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Are You Ready to Fight?

By on May 1, 2019

Leading the War Against Obesity

By: Siphiwe Baleka, Founder, Fitness Trucking

In the last issue, I wrote, “Now imagine if every day 1.5 million over-the-road drivers were seen doing their ‘4 Minutes’ at truck stops across America. That would be an exercise movement of gigantic proportion! Who says this could never happen? Why can’t there be a mass health movement among truck drivers? Someone needs to take the lead.”

After I wrote that, I read about Claude Hopkins who led an advertising campaign for a minty toothpaste called “Pepsodent.” At that time in the early 1900s, brushing teeth was not a common behavior. Only seven percent of American households brushed their teeth or had toothpaste. The military considered dental disease a national crisis because most of the World War I Army recruits had poor oral hygiene. If you’re old enough, you might recall a catchy advertising jingle that started in 1948, “You’ll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.”

Ten years after Hopkins’ first ad campaign, more than 65 percent of Americans developed the daily habit of brushing their teeth, and by the 1930s, Pepsodent was sold throughout the world. For more than 30 years, Pepsodent was the top-selling American toothpaste, earning billions of dollars.

I also started reading about Hank Jansen. He was quite the trucking industry pioneer. In 1952, he bought a share of Lynden Transfer in Lynden, Washington, and he wanted to expand its service by heading north to Alaska. Everyone was skeptical and told him the Alcan Highway from Seattle up to Anchorage, Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay, presented an impossible obstacle for a truck.

Two years later Jansen’s first Kenworth tractor left Seattle destined for Fairbanks, carrying meat for Carr’s Market. The success of the first trip was critical and led to Lynden becoming a household name in Alaska by transporting fresh produce, dairy products and meat. The drivers and mechanics at Lynden were generally loggers and farmers with a strong work ethic, a can-do spirit and the drive to do the impossible with limited resources. These drivers and mechanics were the heart and soul that overcame the extreme challenges of the Alcan Highway.

Reaching Crisis Proportions

StayFit-2Now, we’re faced with a similar situation—an impossible task with limited resources, requiring massive social and behavioral change. Only 22 percent of American adults are exercising. Mean weight has increased by 24 pounds over the last 18 years. In 2015, Major General Allen Batschelet of the U.S. Army Recruiting Command told CNN that “Just under three in 10 young people, ages 17 to 24, can join the Army today—and the other armed services for that matter—and the single biggest disqualifier is obesity.” Later that year, the LA Times reported that 67 million Americans over the age of 25 are obese. Another 62.5 million are overweight. That adds up to almost 170 million Americans having a weight problem. If oral hygiene was the nation’s national health crisis 100 years ago, today’s national health crisis is clearly obesity.

StayFit-3If individually and collectively we can summon that can-do spirit of the truck drivers who overcame the extreme challenges of the Alcan Highway, so can we. If the over-the-road brotherhood and sisterhood could bond together in a single national campaign to take 4 minutes to move with maximum intensity before they started driving each day, then I believe that truck drivers will lose a significant amount of weight and can become the model for corporate wellness. By showing that winning the war against obesity is possible, professional truck drivers can teach America the simple technique of turning on your metabolism before you start work or school. If we as a nation can learn to do that in the same way that we learned to brush our teeth before starting the day, obesity will no longer be a national emergency.

Circle September 8 on Your Calendar

Yes, truck drivers can lead the war against obesity! How are we going to do it?

Annually since 1998, the trucking industry has set aside the third week of September to recognize and thank its professional drivers. In 2012, the former “NTDAW” became known as National Truck Driver Appreciation & Wellness Week, or NTDAWW, thanks to the pioneering efforts of Robert Low, who, as the Chairman of the Truckload Carriers Association at the time, said, “During NTDAWW, companies can continue hosting driver appreciation events and providing giveaways like they’ve done in the past, but we’re asking that they mix in some type of health component.” That year, TravelCenters of America teamed up with the TCA and state trucking associations to coordinate a number of health-oriented events.

This year, on September 8, to kick off the NTDAWW, we are calling on all drivers and everyone who works in the industry to move with as much intensity as you can muster to jumpstart this national 4-Minute Fit movement. If more than a million people are willing to have a bucket of ice water dumped on their heads for charity, surely, we can get as many to “do their 4 Minutes.”

In the July-August issue, I’ll explain how you can join the movement to track and monitor your movement and show America that people in the trucking industry are serious about changing their individual and collective behaviors. 

Why wait? Start now! Google 4-Minute Fit: The Metabolism Accelerator. Then lead the charge on Sunday, September 8. 



About Warren Eulgen

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