Over-the-road (OTR) truckers have the propensity to lead one of the unhealthiest lifestyles in today's working class. The very nature of the work is sedentary. The work in and of itself is somewhat monotonous. Speaking from personal experience, it is easy to eat when one is bored.
One of the things you encounter is truck stops. They are an ideal location for a truck driver. In one stop, you can fuel, shower, eat and possibly even have your truck worked on (maintenance wise). Therefore, if all those things are in one place, you save time by stopping there instead of several places. However, if you could add one more stop to your list that could save you weight and provide you real nutrition, and then perhaps you can work it in.
1. Eating Healthy on the Go
Most grocery stores in my experience have sufficient parking for tractor-trailers, although you may have to walk an extra bit. Moreover, since we live in an ever more convenience-filled world, they are a wealth of easy to eat nutritious food. Here are a few items that you can choose:
- Pre-washed bags of lettuce and spinach
- Pre-washed and cut vegetables (to eat alone or put on your lettuce)
- Pre-washed and cut fruit
- Whole pieces of fruit that are easy to clean (apples, oranges, plums, bananas)
- Grilling meat (especially chicken and turkey breasts)
Now for the grilling meat you would need to have a portable grill, fortunately those are easily accessible at most large department stores and large chain grocery stores.
Exercise is hard when you are an OTR driver. You drive for 11 hours straight (at least that is all you are supposed to do) then take 10 hours off (and I hope you do take that long off) and then you are back at it again, repeating the cycle. When you push that hard, where do you fit in exercise? Here are some suggestions you might consider:
Folding bicycles can be stowed in the sleeper berth compartment and then tossed up in the passenger seat when it is time to go to bed. While parked at a truck stop you can ride around the outer edges of the parking lot (to avoid traffic). Alternatively, if you are at a rest area, you can ride around there too. Some have little trails you can follow.
Running shoes are an inexpensive option and very easy to store. You can go walking or jogging in the same places you would ride a bicycle.
Weights can be just as effective, although you want to be careful in your selections. Choose weights that you could quite possibly use while driving down the road. Words of caution though, make sure you have a good place to secure them. You do not want them to roll under your acceleration pedal, brake or clutch. That could be deadly.
Pedometers can be used in conjunction with the bicycle or running shoes allowing you to track your progress. Tracking your progress is a fantastic motivator.
Sleep is essential to good health. You live in the cab of your truck. Do not settle for the cheapest when it comes to a mattress and pillow. The FMCSA actually dictates what must be included in a sleeper berth at § 393.76 (e) .
Further, make sure you have a portable fan and heater. If your truck breaks down and you are going to sleep while you wait for the repair, then you will need something portable to keep you warm or cool, as the need may be.
In addition, a white noise machine can be useful to block out extraneous noises.
You need to get as much sleep as possible in your 10 hours off and to do that your sleeping conditions must be as comfortable and as quiet as possible.
The job can be boring. Mile after mile after mile of monotonous roads, trees and signs. You can easily become distracted or you can think too much. Do you know that sometimes thinking too much is a bad thing? Dwelling on a matter too long can distort your thinking and even cause you to become enraged. Distraction and being angry are both bad for driving. They take away from your primary task, driving.
So this begs the question, how to you overcome the monotony? Here are a few suggestions:
- Audio books. Purchase or rent audio books and listen to your favorite authors or develop favorite authors. Use the opportunity to learn about subjects that fascinate you.
- Language tapes. You do not have to have the goal of becoming fluent in another language, but you can learn some phrases. This is especially useful if you deal with a number of individuals who speak a different language. Learn a few of things to say in their language. The amount of respect you will earn will be insurmountable.
- Music. Branch out in your taste of music. Do you listen to country music? Try listening to Bach or Tchaikovsky. Is rap music your taste? Try listening to world music. Your options or numerous.
OTR work does not always lend to a healthy family life. It is so easy to come home after weeks on the road and either vegetate or be so involved with household chores that you could neglect your family. One way to connect with your family while home is share stories of your travels. Can you take pictures while on the road (while you are safely stopped of course) and share them with your kids? Here are some activities to help bond with your family while home:
Tell your children in advance where you will be driving (through and to). Have them look up the history of a couple of places. Then you can take pictures of those areas you have them doing research on. When you return home, set aside time, at least an hour, and have the children tell you all they learned and then you in turn, share the pictures you took. It will be a learning experience for them, and you can bond while you do it.
Get an audio book for yourself and the same paper book for your wife (of course, something that interests you both). When you talk together (over the phone and/or when you are home), you can share what you liked most about the book. You might find you have even more in common than you ever realized.