Daniel Rengering, the Gainesville “#HotCop with the good hair,” quickly rose to fame as one of three viral #HotCops, recognized for their hard work and community dedication during Hurricane Irma. One single selfie, posted by the Gainesville Police Department, generated more than 675,000 comments, 310,000 shares and reached more than 138 million people worldwide. Rengering has since been featured on Ellen, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, FOX News, CNN, and in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, BBC, USA Today, Washington Post, Miami Herald and many more.
- Give us a little background. What motivated you to actually start your fitness journey?
Spring of 2013… I tipped the scale at 322 pounds, and avoided the mirror like a bad ex. I got tired easily, and felt unhealthy. I knew I wasn’t anything near the best version of myself. I wanted to join the SWAT team, which was definitely outside of my grasp at that time, and more than anything, I was constantly afraid that my two baby girls would grow up without their dad, because of my bad choices.
…so, I got off my butt. I put down the fork, and picked up the weights. It was honestly the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It’s also been one of the most rewarding. To date, I’ve lost over 120 pounds. The last big push came from my family and close friends, and from my co-workers at Gainesville Police Department. There have been a few people that have really taken the time to encourage me, support me and push me to keep going, even when I had no idea what the destination was. There are many more milestones to hit, but every time I get to the next one, I’m reminded that what seemed so hard before wasn’t impossible.
Don’t Look Backwards. You’re Not Going That Way. Really. Let that sink in. Start small. As long as you’re moving forward, you’re going somewhere. Maybe you don’t have a roadmap, and maybe you don’t even have a destination, but if you keep moving forward, you’ll figure that out. Doors will open and close, and maybe you’ll hit a few snags on your way, but don’t let giving up be an option. Ever. If you can’t love yourself, how can you love someone else? Be kind to yourselves, and let your best selves shine. You at least deserve that.
- Give us your top three practical tips for being healthier/losing weight.
- Stop eating junk food and drinking soda. Soda is nothing but empty calories that you don’t need. These are extremely easy to eliminate. I’m not saying you have to completely cut yourself off, because I know how difficult that can be. Definitely start weaning yourself off of it. Make it a four week goal. By the end of week four be done drinking soda.
- Do something! Anything. I get it. Going to the gym can be extremely intimidating if that isn’t your world, but you have to do something! Go for a walk around a park or your neighborhood. Just get off your butt and do something that keeps you from sitting on the couch, eating junk food and drinking soda.
- Find a friend to get fit with you. Who doesn’t like doing things with other people? I know I definitely prefer to do things with other people. If you find someone to try and get healthier and lose weight with, you hold each other accountable. You’re more likely to follow-through and do something if you have somebody else holding you accountable, because you don’t want the embarrassment, or to have to admit that you didn’t follow through.
- What role did Gainesville Health and Fitness play in helping you lose weight?
Gainesville Health and Fitness was a huge part of my weight loss success. GHF is one of the few gyms that’s open 24/7. I work midnights and this was of huge importance. On my off days, I would try and keep a similar sleep schedule. I was still able to go and workout in the middle of the night while my family was sleeping. This also helped me because the gym had far fewer people in it in the middle of the night which made it less intimidating for me to be in. They also have a cold tub and a pool. I was able to incorporate swimming into my lifestyle and the cold tub for those days my legs were just absolutely killing me and I needed some relief. I still use these regularly, as well as the sauna, to sweat off some of that excess water weight.
- How has getting into shape affected other areas of your life?
It’s affected nearly every part of my life. I have so much more confidence in everything I do. People certainly look at me and treat me differently than they ever have before. It’s obviously opened up many doors for me that wouldn’t have opened, prior to getting fit. It’s also given me the confidence to allow myself to push harder in all other aspects of my life.
- What have you learned about yourself or life in general from your hard work in the gym?
I learned that hard work and dedication are the key to success in everything you do in life. I also learned that I can do anything I put my mind to.
- What did you do to keep yourself mentally motivated when it was tough or you weren’t seeing the results when you wanted them?
One of the ways I kept myself motivated was by constantly inundating myself with positivity. While at work in my patrol car I would have motivational speakers playing on YouTube and hooked up to the sound in my car. One of the ones that will stick with me forever and has helped me succeed in other aspects of my life is a quote by Eric Thomas. In one of his speeches, he said something that I will never forget. “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you’ll be successful.” To me, that’s how bad you have to want something to make it work. It can’t be optional. It has to just be. If you don’t consistently give it your all, you’re already behind the curve of the thousands of other people who do give their all, and they will continually outwork you.
- In light of January’s Lunch & Learn theme, “Finish What You Start,” what advice would you give to people who are just beginning their journey in weight loss and how they can finish strong?
Don’t ever get discouraged because you’re not seeing the results you want immediately. It can take a long time to see results for some people. I know for me, it felt like forever. I promise, one day you’ll wake up and look in the mirror and not recognize the person that looks back at you.
- What’s your favorite workout at the gym?
Like every other guy, I love working my chest.
- Least favorite?
Again, like every other guy in the world, I hate doing legs. So instead of lifting all the time for legs I’ll go and run the stadium or do sprints at the track. Have you ever seen a sprinters legs?! They are ginormous!
- Favorite cheat day meal?
I absolutely love sushi, so when I feel like going all out and having a monster cheat day, I’ll go downtown to Dragonfly and eat as much sushi as I can afford.
- Have you ever done a workout with your kids? If so, what did you do, and how did it go?
I’ve done a few home workouts with my kids. It typically doesn’t go too smooth. It normally ends up with me trying to impress them, doing pushups with them both on my back, or sit ups while holding them above my head. I want them to think daddy is actually Superman for as long as I can get away with it.
- What recommendations do you have for someone who is new to working out in a gym?
Don’t ever be discouraged or intimidated by the other people in the gym, especially those people who look like they live there. Most, if not all of those people, look at you with admiration, or at least they should. It takes a lot of courage to go into a place that you aren’t comfortable or you feel like you don’t fit in. Check your ego at the door and don’t be afraid to ask for help by these people. If they don’t want to help they will at least want to brag to you and try and show off that they know how to do something or they are some kind of “expert.” TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS! Those people who look like they live in the gym know what they are doing and can impart on you tons of knowledge that will help you reach your goals as well as prevent an injury. Speaking of injuries, don’t do something that you don’t know how to do. That is the quickest way to get hurt in the gym and that’ll set you back even further from reaching your goals.
13. What’s your most embarrassing gym story?
My most embarrassing gym story happened shortly after the “viral selfie”. I was in the gym working out and somebody took a picture of me not knowing. I went home and was tagged in it on Instagram and had no clue that the lady did it. The most embarrassing part of this story is I was warming up with some light weights and probably looked super weak on the internet. *laughs* A guy’s gotta warm up!
All photos courtesy of Zachary Jaydon.