Unless you’ve had your head in the sand over the course of the past few years, you will have noticed that the trucking industry has begun to take seriously the health and wellness of its workforce. And thank goodness for that. The industry’s demographic is aging and years of neglect of our own health and wellness has caught up with us. There are many reasons why truckers, as a whole, are more likely to be obese than the general population. Too often, we focus on getting the job done and not enough on making our health a priority. We lose sight of the fact that taking care of ourselves ultimately will allow us to better serve our employers and customers, not to mention better support our families. I speak of all this in the first person, because I can relate, though I’m not a professional driver.
I may not drive a truck for a living, but I face the same challenges many of you do. I work long hours, the vast majority of which is spent sitting. The only difference is that your view is much better than mine. I travel frequently and don’t make the healthiest choices when eating on the road. When I’m not working or travelling, I’m spending time with my three-year-old. I cherish the time I spend with her, but she’s a lousy workout partner; racquetball is out of the question. As a result of all this, I’ve allowed my own physical condition to deteriorate to the worst it’s been in my 36 years – and I’m not proud of it.
I’ve been invited to take part in the pilot project for a new health and wellness program developed by NAL Insurance, which, if successful, will be rolled out to the industry this fall. It would be irresponsible of me to decline their offer, and a letdown to my family. Their 13-week rapid weight loss program will connect me with a registered dietician, who will examine my eating and exercise habits and then help develop a plan that will transform me into a picture of health – or at least, a leaner, meaner version of my present self. I’ll blog and tweet about my results and experience, but in moderation, I promise. I hope my truthful first-hand account of the program will be helpful to those of you who are considering making some lifestyle changes of your own. If I lose a ton of weight and get in shape, I’ll tell you about it. If I lack the willpower to stick to the program, I’ll admit as much. If I feel the program isn’t viable for professional drivers, I’ll tell you that too. NAL has taken some risk by asking me to participate in the pilot. They know I tell it like it is and they realize I won’t be embellishing any results. That said, I think I’m a perfect candidate for a program such as this one.
I know enough about health and nutrition to know I’m doing it all wrong. You can pick any nutrition book off the shelf, do exactly the opposite of what it says and, well, that’s pretty much my modus operandi.
I get started early, loading up my coffee with too much sugar. I’ll skip breakfast, and as a result I’ll be wolfing down my first sandwich (yes, there are multiple sandwiches) by 10 a.m. A second sandwich will follow at lunchtime, along with an apple, which is likely the only fruit that’ll get past these lips on any given day. I’ll work till late afternoon, then spend an hour-and-a-half in traffic and arrive at home famished. I’ll wolf down a few chips (if I didn’t stop for a bag at a gas station on the way). And then there’s dinner – and do I do dinner! Fire up the barbecue and it’s burger(s) or steak, a side salad (no, not that kind of salad; a sodium-laden, pre-packaged potato or macaroni salad). Am I a picture of health, or what?
The good news about all of that is that I have nowhere to go but up – the waistline, nowhere to go but in – provided I take to heart the advice that will be dispensed by whichever registered dietician is courageous enough to take my case.
And let it be said right now, you may well see me at some time over the next 13 weeks at a truck show with a hot dog in hand. If willpower were my strongest attribute, I wouldn’t be in need of a program such as this in the first place. But I’m going into it with the understanding that I’ll have to work a little harder on those days in which I choose to indulge, in order to achieve the results I set out to achieve. July 15 is the start date, so I have a few more days of gluttony in my future. After that, it’s down to business.
James Menzies is editor of Truck News magazine. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 15 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies