A Fort Benning-trained Infantryman will appear in People magazine. Pvt. Jeffery Neason, 23, is one of four service members who will be highlighted in an upcoming issue for their efforts to lose weight. Neason lost more than 100 pounds to enlist.
“I knew what I had to do and I knew I wanted to do it,” said Neason, who graduated from basic training Thursday with B Company, 1st Battalion, 378th Infantry Regiment.
Photographer Jeffery Salter met with Neason following his graduation to take the “after” pictures of Neason, which will be paired with “before” pictures for the magazine article. Neason’s parents, Kathy and Joe, and sister, Sara Lee, traveled from northern California for his graduation this week and said they are proud of all he’s been able to accomplish in the last year.
“I think he’s found his niche,” Kathy said.
Joe, a Vietnam veteran and former Chinook crew chief, said he was surprised to hear his son wanted to join the military and is proud of his determination to lose weight.
Kathy said Jeffery and his sister decided to lose weight last year but each took a different path. Lee had a gastric bypass and has since lost nearly 100 pounds.
“Once she had the bypass and started losing all that weight, I think it became kind of a competition between them,” Kathy said.
A recruiter told Neason he would need to lose 100 pounds to get into basic training. At the time, Neason said he weighed 315 pounds. Neason got a gym membership and started hitting the gym three to four hours each day.
“I ran a lot, that’s what got me here,” he said. “If I have one thing to say to people who want to join, do sit-ups and push-ups, too. I learned the hard way that you still need to do those, you can’t just run.”
Neason ran an average of two to four miles per day, and up to six miles if he was on a treadmill, he said.
After a year of working out and eating right, Neason said his weight had dropped to below 215 pounds. He left for basic training and on graduation day his weight was at 196 pounds. But he’s not done yet. Neason said he plans to continue his exercise routine and focus on not just losing weight but decreasing his 2-mile run time, which is 15 minutes, 40 seconds.
“I want to get to around 13:12.”
Lee said her younger brother’s weight loss success has forced her to “up her game.” “Now I’m jealous and thinking, ‘Ah, he lost more than me, are you kidding me?’” she joked.
Neason reported to Fort Gordon, Ga., Friday and will continue his training to become a radio operator and maintainer. At press time, the run date for the article, to be written by reporter Thailan Phan, had not been determined.