Episode 151 – Reno Mahe
What’s up everyone? It is me, Drew Manning. Your host to the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. Here on this Podcast, if you guys are new, basically what I do is I take a lot of the lessons that I learned from Fit2Fat2Fit, which is this journey that I did back in 2011 where I intentionally gained 75 pounds in six months. Then I lost it again in six months, hence the name Fit2Fat2Fit and I was humbled. It was way harder than I thought it would be. I take all the lessons that I learned from that and try and apply it in my life, but also give you pieces of information from the guests that I interview to help you apply it in your life. Because the biggest lesson I learned is that transformation is way more mental and emotional than just physical. So, each guest that I bring on, whether they are from the fitness industry or not, have a lesson that can be applied to health and fitness. So today’s guest is someone that I have known about but had never met in person until just now. His name is Reno Mahe and I knew of him because he played in the NFL for the Philadelphia Eagles. I know him because he has got family ties here in Utah and he went to BYU. So, basically I had a chance to sit down with him one on one and interview him about his journey. His family is from Tonga and he actually grew up in California so we get into a story about going from California to Utah and why he chose BYU, even though he grew up a University of Utah fan, which they are rivals in this state. We also get into his football career and what it was like. We talk about concussions, obviously which is a hot topic in football these days. We also talk about his family life as well. He has nine children, you guys, nine kids! *laughing* He’s about my age, which is crazy! He’s 37 like me, or 38, and how he does it. He opens up about and talks a bit about his daughter who passed away recently and how he overcame that. He’s got a great story. I think you guys will love hearing about Reno Mahe and all that he has to offer you. Let’s go talk to Reno.
Drew: Ok, Reno, welcome to the show. How are you doing today?
Reno: I am doing good, man. Thanks for having me.
Drew: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for coming all the way up to Salt Lake City. I know you live down south, right?
Reno: I do. I do. It’s nice to come up though. I used to live down here at Cottonwood Heights. Right here off 215 and 6200 was my old stomping grounds.
Reno: So, it’s nice to be back up this way. Man, it’s a beautiful view though.
Drew: Yeah, yeah it is beautiful, man. But Provo has some good views too. So, really quick question before we get into the interview, I saw you had a beard man. Why did you shave it? *laughing*
Reno: *laughing* It’s funny you asked me that, considering what we are about to talk about. I always felt like the beard could hide my fat face.
Reno: So, it was good. It was good because it was always more hurtful when people would be like, ‘Man, you got big.’ Other than, ‘Man, that’s an ugly beard.’ I felt better about them talking about the ugly beard than about my fat face. *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* That’s strategy. That’s good strategy right there. I like that. Obviously you had a successful career in football, but who were you? Who was Reno before football? Tell us a little about you growing up and your childhood and maybe your passions as a kid.
Reno: Ok, so I was born in Los Angeles California. I grew up in Inglewood and Hawthorne until I was almost 12, then we moved out here to Utah. I’m a first generation Tongan American. My parents immigrated from Tonga to the United States and they met in Los Angeles. Man, I went to six elementary schools, four junior highs. I went to one High School and three colleges. So, I moved around a lot. But as far as growing up, I just loved sports. I love to compete and I just find people fascinating. So, that’s one of my little quirks. I always get to know people to find out what makes them themselves. A little bit about myself, I’ve been married 17 years and I’ve got baby number 9 on the way.
Drew: Wow! Wow man, that is so crazy. *laughing*
Reno: It will be the tie breaker. I’ve got four boys and four girls, so we will see. My wife thinks it’s a girl.
Drew: Really? Wow! How far along is she?
Reno: She is due at the end of the year. The end of November or the first of December.
Drew: Are you guys the type that want it to be a surprise or do you like to find out as soon as you can?
Reno: We like to find out.
Drew: Yeah, me too.
Reno: More so my wife doesn’t want me to want a certain one, like a boy or a girl and then when it comes out wrong, it’s like, ‘Awww…’ She didn’t want to ever have that, so we always know.
Drew: *laughing* Gotcha, that’s smart. I like that. So growing up, were you naturally gifted with athletic ability? Was your whole family gifted?
Reno: Yeah, both my parents were pretty athletic. My mom was into sports. My dad was really into Rugby, but he didn’t know American football, he just knew Rugby. They were both athletic, so I think obviously it rubbed off. Me and my siblings are pretty athletic as far as sports goes.
Drew: When did you know you had a knack for football? Did you start playing Rugby and then transition into football?
Reno: No, because back then, Rugby didn’t really have …. there wasn’t much of an outlet for whether you could be paid to play Rugby or even get paid for school. So my dad, all the credit to him, he saw`that there was no future in Rugby, so he never let me play Rugby. He was actually anti-Rugby, even though he did it. He saw the future that football could provide for us and so that was something that he really pushed. He thought football would be my ticket.
Drew: At what age did you start playing football?
Drew: Ok, so you are seven years old, pop warner?
Reno: Yeah! So, in L.A., but I think you had to be eight or something? I think they fudged a little bit so that I could start playing.
Reno: I was young and I didn’t really like it that much. There were things you like about it, but it was hard.
Drew: It took awhile for you to learn the rules?
Reno: Well, you were still kind of learning with all the other kids. But we did watch it a lot, so I knew football. I watched John Madden coaching back in those days.
Drew: Was that your team? The Raiders?
Reno: Um, yes because I grew up in L.A. But I don’t know why, I don’t know if it was Jerry Rice, but I became a 49’ers fan.
