Throughout the year, the ALT Performance Nutrition blog will be highlighting interesting and motivating individuals. On January 2nd, I shared a recovery and survival blog from one of my current clients struggling with an eating disorder. In her blog, she shares her journey to and from her eating disorder development and bravely explains why and how she chose to fight. She is an amazing young woman and a powerful example to all individuals struggling that recovery is possible.
This week, I am sharing a different survival story. This story is about an individual who decided to gain his life and health back through extremely hard work. Meet Ehrin Anderson. Ehrin is a commercial truck driver and owner operator for my husband’s shipping company, Tenpoint Expediting. He considers home his truck; which he shares with his cats 362 days per year.
It is not a secret that truck driving is an extremely difficult profession – the hours, being away from loved ones, and the challenges of staying healthy on the road are just part of what makes Ehrin’s profession difficult. Ehrin has managed to overcome these challenges; all through hard work and perseverance.
In March 2017, Ehrin weighed almost 400 pounds. He couldn’t sleep, had difficulty getting in and out of his truck, was suffering from depression, and was tired and out of breath most of the time. Finally, he decided to do something about it. He started slowly by doing walking and elliptical workouts to save his knees; and he changed his eating habits. In the first 4 months, he lost 74 pounds; then lost another 101 pounds in 11 months. Today, Ehrin is around 212-215 pounds and is the fittest he’s ever been.
In fact, over the New Year holiday, Ehrin ran the Double Double in Allen, Texas; which includes a 5K and a marathon on New Years Eve, followed by a 5K and a marathon on New Year’s Day. That’s almost 60 miles in 2 days… To date, Ehrin has run 4 full marathons and has no plans to stop. In fact, he is currently training for his 5th marathon, an ultra-marathon, and the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. To say he’s one tough cookie is an enormous understatement. He has become an inspiration to other truck drivers, his fan following on Facebook, and me personally!
So, just how does he do it? Ehrin is very loyal to Planet Fitness; which is where he will do marathon workouts on the treadmill, stair master, and through HIIT training; oftentimes completing 2 workouts per day or spending 4-6 hours at the gym at one time. He makes certain to be close to a Planet Fitness on the road, oftentimes, utilizing their parking lots to park his truck when he’s not delivering a shipment. He even takes his workouts to another level by wearing a 40-pound weight vest – a reminder that he has lost more than 4 times that amount of weight off his body! Ehrin keeps some small gym equipment in is his truck, like kettle bells, so that he can still get a workout in if his route didn’t get him close enough to a Planet Fitness. He will drive for 3-4 hours, take a break to get in 5-10 minutes of kettle bell training, then get back to driving. What’s most amazing? Ehrin has only missed 37 gym days since March 17th, 2017.
Of course, as a dietitian, I was most interested in not only how he changed his diet, but also how he sticks with it on the road. When he decided it was time to lose the weight, he would go to Wal-Mart, purchase a rotisserie chicken, frozen vegetables steamers, broccoli slaw, and fat-free mayonnaise. He would remove the fat from the chicken, throw the vegetable steamer bag in the small microwave in his truck, and mix together the broccoli slaw with fat-free mayonnaise. His go to snacks became a smoothie with almond milk, casein protein powder, a banana, and peanut butter. His diet regimen has changed a bit, as he’s adapted to his new normal weight. A few months ago, he purchased a crock pot that he keeps in his truck. Most days, he throws in 5-6 chicken breasts with varying BBQ sauces. He continues to eat his steamable vegetables and broccoli slaw. His other favorite meals that he makes in his truck include turkey chili, zucchini pasta, and pork chops on his George Foreman grill. His favorite snacks include Greek yogurt with Bear Naked granola, bananas, and his casein protein shake. Ehrin reminded me that he isn’t perfect all the time. He eats out about twice weekly, where he’ll enjoy some chicken wings or a burger. In his words of wisdom: “it’s okay to drag your foot off the wagon occasionally, but never allow yourself to fall off completely.”
I asked Ehrin where his daily motivation and incredible work ethic comes from. He credits his upbringing; as well as his time in the Army Reserves and Navy. He started biking when he was 7 or 8 years old; which taught him endurance, perseverance, and commitment. Today, he admits that he’s never quit anything that he’s started and he believes in following through with what he tells himself and others he’s going to do… even if it is the most difficult Ironman in the world. Ehrin left me with this thought; which are the perfect words of wisdom for anyone currently seeking a goal outside of their comfort zone: “no matter how abnormal something feels at first, if you do it long enough, it becomes the new normal.”
You can follow Ehrin’s journey on his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ehrin.anderson.5.