Daniel Rengering went from overweight to “Hot Cop” as a photo assisting in Hurricane Imra relief went viral. Check out our interview with this inspirational figure.
Daniel Rengering was catapulted into the international spotlight in September of 2017 and rose to fame during his philanthropic work with Hurricane Irma victims. A viral selfie, posted by Ben Tobias, at the Gainesville Police Department generated more than 175,000 comments, 517,000 shares, with a reach of over 138-million. Immediately branded the “Hot Cop with the Good Hair,” Rengering was quickly recruited by renowned photographers from all over the world. He has since been featured on the cover of more than 65 books and was invited as a special guest speaker at the 2018 Rudolph Valentino Memorial in Los Angeles, joining celebrated film historians, authors and members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (The Oscars). Having lost over 125-pounds in 5 years, Rengering has become a motivator for those wanting to transform their bodies. We spoke to Rengering, after his recent shoot with famed photographer, Golden Czermak, just before it was announced that he would be working as a red carpet correspondent for the SAG Awards, and The GRAMMYs.
Kyle2U: How did the opportunity to host on the red carpet at The GRAMMYs come up?
Daniel Rengering: My manager, Zachary Jaydon, helped set up that gig. He’s been a NARAS voter for a long time and made some calls. It all just kind of fell into place from there. I have an amazing team of people working behind me. Having the support of that team, and my family has been one of the biggest blessings to come out of this.
Have you ever done anything like this before?
I haven’t! I am really excited and I feel ready. I’m going to get to do red carpet interviews and hosting at the SAG Awards, before this event. I’ll do the same thing for the Oscars, the following week. There’s also a lot coming up in the next few months, which I can’t talk about yet, that will hopefully prepare me for everything happening in the next year.
You did a charity calendar, to benefit Basketball Cop Foundation. What inspired you to do that.
When the Irma selfie first went viral, GPD had promised to do a charity calendar. The City Manager ended up not allowing us to do that project, but I knew I wanted to give back to my community, so I got with my team and we decided to do one ourselves. So many amazing people donated their time and hard work for that. I could never have done it myself.
Bobby White is another GPD Officer, who went viral, and has done really inspiring things in the Gainesville community, and all over the place. He has changed the dialogue between kids and cops, and I really admire him for the work that he does. My own community seemed like the best place to start, in terms of giving back. I am doing a lot of other charity projects as well.
What events are you most looking forward to being a part of?
I’m looking forward to all the events I’m going to be working at. I’ve been asked to be a special guest speaker at the 91st Annual Rudolph Valentino Memorial in August, and I’m really excited about that one. Brandee Cox from The Oscars, and film historian, Marc Wannamaker, are both speaking at the memorial as well, and I’m excited to hear what they have to say about film preservation and how we can preserve the legacy of Hollywood’s formative years. The Valentino Memorial is the longest running annual event in Hollywood, so to be a part of something like that is an honor. Tracy Terhune, the one in charge of organizing the memorial each year, does a private spaghetti luncheon at his house for the special guests, each year. There are few people in the world with the knowledge of old Hollywood, especially Valentino, and I can’t wait to soak up some of that history and learn as much as I can.
Did you ever think you’d have a career in the entertainment industry, or did the opportunities come along following the viral Facebook photo during hurricane Irma cleanup?
I think we’ve all had a day dream about being in a movie of some sort, or doing some crazy entertainment-related thing, but I was never crazy enough to believe that I could actually do it. I have a great management team, that I really mesh well with, and we have worked together to create projects that I really believe in and am passionate about.
You’ll be a contestant on Season 37 of CBS’s Survivor. What was that experience like? Do you feel like your SWAT training helped you out on the island?
Unfortunately, I can’t comment on any kind of casting speculations.
Fair enough. Give us a little fitness background? What motivated you to start your fitness journey?
In the 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 way 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 ass. 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.
Give us your top three practical tips for being more healthy/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. (The only exception to this is if your drinking whiskey. You can always have Crown and Coke/Sprite!)
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 ass 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 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.
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 different than they ever have before. It’s obviously opened 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.
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 your 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. 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.
What’s your favorite workout at the gym?
Like every other guy, I love working my chest.
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 head out to my favorite spots, and eat as much sushi as I can afford.
Thanks to Daniel Rengering for hanging with me today, and a huge congrats to him on all his accomplishments. Be sure to keep checking back, for an up-to-date schedule of Rengering’s film and television appearances, and be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
What do you think about Daniel Rengering and his inspirational story? Tell us in the comments.