Eating healthy and exercising while you are on the road is never an easy task. There are plenty of unhealthy options staring you in the face at every truck stop: Fast food, candy bars and of course, beef jerky. To avoid these pitfalls, it is best to be prepared and follow a simple health regimen that you can stick by. Rome wasn’t built in a day so you shouldn’t expect to have to completely change your whole lifestyle right out of the gate. But as you’ll see, many of the bad choices you make can easily be replaced by good ones. Let’s start with some good eating habits:
- Make sure to eat breakfast each and every day. It is the best kick-start you can give to your metabolism and actually helps burn calories as long as you don’t scarf down a triple-decker fried waffle sandwich. Stick with egg-whites, whole grains, fruits and granola. This also means don’t eat a lot of food before you know you will be going to sleep. Eating right before bed is just about the worst thing you can do as your body is not actively working to metabolize the food and it will sit and get turned into fat, or worse, heartburn.
- Snacking is actually a good way to stay healthy, provided you are snacking on the right foods. Keep some almonds or cashews within arms reach and wash them down with some water when you start to get hungry. Nuts are high in mono-saturated fats and oelic acid which are both great for cardiovascular health. Dried fruits and granola bars (not the ones with tons of chocolate in them, sorry) also make good snacks in a pinch when you need something sweeter. If you must have beef jerky, stick with a turkey option. It still isn’t the best thing for you but its an improvement over beef.
- Counting calories isn’t for everyone and if you are as busy as most truckers you don’t have time. One thing you can do though is read the label of what you are about to eat. Many food packages deceptive label their calories by very small portions so keep this in mind. It is unrealistic to cut all fast and junk food out of your life so if you are going to partake, be aware of what you are putting into your body. With fast food, try to choose items that aren’t deep fried, like grilled chicken sandwiches or veggie replacements like portobello burgers.
The next big step to improving your overall health is finding time to exercise and stretch out. Here are some quick tips:
- When you get a chance, stretch! There will always be time at rest stops, loading docks and when you are on-call waiting for a pickup location to stretch out your muscles. The most important groups to work out are the hamstrings and you lower back. Both of these groups suffer the most from life on the road. An easy stretch for your hamstrings is to simply lean forward and try to grab your toes. To stretch your lower back there are a couple of techniques. One, is to sit up straight in a chair and put one of your ankles on the opposite knee. Then, press down gently on the leg that is lifted and lean forward a bit. This will stretch your hip flexor and lower back. The other, is to lay on your back and bring your knees towards your chest and gently pull on them.
- Maximize time at hotels. Sometimes you just need to spend a day outside your truck at a hotel or your work provides you with an opportunity to stay at one. Many hotels have pools and exercise rooms so don’t neglect these when you have some time to use them. Exercise in the pool is a great way to clear your head and stay healthy.
Some final tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle on the road include keeping good sleep hygiene, good oral hygiene and seeing a physician at least once a year for a physical. If you can incorporate at least a majority of these tips into your life you will see results. Health and well-being aren’t something to take lightly. They affect just about every interaction you have on a daily basis. The better you feel, the more positive you come across to others and, in turn, the better your are treated. Best of luck and keep on trucking!