Operator’s new book details fitness turnaround

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Driver Mike Sammons’ “Working Man’s Road to Weight Loss,” detailing his successful quest to lose more than half his body weight, is available for $2.99 via most major ebook retailers.Driver Mike Sammons’ “Working Man’s Road to Weight Loss,” detailing his successful quest to lose more than half his body weight, is available for $2.99 via most major ebook retailers.

Current U.S. Xpress driver Mike Sammons, 50, based in Phenix City, Ala., started his weight-loss quest five years back now while running for Tacoma, Wash.-based Interstate Distributor. He and a friend typically found themselves together in West Memphis, Ark., at the Petro, where his friend one day “put a quarter in one of the weighing machines” on a friendly wager about Sammons’ weight, Sammons says. “I thought I weighed 340 lbs. The machine said 393.”

Sammons did a lot of praying following the realization that his weight just continued to rise, knowing that, now, to get to a somewhat healthy weight he’d need to lose half or more than half of his total body weight (Sammons is 5’5″ tall). He then started eating right, simply, taking the small steps. He told himself and that friend, “Once I lose 50 lbs., I’ll start walking.”

After he lost 100 pounds walking and eating right, he was in Finley, Ohio, running there on a dedicated account — “I decided to join a gym for a month,” he says: Anytime Fitness, with 1,400 mostly 24-hour locations around the U.S., very accessible to drivers in most cases, Sammons says he’s found. “I went in there every day I could, just walking on the treadmill. When no one was around, I’d run at about 4.8 mph — run for a minute and start walking again. Before I knew it I was doing 3.1 miles more or less every day running and the weight just kept coming off.”

His health success story he’s set down in an ebook released via the Smashwords service. You can purchase the book, written by Sammons with fellow driver Rick Everingham, in various formats for just $2.99 via this link, or find it via most major ebook retailers — Smashwords distributes ebooks built there to Amazon, the Apple iBooks store and others.

Moving to the marathon | Sammons traces his move to running competitively to his membership at Anytime Fitness — with 1,400 locations around the U.S., many convenient to truck parking. “There’s one of the South Side of Indianapolis,” he says, for instance, “off the I-465 loop. They’ve got a Kohl’s and a big shopping plaza – I park behind it. In Finley, Ohio, they’re next to a Walmart shopping center. I found out in Flagstaff, Ariz, it’s probably a four-block walk to Anytime Fitness” from a truck stop he’s frequented. “I went to the grocery store across the street to see if I could park there. He said, OK. After I work out, I go in and buy some groceries.”The cost of his membership, Sammons says, “is $47 and change, monthly. They all vary, but they’re around $50, generally.”When he decided in the early days of his weight-loss exercise regime that one of his goals was going to be to run a half-marathon, he mapped out a 13.5-mile route in Fontana, Calif., from a carrier’s terminal there and tested his endurance. “I had nothing but time,” he says. “I was doing a 34-hour reset, so I just marked it out… I ran it in 2 hours and 15 minutes. I had to stop and walk, and rest throughout, but then I ran a half in Albany, Ga., in in 2 hours, 5 minutes and change. In Nashville, Tenn., in 2 hours, 15 minutes and change.”

He ultimately finished a full marathon in Fort Benning, Ga., in 4 hours and 45 minutes.

Sammons started out in his quest by trying to get on the Biggest Loser reality TV show, but when they didn’t pick him, he just tried out their diet on his own. “It’s set for people who live at home, so I had to be creative with it” to fit the trucking life, he says. “They do a lot of portion counting –- with the use of zip-lock bags, and staying away from the inside of the grocery store. Shop the corners.”

He bought and cooked a lot of rotisserie chickens — “I’d put them in a zip-lock bag in my refrigerator,” he says — and preplanned every meal: breakfast, lunch and dinner. “I was with Interstate at the time, and their trucks were set up perfectly for it,” he adds.

After just 17 months following the beginning of his quest, Sammons had lost exactly 218 pounds, he says, and it’s then that things got truly amazing. The 11-year truck driver competed in several half and full marathons, leading into the event that culminates his story as told in the book: “I did the half-ironman in Macon,” Ga., he says. “It took a lot of work. And once I lost the weight, I still had all this excess skin – so I’m there in shorts doing the swim with everything showing.”

Sammons’ hopes for the book are to raise enough money to get the excess skin removed to restore his body to something resembling its natural shape.

With any luck, he’ll get there. It’s a fine read, put together with editing by Rick Everingham, a fellow then-Interstate Distributor driver Sammons calls a friend at this point. They worked closely on the book — “everything’s in my voice,” Sammons says, “he just put it down on paper.”