Do You. Be You.

By Treven Treece

As he reached mile 10 of the 12-mile ruck march/run, he was exhausted – depleted of all energy. Sweat, saliva, and Cerasport saturated the uniform he was wearing. He was completely drenched by these fluids as he trekked the hills of Fort Benning, Georgia. At 02:15, on a mid–July morning, it was around 100 degrees Fahrenheit intertwined with 100 percent humidity. He carried 45 pounds' worth of gear and equipment on his back as he rucked. He had never been pushed this hard. All of his physical training had led him to this moment. This man stood at a staggering 5'4" and weighed 130 pounds. As he pushed on, his quads, calves, and hamstrings began to spasm uncontrollably. His Camelbak and two canteens were running dry. He writhed in pain with each step that passed. He already had his Air Assault wings in his hand. He had two more miles to go. He knew he could not stop...

My name is Treven and this is my fitness story. I arrived into this world at a hefty two pounds, one ounce. I was born three months early. Mom says I was anxious to see the world. I was born to a singer/actress and an All–American athlete. As I grew up, I was drawn to sports. Growing up in a single–parent home was not easy, but my Momma did an incredible job of keeping me constantly engaged with the world. One way was through sports. Mom had me playing four sports, starting at the age of five. I constantly had a ball in my hand. I loved running. That is where my passion for fitness began.

As I approached middle school and high school, I noticed that I was significantly smaller than my peers. I had the heart to play sports. I was, and still am, an overachiever. I always strived to outwork everyone. I had the heart and ambition to excel in sports, but my size was not all there. My Mom told me to quit using my size as a crutch–to quit being a victim. From that day forward, I stopped making excuses. I was never a star athlete, but I loved working out and running. I ended up lettering in varsity football and track and earned the position of captain in both sports. I had dreams of playing college sports, but my education was the priority.

As I entered college, I decided to enroll at The University of Memphis, six and a half hours away from home. I was anxious to move and to experience city life. Once there, still stuck in my old ways, I woke up early every morning to lift and run. I trained like I was back in high school athletics. I felt that something was absent, though. I was missing the camaraderie of a team in my fitness routine. In the first few weeks of school, I noticed military personnel working out at the same time as me. I have always admired the military. I almost enlisted in the U.S. Navy straight out of high school, because my Papaw was in the Navy and served in World War II, but the U of M had given me an offer I could not refuse. One day, I decided to climb a rock wall. I made it to the top! An Army National Guard recruiter met me at the bottom. He said that they needed "people like me" in the Army. I decided to enlist that day.

About a month later, I was asked by my recruiter to participate in the Army ROTC program at Memphis. He said that, with my character, grades, and physical fitness, I could be a great officer. I didn't know what that meant at the time. I knew that Army ROTC students worked out together and were a part of a team. I knew I needed that, so I began to work out with the program. I was pushed hard--we were always running and doing calisthenics. I loved physical training so much! I learned what Army ROTC does and how I could join this team. By the end of my freshman year, I earned my way into the program.

I am also a First Scholar (a program for first-generation students that provided me with a scholarship so I could attend college). It was required that, by my sophomore year, I would declare a major. I started off as a Psychology major, but later changed to Health and Human Performance (now called Health Studies). I decided to change majors because I wanted to learn more about how to be healthy and live a life reflective of that. My family is known to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high stress levels. Many of my family members suffer from, and have fallen victim to, heart attacks and strokes. I knew that I wanted to live differently. I want to be around for my children and grandchildren.

One day I was talking to a mentor of mine within the Army ROTC program and he told me something I will never forget. He said, "Mr. Treece, don't worry about comparing yourself to others. Let that all go. Do you, be you, Mr. Treece." I struggled with gaining weight to look more muscular or buff. I have a wonderful physique, but I still desired to look like others. I have since learned to embrace who I am mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I have learned to let go of the past. I cannot live life as a victim. I must keep moving forward. Never quit.

Treven is graduating in May 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences, with a major in Health Studies. A native of Morristown, Tenn., Treven is a participant in the First Scholars program, a cadet in the Army ROTC, and a member of the Golden Key Honour Society and Omicron Delta Kappa leadership society. He recently received the Outstanding Health Studies Student Award. After graduating, he will be commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

If you have a fitness or wellness story you would like to share with us, or if you know someone with an inspirational story, let's talk! E-mail