Drew: That’s what I’m talking about right there! Me too, man! *laughing*
Reno: *laughing* I was a 49’ers fan and you know what’s funny? Because Jesse Sapolu played, you know being Polynesian? It wasn’t until like the 2002 season that I cut my ties with the 49’ers.
Reno: My quarterback from BYU, Brandon Dolman went there and I kind of felt like they did him dirty. So after that I was like, ‘I don’t care anything for the 49’ers.’
Drew: *laughing* What if they had drafted you? Would you have tried to get out of it? *laughing*
Reno: Then I probably would have …. you know? *laughing* I didn’t get drafted, so it didn’t matter! *laughing* Maybe, maybe if they were paying my paycheck! Now I am an Eagles fan.
Drew: *laughing* So, when did you know that you were really good at football? Tell us about that. Was it at a young age or was it your High School years that people were like, ‘Hey man, you have a future in this.’
Reno: When you are playing in little league it’s not like, ‘Oh, you are going to be this dude.’ When I first went into High School and I played my first year in Varsity, I started Varsity.
Drew: Oh wow, as a freshman?
Reno: So, High School here starts as Sophomore. So freshman is still Junior High here.
Drew: Oh yeah, that’s right.
Reno: I don’t think it really dawned on me until my Sophomore or Junior year that these colleges were checking me out. I think the first letter I got was from Notre Dame.
Drew: Wow, really?
Reno: It was around then, I think it was around that time where I felt like, ‘Ah man. I can go to college.’ You know? I didn’t know what a scholarship was until High School. It wasn’t until then where you got a scholarship and you started going on these recruiting trips. So you go to college and my freshman year, my very first game was against Alabama.
Reno: I’m 18 and I think I was one of two kids that actually dressed as true Freshmen at BYU at the time and then I got in that first game against Alabama. I was scared.
Drew: Really? At least it wasn’t the Alabama of today. I mean they were probably decent back then too.
Reno: Yeah, they had Shaun Alexander.
Drew: Oh, that’s right. Yeah, Shaun Alexander.
Reno: They had five touchdowns against us. *laughing* But I did have a touchdown that game.
Drew: There you go.
Reno: I kind of felt like I could do this. I just might be alright.
Drew: Ok, let’s back up a little bit. It sounds like you had opportunities to go to different colleges, why BYU? What position were you playing at the time?
Reno: Funny thing is, just kind of looking out at Salt Lake and seeing the ‘U’ right there, my older brother played for the ‘U’.
Drew: Oh, ok. I didn’t know that.
Reno: I hated BYU growing up.
Reno: So, I grew up a ‘U’ fan. Mcbride was like an uncle. He was my dude. BYU, I didn’t want to go there. I do my recruiting trip to the ‘U’, and tell Mcbride I am coming. BYU talked to my uncle. My uncle talked to my mom. My uncle is a huge BYU fan and was like, ‘Oh, let’s just take the free recruiting trip.’ So we go out there on the trip and it was awesome. Great trip but I wasn’t coming. You always have that exit interview with the head coach, so, I talk to LaVell Edwards and he was awesome. He kind of knew I was coming to the ‘U’. Everyone kind of knew that. I wear my brother’s ‘U of U’ jacket to BYU football camps. I might have had the jacket on my recruiting trip!
Reno: I was a punk like that. We walk out of the interview and we are going home. I am going to the ‘U’. My mom made me turn around and said, ‘Go tell them you are coming.’ I was like, ‘What?’ And you know Polynesian mom’s, especially Tongan moms …. ‘Don’t make me tell you again!’
Drew: Yeah. Wow!
Reno: So, I turn around and knock on his door. ‘Uh coach, my mom wanted me to tell you I am coming.’
Drew: *laughing* Oh! How was that inside for you? Was that hard?
Reno: I was still confused by it. I thought we always knew I was going to the ‘U’. One of my business partners, just a couple of years ago went out to Hawaii where my parents are. He said, ‘So there is this story about Reno’s recruiting trip.’ And he asked her why she made me go to BYU. She said, ‘I was worried about his salvation.’ *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* Sounds like a good mom with good intentions.
Reno: She saw things I never saw, so it was good.
Drew: That’s such an interesting story. I didn’t know that story. I was going to ask you about the whole BYU and Utah rivalry. This is interesting, because I have a lot of Polynesian friends and family and it kind of splits people down the middle sometimes. I mean you are still family, but it gets heated at times.
Reno: It does. It does. I mean it’s been pretty lopsided over the last decade. But having grown up a Ute with my older brother playing there, it’s all love and respect, man. The staff there is so awesome. BYU had good things for me. I met my wife there and the life lessons I learned there, I would never have learned at any other school. I will forever be indebted to BYU.
Drew: Yeah, plus now you have Coach Kalani who is from the ‘U’?
Reno: No, I played with him at BYU.
Drew: Oh, he played for BYU, but then he coached at the ‘U’ and now he is back there?
Reno: Now he is the head coach and he is the first Tongan American D1 Head Coach ever. So, it’s cool that it was at BYU as well. BYU will always have a special part of my heart.
Drew: Ok, so really quick before we get back to you, just a quick question because I had some people reach out to me. Fans that are like, ‘Ask him what BYU is doing to get back into the game, because they are struggling.’
Reno: The reality is having coached the last two years you kind of get a better understanding of what a program goes through. I think there was a time where BYU lost their blood line with Polynesian players.
Drew: Why do you think that?
Reno: I think Coach Witt did a great job getting Polynesian coaches there that could get certain players. Kalani Sitake being one of them.
