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NEWS | July 26, 2013

The road to fitness: One Airman's drive to get fit, inspire others

By Airman 1st Class Tom Brading Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

"Losing weight isn't easy," said Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi, 628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs photo-journalist. "But, nothing worth having in life is."

Since Trimarchi began his fitness journey a little more than a year ago, he's lost more than 60 pounds. His road to fitness is paved in hard work and discipline, all to improve his health. Today, the road he travelled, and continues to travel, inspires others to start their own journey. But, it wasn't always that way. Trimarchi's road was filled with painful humiliation, regret and disappointment. The only glimmer of hope he had was the courage to remain volatile in the face of adversity.

When the weight of his world was pressing against his shoulders, he was left with one option - just keep running.

"My weight gain was my fault," said Trimarchi, thinking back to his initial weight gain. "I was stuck in my old eating habits. Obviously, that is no excuse ... but it was mine. I had more excuses, too. I blamed my leadership, my genetics and even my wife's cooking skills."

None of those excuses mattered the day his world changed forever, and fault could only be found in his own reflection. And, the mirror made no alibis the day Trimarchi received a disappointing reality check. He was removed from the JB Charleston Honor Guard team due to his appearance.

At 250 pounds, it was safe to say Trimarchi fit a little too snuggly in his JB Charleston Honor Guard ceremonials. He noticed he had gained weight, but fell back on his old excuses. His dress and appearance negated his excellent work on the Honor Guard and he stood out in comparison to his fellow honor guardsmen. Being removed from the team hit Trimarchi like a ton of bricks; it took the air out of his lungs and left him emotionally crushed to be separated from something that gave him so much pride.

"I was devastated," said Trimarchi. "Being a member of the Honor Guard team meant the world to me. From presenting the colors at ceremonies on base, to giving full military honors at a fallen hero's funeral - it was the most rewarding experience I've had in the Air Force, and one of my most rewarding experiences in my life."

For Trimarchi, the worst part of the ordeal was feeling like the Honor Guard was better off without him.

Being a member of the Honor Guard team meant the world to Trimarchi. However, that wasn't enough to keep him on the team. He was removed and returned back to his office.

"Due to the Honor Guard dress and appearance standards, Airman Trimarchi had to be temporarily removed from the team," said Master Sgt. John Gott, 628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs superintendent. "I was confident he would return to honor guard after losing weight and maintaining the proper appearance. We never gave up on him, and he didn't give up on himself."

Every journey begins with that first step, and for Trimarchi that step was found at the JB Charleston - Air Base PT track, and with every mile he put behind him, he became one step closer to his goal of returning as an Honor Guardsmen. What nobody realized at the time, was this heartbreaking experience ignited a fire within Trimarchi, a fire that has yet to be extinguished.

"I started by simply eating smaller meal portions," said Trimarchi. "My body was trying to convince me I was hungry. I wasn't. For me, the pain was just the mind trying to fight my body. I had to be stronger, mentally and physically."

The battle raged in Trimarchi for the upcoming weeks, and his mental and physical resiliency became stronger with the passing days. Overcoming temptations such as sweets, fast food and soda, and replacing them with lean meat, fresh fruits and water was challenging, but Trimarchi never gave up on himself.

"I didn't falter. Going back to the Honor Guard was my only option," said Trimarchi. "I could've come up with excuses why getting out of bed at 4 a.m. to run was a bad idea, or why I deserved a 'cheat meal' - but I was done with the excuses. Making excuses, and not taking personal responsibility, is what got me into the mess I was in at the time."

On cue, after the allotted two months passed, Trimarchi returned. Nobody knew if he would ever button up his ceremonial service uniform and take part in Honor Guard details again; that was, until he walked in the Honor Guard building.

He looked different, physically and mentally. He had a confidence that seemed to radiate off him, and he looked half the size he was just two months earlier. Trimarchi was able to complete his rotation as an Honor Guardsmen.  He realized his short-term goals, but that accomplishment only opened the door for more to come, such as his current training to apply for Air Force Special Operations.

"Trimarchi's passion for total fitness, healthy eating and exercise is contagious," said Staff Sgt. William O'Brien, 628th Public Affairs NCO in charge of media operations. "He's young, idealistic, enthusiastic and motivated."

Trimarchi overcame the obstacles, never gave up and achieved his goals of personal fitness. However, he believes his story is more of a cautionary tale than a heroic one.

"Nobody should ever let themselves get to where I was," said Trimarchi. "Being in the Air Force, you already have a certain level of professionalism to maintain. It took me losing everything to learn how important that was, and I'll never take something as meaningful as wearing the Air Force uniform for granted again."

According to Trimarchi, he hopes all Airmen, of every rank, can learn something from his obstacles. As Airmen, our professionalism is directed by our ability to do more than maintain standards. It is our duty to exceed the minimum standards to strive for excellence in all we do.

"I look better and feel better," said Trimarchi. "But my journey wouldn't have happened without the proper mindset and support. If you can conquer your mind, then your body will have no choice but to follow. Just set a goal, get support, believe in yourself and never give up."

Today, Trimarchi has ambitions to join Air Force Special Operations and works out with anybody that asks for it. He is running, swimming, biking and working out on a daily basis.
He has kept the Airmen in his office inspired; the testament to his story isn't just the battle he waged within himself, but the way he helped change those around him. It has redefined the standard of what makes a wingman.

Trimarchi started on his road to fitness to change himself, but in the end, he changed the lives of many.

If you're ready to begin a journey down the road to fitness, start by using base resources such as the Health and Wellness Center for professional advice