The formula for staying healthy on the road is a simple one. Eat less and exercise more. I was reminded of this when I crossed paths with Glen – a driver I had worked with at J&R Hall in the past – at the Pass Lake Flying J. He’d lost a bunch of weight and was looking fit and happy.
He was now running lanes mostly to Virginia and South Carolina, which gave him the time to walk for an hour each morning and evening.
Glen told me he still ate basically the same food he always had, just less of it.
Glen had found a formula that worked for him on the road with a carrier that afforded him the time to care for himself.
With another year dawning, many of us will be turning our thoughts to weight loss and kicking the nicotine habit.
Our intentions are good, we know the change will benefit us, but being tethered to a seat for an average of 12 hours a day simply works against us.
The chips, twizzlers, cookies and cigarettes are a way to pass the time. The tight schedules, limited sleep time, and mental fatigue at the end of the day feed our inability to get out and move.
It’s even more difficult for teams that simply never stop moving.
Despite all of that working against us, many of us who drive for a living still find a way to break those habits that drag us down and form new ones that are beneficial – but it takes discipline and tenacity.
Sometimes you need a little push, a little encouragement, a little pat on the back, to keep you on track.
This is where a carrier can play a leading role. Step challenges and weight loss challenges have become a staple with a number of carriers of late. We had our first weight loss challenge at J&R Hall take place from Sept. 1 to Dec. 15.
At the time of this writing the final results weren’t in, but I’m down 25 lbs with just a couple of weeks left in the challenge.
Having that weigh-in commitment each month was the piece of the puzzle I needed to break my procrastination.
Health professionals tell us one of the best ways to develop healthy life choices is to do it in the company of others in order to find that added encouragement and motivation. For the lone wolf driver, these challenges help provide that connection.
There is no doubt that for carriers and their employees and owner-operators, these challenges are a win-win in so many ways.
So, having nearly completed my first challenge, I have some feedback for employers.
First, I suggest you create categories for drivers and for inside employees when comparing results and providing rewards for total steps or weight loss percentage over the course of the challenge.
Why? Because drivers do not have the option of moving from a seated position for most of their day. Reaching a 10,000-step daily milestone is a huge achievement for an over-the-road driver.
Employees in non-driving positions can hit 20,000-plus steps in a day. With greater activity comes greater weight loss, so when involved in weight loss challenges drivers will, on average, lose weight at a slower rate than inside staff.
So keeping driver and non-driver results separate allows everyone to compare apples to apples.
Second, I suggest you set up a private Facebook group, Google group, or e-mail group for participants in each challenge.
It should be loosely structured and allow participants to share their experiences rather than just results. It’s great to find out where other drivers stop to walk or exercise, how they changed their eating habits and so on.
Connecting to others across the whole company who face the same hurdles as you do is what builds camaraderie and open communication. That is a winning formula for all.
Al Goodhall has been a professional long-haul driver since 1998. He shares his experiences via his ‘Over the Road’ blog at http://truckingacrosscanada.blogspot.com. You can also follow him on Twitter at @Al_Goodhall.