After I set my brakes I decided to leave my air conditioner on as I got out of my truck. I was picking up at a regular customer of ours in Reno, Nevada. It was a typical summer day, the temperature was 96 degrees with a dry, warm breeze. A few drivers who work for the same company that I do were also waiting for their loads.
After checking in I noticed someone walking towards me. I climbed back into my truck to catch up on some paperwork while I was waiting for a door to get loaded on. The person walking towards me knocked on my door.
“Hey, how are you doing?” he said in a very friendly manner.
“Good, how are you?” I quickly replied as I was more focused on my paperwork than the conversation.
“I've been here for a couple of hours and I should be the next one on the door.”
“Yeah, they told me I will be waiting for a couple of hours,” I replied as my eyes were still on my paperwork.
“How's your wife?” My wife has been sick for a couple of years and apparently I shared that with him at one point in time.
“Good, she is doing much better,” I replied back as he was starting to get my attention.
“That is great to hear, Valley Fever sounds like a horrible illness.” Obviously this man knows me, but I still couldn’t remember who he was.
Humbly I said, “I'm sorry I don't recognize you and you seem to know me.”
He chuckled and said, “We met a little over a year ago and the reason you don't recognize me is because I've lost 60 pounds!”
“Wow,” I respond in disbelief, “I forgot your name, my name is Bruce.”
“How did you lose 60 pounds?”
“When I went in for my DOT physical the doctor said I have type 2 diabetes and he can only give me a temporary clearance to drive,” Jerry responded. He went on to tell me how he was at risk of losing his license. Jerry said with an upbeat tone, “I don't eat at any fast food restaurants anymore. Before I would never eat fruits and vegetables and now they are such a big part of my diet. But the biggest thing for me now is I’m on a walking program.” He went into further detail, saying, “When I first started walking I could only walk a mile and my knees, ankles, back and hips would all hurt, but now I walk six to ten miles a day with no pain. Walking is now my number one priority every day.” With a huge smile on his face Jerry concluded, “Two months ago the doctor said I no longer had type 2 diabetes!”
It took a while, but I eventually realized who Jerry was and he was nothing like the old Jerry I remembered. He used to be one of those guys you really didn't want to be around or talk to because he was so pessimistic. Now Jerry had a great outlook on life and he was full of positive energy.
Jerry and I were reacquainted about a year ago today on that hot summer day. Even though it was 96 degrees outside that day Jerry told me he walked six miles. Jerry has no excuses, walking is now his top priority. No matter what obstacles he may face on a daily basis nothing will stop him from reaching his fitness goals.
Jerry inspired me to walk during my time off. As a driver I seem to be either very busy or not busy at all. When I walk it is usually three miles and it takes me around 45 to 50 minutes. On days I have more time on my hands I will typically walk two times a day, for a total of six miles. On very hot days I'll try to walk in the morning or at night when it cools down.
Due to the nature of our job we all live a very sedentary lifestyle. In addition to that we do not have access to the most nutritious foods on the road. The Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration chief Anne Ferro both cited CDC data in 2012 when they said that a commercial driver’s life expectancy is 16 years shorter than the national average. That means the average driver dies at the age of 61.
We all have a 10-hour break every day. Even if we sleep eight hours, take a shower and have a meal during our 10-hour break we should still have time to exercise. Jerry proves that setting aside time every day to do something as simple as walking can not only help us physically, but mentally. A change in our physical and mental well-being could help us each become stronger as we face these real health challenges as drivers.
Bruce Beckel is a founder of ProDriver Placement, an organization that has found a way to find the needs of drivers through engagement and relationship building. This allows ProDriver Placement to match each unique driver with a like-minded trucking company. ProDriver Placement has found that core values like safety and dependability bring drivers and trucking companies together.>
To learn more, contact Bruce at email@example.com.