push your body further than you think you can go. You’ll get there. It’s not as hard as everybody makes it out to be. If you want to do it, then do it.”

Today, Iness has replaced his size 46 pants with size 34 and is still working out about six days a week. He has increased his calories to 1,800. He still wants to lose about 10 pounds.

After he graduated from basic training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT), where he trained as a Military Police (MP) officer, Iness returned to Stephenville as part of the Army’s Hometown Recruiting program. He is also visiting family in the area and awaiting his permanent duty orders.