Reno: So, I think Kalani has done a good job of building that pipe line back up and winning some of those wars. Obviously, it’s still a little bit harder. Coach Mendenhall did the best he could with Coach Anae, but BYU is still unique in that way. It’s hard to get certain players to come and commit to that type of lifestyle and the education. The education there is so hard. It’s challenging. I thought they did as great of a job as they could, but Kalani is able to bring the head coach and the D coordinator, a bunch of position coaches that are Polynesian. That holds a lot of credibility with a lot of Polynesian homes. It’s nice to be able to see him build that back up.
Drew: Yeah, but it just might take awhile.
Reno: Dude, it takes time. You’ve got to be patient with it, especially at a school like BYU.
Drew: So really quick, for everyone that is listening that is not familiar with the LDS church or the culture, BYU has a very strict honor code. Maybe you can talk a little bit about that. You can’t drink alcohol. You can’t smoke or do drugs. It’s pretty strict, right?
Reno: Yeah, but even that is not that hard for people who don’t smoke or do drugs. Alcohol is a little tricky, but it’s more so interaction with the opposite sex.
Drew: Yeah, yeah.
Reno: You know what I mean?
Drew: Yeah. Like there are curfews, right?
Reno: Curfews are a little trickier, but you just you can’t do things with the opposite sex. Trust me, I know! *laughing*
Reno: I got in trouble for that! You can flip the script when you are going out and talking to parents and be like, ‘Do you want your kid to go to a school that has been voted the driest school for the last 100 years? They are the number one driest school. Also, it teaches your kids principles of not doing things that they shouldn’t until they are married.’ There is something to that and so parents love that. You’ve got to find those things that parents like. You know what I mean?
Reno: It may seem a little ‘amish’ to people, but the reality is it’s more freedom so you are not addicted to those things.
Drew: Yeah. That’s a good point to kind of …. because it sounds like maybe you have been on some recruiting trips where you are trying to sell the parents on it as much as you are trying to sell the student. Students at 18, they want to have fun.
Reno: They are looking at freedom like college is what they see on TV, you know what I mean? These frat parties, they don’t even have frats at BYU.
Reno: Again, different strokes for different folks. People look at it differently, but I’m a parent and I want my kids to go to a BYU school. That’s my thing with my kids. If you don’t go to a BYU type of school, I will just have to raise you until you are 18, then bye! *laughing*
Reno: But if you go to a BYU school, free school, free housing. *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* Let’s get back to your story a little bit, I want to talk about …. because you talked about High School years. You said your Sophomore and Junior years, you started to realize you were good at this and may have a chance to play at the next level. So in college, at what point did you think that you might be able to play at the top level?
Reno: My Freshman year, I had a pretty good year. I remember talking to one of my teammates saying, ‘Hey man, do you think I could go Pro?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh man, don’t even worry about that. Just keep playing and let it happen.’
Reno: So, I never stopped thinking about it. It was a dream and it was something I always believed I could do. As my college years progressed and I just kept playing, I just felt like I could do it. I knew I could do it. So, I just believed I could do it and then it just happened. I didn’t get drafted.
Drew: Yeah, tell us about the process.
Reno: I finished out my years. I didn’t have a very good Senior year. You know what? Looking back at it and being honest with myself, I didn’t put in the time to have a very good Senior year. I just kind of felt like because of the years I had as a Freshman, Sophomore and Junior, that …. I mean I had a huge Junior year. I had like 91 catches for 1200 yards as a running back moving to receiver. So, I just thought I could do anything, so I didn’t really put much effort into it. Then I had a sub-par Senior year and didn’t get drafted. It really woke me up. You’ve got to put the work in. I made a promise and goal with myself. I told myself, if I get a chance, I’m going to go Pro and work hard and I am going to enjoy it. The Eagles gave me a shot. I had a few teams that gave me an opportunity to do it. My agents were pretty good at what they did. They are Yee and Dubin, they are Tom Brady’s agent. They picked the Eagles. They said that would be a better fit. They said they aren’t going to give you as much money up front as these other teams are, but it will be a better fit for you. I took their counsel and went to the Eagles. They gave me a shot and I did five years without ever being cut.
Drew: Wow. *laughing* That’s awesome, man. Five years with the Eagles. Was it a camp you had to go to and you had to try out?
Reno: Yeah. You start out with a mini camp and you go there and you get the wrong number. That kind of told you they don’t think much of you. *laughing* Then I move back to running back. I was a receiver and they gave me a receiver number, but then they changed it up and said I was going to play running back.
Reno: I was like the number seven or eight running back on the depth chart. They usually only keep three, so that year they ended up keeping me. I was fourth. So they ended up keeping four.
Reno: It was just one of those processes that you had to do anything and everything to make the team. I stuck it out by being a punt returner. But, I rarely even did that in college. I might have done it once and fumbled, so I never did it again. My uncle, who was a pro-bowler there, he is a news anchor out there right now. He said, ‘Hey, if you want to make this team, you better go be a punt returner.’ I knew I would do anything, so I went and did punt return and that’s pretty much what kept me on for five years.
Drew: So, you had to learn that position a little bit. I mean it’s pretty much catching the ball, catching the ball first, right?
Reno: You just had to catch the punt. Probably one of the scariest things other than kicking game winning field goals. Nobody wants to be a punt returner.
Drew: Yeah. *laughing*
Reno: I sure as heck didn’t.
Drew: It’s like one mistake and it’s ….
Reno: Everyone sees it!
Drew: Yeah, everyone sees it. *laughing*
Reno: Like you’re the idiot that dropped the punt!
