Inspiring 76-Year-Old Fitness Guru, Preacher & Musician Who Lost 100 lbs!
It is truly my distinct honor to introduce you to Sabana Trimble, aka “Chief.” There are a few rumors as to the origin of Mr. Trimble’s nickname — but to me the name Chief makes sense because he is at the gym every morning setting the tone, leading by example — The Chief!
He is almost 76-years-old and as fit as a fiddle, with no jiggle in the middle. I have garnered a close relationship with Chief over the few years I have lived in Columbia, Tennessee. Every time I am in the gym in the morning, Chief is in the gym too. Sometimes we speak, sometimes we don’t, but he is my biggest motivation when I am in the gym. If I see him from across the room I know I have to step up my game because if I don’t he will let me know.
Mr. Trimble is also a pastor who has, on more than one occasion, come over to where I was working out and given me words of encouragement and even quoted and discussed Scripture with me. Our recent conversations have included the new Noah movie starring Russell Crowe and music that is near and dear to our hearts, as we are both entertainers.
Chief is an amazing saxophone player: he can play the instrument with such soul and passion that it demands your complete attention. I have seen it first-hand because he donated his talents to charity events that I have hosted.
A true man of God and a man of motivation, he has told me several times how he once struggled with weighing over 250 pounds — a far cry from the toned man I see every morning working out. I asked him for an interview so I could dig in a little deeper and learn more about the music-playing, iron-pumping preacher with whom I’ve spent many of my mornings over the past several years:
How did you get the nickname Chief?
[Laughs] I got the nickname Chief from Mac Armstrong, our other friend from the gym. I guess he gave me the name because I was always up and ready to get at it in the morning and work out. Another thing is when I used to work at the Social Security office in Nashville, my supervisor would also call me Chief: he’d say, “hey Chief.” Whenever he wanted something, that was what he would call me.
Tell us how you became such an amazing saxophone player?
The real beginning of my love for the saxophone was when I was a young boy, my grandmother gave me a bugle, and I modified it to make it sound like a trumpet. [laughs] Then I went into the Navy in 1956, and I told myself the first thing I was going to do was buy me a saxophone — then I got on a ship and I told a fellow seaman that I was going to buy a saxophone and he told me he had one. So long story short I worked out a deal where he had his mother ship me that saxophone on the ship we were on, and that is how I got my very first saxophone. I have been a sax man ever since.
How did you get into ministry?
One of my early interests in ministry started in college, I was flunking out. If I didn’t get my grades up, I would not be able to get the Navy to pay my tuition, and I would not be able to stay in college. One thing about my testimony is that I prayed and I prayed often. I asked God to teach me. I wanted him to teach me everything. Not just at school or the saxophone but everything. Three quarters later in school I was on the Dean’s List. I got the letter from the Dean [laughs], so that prayer worked for me great.
Another situation was when God called me in a dream: I was living in California, and He [God, in the dream] brought me back to my grandmother’s old farm in Columbia, Tennessee. He carried me up in a corner in a garden and told me to get down on my knees. I did and he told me to pray and preach the Gospel. I could not argue with that.
I graduated college from Bay City Bible Institute, and I got my degree in Theology. And I also have a degree in Music, and I also have a degree from the University of California in Philosophy. Yeah [laughs], I have got it all covered.
Tell us about your weight loss and how you continue to keep it all off?
I had high blood pressure really bad. After I retired my blood pressure went up to around 110. It was high man, the devil was getting ready to take me out. He had me lined up for the morgue. I was going to the doctor and he was giving me pills and didn’t know exactly what to do for me and shortly after I started meditation. I also started working out at the time. I was in my late 50s. Oh man, I counted them pounds from 240 [when he hit the 240 mark after previously weighing over 250]. I weighed myself every morning. On the weight loss, it has been the strongest thing I have ever done as far as discipline is concerned… One pound at a time. If I was down one pound I was happy. Then one pound would turn into three, and then three would turn to five, and I would really try to hold that five. Then I went into Vanderbilt University on a weight loss program. I was given a specific diet regimen — 1900 hundred calories a day. I have stuck with that diet ever since. I am 76 come June 4th. I am now down to a healthy 150 or so pounds.