2008 Health Hero Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, Wis., has been selected as the 2008 Fit for the Road Health Hero of the Year. The 49-year-old owner-operator leased to Transport International out of Pittsburgh was chosen from a pool of outstanding truckers who overcame obstacles in their quest for a healthier lifestyle. The judges were impressed with Clark’s dedication to helping other truckers get started on the road to health and his personal fitness accomplishments this year. His amazing feats include competing in two marathons, two half-marathons, three 5Ks and one duathalon (a 15K bike ride and 5K run). His next goal is to break 50 minutes in a 10K on his 50th birthday in January. He says he’s still working to reduce his blood pressure with healthier food choices, but his cholesterol and heart rate are excellent. This year he’s decided to add cross-country skiing and more road cycling to his exercise routine and increase his running speed. “I’ve come a long way from the sedentary life I once led,” Clark says. Here are his tips for a healthier 2009:

  1. Park in the back row. The walk will do you good.
  2. Protect your sleep. Don’t watch TV or play video games when they cut into your sleep.
  3. Drink lots of water.
  4. Communicate with your dispatch. It is a two-way street. You can’t blame dispatch when you don’t tell them what you want. Dispatchers are like little kids. They are constantly testing limits. They probably think the same thing about drivers. Set clear limits. It reduces stress for everyone.
  5. Drive gently. Don’t push yourself or your truck to the limit. You’ll both last longer.
  6. Do not lead yourself into temptation. If you pack potato chips, you will eat potato chips.
  7. Eat your five servings of fruit or veggies each day. Experts say it can reduce your risk of cancer. Eating the fruit is better than drinking the juice. The juice is packed with calories.
  8. Eat little/eat often. It is better to eat a little bit every two hours than to eat two big meals every day.
  9. Take advantage of your downtime. If a shipper says it will take at least an hour to load your truck, take a hike. When you walk put some pace into it. The idea is to increase your heart rate.
  10. Enjoy your exercise. Escape from work. Get away from the truckstop. Drivers don’t see the country the way they did before interstates. Interstates don’t go through small towns. They go by them. Leave the truckstop and head toward the town. Say hello to the locals. Stop in that local hardware or grocery store.
  11. Set goals. Goals are tricky. My main goal is to finish a marathon when I am 70. I also set short-term goals. It may be to run a faster 5K. It does not matter. The idea of short-term goals is to keep you interested while you are working on your long-term goal.
  12. Learn about your chosen exercise. I run but not every day. I also walk, bike, swim, lift weights or wrestle with the grandkids. It is all good. But since running is my favorite activity, I try to keep up with the sport by reading magazines and books about running. I keep up with the latest information on running-related injuries, training and inspiration.
  13. Socialize. Get involved in activities that involve other people.
    Most of all, good luck and stay healthy!

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.

Health Question of the Month:
I’ve decided to make 2009 the year I finally get off my duff and start trying to live a healthier life. What’s the best way to get started? I’m 50 years old, about 20 pounds overweight and haven’t exercised in 10 years. – Hank

Pam Whitfield is a Chicago-based registered dietician.

  1. Eat three meals each day,
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