It’s not every day someone lays down a challenge that if you can drop 40 pounds, they’ll buy 40 of your trucks. But looking at the big picture, losing 40 pounds was about much more than winning a bet for Rob Long.
Long owns six truck sales businesses in the Brantford, Ont. area, but it was only after a trip out west that the reality of his health began to weigh him down. Visiting B.C., Calgary and Red Deer, Alta., Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, Man. with his son in September of 2015, Long returned home weighing in at 278 lbs.
“By the time I got back, I did 10 days and 11,000 kilometres of driving and put on about 15 to 18 lbs,” Long said. “We were eating and drinking and sitting a lot.”
That was when he knew he had to make a change.
“I had never tried to lose weight before in my life,” Long said. “I never dieted, I never exercised, really, so I started and said that I could do this on my own.”
Cutting down on the amount of food he consumed, saying no to appetizers and drinking more water, Long managed to shed 28 lbs by Nov. 5, 2015; two months after returning from his Western Canadian road trip. But despite that success, a friend of Long’s wasn’t impressed.
“When are you going to lose some weight?” Dan Einwechter, owner of Challenger Motor Freight, bluntly asked Long while at an Ontario Trucking Association convention in Toronto.
Long said Einwechter, who also used to pack on extra weight before making the effort to get healthier some years ago, told him that someone his size should only tip the scale at around 210 pounds.It was then that Einwechter threw down the gauntlet and challenged Long that if he lost another 40 lbs in the next four months, he would buy 40 of his trucks.
“It gave him one more thing to strive for,” Einwechter said. “I helped Rob get ready.”
“I was never really thinking of doing that when I started doing all of this,” Long said of losing an additional 40 lbs, to the 28 he had already dropped, but he agreed nevertheless.
Einwechter later joked that he never specified how quickly he’d purchase these trucks from Long, saying it could be one truck per year for the next 40 years, or perhaps he was simply referring to toy trucks.
Long lost four to five pounds during the month of November, but couldn’t manage to continue losing weight during the holidays in December.
After New Year’s, Long said he had only lost about seven pounds, and he needed to shed another 33 in the next couple of months if he was to win the challenge.
Eating meal replacements for breakfast and lunch, working out hard for around five hours a day, utilizing FireFit challenge trainers and boxing with his son, Long was getting closer to his goal, but still had a ways to go.
“Dan called me one day and asked me how I was doing,” Long explained. “I said I was getting close and had about 20 pounds to go, and he said, ‘You’re never going to do it,’ and he sent me $100 worth of food that day.”
Einwechter had bought Long two pizzas, a Boston Brute sandwich with fries and two desserts from Boston Pizza days before his deadline to lose weight and sent the food to Long’s office.
Then there was a business trip to California’s Napa Valley, where Long put on a couple of pounds, setting him back. He had three weeks left in the challenge, he weighed 222 pounds and needed to get to 210.
“I had to really work at it the last two weeks,” said Long. “I was in a sauna every day, I was working out four to five hours a day, wearing a garbage bag…just doing everything I could.”
In five days, Long lost 11 pounds.
Two days before the deadline, Long weighed 211.4 pounds and managed to drop down to 210, 24 hours prior to his goal, winning the challenge, but more importantly, changing his lifestyle.
“As you get older, with the lifestyle we live and what we do, you have to do something…it catches up with you pretty quick,” Long said. “I’ve been in this industry my whole life. I’ve grown up where you eat breakfast, lunch and dinner out and you’re always eating with somebody. You eat dinner late at night; it’s a very sociable industry. That adds to putting the weight on.”
Eighteen years ago, Einwechter also realized the benefits of exercise and being able to better handle stress.
“It’s good for anybody,” he said. “If you’re exercising it means you’re not sitting in a bar or eating something you shouldn’t be.”
Einwechter said he encourages an active lifestyle with his employees through initiatives like Fitbit challenges.
“It’s not just truck drivers, it’s really part of our whole industry,” Long added. “It’s hard to go out with someone and say, ‘You want to do a truck deal?’ and eat a salad.”
Einwechter said that for drivers it can be more difficult to stay active, but there’s always time to do something to get the blood pumping.
“It’s all what we make of it,” he said, adding that drivers can walk around their truck, take a hike, a bike ride or go for a walk. “Ninety-seven per cent of the time, people have the time to do it.”
Long said that losing the weight was difficult, as he is not shy to admit that he is a food junkie, who enjoys eating good food and being sociable.
“Socializing even became harder,” Long said, with people constantly calling him wanting to go out for food and drinks when he was trying to lose weight.
But Long has kept active and has enjoyed maintaining good health.
“I’m still going to the gym,” he said, “and I’ve always wanted to box, I want to stay with the boxing.”
Since losing the weight, Long said he has gone from being a size XXXL to an XL.
“So it’s cost me a whole new wardrobe,” he joked.
Long is also surprised by how much attention he has received since taking on the challenge.
He said he believes Einwechter will live up to his end of the bargain, but he certainly isn’t worried about it, as the challenge was more about him implementing a change in what was an unhealthy daily routine.
“It certainly took over my life for the last two months.”
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