Healthier U: The O Word

U-Haul is making an effort to help all our team members improve their fitness and adopt healthier lifestyles. Throughout the year, we’ll highlight some of those who are taking up the challenge. 

OCEANSIDE, Calif.Obese?

When Area Field Manager (AFM) Joe Negrette of UHC of Oceanside saw his body mass index (BMI) result during a 2005 health fair, he thought maybe it was a mistake. He’d been active most of his life, and while maybe he’d put on some weight over the years, there was no way he could imagine that word applying to himself.

I had been working out for about two months at that time,” Negrette recalled. “I had lost about 10 pounds and knew I needed to lose more weight, but no way did I ever think I was obese.”

DJ16-08fatAt the time, the 5’11” Negrette weighed around 220 pounds. “When I think of ‘obese,’ I picture someone 100 pounds or more overweight,” Negrette explained. “I was hurt and very upset with myself. To think I’d be considered obese hit me very hard.”

Family memories

The BMI number brought to mind memories of his deceased parents, and a realization he was only a few years younger than his mother had been when she died at just 48 years old. “They were both in terrible shape. They smoked and drank,” Negrette shared. “I had to change the perception that you have to eat and drink everything in sight to be happy.”

One of the first things Negrette did was switch not only what he was eating, but how often. “I went from eating three big meals a day to six smaller ones,” said Negrette, laying out his schedule of high-protein meals of a few hundred calories every three hours.

With all the time he spends on the road as an AFM, Negrette has what many would consider a valid excuse for breaking his routine or diet, but he doesn’t see it that way. “There are plenty of ways to eat healthy on the road,” he said, rattling off a few examples. “Protein bars. Health shakes. Instead of ordering that burger, there are salads everywhere.”

Exercise routines

DJ16-08aIn addition to changing what he put into his body, Negrette continued to tinker with how he exercised it. “It took me about three months to find a weight and cardio routine that worked for me,” he explained. Eventually, he found a combination of lifting, racquetball and spin classes three to five mornings a week that worked for him.

He also found support among other U-Haul Team members, which, in turn, helped push him further. “I was an AFM District Certifier at that time and would get some young guys to train,” Negrette recalled. “They would want to workout or run with me, and that helped bring out my competitiveness.”

The change wasn’t immediate, but little differences along the way fueled his determination. “After two weeks, I was playing racquetball, and I started to beat guys that I couldn’t beat before,” Negrette recounted. “I was so much quicker just losing 10 pounds.” It took another month and dropping 20 pounds before those around him started to notice and comment. “The compliment felt really good,” he recalled with a smile, “and it gave me more motivation.”

DJ16-08mudderStaying fit

Ten years later, Negrette has managed to maintain the routine, noting it’s easier to stay in shape than to get in shape.

In that time, he’s dropped 35 pounds, his waist size has shrunk by four inches and his job has gotten easier. “Being an AFM with a ‘real ramp rig,’ losing weight definitely made climbing up and down the rig, loading and unloading trailers easier, not to mention less wear and tear on the knees,” he notes.

Other than being in my teens, I am in the best shape of my life,” Negrette reflected. “I owe it all to that nurse at the health fair who said I was obese.”

What are you doing to become a Healthier U? Share your tips and successes in the comments.

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