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Watch your GBW – Gross Body Weight

Why don't you carry a dump truck's load in a pick-up truck? Too much weight - resulting in blown tires, a ruined suspension, a bent frame or worse.Yet we expect our human chassis to handle this kind o...

Karen Bowen
Karen Bowen

Why don’t you carry a dump truck’s load in a pick-up truck? Too much weight – resulting in blown tires, a ruined suspension, a bent frame or worse.

Yet we expect our human chassis to handle this kind of abuse on a constant basis.

In North America, excess weight is second only to tobacco in causing preventable illness and premature death.

Exactly what happens to you when you’re loaded down with that spare tire? Some health risks related to obesity are diabetes, high blood pressure, hernias, varicose veins, gout, gall bladder problems, cancer, breathing difficulties, flat feet and joint and ligament disorders (especially knee and hip problems) just to name a few.

Consider the wear and tear on your hips, knees and feet when you repeatedly jump out of your truck, every day, year after year. Even at a reasonable weight, you may encounter some negative effects, but compound that with an oversized load … I’m sure you get the picture.

First we should discuss some ill-advised, yet commonly used, strategies for fighting this battle of bulge.

As someone who grew up with the nickname ‘Minnesota Fats,’ I know all about being heavy and how difficult it is to overcome this problem.

If you’re like me and you’ve tried fasting or fad diets – you are going to find it difficult to lose those extra pounds. In reality, each time you lost weight quickly, you lost a large portion of muscle tissue (as well as water), but very little fat. This negatively affected the ratio between your fat and lean body tissue. As well, since your body requires protein for growth and tissue repair, when you weren’t eating enough protein, you cannibalized your own stores of protein. In effect-you were eating your muscle without knowing it; practically digesting your heart, brain and other internal organs and large muscle masses.

We’ve all heard muscle burns more calories than fat. Well, by using up your muscle through unhealthy diets, you increased your fat ratio. This will make future weight loss that much more difficult.

Notice I say difficult – not impossible.

Some trucks of the same make and model get better fuel mileage. Even though all the specs appear the same, they just require less fuel to get the job done. You may also be a fuel-efficient model.

With a truck, fuel efficiency is very desirable. However, since humans enjoy our fuel (food) so much, we aren’t thrilled to get by on half the meal that the skinny person in the next booth is eating. But don’t despair, you just need to make a few changes – and make them for the long haul.

Everybody’s metabolism is different and constantly in flux. It won’t even be the same as last year since both dieting and aging slow your metabolism down, but there are ways to speed it up.

One is through gaining muscle mass by exercise.

“Sure,” you say, “in all my spare time I’ll work out, too.”

Certainly aerobic exercise is great – running, swimming, etc. – because it burns off calories while you’re at it. While this is effective, your work schedule may not make it practical.

Simply increasing muscle mass will also result in weight loss and an increase in metabolic rate. When you’re waiting to get unloaded, use a small bell weight and do some curls in your cab; pick up a spring handgrip to work your lower arms; flex your feet and strengthen your legs.

Do it every load, every day, all year long. Each repetition will increase muscle mass and work to speed your metabolism.

Another way to increase your metabolism is by using nutritional supplements. There are safe, natural thermogenic products available to assist your body in boosting your metabolism to an appropriate level. The company I represent has a number of effective products. One I often recommend recently helped a truck driver lose more than 120 pounds over the course of 10 months. He had to take nine links out of his watchband, but I haven’t heard him complaining!

I know of many people who have had great results from these products, myself included.

As well, watch your calories. What you don’t put in, you don’t have to burn. Eat a balanced diet and pay attention to the types of foods you’re eating. Decrease the fats and increase the fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Remember, you do need to eat protein, just stay away from fatty meats.

For the most effective way to improve your metabolism – think about combining all three: healthy eating, increased activity and a thermogenic supplement.

Just like your truck’s suspension – your bones and ligaments are made to carry a certain load.

You may get away with being a few pounds over the legal limit for years.

But when it finally catches up with you, your extra weight will cost you more than just a fine from the enforcement officers – the price may be your life. n

– Karen Bowen is a professional health and nutrition consultant and she can be reached by e-mail at

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