You Can Make Simple Choices To Lower Your Weight

by Karen Bowen

Last month, we considered why it’s better for our body frames not to be carrying around an oversized load. Now, let’s explore some necessary components of a lifestyle that will keep our load within healthy spec’s.

The formula: ‘Move around more + Eat less = Weight loss’ seems so simple. Why do so many of us struggle with it? As a trucker, this is a huge challenge as you spend so many hours sitting behind the wheel. It’s up to you to look for opportunities to become more active, every day.

We all know that eating less makes us lose weight. We’ve done that and gotten slimmer (over and over). We also know that being more active uses up more calories, helping us lose weight. We’ve done that, too (temporarily). However, it’s been proven over and over, that eating fewer calories combined with increasing physical activity is the only way to lose weight and keep it off.

Being active does more than make us look better. It also reduces: high blood pressure; arthritis pain and disability; symptoms of depression and anxiety; as well as the risk for: Type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, some cancers, osteoporosis and related falls.

Going forward, to maintain your weight, slowly increase your activity amount until each week you are spending 2.5 hours in a moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or 1.25 in a vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (or an equal mix of the two). This has been proven as the best way to maintain weight levels over time. Since every person is different, find the amount of exercise that works for you.

What is a moderate-intensity aerobic activity? If you’re breathing faster and your heart rate is faster but you can still carry on a conversation, you’re at the moderate level. Some activities in this category are: walking quickly (15 minutes/ mile), doing light yard work (raking/bagging leaves, pushing the lawn mower), light snow shoveling, playing with kids (with enthusiasm), and biking recreationally.

What about vigorous-intensity aerobic activity? At this level, your breathing and heart rate are really fast and you can’t converse. Some activities in this category are: jogging/running, swimming laps, rollerblading/inline skating quickly, cross-country skiing, most competitive sports (tennis, football, basketball, soccer) and jumping rope.

Of course, your level of participation in any of these activities will affect the actual intensity levels. So, to lose weight and keep it off, adjust your diet and exercise. Drop some calories and add some activities.

Drop calories by choosing different foods, or changing how they are prepared. Instead of thinking about what you can’t have, concentrate on what you can.

Enjoy lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Choose foods that are low in saturated fats, trans-fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars. Remember to stay within your daily caloric needs.

Broaden your palate by adding variety to your fruit choices. Along with traditional fresh apples and bananas, why not try mango, kiwi or star-fruit? Pick different vegetables, too! Eat them raw, or after they’re steamed or gently boiled, spice them up with herbs (parsley, rosemary, thyme, etc.) instead of cream or butter sauces -the simpler, the better!

Start your meal with a large, high-fiber appetizer. These slight changes can really reduce your calories but still keep your nutrition level high.

What about those foods you love and can’t live without? Can you still eat them? Yes. But, eat them less often. Or, eat a smaller portion. Or, try a lower-calorie version. Go light. Substitute reduced-fat ingredients for the usual ones. Bake, roast or broil, don’t fry your favourite meats. Instead of a cream soup, have a broth-based one.

Now, you’ve got the information, it’s time to get moving.

Tomorrow, when you’re ready to drop your first load but there’s a half-hour line-up at the dock, you could: 1. Catch a few winks in your cab; 2. Head out for a coffee or doughnut; or 3. Take a quick walk around the block. It’s your choice.

You see a lot of snow piled around your drop-off area. You could: 1. Grumble about the situation; 2. Take out your shovel and improve your health (and attitude).

You’re at the motel at the end of a long day, you could: 1. Grab a bite to eat in front of the TV; 2. Take a shower and crash. 3; Use the pool or gym (if available); or 4. Do some stretches and exercises before you settle in.

You’re parked at a truck stop and getting ready to call it a night, you could: 1. Grab a quick shower and crawl into your bunk; 2. Take out your skipping rope and spend a few minutes getting your heart pumping before you shower.

Finally, it’s your health, your choice.

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

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