Staying in good shape while being over-the-road truck driver may prove quite challenging for the majority of drivers. Especially being on the road for weeks at times. Modern culture offers endless temptations lurking right behind the corner in the form of the next “drive-thru”. Sodas, burgers, candies and what not. That does not, however, mean that your fate is sealed and you cannot stay fit. With a little bit of motivation backed up by self-discipline, you can actually enjoy good health. There are a couple of things to consider if you really want to get yourself fired up.
The first and probably foremost pillar is the physical activity. While it would be quite difficult to stretch and properly exercise while driving, there are times when let’s be honest, you have enough time for a bit of a work-out. At the rest stops, while your truck is getting loaded or when you sit around waiting for the pick-up spot. It does not necessarily mean that you have to carry a weight bar with you. Even stretching done properly on a regular basis will largely keep you fit. Here are some ideas to get you going:
- Consider buying a folding bike and explore the area around you.
- Create a repeatable work-out routine consisting of push-ups, crouches, and sit-ups. Use YouTube to find some good routines.
- Get yourself running shoes, a pedometer and hit the road jogging.
- Use weights. Word of caution here. Make sure using weights does not distract you from driving and weights don’t randomly roll under your feet.
If you are really motivated, being on the road cannot be an excuse anymore. As any fitness guru would say, physical activities go hand in hand with a proper nutrition. Try to avoid processed food especially white flour and sugar, sometimes referred to as “white death”. That is practically the majority of snacks available at a typical rest stop. Deep-fried foods such as fries or chicken nuggets qualify to this group just as well. Even though they may taste better than the high-quality, non-processed food, your health will deteriorate in the long run. They give you a quick energy spike but as soon as it ends, you feel sluggish. That, in turn, makes you want to grab another coffee (likely with sugar) or even worse, sugary energy drink. Welcome to never-ending vicious circle.
Stick to whole wheat bread, oats, eggs (free range or even organic whenever possible), fruits and vegetables instead. They are digested slower which will maintain your energy level high for a longer period of time. They also do not cause insulin spikes and decrease the risk of developing diabetes. Think of how it can improve the quality and enjoyment of your work! Other than that, use the following tips to create good habits and remove the space for eating junk food:
- Eat smaller portions. Maybe you didn’t know that it takes roughly 20 minutes for your brain to “process” the fact that you ate. That means even if you eat less but wait a bit, you will feel satiated despite the smaller portion.
- Don’t skip breakfast. It’s the most important meal and it gives you the energy to kickstart the day.
- Snack healthy. Instead of salty snacks, candy bars or chips, prepare for yourself portions of cut fruits and vegetables.
- Buy a portable grill and make an on-the-road barbecue
- Use stuff you can take from home that does not decompose quick but is healthier than rest-stop "cuisine"
- Consider trying different intermittent fasting regimens. Endless benefits such as detoxification or boosting growth hormone have been scientifically proven on multiple occasions.
Last but not least, sleep well. As simple as it sounds, being underslept will not only successfully discourage you from the physical effort but will also weaken your willpower. And when your guard is down, it’s way easier to grab a chocolate bar or a fast-food. Do not also forget that the quality of your mattress and a pillow can vastly impact the quality of your sleep. Don’t save money on your health. It will cost you more in the future than you saved now.
Keeping your body fit being an OTR driver is essential not only for the physical health but also for keeping the spirit vibrant. We are social creatures and the way we feel has an impact on other people. After all, no one wants to be around someone who’s complaining about different conditions while sipping on coke with an over-sized belly. As someone wise said, “you attract what you are, not what you want.”