Jaimie Rodriguez walked into an Arizona Army recruiting station, carrying 210 pounds and the lifelong dream of becoming a soldier.

In order to join the military, however, she’d need to get down to 168.

“She was already like ‘this is what I want to do,’ and I said ‘ok,’” Army Recruiter Sgt. 1st Class Vincent Sotello told local KGUN9.

So she did.

Her final weight after months of training and dieting was 163 — a loss of nearly 50 pounds. Now aged 19 and a private first class after finishing basic training, Rodriguez is fitter than ever.

“In like elementary, middle school, then going to high school, I would see military and I thought they were so amazing, I felt like that was going to be me one day,” Rodriguez said in an interview with KGUN9.

Now it is. And she praised her recruiter for being the one to get her across the finish line.

“He’s like ‘yeah, you need to lose weight, these are all the things about the Army you should know so I’ll pick you up tomorrow. Let’s go run, let’s start,’ and that day I’m like, ‘he’s not serious,’” Rodriguez said.

But he was serious, and the pair began with running and pushed forward from there.

“We started off lightly, and I told her, ‘as long as you’re committed and continue on, I’m going to keep pushing you and eventually we’re gonna get from the bottom to the top of the mountain,’” Sotello added.

She woke up every morning to train, transformed her diet, and participated in weekly weigh-ins. Sotello was with her every step of the way, she noted.

“He believed in me,” said Rodriguez. “It felt like more than anybody he believed in me.”

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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