From a life-threatening kidney infection to Olympic triathlons and bodybuilding contests, Trei has lost almost 200 pounds in the last five years. And in the process of getting into the best shape of his life, he has found a passion for fitness and inspiring others to live their life to the fullest.
Here's his story:
"I've been a corporate, white-collar worker in different finance roles mainly for over 40 years. Originally from Laurel, Maryland, my work has taken me from Kentucky to Florida to Cleveland and back to Maryland.
In the last 20 years, my role has not only been in office but also as a single parent. I have three kids from a failed marriage. And had custody of all three of them at one point, raising them on my own. They became my priority and I neglected myself to put them first. My health took a backseat to cooking dinners and being there for my family, but it was necessary at the time.
At one point I moved back to my hometown to take care of parents who were suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia. I ended up staying with all three kids in the same house I grew up in. It was a very tough, stressful time. But in the end, I was grateful to have my family together and be there for my parents.
Why I Made a Change
Five years ago, my kids were away in college and I was finally on my own. I came down with a kidney infection and was in the hospital for three weeks. I came so close to being put on machines for kidney failure.
I found myself in a hospital bed, sick and weighing close to 350 pounds. I had to make some decisions in my life. But I didn’t know where to start.
Within 5 months after I got out of the hospital, my two older brothers passed away. Both had strokes earlier on in their fifties and had a miserable end to their life due to complications. That was it for me. I made a decision I didn't want to go that way.
Learning About Nutrition
I started with learning about the paleo diet. I actually saw it on a TV show! I started reading everything about paleo and trying to eat clean; eating more organic food and just trying to eat better.
Trying to learn what eating better foods really meant. And just simplifying my diet to include more whole foods, healthy foods, fruits, and veggies. From there I started reading more about proper eating for maintaining weight.
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Seeing how my body was responding to eating better motivated me to keep going. And keep reading more about diet and exercise.
My body responds well to clean eating and in that period I started reading more about nutrition and learning about diet and exercise. And I got more structured in my diet and fitness.
I was so out of shape I could only work out on a treadmill for 5 minutes and elliptical for no more than 30 seconds at a time.
I also suffer from asthma and this prevented me from being able to workout. I have been hospitalized several times a year from asthma attacks and they run in my family. Luckily my work at the time had great benefits that included a pharmaceutical program. I got put on a prescription that helped me control my asthma and it made a world of difference.
Slowly but surely, I learned how to exercise.
Around the same time, I found out that I was gluten sensitive as well, and it started to make so much more sense why my body was responding so well on a paleo diet. I started to take gluten out entirely.
This helped me eliminate a lot of unhealthy foods as well, like pizza, lasagna, white flour, mac and cheese, and bread. It made a huge difference; I started losing weight even more quickly.
Through diet and exercise, mainly diet, I got down 166. But I still wasn't in great shape, I just lost the weight.
I decided to start challenging myself more.
A year ago trained for an Olympic triathlon. I announced this to my friends and started training. I did laps at the pool and spin classes, but I had a really hard time running. After losing so much weight I had to learn how to use my body again. My center of balance was thrown off with such a large change in my size. I had to learn how to run again. But I kept going. And six months later I remember finally being able to run six miles and thought. “Yes I can do this!”.
And sure enough, five days after my 60th birthday I did an Olympic triathlon. I got a first-place finish in my age group!
Then this year for my 61st birthday I decided I competed in my first bodybuilding contest. It took place at my old high school and I purposefully entered a natural bodybuilding contest so no one can say I had help or was juicing. I didn't need any special operations or drugs, just slowly and surely figuring it out on my own.
I competed in several divisions, ended up getting 2 first-place finishes and 2 second-place finishes, and most of all just really enjoyed myself and the whole process. It was so much fun to walk around with the young bucks and not feel embarrassed.
In May of 2018, I started with Trifecta to help control my weight and diet better. It fit my diet standards with clean and simple ingredients, and I knew that I didn't have to worry about the food selection or what was in it.
I am using Trifecta exclusively for my lunch. It's easier than dealing with cooking and prepping on the weekends. And I have other things to do. I’m not a big fan of doing my own meal prep; having to eat the same thing all week long is not ideal. I wanted more variety and to not be locked into what I made for the week. With Trifecta, I get to be surprised and try new things all the time.
I do like cooking, I’m a big foodie, but I prefer to cook just dinner not prep all my food.
I'm really happy with my lifestyle. I no longer have cravings like I used to it feels good to eat clean.
I know on Fridays I will have a box waiting for me that I can go to. I also recently changed to the classic plan because I really like having breakfast for the weekends.
I look forward to the scrambled eggs and sausage! It feels like a treat even though it's not really cheating. Just punch it in for 2 minutes in the microwave and I'm off!
I ran into a trainer online and started learning how to weight train. My new goal is to get to a strong 165 pounds and compete in another bodybuilding contest.
I'm already down 10 pounds. But this time I am stronger and in better shape. It's fun too and becoming my passion.
I'm working out almost every day and seeing growth in my muscles. I have never responded to weight training like this. I never showed muscle like this. I now wear a size 32 pants, and the smallest i was in high school was a 34. I am the same weight I was in high school but stronger. When I look at my arms, i have biceps - I see my veins and striations.
At age 61 to finally have a six pack - 50 some years in the making.
No one in my family was ever in this type of shape. They tell you once you get over 40, don't expect to gain muscle, and don't expect to be successful with weight loss as you would when you're younger, but that's not the case for me.
Advice for Others
The two biggest concepts I've learned is forgiveness and patience, and I don't think people understand that when you are heavy.
I've been through a plethora of diets and gimmicks and tried everything. Then I’d get mad at myself when I cheat or and would fall off the wagon. I would feel like a failure and wouldn't forgive myself.
But it's okay to fall down, its okay to cheat. You're not going to gain 150 pounds overnight. I cheat and sometimes feel lousy, but I forgive myself for doing it.
And you can't gain or lose 50 pounds overnight, but if you stick to things and have patience, everything will come out okay.
Patience is a concept I didn't know before because I had to make decisions as a single parent. They needed me to make the decisions. But now the only person I have to be responsible for is me, and I can take my time and don't have to make a decision right away. I can take my time and think about things.
I can exercise and take the time for myself. Learning patience and forgiveness has helped me so much on this road. It's okay to fail at times, I just pick myself back up. This whole journey is just something I can do for myself and enjoy on my own terms and that's a huge blessing.
You also have to remember this journey is yours alone and you have to make decisions for yourself because you're responsible for your health and wellbeing, no one else is.
I've also gotten a lot of support and I recommend talking about it but you have to make the ultimate decision and no one else can tell you what to do.
Everyone is different. Don't judge yourself against others. You have to do it in your own way and in your own time. Some things don't work for everyone. You can compare yourself to others. I am so lucky that I lost all of this weight and kept it off. I found a lifestyle that works for me. I love the challenges and I love the food I am eating".