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Determination to change led this driver to drop more than 200 pounds

By on May 5, 2015

At nearly 500 pounds, fueling up was a three-step process for trucker Kyle Hoover.

“I couldn’t stand long enough to pump the fuel and get my receipt,” he recalls. “I would have to put fuel in the truck, then get back in and sit down until my sweat dried. Then I’d walk to get my fuel receipt, and heaven forbid there’s a long line — I would start panicking because I knew I would have to sit down.”

Always chubby as a kid, Hoover turned to food for comfort after his mother died. By the time he graduated from high school he weighed 375 pounds. His weight caused him great social anxiety, which he soothed with more food. He turned to trucking, partly because it was a job that let him be alone, but then gained another 100 pounds after keeping to a diet of fast food, ice cream and candy. One day, after eating two pints of ice cream, he looked at all the food wrappers and garbage in his truck and something clicked. He wanted that excess weight to go away.

Not so fast

Hoover wanted an immediate solution, so he asked his doctor to prescribe a powerful weight loss pill. The doctor said no, seeing no indication that Hoover was ready to change his eating habits. He suggested Hoover keep a food journal to get a clear picture of what and when he was eating throughout the day. Hoover downloaded a calorie counting app and entered everything he ate. He discovered he was taking in 12,000 -14,000 calories a day.

Any weight loss was going to come solely from restricting calories, because he was unable to walk for any significant amount of time without getting winded. He set a goal. He would stick to 1,600 calories a day, and see if he could keep that up for just 30 days. He did not look beyond that time frame. He just wanted to see if he could do it.

And it was a significant undertaking. Hoover considers himself a food addict, who had to separate eating from emotion because if he turned to food for comfort, a dish of ice cream turned into two pints of ice cream.

“The first meal I logged was one chicken strip and a fried taquito,” Hoover recalls. “It was 500 calories, and when I saw that I thought, ‘this is going to be a long day.’”

Eat more good food

Eventually he did some research and realized that he could eat a lot more food as long as it was a different kind of food. He added vegetables, raw nuts, grilled chicken breast and natural peanut butter into his diet. He found foods that satisfied his hunger. He was fanatical about recording everything he consumed and sticking to his 1600 calories a day.

At the end of the designated 30 days, Hoover had lost 40 pounds. That was his incentive to keep going.

Once he lost 150 pounds, he started walking regularly, and eventually built up an exercise routine as he felt more fit. In two years he lost more than 250 pounds, and started blogging about his weight loss journey.

“The majority of people who ask me about my weight loss think that I have some miraculous secret,” he says.

“There is no secret. If you are 100 pounds or more overweight, your body needs a high caloric intake to maintain that weight. You have to cut the source. Fix your diet first and you will see results.”

Lessons in Losing

Two dietitians highlight the main takeaways for drivers inspired by Kyle Hoover’s transformation

Sharon Madalis and April Rudat, registered dietitians, are the authors of Truck Drivers: Stop Your Job from Killing You! Road King asked them how other truckers can use Kyle Hoover’s weight loss methods in their own lives.

“His story showcases his character and resilience. It also goes to show that people need to find their own path in the weight loss journey,” says Rudat. “His cut in calories was very dramatic and few people can do it just the way he did. In our work as Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, we would likely decrease calories more incrementally — in baby steps — in order to make the plan more attainable and realistic and to prevent feelings of deprivation and starvation, and so increase the chances of longterm adherence to the plan.”

Still, they say many of the steps Hoover took can apply to others.

Keep a Food Journal

Why: Many people don’t realize how much they eat, or how often they consume empty calories.

“Whether it’s keeping a calorie count or just keeping a journal of what you eat throughout the day, the simple act of writing down what you eat makes you more mindful of what you eat and when you eat,” says Madalis.

Introduce Healthier Foods

Why: Whole grains, vegetables and fruits keep you feeling full, so there’s no need to feel hungry even when reducing daily calorie intake. Improving nutritional content also helps with digestion, and gives you more energy throughout the day.

“Kyle’s realization that half of his day’s calories came with so little food was insightful,” says Rudat. “When I work with truckers, my goal is to help them find nutritious alternatives to junk food that will keep them full for four to five hours.”

Avoid Quick Fixes

Why: They don’t work.

“Kudos to the doctor who refused to prescribe a diet pill!” says Rudat. “Weight loss is not that simple. Go on a fad diet or take a pill and all that does is start the diet trap cycle of losing and gaining and losing and gaining. Losing weight may be a matter of learning more about nutrition or addressing an emotional relationship to food, and a fad diet won’t solve that.”

Think About Overall Health

Why: Once a less-than-healthy lifestyle is set, weight gain will likely continue and quality of life will be affected.

“Kyle had that wake-up call because he could see the path he was on was dangerous,” says Madalis. “But most people don’t necessarily feel those changes. So we ask our clients to talk about some of the things they used to be able to do that they can no longer do. We actually have a 10-pounds-of-fat model and have them strap it on and climb a flight of stairs. Patients don’t always feel their diabetes, but they can make that connection to not being able to play with their kids or lift things they used to lift.”


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