Less than a year ago, Luis Enrique Pinto Jr. was 317 pounds and couldn’t pass the Army’s weight requirements. But after shedding 113 pounds in seven months, Pinto is headed to basic training next month.

He breezed through the Army’s Occupational Physical Assessment Test given to new Army recruits.

“Every event was like it was made for him; it was easy,” Pinto’s recruiter Staff Sgt. Philip Long said in an Army news release.

Pinto, 18, was attracted to the Army for several reasons, including the sense of contributing to something larger than himself — similar to what he experienced when he was a high school football offensive lineman. He also was determined to become the first in his family to join the U.S. military.

“You’ve got one life. I don’t want to wake up and do the same thing every single day,” Pinto said in the release. “There’s a whole world out there.”

Pinto, who grew up in Peru and Las Vegas, made major life changes in order to join the service. He modified his carb-heavy diet, and also started high-intensity interval training alternating between jogs and sprints. At first, running was a major challenge because his weight was increasing his time, he said.

But Pinto received support from his mom, who encouraged him to stick with his gym routine almost daily.

"One thing she told me is to just show up," he said. "Just show up and don't worry about the workout that's to come. You show up at the gym and once you're there, you're already there so might as well just get it over with."

The time spent in the gym was worth it. He slashed in half the time it takes him to run a mile, and when it was time for him to take the Occupational Physical Assessment Test that assesses recruits’ fitness for military specialties, he didn’t blink.

As a result, Pinto enlisted in the Army as a 14E who operates and maintains Patriot weapon systems — a position that was accompanied by a $16,000 bonus.

He also began future soldier training this week, and is slated to report to basic training in September.

Pinto, who is 6 feet, 1 inch tall, said his next goal is to get down to 190 pounds.

“Hitting my goal weight definitely isn’t my end goal,” he said. “There’s still way more to come. I still want to get better.”

Long said that the lessons learned through this process will serve Pinto well in the Army.

“To have that heart and that drive to keep pushing forward, it’s impressive. It got him to where he can enlist in the Army,” Long said. “That mentality is going to carry him through his career and through life and he’ll be extremely successful.”

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