Yes, Robert Treglia was always a bit overweight. As a kid, he shopped in the “husky” section for his school clothes. But as a student athlete he was also highly active, which gave his life balance. That is, until his teen years arrived, and his weight became so problematic he didn’t make the cut for the team anymore.
By the time he reached his 30s, he could no longer walk down the street without experiencing pain. He finally hit his breaking point at 602 pounds. But with a little perseverance and a lot of work, Treglia is officially out of the husky section after dropping nearly 400—yes, 400—pounds.
“As I got older, my eating habits never changed. They actually got worse,” Treglia says. “There was always a new item out from a fast food place I wanted to try, or some amazing meal at a restaurant. I used food as a way to make myself happy. I couldn’t find happiness in myself, so food was my escape.”
Treglia, who hails from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, explained that through his depression he felt “ugly or unattractive,” but that the “plate of pasta with meatballs and garlic bread wouldn’t judge me.” He did, in fact, feel better after eating it, but knew even then it was a downward spiral.
So, he tried losing weight through plenty of diets including Weight Watchers and Atkins. Though he found success with Weight Watchers—dropping down about 80 pounds—he felt the system was too expensive to fit his needs. That, and he had other things he needed to spend his money on.
“At almost $15 a week, it became too expensive,” he said. “It’s bad enough to have to pay a lot more money for clothing, furniture to hold your weight, that now they are charging you a lot of money to even lose the weight.”
Following his success on the diet, Treglia was still extremely overweight, experiencing body pains, sleep apnea, and likely staring down the barrel of serious illness. Things got so bad that the distance from his desk at work to the bathroom was long enough that he began to limit how much he would drink so he didn’t have to get up to go to the bathroom.
His life, simply put, was passing him by. “I wasn’t able to walk more than a few hundred feet without my lower back feeling like it was on fire and being stabbed with a knife,” he says. “I also was not able to help with chores around the house. My wife would do the grocery shopping while I sat in the car waiting for her. I couldn’t do any yard work without being in terrible pain, so I would make excuses on why things couldn’t be done. My wife got used to my answer being no for everything.”
One night, however, Treglia found his answer. It wasn’t a magic pill, or whatever the Kardashians are hawking on Instagram these days. Instead, it was Reddit. Yes, everyone’s favorite meme factory saved Treglia’s life.
“I found a few subreddits on reddit that help people lose weight. I read so many stories of people who lost 100 to 200 pounds that I felt I could try it too,” he says, referring to communities like r/loseit.
Upon reading stranger’s updates on their own weight loss Treglia discovered most—if not all—of the successful weight loss subjects were using the MyFitnessPal app, which is free to download. “I watched videos on YouTube that explained how to use the app and meal prep food,” he explained. “I used that as a springboard into how to lose weight and learn how to eat correctly.”
At more than 500 pounds, Treglia had a hard lesson to learn once he opened the app and started inputting his food. “I had to relearn what was healthy and what was not,” he said. “Growing up I always thought that if we cooked it at home it was healthy. After putting some of those meals into MyFitnessPal I learned what I thought was a healthy meal was almost 2,000 calories.”
At one point, Treglia realized he was likely eating 5,000 calories a day. So he needed to make a choice: Get onboard with the app’s suggested calorie intake, or continue down the path toward a more grim outcome. “I didn’t want my wife to find me dead in bed one morning because I had a heart attack in my sleep. I didn’t want her to feel guilt that it was her fault this happened. I wanted to get healthy so I could give her the life she deserved,” he says.
He began counting his calories with the app. It quickly turned into a game for Treglia, who happened to love math anyway. Next, he upped his technology with a Fitbit to track his steps. “When I first started wearing a Fitbit I would average around 3,000 steps a day,” he shared. After a few months he started to see results. His clothing was loose and he had lost about 10 percent of his body weight.
“I was so excited when my first digit went from a 5 to a 4,” he said. “That really showed me that I could accomplish this journey.” After a year and a half, he decided to join a gym. Thankfully, his cousin happened to have a degree in exercise science and is an ACSM certified exercise physiologist. “He has helped coordinate with my doctor an exercise regimen for me,” Treglia says.
His walks turned into cardio and resistance training three to four days a week. All that helped him drop 394.8 pounds to meet his new weight of 207. “The changes to my body have been tremendous. When I look in the mirror I see definition; especially in my arms, neck, and shoulders,” he says, adding that resistance training has helped reduce his loose skin a bit.
That’s not to say it’s always been easy for Treglia. “I will never forget the moment where I was driving home from work. I really wanted to get fast food. The entire trip home in my mind I was going back and forth on whether or not to get fast food. Like on autopilot, I just cruised right into the fast food parking lot and parked my car,” Treglia recalled. “I sat there talking to myself about whether or not I want this. I opened up MyFitnessPal and saw I only had enough calories for a healthy dinner. I didn’t have enough for an entire meal from the place. I sat there and cried because I wanted that burger and fries so bad. I felt like an addict who couldn’t get what they were after.”
But still, he persisted, and continues to push forward even today to drop a few more pounds. And now, Treglias said, every day is an amazing day: “There is always something new I can do that I couldn’t do before. I no longer feel like I am the object of everyone’s attention. When I enter a room I no longer feel like the ‘fat guy’ in the room,” he said. “I don’t feel like I am judged by people for my weight.”
As for what’s next, Treglia is excited to learn to ride a bike again, continue walking hand-in-hand with his wife on vacation, and just waking up every single day with a new lease on life.
“Don’t change everything at once, especially if you are very sedentary,” Treglia says, when asked what other people can learn from his story. “Make small changes and let them snowball into bigger changes. This isn’t a race to hit your weight loss goal, so why treat it like one? We all didn’t gain this weight overnight and we aren’t going to lose it that way.”
He added, “You don’t have to do much; just do something. Stop putting it off or making an excuse. Just get out there and do it.”
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