The importance of having a support network

by Al Goodhall

So you found that deep desire to make a lifestyle change, then you took it one step further and put a plan together to tackle that change. Doing this filled you with energy and motivation for the first month but you’re discovering that implementing that plan each day is not so easy.

When you woke up this morning, your first thought was of how little time was available to get to your first drop or pick. The morning walk you planned is going to have to wait. You were going to follow up that walk with cereal and fresh fruit in the truck. No time for that either.

A reheated breakfast sandwich from the truck stop along with a coffee on the fly is how you start your day. That’s a bit of a step back for you.

After looking after your morning business you’ll take a two-hour break and have that walk along with a healthy lunch. But you’re delayed at the shipper and dispatch just sent you a message, your pick-up appointment has been moved forward this afternoon. On top of that it’s starting to rain. You’re not going for a walk in the rain, even if you did have the time.

Now you’re hungry, frustrated, and short on time, so for lunch you opt for the meal deal at the restaurant across the street from where you are parked. You can go for that walk when the day is over and you’ll keep dinner to the soup and salad that you have in the truck. That will make up for the breakfast and lunch plans that didn’t pan out as you planned. At least you hope that’s the way the rest of the day will go.

Does this sound familiar? Despite all your best intentions and desire to do a better job of caring for yourself, trucking will always throw roadblocks in your way.

You can’t be blamed for throwing up your hands on days like this and telling yourself it’s simply not doable, but it is, believe me. These are the times you need a network of support to help you along.

Support can come in many different forms. One of the best things you can do to support yourself and stay motivated in the short term is to measure your progress.

Recording your weight and calculating your BMI (Body Mass Index) once or twice per month is one of the simplest ways to track progress. Recording your RHR (Resting Heart Rate) once per month is a great way to track improvements to your cardiac health from those walks you’re taking. Simple things you can record on a calendar and look at each day to remind yourself of the benefits to the effort you’re putting forth and to keep you motivated.

One of the greatest supports can come in the form of your smartphone or laptop. I’ve mentioned a number of times the importance of counting calories and a smartphone application makes this quick and simple to do.

Not only do these apps track your calories in and out, and the composition of your food, (fats, protein, carbs, etc.) most of them also have a social media aspect to them. You can share information on your progress with people of your choosing. This is a fantastic way to find support. It adds a challenge in the way of a little competition with friends and gives you some people to share with when you are facing difficulties in sticking to your program.

What about the carrier you work for? Do they support a healthy lifestyle for their drivers? They should, because besides being the right thing to do for their employees it also is very beneficial to their bottom line.

Do they have an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) you can make use of to meet your weight-loss goals, to help you quit smoking, or to help you deal with the daily stresses you face?

What about your family? Have you included the people closest to you in your plans? Again, this is an area where social media can play a strong role for truck drivers and their families.

I use Facebook as a means to stay in regular daily contact with my immediate family. It’s one of the great advantages we have over drivers of the past.

Networks of support are almost endless. The Canadian Cancer Society, Heart & Stroke Foundation, your local YMCA or health club, as well as all levels of government, just to name a few, have vast resources of information and personnel available to you.

It’s no easy feat to spend your life on the road and care for yourself at the same time.

Taking that time is difficult to do; I speak from experience. Yet every time I take my wife into my arms and look into her eyes I am reminded of the benefits the future holds for me by caring for myself today. There’s no bigger reward than that.

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  • Great article Al! All too often we only start to take care of ourselves when it’s too late. By not taking the time today to be well, you will need to make time in the future for illness.