Welcome to our latest edition of Aces & Freights – our newsletter, written by Operations Analyst and former driver Ken Moore, regarding the trucking lifestyle.
Questions or comments? We’d love to hear from you. Please don’t hesitate to contact Ken at
firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope you enjoy the content and we look forward to your comments, suggestions, and all the stories you may have to share, too!
Healthy Life Edition
This quarter’s articles and app suggestions are all based on healthy options for food and exercise. For the most part, figuring out healthy options and how to exercise on the road are the hardest parts of getting or staying healthy. It’s a daunting task even for those who aren’t on the road, and I know firsthand that it’s considerably more difficult to figure out when you’re constantly on the move.
When drivers are just starting their careers OTR, they often feel out of their element on the road since it can be an entirely new style of living. The first thing on their minds usually isn’t eating properly and exercising. For me, the only thing on my mind when I first started was getting from point A to point B, doing so safely, and how much that affects my paycheck so that my family can eat properly. Those thoughts occupied all of my thinking capacity and I wasn’t able to really consider anything else, like nutrition and exercise for myself. If my wife didn’t force me to stop, think about it, and work it out, I honestly don’t know if I would have made it in the industry.
That being said, the goal behind Aces and Freights is, and always has been, driver quality of life. The long and short of it is that adequate nutrition and exercise affect every aspect of our lives. Improving our health improves ourselves, while not taking care of yourself can and will seriously hamstring anything you try to do. Eating well and eating enough help us to think more clearly, which means we drive more safely. Getting enough exercise gives us more energy throughout our days, which means that we’ll likely live longer, sleep better at night, feel better about ourselves, get sick less often, and make considerably more money over the course of our lifetimes. Just as importantly, it means we’ll be able to offer our families more of ourselves when we’re home.
Please read through this newsletter and take what you find works for you from it, but please consider adding your stories to Aces and Freights in the future. One of us isn’t as smart as all of us, and collectively, if we put our knowledge together, we can clear any hurdles that come our way.
…Guest Writer Wanda Cadwell
Did you know the average life span for a truck driver is a mere 61 years? Rather short considering the average American lives to 78 years. The most common health risks for a trucker are Sleep deprivation, Obesity, Heart Attack, Stroke and Cancer (https://www.thehealthytrucker.net/truck-driver-health-risks/). With that knowledge and knowing how important your health is to providing for your family and being around to enjoy the later years let’s see how you can change your eating habits to help you stay healthier than the average and insure you pass that DOT physical.
How many of you go home and after leaving the house are sick to your stomachs? Do you feel horrible and think you have food poisoning or the flu? This used to happen to my husband frequently. He even thought of not eating home cooked foods. We soon learned the true cause. When he was on the road he frequently ate sandwiches, quick meals from fast food or at truck stop diners. All bland foods with no seasonings to them. When he got home he wanted his favorites, spaghetti, steaks and the like. All of which I would season and spice up. These spices were doing a number on his stomach, which it was not used to the herbs anymore. So we had a choice: eat bland when he was home or change his habits on the road. I started doing research and learned this was a common problem for people who eat out a lot then eat at home where spices and seasonings are used. I also learned how unhealthy the available foods on the road are. So here is what we have done.
- I put up the leftovers at home into zippy bags and freeze for him to take with him
- We bought him the items he needed in his truck to cook his own meals
- We hit up the dollar store for spices for on the truck
- And I walked him through cooking a wide variety of foods he enjoys so now he knows how to do it.
- We made his health and our future a priority over convenience. I know there are many questions, eye rolls, and heads shaking at all this. I promise it is not difficult to achieve healthy eating habits in a truck. Maverick provides you with the major item in most of the trucks and that is your fridge. I know the freezer is not that big but it is doable if you are willing to do a 30 minute break at a Walmart and go shopping a day or two a week. Or you save and purchase a small 1.1 cubic upright freezer for under 200.00 for your truck. Either way you have the ability to keep things cold or frozen that was not there year ago. Most of you already have microwaves, so the next thing is an aroma rice cooker from Walmart or the like for about 20 bucks. This thing comes with a cookbook and does it all from cooking rice to baking a cake. A lunchbox cooker works too. Obviously with the larger freezer you can carry more on your truck at one time but with the small one you can carry a few zippy bags of home cooked meals.
