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300-plus-pound driver resolves to get fit
In July 2011, Richie Nehrings of Hawthorne, N.J., went shopping for a new pair of jeans. His size 44 pants were too tight, and it was time for the 41-year-old, 372-pound truck driver to move up to the next waist size.
“I couldn’t do it,” he says. “I stood there staring at the huge size 46 jeans and something inside just snapped. It started a whole wave of self-loathing and anger.” He thought, “I can’t fit in my clothes, my blood pressure is out of control, my life is not my life anymore.”
He didn’t buy the jeans. Instead, he decided to change his life.
“I had a lot of ‘aha’ moments, but it wasn’t until I walked out of the store without buying the bigger jeans that I realized I had to stop putting off what needed to be done.”
It wasn’t the first time he had tried to make lifestyle changes. One low point came when he went to a sporting goods store to buy rubber waders. An avid fisherman, he wanted the protective gear so he could continue to fish in winter. The sales clerk laughed out loud. “We don’t have anything that big,” he said to Nehrings.
Depressed and feeling hopeless after that and similar past incidents, Nehrings decided to change his diet.
Name: Richard (Richie) Nehrings
Location: Hawthorne, N.J.
Company: Acosta Trucking
Starting weight: 372 pounds
Current weight: 318 pounds
Desired weight: 250 pounds
Height: 6 feet
Highest blood pressure: 170/105
Current blood pressure: 120/78
“My wife and I would go out to dinner and declare that, come Monday, we would begin down a new road to healthy eating,” he says. But Monday would come and he would swing by the big-box store and load up on industrial-size bags of M&M’s, chocolate bars and fully loaded soda. “I had a lot of ‘aha’ moments, but it wasn’t until I walked out of the store without buying the bigger jeans that I realized I had to stop putting off what needed to be done.”
Appearance was not Nehrings’ only worry. “My health was compromised,” he says, “and if things didn’t change, I feared the new FMCSA rules would impact my driving career.” Things had never seemed so bleak. His doctor, who had to order bigger scales to weigh him, had been telling him to lose weight. His highest blood pressure reading was 170/105, and his doctor was extremely worried about his heart health, sleep apnea and potential for developing diabetes. His father died after his seventh heart attack, and still, he balked at taking the first steps.
That’s when Richie Acosta of Acosta Trucking stepped in to help. Acosta’s mission is to help truckers lead a healthier life. The two had been friends and coworkers for years, and now Nehrings was ready for help. “I sat on my back porch and wrote down every morsel of food I ate in a day, I was appalled by the sheer quantity of the list that included bags of candy, crates of soda and huge portions of fast food, and [I was] worried about what Richie Acosta was going to think.”
Acosta was unfazed. He evaluated Nehrings’ diet and made radical changes, including cutting out sweets, soft drinks and starches. Despite the radical changes, the new diet plan was not intended to make Nehrings feel deprived or starved, so he began the program the next day.
Acosta, a trucker and body builder who has been involved with personal training and fitness for 25 years, created a weight loss and fitness program, TruckinFit, www.truckinfit.com, to help drivers like Nehrings make healthier lifestyle choices. He chose Nehrings for his first case study because he represents an over-the-road trucker desperate to lose weight in spite of trucking lifestyle obstacles. Acosta, who has a degree in nutrition, devised a plan and detailed daily diet for Nehrings to follow on and off the road.