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Fitness on the Road

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My husband and I are truck drivers, and we work throughout the lower 48 states. We work as a team, so we usually don't stop except to get fuel or to load or unload. We try to watch what we eat, but sometimes it's so hard. We just don't have the time to eat right. I've gained 25 pounds in the past two years. I tried bringing hand weights on the truck with us, but space and time are so limited. We try to cook our own meals and eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats, but what else can I do? I lost control of my high blood pressure because of the inactivity and weight gain. I would like to regain my health and be able to work with my husband. Any ideas?

— Melinda, New Mexico

Thanks so much for your question — having worked pumping fuel and changing truck tires at a highway service station throughout much of my youth, I have heard and seen firsthand some of the barriers you are talking about. Trucking is a tough business and one that makes a healthy lifestyle difficult. However, I think there are some things that are universal to all jobs in the way they interfere with our health goals. I will list a few below with some suggestions on how they might apply to your situation in particular and invite people in other careers to think of how these apply to their situations.

Prioritizing:In order to fit in healthy eating and activity, they must become a true priority. What do I mean by this? It's easy to say that your health is a priority and make plans to keep it first on your "to do" list — what's not so easy is to follow this resolution with action. A true priority happens no matter what. So, for example, with exercise, you could commit to taking a ten-minute brisk walk every time you get out of the truck until you reach a total of 30 to 60 minutes each day. I realize that time is money in trucking, but if you look at how you spend your "stopped time," you may be choosing to use these break periods for non-essential things. Prioritizing your health will give you a longer life and a better chance to enjoy what you work so hard to buy.

Planning:Whether you travel for meetings or travel for a living, planning is always essential. I know truckers have their favorite spots. I also recall that the places weren't chosen for their ambience — the food was the key (at least it was where I worked). It still should be the key decision in where you stop. Pick places that offer better choices, healthier options, and smaller portions.

Support:Of course, it always helps to have supportive people around to help you stay on track and remind you of why you are doing this. You have each other, of course, and you may also run into other truckers who have similar goals. I bet if you start looking, you might see some folks out there on the road who stay fit and healthy. Network with them, share ideas, and build a network of like-minded people — positive energy creates more positive energy.

Video: Fitness by Marshmello: Working out on the road

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