Now you have your rice cooker or lunchbox, what to do? Here are some ideas to get you started:
Let’s make a stew. First stop at Walmart. Go buy a box of pint zip bags, head over to the meat dept. and get a 1lb pack of stew meat; from the produce get two small to med potato, a snack size pack of celery and carrots; and then go to the aisle with the gravy and find a pack of beef stew seasoning. Over on the spice aisle grab some pepper, salt, onion powder, garlic. Then in the frozen vegetable area grab two bags of quick cook rice or go to the instant mash potatoes and grab two packs there. You now have the fixings for two meals of beef stew over rice or with mashed potatoes. You should have water on your trucks but if you don’t grab some of that too. Back in your truck you will split the stew beef into two portions. Take one portion and put in a zip bag and toss in your fridge for another meal, put the other half into your cooker, slice up 1 potato, a couple carrot sticks, 1-2 celery sticks and put in cooker too. Add the seasoning pack with a few shakes of the spices and cover with water. Close the lid and cook. Now if you do your 30 min break at about your 7th hour of driving and set this to cook while you drive it will be done when you park for the night. The nice thing about the rice cooker is once it’s finished cooking it turns itself off and simmers or keeps the item warm until you’re ready to eat. This total meal will cost you about 12 bucks and you actually get two meals out of it or more depending how much you eat in one sitting.
Another way you can use this cooker is to cook and steam at the same time. Grab a small bag of mixed vegetables (or any you like) toss bout a half a cup of veggies with some rice into the bottom of the cooker and add your water to the appropriate line then put the steamer basket in and toss a piece of fish on it seasoned to taste and let it cook. The possibilities are endless so there is no excuse and spices are something you can use to change up any meal. Cut up some chicken put it in with the rice and veggies for something similar to a chicken and rice casserole. Chili is easily done for the winter as well.
Spaghetti? No problem, when at home make up a batch of your sauce and let it cool. Then put a serving into a zippy bag and freeze. My batches will make up no less than six bags of sauce. Then grab the pot-sized noodles at the grocery store and you’re ready for the road. Out on the road take your sauce out that morning, set it in a bowl and let it defrost naturally. When you’re ready to eat take a serving of noodles and put in your cooker with a bottle of water. Turn it on and when it gets to where the timer say 5-8 minutes is left you can take them out and strain them. You can heat your sauce in the microwave.
With another neat little trick you can actually grill on the road! Get a small portable foldable grill (usually under 20 dollar—I think I got ours at dollar general) and the small bag of charcoal, season up a steak with grill master seasonings and toss a potato in the microwave to bake. Oh yeah, you have a fridge so you can grab a bag of the salad mix and have that in there.
As for snacks, having the fridge lets you can carry yogurts. My husband carries 8-10 of those at a time in his fridge. Fresh fruit and veggies to snack on as well with peanut butter are good and healthy. Take a walk through the produce department. Walmart I know has many individual serving size packages of apples, carrots, celery, berries and more. If not then get the smallest package they have and munch away. You can also get a half gallon of milk for in your fridge door. Use your microwave to heat up instant oatmeal for breakfast and throw some fruit into it or drizzle honey on it.
The biggest thing here is to get you out of your box of “we have to eat on the road” and look at alternatives so that you can be healthier, live longer, and break out of the “average trucker” mold that society says we have to live in, and help yourself keep your cdl by passing the physical with flying colors. What we tend to forget is that foods are meant to fuel our bodies and keep them clean and healthy. We hurt ourselves eating junk.
Some last thoughts: at Walmart go to the aisle where tinfoil is. They sell slow cooker sleeves that fit the aroma cooker, no clean up; if you hit up dollar tree you can get knives, strainers, measure cups, bowls cutting boards etc. for little or nothing. Or hit Walmart in a college town during back to school season as those deals are great!
Your biggest challenge will be remembering time management for this until it becomes natural for you. Take out items to defrost the night before or that morning. On your 30 start cooking the items that will take time like soups and stews so it cooks while you drive. Make a point of shopping on 30 minute breaks or when home for the weekend. For those of you only out one week you can take your wife’s cooking with you and have a meal every day with something lighter for lunch and breakfast. Hope this helps some of you in one way or another and happy healthy eating. Remember we only get one life so live it longer and happier.
S Health – This is Samsung’s health app and it’s the best one I’ve found so far in terms of tracking information and getting a good gauge on where exactly you are health-wise. S Health will act as a pedometer and record your steps and “active time” so you can see how much you’re physically doing throughout the day as well as over a long period of time. It also associates and records how many calories you’ve burned from those steps and active times. Cooler than that, however, is that with this app on Samsung phones you can measure your heart rate, how much oxygen your blood is carrying (SpO2), and how much stress you’re feeling. Additionally, you can keep track of what you’re eating, calories you’re taking in, how much water you’re drinking, caffeine you’re consuming, your weight, how well you’re sleeping, and you can record your blood glucose levels and more. The app is due to come out for iPhones sometime this year, though iPhones lack the sensor Samsung phones have to measure heart rate, SpO2, and stress levels. iOS users would have to get external Samsung gear (like a watch) to measure those things when the app comes out in iTunes. The app and its functions are free.
