On The Road Healthy
“I’ve been on every interstate highway in the lower forty-eight states by now, and I never get tired of the view.’ – Steve Earle
The road can be romantic, poetic, it can represent freedom, possibility, or just a great way to make a living, It can be many things to many different people, and it can also be seriously unhealthy. Long hours behind the wheel, bad food, troubled sleep, there are so many things that can slip your truck driving body out of whack and cause you a trailer load of problems. However, those problems can be avoided with a little thought and effort. Here are a few tips on how to stay mind and body healthy while driving the lonesome road.
Eat Healthy on the Road
Eating on the road can be a chore and incredibly unhealthy, there are ways to combat this. Get some bags of pre-washed salads, veggies, cut up fruit or the like. Also whole pieces of fruit, celery radishes and such are good choices. Another idea is to prep food on your time off the road, make things that are more healthy and that you really look forward to munching on. When shopping look for yogurt and fruit cups, hard boiled eggs, Laughing Cow light cheeses are good alternatives to vending machine snacks and mystery meat sandwiches. Basically, avoid the fast food grind and put a little thought into what you’re going to be eating before you drive. Keeping a portable grill in your cab is a good idea as well. Grilling fresh meats and veggies on the road is not only yummy and healthy, it also gets you out of the cab for a little while. Most large department stores or large grocery chains sell these. Again, a little thought and a little pre-planning and you eat better and feel better too.
A folding bike, a pair of running shoes, free weights, anything that’s going to help you stretch and move the blood and unclench after your 11 hours behind the wheel is helpful. Have a workout routine that you can easily do at a truckstop. Take a long walk before you turn in for the night. Anything that moves you, shakes you up and gets your body into a different state other than the stasis of sitting.
The damage done due to sleep deprivation can be insurmountable. Sleep is not like a bank, you cannot save it up and withdraw it later, hoping it makes up for days you miss sleep or sleep poorly. Once you miss sleep the damage is done. Long stretches of no sleep or poor sleep will wreak havoc with your body and your mind. Invest in a good quality berth mattress of the firmness that you like. Also, get a fan and a heater to keep the cab at the best sleeping temperature for you. And, think about getting a white noise machine to block out the world and ease your mind and help you sleep.
Drink water. Drink a lot of water. Drink it all the time. Your body doesn’t give you the signal to drink until it’s already in the state of dehydration, that’s when you’re thirsty. Trouble is, by the time your body says hey, I’m thirsty, you’re already behind the 8 ball as far as dehydration goes. A good rule of thumb is to consume half your bodyweight in ounces of water every day.
Keep an Active Mind
At times, the job can get boring and the mind, like a muscle, needs to be exercised. Audio books are a great way to get the ind engaged. Music too. If you’re a country music fan, branch out, try some classical, some rock and roll, hell even some Enya to mix it up. Also, language tapes. Take those long miles and learn another language. Imagine, after a couple of thousand miles, you could be an actual polyglot, wouldn’t that be cool?
Eating right isn’t always easy on the road, even when you try so, taking a high quality multivitamin is a good idea. Also, vitamin C, lots of that. A multivitamin and the vitamin C are just the basics, you should check with your doctor and find out which other supplements are best for your age and sex.
Truck driving is one of the most stressful jobs in modern-day America. Find ways to relieve that stress at the end of a day. Exercise, reading, going for a walk, shadow box, sing, anything that’s going to shed the stress, let you sleep and start fresh the next day is going to make you feel better and remain alert. Try to get out of the truck for breaks now and then, this is going to help you avoid “white line fever”. You may think you can’t afford to take the time but, fact is, you can’t afford not to.
You’d be amazed at the physical and psychological benefits of a simple shower. Getting your body clean and feeling fresh can do wonders for your spirit and your mind. Take the time, shower, shampoo, clean yourself up once a day and it will make you feel like a new person.
Eat Breakfast Every Day
It really is the most important meal of the day. Breakfast gets your metabolism started and gives your body the energy it needs to start and re-engage after a night’s sleep. You need energy to run your body the way your truck needs gas to run the engine. You’d never try to drive without gas in your tank, why would you try to drive with no food in your belly. Eat breakfast every day.
Have a Hobby and Take it on the Road.
View it as a sort of reward after 11 hours of driving, something to look forward to, something to keep your mind active. A hobby that you love, give it some time at the end of a day. I have a trucker friend who ties his own flies. He keeps his kit in the cab and, at the end of the day, he ties a fly. He thinks about it while he’s driving, designs it in his mind and then, brings it to life before he turns in for the night. Take your hobby for a ride.
Staying healthy in your mind and body are vital especially when you’re doing a very stressful job and sitting for long stretches of time. Stay active, stay alert, stay alive. If you have ideas or things that you do while driving to stay healthy, share them and who knows, you may save another trucker’s life.