Whee, Fit!

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Trucking and editing have quite a few things in common.
They are both largely sedentary jobs where you find yourself sitting for hours in front of a windshield or computer screen, trying to stay focused, and tempted by all kinds of distractions in your periphery.
Being largely sedentary jobs, they can also wreak havoc on the metabolism, making one prone to gaining weight.
For an upcoming Truck News issue, I looked into opportunities that exist for truckers who are trying to stay fit. How do they eat? Where do they eat? Is regular exercise possible, and how do truckers do it?
One thing for sure is that if you rely on restaurant meals to eat, especially in the US and Canada, you will have very little control of what goes into your body, calorie and content-wise.
Not too long ago, one of my cousins, your typical office worker, found out his ‘bad’ cholesterol levels were much higher than they should be for his age, and he was facing some serious trouble if he didn’t alter his lifestyle and lower the numbers, not to mention take off about 50 pounds in the process.
Coming as he does from a family of diabetics and heart patients who were half-blinded, winded and missing limbs at early ages, he got a good scare.
Before long, he’d ordered in huge vats of what I call his “fertilizer”, these brown and grown powders meant to supplement this and that vitamin, and to act as appetite-suppressants.
He also bought various tonics that had words like “vitality” and “virility” emblazoned on the side of the bottle in bright, very masculine fonts.
He tried anything and everything, before he realized that the only way things were going to change was if he pounded some pavement.
A friend of his had certified as a personal trainer, and set up my cousin with a workout routine he could ‘ease’ up to and that would rival any fighter’s. So first time in, my cousin went whole hog on the exercises, and added in an extra few hours and reps for good measure.
Then he shuffled around the house for a week afterwards, half-crooked, having cleaned out his wife’s supply of Advil and Tylenol.
Now, several months in, he has incorporated a somewhat more sensible routine, that works with his schedule, doesn’t require him to starve, and gives him more energy, even without the tonics.
His weight has decreased somewhat because he is watching his food intake, doing simple things like not snacking on chips and cookies, drinking water, and not juice, pop or alcohol, and just eating smaller portions. More importantly, he says, is that he’s built muscle and endurance.
My cousin is unusual in that he has so far stuck it out in a challenging exercise routine.
There’s a whole industry now centered around losing weight, supposedly without too much effort, and it’s only too easy to get caught in the hype.
We recently acquired the Wii Fit. It was meant to be a gift for me but, like the I-pod I received last year, I have limited access to it because the rest of the family is hogging it.
If you haven’t seen the Wii Fit already, it’s exercise in a video-game-like format. Using a stand-on platform and joysticks, you set up a little video character of yourself, your “Mii”, and the Wii computer measures your current BMI (body mass index), and records your weight, age, and fitness level. From there, you can progress to certain exercise or weight loss ‘goals’.
Even if you’re not technically ‘overweight’, the Wii will kindly create your character with little rolls around the belly, like a miniature Homer Simpson. It’s a little motivational trick on their part, I guess.
You can put yourself through various test levels on different exercises, or engage your Mii character in different sports. The tennis is great, if you can avoid smacking each other out across the living room floor as you wave the sticks around during your virtual match.
But I find the Wii personal trainer somewhat irritating. He stands in a little ballet pose and talks using his animated hand. If he was real and hovering in front of me at the gym I’d have smacked him out by now.
I’m not an expert in yoga by any means, but it is one form of exercise I am motivated to do on my own and that feels good, if you can say that about exercise.
So when the Wii tells people they have limited balance because they can’t do a very complicated yoga manoeuvre, (that takes, by the way, years to perfect), they shouldn’t take it too hard, in my opinion.
I can understand the value of exercise programs like the Wii Fit when it’s mid-winter and –50 outside, and it’s a great deal better than walking a treadmill (the dreadmill!), which in my house is smack in front of the laundry room, reminding me as I walk uphill to nowhere that there’s a list of things I could or should be doing that would gain better results.
To me, there is nothing quite like walking outside in fresh (ish) air, getting a change of scenery, people watching, and best of all, not really noticing how much or how far you’ve walked.
It’s a chance to clear the mind, and hopefully, to kickstart the heart.
So next time you’re stuck driving down a highway or idling next to yet another strip mall, consider taking a little walking detour, at the nearest possible opportunity, past your immediate surroundings. Amazing what you might see, and healthier, I’m guessing, than coffee and a donut. I will be living vicariously through your travels!

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Julia Kuzeljevich is managing editor of Motortruck magazine, as well as sister publication Canadian Transportation & Logistics and www.ctl.ca. With nearly seven years’ experience writing for the Canadian transportation industry, Julia specializes in human interest, in-depth news and business articles of interest to the trucking and logistics sectors. Julia has a degree in languages with a postgraduate specialization in journalism, and work experience in the air transportation industry.

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