Drew: How was it going from your first college game against Alabama to now here you are in the league? How was it from a mental state? Were you nervous? Were you scared or were you pretty confident at that point?
Reno: Man, I was scared everyday. I will be honest. Especially the first game, I remember lying out of my teeth to the head coach, Andy Reid, at the time. My very first game we are sitting there, preseason game and I am getting ready to go in for the very first NFL game. It’s preseason and I’m just about to go in and Andy Reid looks over at me and he goes, ‘Are you scared?’ They got their play book covering their face up you know? I was like, ‘Nah man, I ain’t scared.’ I was so scared, man! *laughing*
Reno: So the scared kind of churned into excited. So you are just kind of anxious and excited, but as a punt returner it’s always weighing on you. Like, ‘Ah man.’ But then you just kind of got comfortable with every time you practice it and every time you learned it. You start getting to a point where you just know. I became ‘death’ when I was standing back there. When the ball is in the air and you watch the snapper give the ball to the punter. How he is holding the ball, how he drops it off his foot and you are about 45 yards out. This punter usually kicks towards the sideline and you have a clock in your head. The ball is in the air and it’s 1001, 1002 and if it’s getting too close, it’s 1004 and you just fair catch it.
Reno: Or you know like this punter, he is about 3.8. And this clock is in your head and how far he kicks it, how the tip of the ball is. So all of these things are happening within 3 – 4 seconds. Then you make a life or death decision and you have this freak accident coming down to knock your head off. *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* Yeah.
Reno: You still kind of have dreams about it. You just sit there and you can ….
Drew: Did you ever make that mistake of like holding on for too long and you got drilled or nailed?
Reno: Maybe once, I never got hit real hard. I was never fast or clocked in at a 4.5. I think it was playing tag growing up in the hood, where you usually try to let people try to tag you. *laughing* So someone is coming to hit you and you could avoid it. You got tackled but it was never …. you never took the full brunt of a hit.
Drew: *laughing* Gotcha. Smart.
Reno: I’ve always had a knack for that.
Drew: That’s really interesting. So, I have a question for you. You played five years in the league, right? Did it ever come to a point where it was …. maybe as a High School athlete or a college athlete, like this is fun. I love what I do/ to this is becoming a job or this is becoming very corporate. Did you ever experience that stuff? I’ve talked to some NFL players who are like, you get burnt out and it seems like a chore at some point. Did you ever experience that?
Reno: I think for me there were certain parts of my upbringing where I had got hurt, so I was out that whole season. I think I had those throughout my career, so I never got burnt out. Like in 8th grade, I got hurt the very first game of the year and I was out the whole season. So leading into 9th grade, 10th, 11th and 12th, I had missed out there. I still had that burning all those years and that became fun with the added recruiting and college. I get into college and I have my Freshman year and then I get kicked out of BYU and so I sit out a year.
Reno: And that burn for the next three years, you know …. then you get to the pros and then it’s business. Now game day, game day that’s football. Outside of practice and game days, I loved practice and game day, but everything else outside of that was business.
Drew: Ok. Yeah. I think for some people it just comes down to your state of mind and like where you are at. You’re super blessed to be paid that much money to play a sport that you love.
Reno: It’s stupid! It’s stupid. *laughing*
Drew: Do you look at it that way? But some people get burnt out because they look at it as a job and the passion is not there anymore, right? So I think you get to chose every single day, am I going to feel blessed today? Or am I going to chose, ‘Oh man, I’ve got to do sprints today. I’ve got to go to practice. I’ve got to do this when I want to just relax.’ So, I think that’s really cool, man. A lot of respect to you. Where are you at with …. did you ever experience concussions? What was the concussion protocol back then? Where are you at now? Are you scared to let your kids play knowing all the things we know scientifically about football and concussions now?
Reno: That’s the thing man. I have such a hard time with science and those aspects. I know a lot of guys who are fine. I’ve always had the mentality as a Polynesian, us Polynesians, we’ve got coconut heads. *laughing*
Reno: I ain’t too worried about that.
Drew: You never experienced that?
Reno: I didn’t. I didn’t. And that’s not to take away from guys that didn’t. Matter of fact, I took one concussion test in five years at Philly. That concussion test, they do a baseline when you first get there. There is this baseline you have, so whenever you get hit pretty hard or something happens, they do the test again and they compare to that baseline. So I had one hit where I got hit pretty good and it was during two a days at fall camp. So I went in and took the test and I came back and my test was better. *laughing*
Drew: It was better than your baseline? *laughing*
Reno: I couldn’t remember, I had to explain to them that, ‘You know what? I think when I took the baseline, I didn’t know what was going on and I was just kind of bored.’ So I didn’t do a very good baseline, because I didn’t even care. This is dumb, like ‘beep’. And then it’s beeping and I’m not paying attention, so it wasn’t a very good test. I feel for the guys that are going through it because of all the dementia, things like that. I don’t know.
Drew: You personally just haven’t experienced it?
Reno: Yeah, fortunately. God willing, I am blessed right now that I don’t experience any of that. I am healthy and like I said, I did five years and then I just walked away. My agents were looking at different teams, but I was good. I was done.
Drew: I was going to ask you about your transition now. What drove that decision for you? How many kids did you have at the time?
Reno: I think I was at five.
Drew: Five kids, wow.
Reno: I was either at four or five. I can’t remember?
Drew: Ok. So was it that? Were you wanting to spend more time with your family? What was your thinking process?
Reno: There wasn’t that fire for that anymore. Then you look at there are so many more ways to make money and more of it. I wasn’t one of those athletes that got those big contracts or anything. I was always league minimum, which was great. I’m not saying …. I’m not down playing that at all. But there were just so many ways to make money and so many opportunities to do things. I was excited for that next chapter.
Drew: The reason I ask that is because I have talked to a lot of former athletes who their identity was based on being an NFL player, right? Now that they are out of it, they kind of have to reinvent themselves. Like who am I now that I don’t have football? You see TV shows like ‘Ballers’ you know, where it’s like dudes are having to become used car salesmen. They run out of money and they think they are going to have this money forever. They don’t really have a plan for that next life. Did you experience that at all? Did you kind of …. or were you glad to be out of it? What was your experience?
Reno: I was …. I don’t …. I mean as old as we are now …. *laughing*
Reno: I take all the life lessons that I’ve had over the years. The year I left was 2008, then the 2008-2009 bubble. So you take …. and me and my wife, we live a pretty frugal life. But when you have all this money sitting in there, you try to invest it. So we went through that transition. We went through bankruptcy and facing foreclosure on your house and getting your car repoed. It’s funny because it was one thing you didn’t realize that you come back and you trust all these people and that’s what you are supposed to do. You listen to a financial adviser and you invest in real estate and all these different things you are told to do. But even people that made millions and billions, they lost all their money. So it wasn’t like something like, ‘Oh you are just another dummy.’ Half the country went through that during that time.
Drew: Yeah, yeah.
Reno: For me, it was more so just growth from those challenges.
Reno: That sucked and it’s hard, but you’ve got to be real with yourself and if football was your life, then you take it a little bit harder. But for me, it was more my wife and kids. I was to the point where my wife and kids are my life. As long as my wife is good with me and my kids are good with me, then I am good. It’s alright if the fans aren’t still there. But, I still have a lot of good people in my life that were always there for me.
Drew: Do you feel like having a family like that helped to keep you grounded? Whereas you saw other athletes who were single, living the single life, like strip clubs and doing all these things because it’s their first time making this kind of money. They went from like college days of no money and then all of a sudden almost millionaires.
Reno: *laughing* My wife is 6 foot 2 inches, I am 5 foot 9 inches.
Drew: Oh, she played volleyball, right?
Reno: Yeah, she played volleyball at BYU. She was a Freshman All American. So when you have someone looking down on you your whole life, that keeps your grounded. *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* That’s good, man.
Reno: I have someone that keeps me grounded. She keeps me in my place and if I am not staying in my lane, then I’ve got parents and siblings and I’ve got a good family support group. They do a pretty good job of keeping me in my place.
Drew: That’s good, man. You didn’t experience that identity crisis of who am I after the NFL? What am I going to do with my life? Should I go back to trying to play? You didn’t experience that at all?
Reno: Nah, I didn’t. I didn’t. I mean everything that I do wrong is in the public. Anything that happens to my life is pretty public. You just learn to roll with it, you know? I’ve learned how to make a living off of it. You take the lessons that come from the hard times and you just enjoy the blessings. It’s all gravy, man. As long as my wife is good with me, I’m good. *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* I like that. Let’s talk about life after the NFL, like from a physical fitness perspective. What were you doing? Were you trying to stay in shape or did you let yourself go? Tell us about that transition now and catch us up to where you are today.
Reno: I had a terrible diet. I mean it was Chick-Fil-A every day and McDonald’s. I would just eat whatever, whatever I was in the mood for, whatever is easiest. Chocolate chip cookies and milk were my vice. That was my vice. I could eat a bag of Oreos in one sitting. As you transition out of athletics, your metabolism …. I mean you hear it all the time from people, but again, as a football player, you just think you are immune to it. Then a couple of years later, it hit me real quick. You throw on 10-15 pounds and it just kept getting worse and worse. Next thing you know, I am 240 plus and I had been playing at 205. Then next thing you know, you are 40 pounds overweight. I tried …. I don’t know though. I don’t know if I tried very hard though, because obviously I didn’t. I would go weeks or go months, try something and it didn’t work. Try something else, lose 10 pounds and then gain 15. It just went like that for years, it was up and down.
Drew: Yeah. It’s interesting, because I have talked to a lot of former athletes and it’s very similar, right? They are almost immune to gaining weight during the season or during the years of playing football or any sport. Then they still eat like an athlete, but they are not burning the calories like they used to. They still have the appetite, right? I think that’s a struggle for a lot of people. Do you feel like where you are today, do you feel like you have figured it out or do you feel like it is always going to be a struggle for the rest of your life?
Reno: I think it will always be a struggle, but I think I found something for me. It works for me and I have life habits that I have learned over the last four months that I think I can use and maintain and hopefully stay at where I am right now.
Drew: And we will get into that in a little bit because I want to know specifics. I think people listening also want to know because it sounds like you went through your own Fit2Fat2Fit journey. *laughing*
Reno: Yeah! *laughing*
Drew: Very similar to mine, but not on purpose though!
Reno: Fit to fat to average! *laughing* Because you are fit!
Reno: I don’t know if I am fit! I can fit in my clothes better! *laughing* Actually I can’t fit in these clothes anymore. I’m just too cheap to buy new clothes! So all my clothes are baggy now!
Drew: That’s funny! Yeah, plus I can only imagine having that many kids. That’s hard to take care of that many kids.
Reno: Not when you’ve got a good wife, man! *laughing*
Drew: Well, there you go. *laughing*
Reno: She makes it easy. *laughing*
Drew: Yeah, let’s put her on the Podcast! She is the real hero!