Pokémon Go – Hey, no judging now! I already know for a fact that a good number of you play Candy Crush and I can list names! At least this game has some merit in improving your health, so before you shame me, listen to my argument. Since I started walking around collecting Pokémon, my cellphone’s pedometer shows that I’ve averaged about 2,000 more steps per day than the months before I signed up. Doing the math, that translates to about 42,000-45,000 extra calories burned per year. This means that I’ll have burned off an extra 12 pounds of fat just by doing something that I use to wind down at the end of the day. The other great benefit from this game: relating to and having another activity to do with your kids. If your kids are 35 and younger, they’re playing it because they grew up with Pokémon and because this is the hottest game on the market. My younger ones are 15 and 17 and we have some quality family time going Poké-hunting together. The best part is the game is it’s free to sign up for and free to play.
Up Close and Personal with our Trainer of the Quarter David Muggeridge
Congratulations to David Muggeridge for being our third Trainer of the Quarter! We’ve asked David a series of hard-hitting questions and we’ve got his answers right here.
How long has David been a Driver Trainer?
What does he like best about training?
The satisfaction of helping. It feels good to be shaping the future of new Maverick drivers. Even if you’re not a trainer, instead of complaining about the new drivers, help them.
How does he approach a student who is struggling with part of the training?
Take a step back, ask a lot of questions to understand how to help the student. Reevaluate how they are doing and what can help them.
When he first gets to meet his student, how does he get to know the student?
As soon as he gets the phone number, he calls them that night and spends about an hour on the phone getting to know them and asking questions of what they feel their strengths and weaknesses are.
Why does he drive?
David knew he didn’t like office work. He worked for a life insurance group for four years and didn’t care for it. So, needing a change, he went into transportation in 1994.
What are his hobbies?
Singing, billiards and painting. He used to be an Elvis impersonator, but now he likes to sing gospel music more.
Does he do any of his hobbies on the road?
He sings going down the highway…unless he has a student with him. Some truck stops do have pool tables, so he plays when he can.
Thanks, David! We appreciate your time and all that you do for your students!
Recommended Sites to Check Out
This is an excellent site for getting yourself on track to either lose weight or keep the weight off. It’s easy to read and follow and provides good numbers without reading like an excel spreadsheet.
This is an extremely comprehensive site provided by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. From eating and living healthy to prevention to driver safety and much more, this site provides lots of good info. It’s a drier read than LeanTrucker.org but is still well done.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
Last year we participated in the Best Fleets to Drive For contest. One of the benefits of this program was that a third party (CarriersEdge) had the chance to survey our fleet and ask them questions that we may not have thought to ask. One thing we discovered is that one of the main benefits drivers would like to see a company provide is counselling services to help deal with life’s stresses and concerns. We already do provide these services through our Employee Assistance Program, or EAP, and they are open to you and your household. They will find a masters level clinician or psychologist for you and you get three free sessions before billing would be directed toward insurance. Your personal records are not shared with Maverick unless you wish otherwise. There is a brochure in your MMS folder in your Omnitracs unit and a podcast that goes along with it that can give you an idea about all of the other services our EAP can provide. A huge part of being healthy is being mentally healthy and we owe it to ourselves to treat this aspect of our lives as importantly as we do any other. If you have any questions about our EAP you can either call the number on the brochure or contact our Human Resources department.
If you’d like to write an article on how to improve life on the road or have any ideas on apps or websites I can check out to suggest in future editions of Aces and Freights, please email Ken Moore at email@example.com.
Safety Awards 2nd Quarter, 2016
|Driver||Safe Driving Award|
|Will Scroggins||5 years|
|Donald Richards||5 years|
|Edmond Mansfield||5 years|
|Delane Williams||5 years|
|Tim Grant||5 years|
|Christian Odjewuyi||5 years|
|Robert Holley||5 years|
|Brian Wichern||5 years|
|Charles Baines||5 years|
|Sonny Purvis||8 years- Million Miles|
|Don Waldburg||8 years- Million Miles|
|Justin Melvin||8 years- Million Miles|
|Kevin Condra||8 years- Million Miles|
|Patrick Sherman||8 years- Million Miles|
|Kealen Washington||8 years- Million Miles|
|Jeff Davis||10 years|
|Mickey Rice||10 years|
|Mickey Hutchens||10 years|
|Tommy Jacobs||10 years|
|Jamie Simpson||16 years- 2 Million Miles|
|James Robinson||16 years- 2 Million Miles|
|George Bates||20 years|
|Dale Dunn||25 years|