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

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. (AFNS) -- A photojournalist assigned to the 628th Air Base Wing public affairs office here has lost more than 60 pounds since he began his fitness journey a little more than a year ago.

Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi's road to fitness has been paved with hard work and discipline, all to improve his health. Today, he inspires others to start their own journey.

"Losing weight isn't easy," he said. "But nothing worth having in life is."

A humiliating reality check got Trimarchi's attention; he was removed from the base's ceremonial honor guard because his 250-pound frame didn't present a professional appearance.

"My weight gain was my fault," he said. "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."

To be separated from something that gave him so much pride was a crushing blow, Trimarshi said.

"I was devastated," he added. "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."

The worst part of the ordeal, he said, was feeling as if the honor guard was better off without him.

"Due to the honor guard dress and appearance standards, Airman Trimarchi had to be temporarily removed from the team," said Master Sgt. John Gott, the 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 at the base running track. With every mile he put behind him, he became one step closer to his goal of returning to the honor guard.

"I started by simply eating smaller meal portions," he said. "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, he said, and his mental and physical resilience 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, he added, but he never gave up on himself.

"I didn't falter. Going back to the honor guard was my only option," Trimarchi said. "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."

After two months passed, Trimarchi was able to return to the honor guard to complete his rotation with the team.

Achieving his short-term goal opened the door for Trimarchi to go for more. He is training to apply for Air Force special operations duty.

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

But Trimarchi said he believes his story is more of a cautionary tale than a heroic one.

"Nobody should ever let themselves get to where I was," he said. "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."

Noting that he now looks and feels better, Trimarchi said his 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," he said. "Just set a goal, get support, believe in yourself and never give up."
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