LEWISTON, Maine — A Lewiston man who shed 140 pounds to join the Marines is headed to Parris Island, S.C., to begin boot camp.

Topping out at 330 pounds, Ulysses Milana was rejected by Army and Navy recruiters. But Marine recruiters worked with him as he lost about 20 pounds a month.

It wasn’t easy, Milana said, but he managed to slim down through exercise, more healthful eating habits and giving up the occasional beer after work. He said he was even able to forgo a beer at his going-away party Saturday night.

Milana said he always wanted to follow in his family’s footsteps by serving his country. His Lewiston-born wife, Latoya, also comes from a military family.

Milana met Latoya while he was living in his native San Diego. They settled in Maine after their wedding four years ago. Latoya went on to become a nurse at St. Mary’s hospital while Ulysses went to work at TD Banknorth.

Much of his weight-loss motivation came from his wife, who helped him reduce his calorie intake when he began his effort in earnest last December.

“It was really difficult for him at first. He always said, ‘I’m gonna lose weight.’ But I never took him seriously,” Latoya told the Sun Journal newspaper. “Then, when he started to do it, I told him he needed to cut his portion sizes way down.”

Marine recruiters also worked with him, helping to develop a workout regimen.

“You can sit there and preach and preach, but if you’re not willing to help, then it doesn’t lead you to success,” Staff Sgt. George Monteith said. “If I say, ‘Go lose weight and I’ll see you in a year,’ then what kind of help have I offered to make that happen?”

A former culinary student, Milana said it was a challenge to give up favorites such as pizza and hot wings, but cracking a cold beer after work was perhaps the toughest guilty pleasure to abandon.

“It was really hard. You see all your friends drinking beer and you’re like, ‘Oh, man, I want one,”’ he said. But his determination kept him on track, and he would head for the gym or don a head lamp and go out for a run.