By Michelle Jenck, Tillamook County Wellness Coordinator
For a truck driver, long hours behind the wheel make it important to be alert and healthy. And there are physical demands of the job, from tying down loads, tarping, the stress of driving, and even climbing in and out of the truck. For Ted Craig, age 48, the demands of hauling hay had begun to take their toll. Getting up and down off the trailers left him out of breath and with sore knees. Even though he was active, he was actually gaining weight and felt lousy.
To meet his CDL medical requirements, Ted was taking blood pressure medication and using a c-pap machine* to help him sleep at night. Frustrated that his health was negatively impacting both his job and his quality of life, he decided it was time to make some changes. He set several goals for himself – to lose weight, get off his blood pressure medication and unplug the c-pap machine.
The first change Ted made was to eliminate soda from his daily regimen. Not being a coffee drinker, Mountain Dew was his go-to drink on the road. “My job makes it hard because I am not home every day,” Ted said. “I was addicted to pop, drinking three to four 32 oz. sodas a day. Every store, every fast food restaurant, has soda on the road,” he continued. As with any major health behavior change, Ted shared that the first few weeks cutting out pop were very difficult.
Ted also noted how cost can be an issue. “Eating healthy can be more expensive,” he states, but he says, “What you put into your body, you get back out of it.” He went on to say that fast food restaurants are starting to accommodate people by offering healthier menu items and options. “You have to learn how to pick from the menu,” he added.
Ted and his wife are eating healthier meals at home as well, raising their own beef, eating more vegetables and cutting out sugars. To date, he has lost more than 50 pounds and his wife has lost about 45. They both feel better and have more energy. Their doctor is thrilled with their success and is sharing their story with her other patients.
Ted points out how important it is to have a goal. “It can’t just be about the weight. My dad was diabetic. I didn’t want to develop diabetes and go through the issues my dad faced. By the time he was 70, he had toes and even part of his leg amputated,” Ted added.
When asked what advice he would give to others, Ted highlights the permanence and gravity of the effort. “It’s a lifestyle you have to be willing to change. It’s something you work at every day, just like a marriage. You have to put in the time, to get the results.” Ted has already achieved two of his three goals, losing weight and getting off his blood pressure medication, and he has set his sight on getting off the c-pap machine next. As Ted’s transformation continues, he’s happy to share his journey with others, what’s worked for him and is encouraged to continue his progress, one day at a time.
For more tips and inspiration, visit our website Tillamookcountyhealthmatters.org or like and follow us on our Tillamook County Wellness Facebook page.
*A c-pap machine is recommended for people with sleep apnea.
What is Sleep Apnea?
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), “sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep. These episodes usually last 10 seconds or more and occur repeatedly throughout the night. People with sleep apnea will partially awaken as they struggle to breathe, but in the morning, they will not be aware of the disturbances in their sleep.” Symptoms of the disorder include: excessive daytime sleepiness, restless sleep, loud snoring (with periods of silence followed by gasps), falling asleep during the day, morning headaches, trouble concentrating, irritability, forgetfulness, mood or behavior changes, anxiety, and depression. Not everyone who has these symptoms will have sleep apnea, but it is recommended that people who are experiencing even a few of these symptoms visit their doctor for evaluation. Sleep apnea is more likely to occur in men than women, and in people who are overweight or obese.