Rich Hazuka was headed down a dangerous path. He had high blood pressure, and his doctor said he would soon need cholesterol medication.

With diet changes, the 6-foot 2-inch Omahan dropped 75 pounds. When he plateaued, he decided to add exercise into the mix.

At first, Hazuka was intimidated by the other gym-goers. Doubt washed over him and he wondered what he’d gotten into.

He stuck with it, and in eight months, he dropped another 45 pounds. Now he’s off his blood pressure meds and has no need to start up cholesterol medication.

Hazuka’s wife, Michelle, got in on the diet and exercise routine, too. Since she started, she’s lost 40 pounds.

Q: When did you start working out and why?

A: I started here in January. I had high blood pressure. I lost weight from dieting. I went from 325 to 250. Then everything slowed down. I started here and hit my goal weight of 205 pounds last week.

Q: Describe your workouts. How many days per week do you exercise?

A: Our workouts are pretty varied. We do a combination of strength training, lifting and conditioning. I work out six days a week.

Q: What is your current fitness goal?

A: To get stronger. I don’t have a goal weight. I just want to keep getting better. I do a nutrition coaching program here as well. We keep track of our workouts and make sure we progress.

Q: What has been your biggest accomplishment?

A: Getting off my medications. I was going down a pretty bad road.

Q: What has been the toughest hurdle and how did you overcome it?

A: Making the decision to come here. The people here are so great. They welcome you, and we hold each other accountable in a positive way.

Q: What helps you stay on track?

A: Definitely the Forged family.

Q: What is your gym pet peeve?

A: It’s got to be when people put the weights away wrong. They’re supposed to be stacked in pairs.

Q: What do you do outside the gym?

A: I really enjoy outdoor stuff — hunting, fishing and golf.

Q: What is the piece of equipment, supplement, clothing, etc., that you can’t live without?

A: Getting here early. I take a lot of teasing because I get here an hour early to warm up. I’m big on mobility and recovery. I also enjoy seeing as many people here as possible.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their fitness journey?

A: Show up every day and get a good coach. A lot of people — I was in this boat — do things on their own at the gym. I would read magazines or books and then you have to put something together, figure out how to eat, and it can cause anxiety. Here, you show up, you do the workout that’s prepared and you’re out of here. With the food program, you learn how to fit everything in and you get the occasional indulgence. Fit it all into your schedule. If it’s just up to you, you’ll find a reason to skip.

kelsey.stewart@owh.com, 402-444-3100, twitter.com/kels2

Kelsey covers health and fitness for The World-Herald. Follow her on Twitter @kels2. Phone: 402-444-3100.

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