BRAMPTON, Ont. - So this year, your New Year's resolutions consisted of getting into shape and shedding a couple of pounds?Still waiting for Santa to drop off a miracle cure? Well, considering it's no...
BRAMPTON, Ont. – So this year, your New Year’s resolutions consisted of getting into shape and shedding a couple of pounds?
Still waiting for Santa to drop off a miracle cure? Well, considering it’s now February – which happens to be National Heart and Stroke Month – it might be time to take matters into your own hands. Put on that thinking cap and get serious about what you can do to make yourself feel better and maybe even live longer.
As a driver, keeping a regular fitness schedule isn’t always the easiest thing to do. It takes a lot of drive and creativity to be able to come up with an exercise regime that will accommodate your irregular schedule.
Kevin Bimm, a nine-year professional driving veteran, says getting into shape isn’t as hard as most believe it to be. It is just a matter of making the right choices and using your time wisely.
Although fad diets and starvation seem to be among the most popular options for those trying to shape up, these are usually very far removed from any semblance of a healthy lifestyle according to Bimm. His answers sound simple; exercise and eating healthy foods are equal parts in a recipe for success.
Bimm, an avid runner, says taking the time to exercise while on the road not only keeps him in top shape, it really breaks up his day.
“It’s a nice mental and physical break. You do your workout, shower, eat and you are just as far ahead as you would have been if you drove the whole way and arrived two hours early,” he says.
Actually, being a driver can give a person the opportunity to run, walk, bike and rollerblade through a wide variety of terrain. Bimm had one of the best runs of his life last March when he took off for little more than an hour in Nogales, Ariz.
“There was spectacular scenery, mountains, cactus, the bright blue sky. When I got back to the truck I felt like a millions bucks,” he says.
Parking your rig to take the time to do such a thing isn’t that complicated. Most truck stops along the highways have smaller concession style roads at the back of their properties, making for a great getaway from your typical scenery.
A common mistake among the majority of drivers who try to get in shape but fail miserably is the belief that one has to work out three to four times a week for at least 30 minutes. “Do what you feel good doing,” states Bimm.
Jason Wiebe, a personal fitness trainer with Fitness Connection in Don Mills, Ont., says suffering the effects of bad choices (not exercising, eating poorly) can open a person up to common, yet often deadly conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.
“There really are things that can be done and simple solutions that can motivate you to change your malicious ways,” says Wiebe. “You can make small consistent choices that will radically change your driving experience, and even better yet, your life.”
Wiebe suggests finding someone to hold you accountable.
“Get someone to ask you how things are going on the road … We all perform better when we know someone is going to ask us if we’ve stuck to our word,” he says.
If running isn’t your bag, there are loads of other activities that can contribute to your well-being you might find more enjoyable. The professional trainer suggests truckers should revisit their teen years when they either wanted to bulk up or slim down with the old-fashioned push-ups, dips, crunches and squats.
“The best time to do this is before you start your long day, when you’re fresh and ready to go. These exercises are great and useful to anyone at any level,” says Wiebe.
When it comes to exercise, each driver has various occasions where maintaining a regimen is possible. Getting up early will help avoid cutting into work time. Or, if you arrive at the shipper’s door and they can’t unload you for two hours, exercise instead of watching television.
Bimm insists if a driver really wants to do it, they can find the time throughout the day.
“If drivers paid as much attention to themselves as they do to their trucks, health would not be a problem,” he says. “If you choose to live healthy, your quality of life will be better.”
When beginning an exercise schedule the best advice Bimm has to offer is “start small.”
“If you are totally inactive, start walking five minutes a day. The second week, bring it up to 10 minutes a day and so on. By the end of the month you should be able to walk (at a steady pace) for at least 30 minutes. The same goes for running.”
This is also true when changing your eating habits.
“Start with a bag of fruit and go from there,” says Bimm. “If you do fall off the wagon, just start over and don’t expect results overnight. It took you longer than overnight to fall out of shape.”
Although exercise is only part of the solution, this combined with proper eating habits makes the goal of living a healthier life more attainable.
Food for thought
“I don’t believe in skipping meals,” says Bimm who mows down on a wide variety of fruit until the noon hour. “I’m not tempted by bacon and eggs. I’ll eat bananas, oranges, apples, and grapefruit. It keeps me hydrated, I get all my fiber, as well as vitamins A and C,” he says. Another contributing factor to his ability to stay off junk food is his fluid intake.
“I drink a lot of water, it also keeps me hydrated and less fatigued all the while keeping me full so I eat less junk,” adds Bimm.
A key to eating this way is being prepared. Going the fruit route may mean you’ll have to buy groceries on the road, but there are plenty of spots to do this on the highways that are easily accessible – even for a big rig, he insists. And not to worry, apples and oranges will keep for quite some time.
Dollars and sense
Eating beige meals in a truck stop got you down? Has the hot hamburger sandwich with fries become the backbone of your on-road diet?
It doesn’t have to be.
Some truck stops have come up with the idea of having salad bar buffets, giving those who want something on the lighter side, a wide variety to choose from.
“Some places you can get all you can eat salad and soup for approximately $6. With two plates of salad and a bowl of soup, you are just as full as eating a steak,” ensures Bimm. When getting hungry again in the afternoon, rather then munching on potato chips, candy or chocolate, why not reach for something that will treat you right in the end? Bimm suggests reaching for things such as raisins, whole-wheat buns, baby carrots, more fruit or even his favorite, a peeled potato with a little salt (a fine German tradition).
“I think a lot of eating on the road is psychological because you are bored,” he says.
For supper, drivers may want to consider keeping some potatoes in their truck to have the option of baked rather than fried or mashed.
“Most places have microwaves,” says Bimm. He advises any driver who has to travel Hwy. 11 to be prepared, because there is not much to offer in the way of food, let alone healthy food.
“If you have a fridge in your truck you can bring spaghetti sauce, stir fry, cooked chicken, vegetables, or rice. All of these keep for at least a couple of days,” he adds.
These alternatives are better than eating the typical hamburger and fries, which always seem too readily available. Bimm stresses the cost of healthy living is not an argument against shaping up.
“You may have to buy groceries, but fruit only cost $3 (for a bundle). You can’t buy a coffee, eggs and toast for $3,” says Bimm.
A proverbial pilot car
When trying to choose a healthy diet, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Follow the suggestions laid out in Canada’s Food Guide (available online at www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hppb/nutrition/pube/foodguid/).
“It’s buyer beware, if you have to eat on the run, try to minimize the damage,” suggests Bimm. Most food products now come complete with nutritional guides on the packages. Look it over and be conscious of what you dump in your tank.