Reno: That is without a doubt, man. But I am alright too, now! *laughing*
Drew: Yeah, we talked a little bit earlier about how you are spending more time with your family, versus before. So you are there to help out more?
Reno: I don’t know if I am much help, but I am there! *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* I am sure that is helpful. Let’s talk about the weight gain. You got up to 240 pounds, which is a lot for you being 5 foot 9 inches, right? You guys went through a tragedy. I think everybody has a plan …. who is it? Mike Tyson says, ‘Everyone has got a plan, until you get punched in the face.’ Life happens, right? We don’t have a plan for when life happens. If you are ok talking about that ….
Reno: Oh, yeah, yeah.
Drew: How did you overcome it and where are you at today with it? What you have learned from that experience?
Reno: As far as the tragedy you are talking about, about a year and a half ago, my daughter got entangled in a blinds cord. I was at practice sitting there and coaching at BYU and I got calls. I just happened to leave my phone in my pocket and usually you leave your phone in your locker. You don’t take it out to the practice field. But for some reason, I had my phone in my pocket and I keep getting buzzed, but I am at practice. I thought, ‘Damn, what is going on?’ So, I checked my phone and my wife had been calling. My daughter got life flighted to Primary Children’s Hospital where she later passed away. She was about three years old. She was three. As far as the weight gain goes from that, I didn’t realize it. We went through grief counseling and sitting there with my grief counselor, she goes, ‘How are you guys doing?’ Me and my wife are pretty good because of our beliefs. We believe in eternal families. So, as much as we will miss our girl now and having her with us now, we know we will be together forever. That helps, you know what I mean? That helps from that standpoint. I know I will be with my daughter again. I can’t wait for that. I look forward to that. But, there is still a plan in place with the kids I have now. So, that part helped with that. But socially and mentally, sitting there talking to my grief counselor she’s like, ‘How are you guys doing?’ And we are like, ‘We are good.’ There are times where we get …. my wife, she cried every day, still does with the whole deal. But for me, it was more so …. I don’t know if I just held it in or what it was? You know, we are men, we don’t cry, right?
Reno: There are times when I go by the places where I had taken her on daddy and daughter dates, where it still chokes me up.
Reno: But for the most part, I feel like I was good. Then she’s like, ‘Is there anything bothering you guys?’ But me and my wife are both like, ‘We got really heavy. Like the most I ever weighed was around 240, now I am 268!’ Then the grief counselor, Loni, was like, ‘You know, you can fake everything in this life, but the one thing you can’t fake is your body. Your body will always tell you the truth.’ That’s what she said to us. She told us that was what was happening to us, all of that is happening with your bodies. I was like, ‘Dang.’ So knowing that helped. Just knowing that was part of my grieving with the weight gain. I just thought I was just going to continue to get fat. I thought that was where my life was headed. I kept trying. I kept trying to lose weight. I kept trying to go on these diets and all these different things. It was just hard.
Drew: Was the willpower, well not willpower, I guess was the motivation …. some of us think, ‘Yeah, I need to lose weight.’ But that’s kind of vain because it is to look a certain way or to be an athlete. You’re not an athlete anymore or you’re not playing sports anymore, it’s hard. Was the motivation to lose the weight just not there?
Reno: It wasn’t, it wasn’t there. I tried all these different motivations. It sucked putting socks on. It was just bending over to put socks on and tie your shoes and being out of breath. That sucks! So, you always wear sandals so you can just slide your feet in! *laughing*
Reno: That part did suck. Your hands would get numb while you were sleeping from inflammation and all these different issues. About a year ago and like one week, I was sitting on the deck with three buddies. We were joking about a couple of us being overweight and one dude tried to act like he was 280. I was like, ‘Dude, you were just in Hawaii for a couple of weeks, you’re 300.’ He was like, ‘Nah, I’m about 280.’ So, I grabbed the scale and we are all just bad. We are all bad. Three of us, the fourth dude he wasn’t. But we all decided this is the year we are going to make a bet. We are all going to put 3000 dollars in the pot. In one year, we are all going to set goals. So us three did it, the fourth guy, he bet on the field. So if we didn’t hit it, we had to pay him a grand. *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* Oh, gotcha!
Reno: He was already skinny. Come February, remember this was June last year. First week of February, they started saying, ‘Hey, there ain’t nobody getting their money back.’ None of us was doing anything, so the dude that didn’t, he was going to make all the money. I remember thinking that clicked motivation wise! I needed that 3 grand! *laughing* So, I was sitting there talking to a couple of neighbors and they are like, ‘The Henry’s, they got this diet and they have a bunch of our neighbors on it. You should check it out.’ So, I was like, ‘Alright.’ So, I saw him and said, ‘Hey Ron, I heard you got a pretty good diet.’ So I told him that by June I had to be 220, by June 6th. If I’m not 220 by June 6th, I lose 3 grand. He’s like, ‘Ah, that’s easy.’ What do you mean that’s easy? He said it would be easy. But he said I couldn’t work out. Me and my wife were like …. I kid you not, I looked over at my wife like, no working out? Ha! Whatever! We looked over at him and he’s like, ‘No, I’m serious. You can’t work out.’ I asked, ‘What is it?’ He said they would send me 5 out of my 6 meals. I thought, ‘You will send me my meals? I don’t have to make it? Man, sign me up! Let’s do it!’ I said, ‘You promise me?’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, you will easily get there.’ And I got there almost a month before the deadline.
