Speaking of which, what changes do you think need to be made at truck stops to help promote a healthier lifestyle?
Healthier food and weight rooms. TA and Petro have walking paths where some will show a route you can take. But who wants to walk around Chicago or Gary, Indiana? There’s a Pilot in East St. Louis and they have a Snap fitness inside.
The company I work for gives you a certain amount per month for a health club, so I’d like to see more of them in truck stops.
But until then, just get out and walk! No one’s asking you to run a marathon. Just run or walk around the truck 4-5 times. If you can only walk one lap and you’re winded, sit down for a breather, then get up and walk around again. Every day push it a little farther. If you feel pain, then stop, but I think the big thing is people think discomfort or being out of breath is “pain” and they find a reason to give up.
What are your thoughts on people who don’t care or make excuses for not being healthy on the road?
I don’t know… you won’t change those people’s minds. I have no problem telling people I’m living proof. I did it and I’m the laziest person I know, and I’m not afraid to admit that. I’m learning I have to do other exercises like hip flexing. Your flexor muscles get weak from sitting so long. As truck drivers, if we go to do a squat, we lean forward since that’s what the seat in the truck is like. I’m learning all sorts of things.
If you can’t buy exercise equipment, get a piece of rope. You don’t even need equipment! You can walk, get rope, do isometric exercises on your steering wheel. You can always do something; there’s no reason to not do something.
I’ve been ridiculed by people out there. They ask me why I’m exercising. I tell people I used to be 500 pounds and they’re shocked. Yeah, I used to be 500 pounds. I don’t want to be that anymore.
I have my own reasons for working out. You have to find your own, whether that’s because you want to be there for your wife, your kids, your cat, your fish…whatever. Everyone has a reason, you just have to find yours. Maybe you don’t find it until you get your scare like me. I thought, “You need to wake up because you’re going to lose your leg. You can’t drive, and your life expectancy is about 5 years.” That’s not what they told me, but that’s what I was thinking. I was 41 at the time and was out of work. I thought I was too young to be on disability because I was fat. That was not acceptable to me. Even if I hadn’t had the surgery I would’ve found a way.
The surgery was nice, but it’s been a blessing and a curse. The things you have to do and the truck driver diet you have to follow…everyone thinks it’s easy, but you have to do physical and mental things first. Then the recovery time, and every day I have to take pills and vitamins because I don’t process food properly. Everyone thinks surgery guys have it easy. Nope, I have to take vitamins and drink X amount of water and eat so much protein. If I don’t get that protein, my body starts eating itself and will go for the largest muscle first, the heart. You’ll kill yourself if you don’t get enough protein. It’s not fun but it’s what you gotta do. Some days I don’t want to take the pills. I get up and think, man I just don’t wanna take these again. But I do it because I signed up for it. It’s a job.
Are there any tools or products that have helped you with your healthy lifestyle on the road?
I cook more in the truck. That way I can regulate my food. I’m not big on eggs, but here’s an example: You’ll order breakfast, and eggs are real healthy, right? But you get them and you can tip the plate and dump all the grease off! So I have an electric skillet for eggs. I have a microwave, I have a George Foreman grill, and I’m lucky because my company provides a fridge in the truck as well as an APU, so I have my power unit and can do everything I need. I wouldn’t work for a company that didn’t have an APU, and I’m kind of spoiled now on the refrigerator.
I’ll go to Goodwill and check out their appliances. I found an omelette maker there one time that lasted me three years and I paid 2 bucks for it!
I know people that have electric and gas stoves. Before I lost the weight, I used to buy charcoal and stop at rest areas to use the BBQ grills. Before I left, I’d buy my food, leave the house, and on my first 10-hour break, I’d fire up the grill and cook steaks, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken breasts… I got the dirtiest looks from other drivers! They’d get out and walk to use the bathroom and see me grilling out. Who doesn’t like fresh grilled meat!? This guy just paid $10 for a burger at TA and I’m going to eat all week after grilling out. You can save so much money making it yourself.
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