Always Busy? Trucker Glenn Shares Tips for Staying Healthy on the Go
Between ever-changing work shifts, family duties, managing a household, and other daily responsibilities, it can be hard to keep track of your schedule – let alone keep up with a healthy lifestyle. When you’re so busy that you never quite know where you’ll be and when, your time, environment, and food options are often out of your control. It may feel impossible to do the things you need to stay healthy. But no matter how busy you get, you can have a healthy lifestyle – even on the go!
Just ask Glenn Keller. Glenn is a cross-country trucker, which means he’s on the road and away from home for days or weeks at a time, and his schedule and location are constantly changing.
When Glenn started out 30 years ago, there weren’t any healthy food choices at the truck stops along the way.
“There was no healthy option if you didn’t bring it with you,” he says.
On top of that, long shifts sitting in the cab of his truck made getting enough physical activity a challenge. He knew he needed to make some changes for his health, and when his doctor diagnosed him with prediabetes – which is when your blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet for type 2 diabetes – he was ready to get started.
Unfortunately, because Glenn’s job kept him on the road, he faced unique challenges such as being away from home for long periods of time. Others may have felt discouraged in Glenn’s situation, but Glenn didn’t let anything get in the way of his new goals for better health. When a colleague from the Healthy Trucking Association of America recommended he join a lifestyle change program from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP), Glenn signed right up. The program was virtual and took place through an app on his phone, which allowed him to participate from the road.
The program helped Glenn learn the importance of healthy eating, physical activity, and managing stress. He used the skills and support he gained from his lifestyle coach and fellow program participants to find creative ways to work his goals into his lifestyle as a “truck guy.”
So what are Glenn’s tips for staying healthy on the go? Take a look – and if you have a busy schedule like Glenn, give them a try!
Got 10 minutes? Do some squats! It takes Glenn 10-15 minutes to fill up his truck at the gas pump, so he uses that time to squeeze in some physical activity. At first, Glenn could only do a few standing squats. But he kept at it and now he can do 30! Think about the times in your day when you can fit in some quick and simple activities between other tasks – and Glenn says not to worry if others are watching. “At first it’s like, is everybody looking at me?” says Glenn, but it didn’t take long for him to replace his worry with pride as he continued to improve!
Use your break to get up and move. Glenn has a required 30-minute break every 8 hours. Instead of spending that time sitting in his truck, Glenn now uses it as a chance to get up and get moving! He sets a timer and will take a 30-minute walk or will use an app on his phone to get some movement into his day. “I have all the physical activity apps on my phone!” he says. Many of us have breaks during our workday, and that’s a great time to get up and move.
Grab a fruit cup – or another healthy snack – when and where you can find it. Recently, Glenn noticed at least one truck stop has started selling fresh cups of fruit – and he makes sure to take advantage. “I’m able to get some fruit instead of a hamburger,” he says. While healthy options may not always be available, make sure to take advantage when and where you can to grab a fruit cup or other healthy snack! Or better yet, bring healthy snacks with you so you always have them as an option.
Hold yourself accountable. Like all of us, Glenn has days when he might not make the healthiest choices. He’ll be the first to admit that “every day isn’t a fruit day!” Through the lifestyle change program, he was able to keep himself accountable by being honest with his coach – and himself – by reporting his meals. And it helped him stay on track! He even learned ways to stay accountable after the program ended, by having a family member or friend be his accountability partner. “Sometimes you just want something unhealthy,” says Glenn, “But even then, I might not eat as much as I normally would have because I knew I had to report it.” The great thing about the lifestyle change program is it holds you accountable to your coach and to yourself. It can also give you the chance to re-evaluate your goals and make adjustments so you can try again.
Find a routine that works for you – even if your schedule keeps changing! Like many people, Glenn found that the hardest part of making healthy lifestyle changes was keeping to a schedule. Because of his job, it was difficult to even know where to start. “Being a truck guy, I was on the road all night, other times all day, with deliveries, pickups, and breaks always at different times – so it took a minute to get things lined up.” Instead of a schedule, Glenn worked on creating a routine. Like Glenn, your break may not be at the same time every day, but you can still use it the same way each time to do some physical activity, relieve stress, or prepare a healthy meal. Start by planning ways to use this time to work on your goals. When you create a routine, it doesn’t matter what time it is as long as you do it!
Glenn was able to use what he learned in the program to find ways to make healthy lifestyle changes that worked for him. On being a part of the program, Glenn says, “I feel blessed for the opportunity – I got accustomed to the idea of becoming healthier.”
You can be like Glenn and get healthier too! If you have prediabetes or are wondering if you’re at risk, learn more about IMPACT Diabetes, part of the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention program. At IMPACT Diabetes, participants learn ways to eat better and increase physical activity while connecting with others who share the same goals for improving their health. To see if you’re at risk or to sign up for a program, visit www.impactdiabetes.org/find-a-class.
Visit www.impactdiabetes.org to get more information about the IMPACT Diabetes program.