Many people will make sacrifices to reach their goals, Mark Cody’s goal was to make the ultimate sacrifice.
In 2016 Cody walked the stage of the Yukon High School graduation weighing 285 pounds, coming off a high school career of wrestling and playing football. For his next chapter, the weight was a problem.
Joining the Marine Corps was Cody’s dream since he was a young child, once he got his chance, one thing stood in the way. For his 6-foot-3 frame, 285 pounds was too much. He needed to get his weight down to 215 to swear in.
Cody’s work to drop weight began the summer of 2016 with several highs and lows.
“A lot of different diets, workouts, plans for about a month each,” Cody said. “To see what I liked and what fit me. There was obviously setbacks and plateaus, but nothing deterred me.”
In his initial effort, he dropped down to 260 pounds. Twenty-five pounds is nothing to balk at, but by that time he hit a wall.
It was one of a few “plateaus” Cody hit. When his diet got to be too much, he opted for temptations of fast food.
“Occasionally, I’d get tired of rice and chicken, and I’d go out get a burger or something.”
From there, he worked to get down to 240 pounds, that’s when Cody saw the light at the end of the tunnel.
His new and improved regimen included running three miles a day, swimming a mile and biking ten miles. It was a lot of work, but Cody was determined.
He dropped his weight down to 215, enough to swear in, and made it to 210 by boot camp.
Today, Cody still sits in his 6-foot-3 frame, but much slimmer. At his final weigh-in at the conclusion of boot camp, the scale read 187. Nearly 100 pounds less than what he weighed walking across the stage in 2016.
When recounting his story, Cody thinks back to the day it all started.
He was five years old. His cousin, a Marine, was killed in action during a stint in Fallujah, Iraq. At the funeral, several Marines were there to honor the fallen Marine. They struck a chord with the young Cody.
“I saw the Marines there, and I knew they were different.”
Now that he’s in the Marine Corps, he gets a first-hand look at how different they are.
“We have a reputation, and I plan to uphold that reputation of professionalism and discipline.”
He knew he was ready for the hard work and discipline of the Marines during high school. On the wresting team, coach Joe Schneider instilled the work ethic Cody needed to drop the weight and be successful during his time in the Marines.
“He played a big part in building my mental toughness and to keep growing, keep going, even when things are tough. He was a big part of that.”
Schneider and Cody remain in contact after four years of motivation, it’s a priority.
“Just telling us all that nothing can stop us. If you set your mind to something, then you’re going to accomplish it. It doesn’t matter what’s going to stand in your way or how long it will take.”
Cody’s story of perseverance and hard work has already made waves in the local military community.
Yukon area recruiter and Gunnery Sergeant Nathan Will has seen many come through his door, looking to serve their country. None have worked to the extent of Cody.
“I’ve seen other people that have wanted to become Marines and they’ve lost a lot of weight to do it. He’s the most I’ve ever seen. There are others that have lost weight, there are some in boot camp right now that are going through the same thing, just keeping their weight down, keeping their eyes forward and motivating themselves.”
Not only does Will pass Cody’s story along to potential recruits, he uses it in his own life as well.
“I think it’s an inspiration for me because I’m not a very big person. I’m physically fit, but I’m not a very big person. When you see somebody work that hard to get to their goal, that’s what the Marine Corps is all about is, you have goals in life and we want to be there to help you achieve those goals.”
The Marines have assisted Cody in achieving his dream to this point. Private Cody says he has work to do before he’s content with his time in service.
When it’s all said and done, Cody hopes to use his experience in working to achieve a goal to inspire change to his country.
“I hope just to make a difference, either in someone’s life or many peoples’ lives,” he said. “I hope to get out and do honorable things and bring only good things to the corps and my family name.”