Changes in attitude

October Health Hero Scott Marinello

When Scott Marinello of Garland, Texas, decides to make life changes, he’s not kidding around. At age 48, he set out to lose the excess pounds dragging him down, making him tired and pushing his health to the limit.

Weighing in at 210 pounds, the former restaurant manager conducted his own research to find a diet that fit his lifestyle and decided to try a low-carbohydrate, restricted sugar diet. As soon as he cut out the starchy foods, sugary drinks and carb-heavy fried foods, the pounds began to come off. To the amazement of his friends and family, Marinello lost 60 pounds after the first year and ended up keeping most of that off four years later, leveling off at a trim 165 pounds.

His doctor was one of those most impressed, especially since his blood pressure and cholesterol moved to normal levels and his borderline diabetes resolved itself. After the successful health re-do, Marinello decided to change careers. He’d always wanted to drive a big rig and enrolled in an area truck-driving school.

Two years ago, Averitt Express hired him right out of school, and the 52-year-old says he loves the trucking life. He’s also determined to buck the trend that follows new drivers into the business.

“I’m very aware that the trucking lifestyle isn’t the most healthy one out there. But I’m not going to gain back the weight I tried so hard to lose,” he says. It’s a challenge to keep up his health-conscious routine, but he feels certain that he’s not just changed his eating and fitness routine, he’s changed the entire way he thinks about food and fitness. “I park as far away from the truckstop as I can so I can add another walk into the day. I buy healthy snacks, and I make sure I weigh myself every week. It’s funny, but I don’t crave the fatty fried foods I used to, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to those bad habits.”

Though he’d still like to lose another 10 pounds, Marinello says his self-esteem skyrocketed with all the compliments he received during his weight loss program. “People kept coming up to me and saying, ‘Wow, you look great!'”

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Personal: Single, age 52

Professional: Hauls general freight through the Southwest and South

Fitness history:
2004: Weighed 210, pant size 42 W and XL shirt
2008: Weighs 165, pant size 37 W and medium shirt

Blood pressure and blood sugar: Now normal

Biggest weight-loss challenge: The hardest part was giving up whole milk, loaded potatoes and heavy, starchy pasta meals. I also was not used to eating three meals per day and would snack all day long until it was time to eat a huge evening meal. I really had to work hard to get all the most up-to-date nutritional information to help me make the right choices.

Fitness and diet tips: Pack healthy snacks like nuts and fruits so you don’t end up with a bag of candy bars. Listen to what Pam Whitfield says and eat three meals a day. It really works! Try to fit in a brisk walk whenever you stop the truck. Weigh yourself weekly so the pounds don’t creep up and surprise you.

Motto: The only way to achieve a goal is to set one. You can’t shoot at a target when there’s no target. I believe that my success came from making the decision to lose 50 pounds and then measuring the weekly progress. You have to make a commitment that can be measured in inches or pounds.

Next goal: I’ve been putting it off, but now is the time to quit smoking. I have the confidence that comes from successfully losing weight and getting healthy. I know I can do this, too, and not gain weight when I quit. I don’t want to be a Health Hero that smokes, so that’s my plan. I’m quitting!

Nominate Health Heroes
Do you know any truckers who have worked hard to become more healthy? Maybe they’ve quit smoking, started an exercise program, controlled their sleep apnea or changed their eating habits. E-mail [email protected] or send to Truckers News Fit for the Road, 3200 Rice Mine Rd. NE, Tuscaloosa, AL 35406.

Ask the Experts
Health Question of the Month:

I’m a middle-aged, overweight truck driver who suffers from erectile dysfunction. I’m embarrassed to talk to my doctor about this and was wondering if maybe it would help to lose weight? Please help me.
– Ronny, Dallas

Pam Whitfield is a Chicago-based registered dietician.

The short answer? Yes. Research has shown that losing weight can reverse erectile dysfunction in some cases. And the closer you get to your healthy weight the more likely you (and your partner) are to see increases in your potency. At the same time obesity increases the risk of developing ED, as do high blood pressure and smoking. Diabetes increases the risk three times. Performance is all about healthy vessels and nerves. Heart disease certainly affects the arteries powering the lifting mechanism. And diabetics frequently discover that the nerves that get their glow plugs glowing just don’t work like the old days. The answer to the problem is to adopt healthy eating habits. Eat smart with three moderately sized meals each day. Don’t skip meals. Limit foods with saturated fats. That means donuts and ice cream, as well as most cuts of beef, all chicken skin and deep-fried foods. Don’t say, “There goes the fun in my life.” Developing ED will be a lot tougher than skipping a sweet treat. Cut back on the sodium. Hide the salt shaker and start reading nutrition labels. Processed foods, convenience foods, canned foods and fast foods are all loaded with salt. Choose a variety of foods. They all supply different nutrients. Eat more fiber. That means chomping down the fruits, veggies and whole grains. Many of these plant foods contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that research suggests may even stop ED from developing. If you live a healthy lifestyle, watch what you eat and pay attention to your body, ED doesn’t have to be a downer.

Ronald Rush, M.D., is a family care physician with Highway Health Care and clinical director of Med- Xpress Health Care in Texarkana, Texas.

Though this is a sensitive and somewhat embarrassing subject to many men, it’s a routine subject discussed in most physicians’ offices. The truth is erectile dysfunction is very common among drivers. Significant factors may include lack of exercise, low testosterone, obesity, poor diet, stress, depression, diabetes, thyroid disease, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and fatigue. A common cause of ED is an enlarging prostate. This is more common in older men and found frequently in men who drive for a living. As you can see, ED has many potential causes. A common thread found throughout most cases related to obesity. Thus, in answer to your question: Absolutely yes! Anything you can do to increase your aerobic activity level and to move closer to your ideal weight will likely improve your erections. Aerobic exercise and weight loss normally will improve many of the above conditions, raise your testosterone level and increase your sex drive. Good physical health is essential for optimal sexual function. Optimal body weight will generally improve endurance in the erection and overall stamina. You may even reclaim the excitement of your first sexual encounters. Good luck.

Linda Dunn is a fitness expert from Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Men who exercise are less likely to experience erectile dysfunction as they get older. According to Eric Rimm, an associate professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, “men who ran at least three hours per week appeared to have the sexual functioning of men two to five years younger.” Even moderate activity (walking 30 minutes per day) caused a 15-20 percent reduction in the risk of erectile dysfunction. If you are not very active, your risk of experiencing ED will increase with age, and some medications that help control high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes can have ED as a side effect. Many doctors believe that impotence could be an early warning sign of what could happen to the heart. Exercise appears to benefit the small arteries that control erections, which is the same reason exercise is good for the arteries that feed the heart. Forget the excuse that you don’t have time to exercise since you are on the road so much. Just lace up a pair of shoes and start walking. Chances are the decision to walk, run, bike or swim daily (20-30 minutes at a time) might greatly improve your heart health and your sex life.

The advice and opinions expressed herein are only general suggestions. Before you undertake any course of action, you should consult your doctor to determine what steps are right for you. Randall-Reilly Publishing, Truckers News and the experts consulted for these articles do not endorse, warrant or promote in any way the products of any of our sponsors.

Tips for making healthy choices in a fast-food restaurant

  • Beware of topping burgers with cheese, special (mayonnaise-based) sauce and bacon – they add saturated fat and calories.
  • Pickles, onions, lettuce, tomato, mustard and ketchup add flavor without the fat.
  • Steer clear of fried fish sandwiches.
  • A baked potato can be a healthy option, but have it with low-fat sour cream instead of butter, full-fat sour cream or cheese.
  • Substitute water for soda.

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