The Pat Perretta Story
ACE-certified Personal Trainer
Asphalt Green Sports and Fitness Center
New York, New York
About five summers ago, I underwent a complete lifestyle change that would later save my life. I joined a local triathlon program called Simply Tri to Lose Weight at Asphalt Green Sports and Fitness Center in New York City. The program incorporated a balance between triathlon fitness training with a healthy nutritional program – the end result being to lose weight and ultimately complete a triathlon.
After college my metabolism slowed and I just didn’t adjust to it. As a result, I slowly and unconsciously gained weight to the point of morbid obesity. So I began my weight loss journey as a 45-year-old man at 5'11, weighing over 300 pounds. Having been a successful athlete in high school and college, I thought that training for a triathlon was the perfect way to lose weight as well as tap into my competitive juices again. All other attempts to lose weight had been unsuccessful, but I was hopeful that this would work.
That first summer I trained, kept a food journal and ate a more balanced diet of healthy proteins, fats and carbohydrates, which consisted of lots of fruits and veggies. I really took to the triathlon lifestyle. I completed three triathlons that first year – all sprints – losing about 25 pounds. This motivated me even more, so I started training all year round and as the weight continued falling, my self-esteem shot up. In the second year, I did two more sprints and stepped up my training to Olympic distances to complete the New York City Triathlon and St Anthony's Triathlon (in Florida) with team in training.
By this point I was addicted to the sport, and not only did I live the life of a tri-athlete, I began to look the part a bit as well (having lost about 80 pounds). After the 2008 season was over, I looked forward to winter to kick up my training another notch by increasing my distance to a half iron man.
However, on December 27, 2008, my life changed forever. As I was running in Central Park, I felt something hit me like a ton of bricks. I became dizzy and light-headed, almost to the point of losing consciousness. The next thing I remember, I woke up in a hospital bed – three days later – with my wife telling me I had a dissected ascending aorta with an aneurysm which had literally been ready to explode, as well as a valve that was about to detach. My wife and my doctors said that had I not been in the healthy shape I was, I would have died. The doctors and nurses affectionately gave me the nickname, "The Save," because people rarely survive this sort of trauma.
I often wonder what would have happened if the accident had occurred during a triathlon – perhaps during the swim in Florida or the Hudson River. Luckily, it didn't happen that way. I had a lot of things go my way that day: a fellow jogger to comfort me, asking me if I was alright when I had fallen to the ground, the right officer to assist me, a quick ambulance driver, capable doctors, etc. I have had one more elective procedure since then, and my doctors have now given me permission to participate in endurance sports again.
I consider myself truly blessed to be here...I am blessed by the unknown factors that lead to my survival, and had it not been for my lifestyle change and my triathlon training, I believe I wouldn't be here to share my story with you.
While recovering from my surgeries, I decided to dedicate myself to a new career in fitness and health (I had been working as a retail manager/buyer up until that point). I am now an ACE-certified Personal Trainer and have a second certification with WITS. I am now down to around 200 pounds and continue to educate myself as a fitness professional and coach. I believe I can be a good example for others who need to overcome physical challenges and weight issues, and partner with them throughout their journey. I know that if I can do it, you can do it! I hope my story can be inspiration.