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(MILITARY TIMES) -- Jamie Albonetti was about to start her senior year at the University of Memphis when she decided she wanted to become a Marine like her grandfather. There was just one problem - she was about 80 pounds too heavy to qualify.

At 5-foot-5 and 230 pounds, the then 21-year-old psychology student knew she'd have to get in shape, so she put herself on a diet and fitness regimen, motivated by her goal of becoming a second lieutenant.

"Initially, I didn't really know anything about dieting," Albonetti, now 23, said. "I limited my calories to 1,400 per day and never went over. And I started doing the 'Insanity' workouts."

She used a smartphone app to help her keep track of what she was eating. And she worked out at home using DVDs of the popular fitness program.

"Before I started 'Insanity,' I couldn't even run a quarter mile," she said. "After I finished the first month of the program, I ran my first mile. That was a huge step for me."

Because she didn't want the Corps to reject her immediately, she waited until she lost her first 30 pounds before contacting an officer selection officer.

Albonetti's not alone. Mission: Readiness, a nonpartisan national security organization based in Washington, D.C., estimates that one in four young adults weighs too much to qualify for military service.

Capt. Taren Burkett-Sorlie, Albonetti's officer selection officer with Recruiting Station Nashville, Tenn., said she told her to keep up the effort and come back when she was within 10 pounds of her goal weight.

She didn't really expect to hear back. But Albonetti ramped up her workout regimen by starting CrossFit and got on the Paleo diet, putting an emphasis on fruits, veggies and lean proteins.

Those changes helped Albonetti reach her goal weight of 150 pounds in just half a year.

"She went out and did it," Burkett-Sorlie said. "That's what you need in a Marine officer."

Albonetti's new-found confidence spread to her fitness routine.

"Her first [physical fitness tests] weren't where she needed them to be, and she knew that," Burkett-Sorlie said. "But every single PFT gets better. Now she's even doing full pullups - she's well on her way to maxing the soon-to-be enforced standards, and it's all just on her own willpower."

See her "after" photo here: http://militarytimes.com/news/2013/03/marine-student-sheds-85-pounds-to-sign-up-033113w/

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