Drew: Really? *laughing* It’s interesting how money is a huge motivator and the fact that you might be losing out on money. It motivates people more so than if it’s just like, ‘Hey, I want to get in shape.’ You know what I am saying? I think there is a study saying you are five times more likely to follow through with your goals if you have money invested in something. I tell people all the time, if you are struggling with motivation, that type of bet almost …. I’m putting money down. I’m putting my money where my mouth is and this is what is going to happen. Versus just trying to willpower your way through it. Sometimes people just don’t have that motivation.
Reno: But it was double, it wasn’t just money. Well, not just money, it was double the money. So not only did I make this bet, but the meal plan that I had to buy, it cost me like 450 bucks a month. Again, that goes back to …. that’s money I am paying to lose weight and if I cheat or if I don’t follow through, man that’s money I am just burning out of my pocket. You are right, but it was double motivation. I’m not cheating or I’m just wasting this money.
Drew: Yeah. Did your wife do it too?
Reno: She did. So that’s 900 bucks a month! *laughing* I got too many mouths to feed to not follow through. It definitely has opened my eyes up to the fact that there are plenty of ways to still enjoy food, but just doing it the right way. It just takes a little more effort. Look, this is coming from one of the laziest dudes you will ever meet. Like, I am that dude. We will go on a vacation to my in-laws in Texas and I love to just sit there and watch TV and eat Jack in the Box. They will go do things and I am like, ‘No, I am good. I will just sit here.’
Drew: It’s interesting, because we talked before the Podcast a little bit about that, how you actually hate working out. So you loved the fact that you didn’t have to work out, which a lot of people will be surprised because you played in the NFL. You had to work out, but now that you are done with that it’s interesting. So, I believe you when you say you are lazy! *laughing*
Drew: But it’s also interesting that people don’t realize this. They think they can outwork and can out exercise a bad diet. They think that exercise is the key and working out, but in reality if you stay consistent with your nutrition, you are going to see more results than if you worked out two or three times a day. But, that doesn’t surprise me at all, but people listening are like, ‘ Wait, so you didn’t exercise, but you lost 55 pounds?’ Is that right?
Reno: 55 pounds in 100 days.
Drew: Yep, so I believe that.
Reno: But that’s not …. everyone is different, you know? That’s what I did. Now, some people, it varies for them as far as how much. Some people don’t lose any on what I did, but everybody is different. Every diet is different. My biggest credit goes to my coach. Ron and Wendy Henry were the so instrumental, as far as how …. if that’s what you do, as far as coaching. You’ve got to find a good coach. It’s crazy to think, having been a player and a coach, that it wasn’t until this weight loss program and having a great coach that it actually made me realize how important coaches are in every aspect of your life. I have guys I go to and I never thought of them as coaches until this whole situation. I look back and I’m like, ‘These are my mentors and coaches in the business world.’ Everyone needs a good coach. Everyone needs somebody to help them progress in whatever they are doing.
Drew: Yeah. I agree with that 100%. You need someone there to keep you accountable. We hire coaches all the time in business and in other aspects of our life. Same thing with nutrition, you need to invest in a coach, someone that’s going to keep you accountable. It’s huge because if you are just kind of trying to will power your way through it, just yourself, it’s so much harder. I agree with that 100% and respect you guys for doing that. So, let me ask you this, how many friends, family members, relatives come up to you like, ‘What did you do?’
Reno: There is over 10 or 15 of them that are doing it. I used social media for accountability as well. So I did a 100 day diet. It was just on a whim, it wasn’t like something that someone told me to do, I just thought I would try it. I thought, I am going to try this. I am going to try to live this life, this habit of just water. So, I went with just water for 100 days, as far as what I would drink. Because on this diet I could drink diet cokes, you could do diet drinks or Powerade Zero ….
Drew: Sugar free stuff.
Reno: Yeah. So, that’s the thing, I don’t know any of that stuff. All I know is that they said you could drink all this. I thought, no, I am going to go 100 days with just water. I am going to stick to 100 days and just be all in. Because of that, I kind of turned it into a diet journal. Day one of 100 and then day two of 100. I was accountable to hundreds of people that kept checking in or saying, ‘Hey man, I love what you are doing.’ But as far as people that actually did it …. and it was funny because I didn’t really want to tell people what I was doing. People would ask me and would say, ‘Hey, I want to get on it.’ But I was like, ‘Nah, it ain’t for you.’ They would want to know why it wasn’t for them. I wanted to make sure they were serious and I didn’t want them to just get on it and be like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s just another diet.’ Any diet will work if you do it right and stick to it. If you have that motivation, like you said, if you have that will power to do it. This diet just fit my will power. I don’t want to work out. I don’t want to make food. So it worked out for me. *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* I agree. The best diet is the one that you can sustain and it fits your lifestyle. I agree with that 100%. We are coming up on time here. The last question I have for you, Reno, being Polynesian, you know there are a lot of Polynesians, Hawaiians and Tongans. There are a lot of people who suffer from obesity, especially as of late. How do we fix that? How do we help the community out? It’s a part of the culture. You have aunties giving you …. they show their love with food, right? They kind of push it on you. It’s good. It’s part of the culture, but also how do we find that balance of taking care of our health, but also still embracing the culture, you know?
Reno: I think to answer that question for me, it’s by example. It’s like the guy driving around in a beat up old car and on the back of his windshield it says, ‘Do you want to make 10,000?’ It’s like, ‘Hey homie, why don’t you make the 10,000 first and buy you a new car!’ *laughing*
Drew: *laughing* Yeah, that’s a good point!
Reno: So for me, you’ve got to be an example that this worked.
Drew: You’ve got to walk the walk.
