Movin’ Around & Droppin’ Pounds – How Carrie Lost 45 Lbs on the Road

Carrie Dow on Exercise for Truck DriversToday, we sit down with Carrie Dow, a team driver who has seen some awesome success in getting healthy on the road. Keep reading to learn more about Carrie’s personal tips on successful diet and exercise for truck drivers!

When and how did you get started in the trucking industry?

“I started driving in 1998. I was just looking for a job change. I wanted to get out and travel on the road. So I went to school and started working for a trucking company, then met my husband and that’s where we’ve been the last 16 years! We team drive together now.”

How did you begin your health journey? Were you always proactive about your health or did it start after driving?

“Before I started driving I was pretty active. I rode my bike a lot and walked a lot. I rode my bike to work every day I could, about 7 miles each direction, then walked during my lunch. So I was pretty active before. When I started driving, I kind of let it go and went up to about 250 pounds for a while. Then I started having blood pressure issues, so we started watching our diet. We did Atkins for about 6 months – I lost 40 pounds and my husband lost about 50, and that was in about 2010. After that, we stayed on a low-carb diet and our weight fluctuated a little bit up and down. In the last 2 years, we really got into the low-carb dieting and I started running and walking more. We cut out junk food and stay away from those Cinna-bons in Flying J.”

What does your health routine consist of now?

“We follow the low-carb, primal-type diet. We don’t eat any grains or added sugar if we can help it. Our diet focuses on meat, eggs and vegetables and a small amount of fresh fruit. I usually try to walk or run whenever we’re loading or unloading. I’ll jump out and do pushups on the step, squats, whatever I can fit in in the time. Last month I did an ab challenge that I did inside the truck with stuff like crunches, bicycle kicks, planks, etc.”

Do you find it difficult to keep a normal diet on the road given all the junk food out there?

“Sometimes. It takes more thought and commitment. At times it can seem more expensive.  If we want to eat out, we go into Denny’s and get fish or steak and vegetables. They have roasted chicken at Pilot Flying J but all their side dishes are starchy. I keep telling them they need something besides corn and potatoes. I’ve been very surprised at the number of people who ask for more veggies instead of starches. We also eat a lot out of our truck, I have more control of my food choices. It’s good that truck stops carry pre-boiled eggs, fresh veggies and fruit. We have a little dorm fridge that’s mounted in our truck. We also have a microwave and I use my Burton oven once in a while. I try to get most stuff prepared on the weekends when we’re off, but some weeks I go out and just go with whatever we can get on the road.”

What are the biggest successes you’ve seen since getting healthier?

“Well, at my heaviest I was right at 250 and today I’m at 205. My husband was in the 270s and he’s in the 220s now. It’s definitely made a big difference to cut out the junk food. I snack more on nuts and olives than candy and sweets now. My blood pressure and blood sugars are well controlled. I know I’ll probably eventually have to take medication but right now I’ve controlled it through my diet just by getting rid of sugar, soda, sweets, and high-carb stuff. I feel a lot better when I drive now – less sleepy!”

Carrie Dow Before and After

Carrie Dow and her husband before and after.

What are your tips for people who want to get healthy but aren’t sure where to begin?

“Just do some basic movements! You can do squats and pushups on the steps if you don’t want to get on the ground around the truck. Squats are hard in the beginning but man, I felt so much better after I got used to doing them. The most important thing is just get out and move, even if it’s just walking around your truck a few times. Try to cut back on sweets and junk food. If you’re going to have a snack, have fruit, nuts, or hard-boiled eggs. They fill you up pretty quick. Mostly it’s just the things you talk about – cut back on sugar and move more. Even a little bit counts!”

What are your thoughts on people who don’t care or make excuses for not being healthy on the road?

“Well, I think if you make excuses you probably don’t want it bad enough. This is our livelihood — with the new rules, improving your health is protecting your income.  It’s one of those things where if you’re not healthy enough to sit in the seat and stay alert you’re not going to be able to do your job. Once you get past the first week of adjusting to more exercise and eating better, you really are going to feel better. You’ll notice you can do your job much better when you’re not sleepy from eating 300 grams of carbs for breakfast.”

What changes do you think need to be made at truck stops to help promote a healthier lifestyle?

“Well, I already mentioned the grilled chicken and stuff. They need to add more items that aren’t deep fried. Things that aren’t all carb-loaded. More green veggies. There’s really not a lot I can see them doing. Right now it’s 99% junk. You really have to look for the good stuff, and you better plan on paying for it.”

Have you seen many truck stops with workout rooms on the road?

“Not in ages but I know there’s one in Earl, Arkansas. One here by us in Lebanon did have one, but I’m not sure if they still do. The Petro in Reno has one and I think there’s a gym at the Flying J in Dallas. I haven’t been into or around any in over a year – I don’t really go in to those places much. I used to use the one at Petro a lot when I lived out that way, but I can’t say that I’ve really used a lot. That’s mainly because running as a team you don’t stop a lot. I pretty much carry all my stuff – a set of 12 pound dumbbells, a resistance band, a jump rope, and my running gear. I have a change of clothes to run in then I just hang them up to dry the sweat out. I don’t run a lot – my running or walking is maybe a mile and a half 3-4 times a week and it makes a big difference. I don’t have to work that hard to get feeling a lot better. That’s the big thing. People think they have to go run 5 miles every day and all that. No, I do 10-20 squats 3-4 times a day and 10 pushups on the steps 3-4 times a day. I’ll stop, get out to do my squats, open the door, and do my pushups on the way back in the truck.”

So is most of your workout done in the bunk?

Quote on truck driver exercise“The core stuff I do in the bunk. If I stop to fuel, I do squats. If we stop to load or unload, it only takes a few minutes to do a few squats. I’ll open the trailer doors, squat, take the paperwork in, come out, close my doors, do 5-10 pushups on the step, and take off! 

The biggest thing is you don’t have to do it all at once. 5-10 reps and I’m gone. I don’t take a lot of time to workout. My longest workout is about half an hour. If I have 30 minutes while we’re loading, we back in, I go for a 30 minute walk, and we’re loaded and back out. I don’t do a lot of heavy exercise, I don’t have to look for long trails, my walking consists of 30 minutes and about 1.5 – 1.75 miles. One of the biggest things is you don’t have to be an “athlete”  to improve your health. I focus on strength and flexibility.  It’s more like doing a little bit all the time with a goal of functionality and mobility.”

What tools and equipment do you keep on the truck to help you stay healthy?

“Someone who doesn’t already have a fridge needs a little ice chest or 12 volt cooler, preferably a cooler so you don’t have to fish your food out of the water, a Burton oven, and I have a little 12 volt electric skillet I bought at Camping World. It will hold a hamburger patty or a couple eggs. I try to prepare most of our food in advance so the microwave is my primary tool. I also a 12 volt skillet, Burton oven, and a crock pot. And then the workout stuff – a jump rope, if you can handle the jumping, a set of dumbbells, and a good pair of shoes is the biggest thing.”

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