Truck driver feels benefits of changing lifestyle for the better

A career in truck driving means spending time sitting behind the wheel. Making an effort to be active and incorporate movement in daily life is a must to avoid the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle. This is something truck driver William Velaquez realized when his life was being adversely affected by inactivity, as reported by Transport Topics. He decided to make a commitment to change his lifestyle, a decision supported by Mesilla Valley Transportation, the company Velaquez drives for.

On Oct. 23, Velaquez shared his story, including his 60-pound weight loss, at an educational session at the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition. He said that being patient with the process of shifting your lifestyle is vital.

“Change does come, but it has to be gradually. And you have to have some kind of discipline and realize you need to get that help,” he said.

This is a sentiment supported by Jackie Jones, Mesilla Valley’s chief marketing officer.

“A culture of wellness makes for a more productive, safer workforce,” she said. “We’ve seen it, but we also know it doesn’t happen overnight. Whatever you do, make sure that it is optional, friendly and fun. If you don’t, that’s the quickest way to turn off a driver.”

Velaquez said that once you realize you want to change your lifestyle and establish a productive plan to do so, you then have to evolve your attitude. Positive life changes are necessitated by a positive attitude.

Jones spoke about an app called Rolling Strong that Mesilla Valley has made available to their drivers who want to make lifestyle changes. The app connects its users to trainers and wellness education; it also lets drivers track their fitness goals on the road. Rolling Strong president Steve Kane realizes that changing your lifestyle behind the wheel is difficult.

“Sitting in a truck for that long presents an incredible uphill battle,” he said. “This is a wellness challenge.”

And since truck drivers face such a challenge in making positive lifestyle changes, support from leadership is crucial, Kane said.

“It comes down to leadership,” he said. “[Fleets] may be experts on moving freight, but not health and wellness. This may be a bold statement but doing nothing is not going to fix (this issue).”

Jones, who has seen nearly 13% of Mesilla Valley’s staff participate in a wellness program, said that being involved in the drivers’ path to change is imperative.

“You have to show that you care,” she said. “It starts with the vending machines, providing healthy options. It is a top-down approach. You have to lead (with wellness) and for others to follow.”

Velaquez has felt this support, which allowed him to keep himself accountable through fitness journals. This journal provides him a history of the physical activities he most enjoys and allows him to stay focused.

“I have a trampoline,” he said. “At first I was embarrassed when people saw me then I realized it’s not about them, it’s really about me and wanting to change.”