Reno: Yeah, you’ve got to walk the walk first. So first for me is to be an example. Second is to actually provide education on it. Because if there is anything I have learned on this diet over the last 100 days, I’ve learned what I can eat no matter where I go. I can show the love at a luau and have all the food there that I know you can eat.
Reno: There are healthy fats. Mayo, I love mayo. That’s like the Polynesian oils, you know? *laughing*
Drew: Yeah, exactly! *laughing*
Reno: I love mayo. I love avocado and cheese. I can have all those things. But just having things you can’t have, man, chill out on that. Have cauliflower rice instead. There are things people keep talking about like all these drugs and drug addiction, man to me facts are facts. Sugar is killing more people than that. Diabetes and health, heart attacks and diabetes are killing more people than any of that other stuff combined. What are we doing about that? At the end of the day, we as people just have to educate ourselves. Me as a parent, I need to stop being lazy and feeding my kids things I know they shouldn’t be eating. Having learned that, now I can turn around and take care of my kids in that aspect.
Drew: Yeah and I think it comes down to what you said, it starts with us first. You be an example first and break that cycle of education and passing that stuff on to our kids. That’s all it is, is just misinformation passed on from one generation to the next generation. My parents, you know they raised 11 kids and they didn’t know anything about health. They were just trying to feed 11 kids, right? So they did the best they could, right? But now that I am in the health and fitness industry and I have the knowledge, I have my girls eat healthy food, but you have to find that balance of not being too strict. Trying to almost make it a religion, like you can’t have this food because it is a sin and finding that balance with my kids. But also just giving them the knowledge so that once they grow up and they go off to college, they are at least educated on what’s healthy and what’s not healthy versus I don’t know what is healthy. I think we will get better at it over time, but it does come down to education. Thank you for giving those examples and being the example as well. The hard part isn’t losing the weight, in my opinion, it’s maintaining it. So, really quick, what’s your plan to maintain it? Do you live off these five bars a day and one whole meal a day? What do you do from here?
Reno: Having been educated, just this crash course I have been on, that part of it was learning what I can and can’t eat and what’s good to eat. So there is just that balance. And not having worked out, as I go to maintain, I will be working out now to offset maintaining. I will forever be on the maintenance part of this diet, right? So instead of going and having candy bars, I will eat something that I know is good for me. I still plan on eating a candy bar one of these days …. *laughing*
Reno: But I will have an understanding of what I can and can’t do. So if I am getting ready to go play basketball or something very active, then I will eat a little bit of something that I think I will treat myself to because I am about to burn it. There is just that balance in life. For me at the end of the day, it’s all just individual accountability. It’s one thing for someone to try to teach you it, but are you willing to learn it? Are you willing to apply it? So, it doesn’t matter how much we try to go out and try to teach people about it. It’s just if you are tired of being tired and your hands are numb or you are always out of shape, then there comes a time or a crossroads where you have to put up or shut up. For me, I have been able to do it for myself. I ain’t gonna judge nobody else because I was there. But everyone can do it. Anyone can do it.
Drew: Yeah, I agree and you are a good example of that too, Reno. Ok, last question before we go. How happy were you that the Eagles won the Super Bowl? *laughing*
Reno: *laughing* You know, I was so happy for the fans in Philadelphia. They are so loyal and die hard that it’s fun to go back there and see them all just standing a little bit taller. I’m super happy for the fans. As a fan of the organization now, it’s part of you.
Drew: Do you think they are the favorites coming into next season?
Reno: Ahh …. I don’t know if they are number one, but I can’t see them not being top two. You are always going to have the Patriots up there, especially if Tom Brady is still playing.
Drew: Yeah, especially if he is playing. *laughing* He’s playing and he’s almost 40 now and he’s still playing the league. I remember, real quick, I remember Ray Lewis speaking at an event and he plays a position where the average career of a linebacker is like four or five years, right? And he played, I can’t remember how many years. I remember him talking about how he invested in his health. He would take vitamins and supplements. He would eat fish and vegetables and take the food with him. These guys would be talking trash to him, these young kids. And he would be like, ‘Man, how are you going to outplay me when you are the one eating McDonald’s and candy all day. Here I am investing in my health.’ I think that’s …. I think there is something to say about nutrition and longevity and being able to play longer.
Reno: But that’s not only sports, like that’s helped me now. I function and think a lot differently. I’m not as fatigued as I used to be and that’s all just on the diet. That’s not from working out. That’s been strictly diet and I never realized how important that was or how real it was. You hear it all the time, but it doesn’t become real until it happens to you.
Drew: Yeah, exactly. Well, Reno, thank you so much for what you do and for being an example. I appreciate you coming on the Podcast. Yeah man, and good luck maintaining the lifestyle and I will be following you on social media.Thanks for coming on and we will talk soon.
Reno: I appreciate it. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Hey everyone, thank you so much for listening to this episode on the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. I really, really appreciate all the support you have shown me throughout all the years. If you love the Podcast, then please go subscribe to the Podcast on ITunes and also if you love the Podcast, please leave us a review. It definitely helps out with rankings, which means more people listening to this Podcast when they see it. Feel free to reach out to me on social media @Fit2Fat2Fit or at Fit2Fat2Fit.com, with suggestions or comments or concerns. Anything that you guys think that I could do to make this Podcast better for you, I definitely want to bring the highest quality content to you, the most value because I know you are investing 30-50 minutes per day when you listen to the Podcast. I really appreciate all the support and like I said, go follow me @Fit2Fat2Fit on social media, if you want to reach out to me with comments, questions or concerns. Thank you guys so much and we will see you back here next week on the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast.