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Ta Petro

Back on the Road

A Blog by TA & Petro Stopping Centers

The Connection Between Health and Happiness

Photo of Siphewe Baleka in truck parking lot doing workouts

There is a direct connection between your health, your weight, your energy and the quality of your life. People hate it when I say this but it is absolutely true. To put it simply, the more energy you have the more you do. When you don’t have energy, when you don’t feel like doing anything, you don’t do anything. You become passive, not productive. My motivation to help drivers change behavior is on full display in the “Make America Fit Again” campaign.

How can we be the greatest nation when we are the most unfit nation with the highest rate of obesity in the world? Greatness requires extraordinary effort, and extraordinary efforts require extraordinary energy. More than any other nation, Americans waste more energy carrying around dead weight in the form of fat. When you lose muscle, you lose powerful energy-producing mitochondria. Meanwhile, as you gain fat, you have less energy producing capacity to move around that dead weight, thus producing an energy deficit. If we want to be the greatest, most productive nation, we need a nation of fit, productive citizens. To make America great again, we must make America fit again.

In the previous blog, I discussed the link between values and behavior. All behavior is controlled by mental programming, both conscious and subconscious. All mental programming is controlled by your values. Thus, if you want to change your behavior, you have to change what it is you value.

You always make time for the things you value. I have two sons, ages four and seven. The four-year-old is in the final stages of potty-training. Up until now, whenever he had to use the bathroom, he just went. He didn’t care where he was or who was around, and so did you when you were a toddler. You weren’t born knowing to go and find a toilet. At some point, you began to value a certain level of hygiene and a certain level of appearance. As a result, whenever you have to relieve yourself, you ALWAYS MAKE TIME to find a toilet. No matter what.

It’s an extreme example, I know, but it illustrates my point. Likewise, when drivers truly value their health, they will make time for it every day. Drivers will make the time to exercise and choose food based on how it will preserve their health. Unfortunately, most truck drivers are neither exercising nor eating healthy. Why?

Most drivers get uncomfortable when I say that they do not properly value their health. I then have to show them examples of their poor behavior before they get the point. An eye-opening question I ask is “which is more important, their health, their job or money?” Everyone knows they should say “health.” If you take away the money, you still have your health. If you take away the job, you also lose the money, too. If you take away the health, and you may be sick in the hospital, you also may lose the job and the money leaving you with nothing. Of course, having a job and money is important, but if you can’t pass the DOT physical, you won’t have either.

Health is the prerequisite for having a job as a professional truck driver. I have clients who can’t enjoy going to the zoo with their family because they can’t walk more than 20 minutes before their ankle, knee or hip starts to hurt. I work with drivers that can’t go on walking tours because they are out of breath after walking 400 yards. They are missing out on life because they are unfit.

The more fit you are, the more you enjoy life. Fitness is the ability to do what you want when you want to do it. When you want to tie your shoe, you just do it. You don’t wonder if you have the capability. You just do it. Likewise, when you are financially fit and you want to go skiing in Switzerland over the weekend, you simply call your travel agent and tell them to make the arrangements. However, when you are not financially fit, it doesn’t even occur to you to go skiing in Switzerland. You know you can’t afford it, so you don’t even think about doing it. If you did desire to do it, the first thing you ask is, “How much does it cost?” The greater your fitness, the more things you have the ability to do. The more you do, the more productive you are, the more you get out of life. Since energy is a function of your body composition, your body composition and energy is the source of your productivity. And herein is the link between your health and happiness.

Energy affects every aspect of your life. When I get home from work each day, my sons yell, “Daddy is home. Daddy, let’s go out and play!” If every day I reply, “leave me alone. I just got home from work. I’m tired. Go in the backyard and play without me”, then I won’t be able to maximize my relationship with my sons. If my wife wants to talk to me about her day, and all I do is sit on the couch watching the game because I don’t have the energy to be emotionally present, then I won’t have a good marriage. If I don’t have the intellectual energy to study, then I won’t read the book I’ve heard so much about. Again, energy affects every aspect of life. The more energy you have, the more you do, the more productive you are.

The more energy you have, the more you can trade it for money. Think about it. Who is going to make more money? The person with the energy to lift 5 lbs. or the person with the energy to lift 50 lbs.? The person with the mental energy to sit down for one hour and solve one problem or the person with the mental energy to sit down for eight hours and solve 80 problems? The person who invested the energy to graduate from high school or the person who invested the energy to graduate from college? The point is if you want to have more money, you need more energy to trade for it.

This is the primary reason I work with drivers to understand the connection between health and happiness. There has to be a sufficient motivation to exercise and eat healthily. You have to truly VALUE your health in order to think about exercising and eating healthy every day. If you are not thinking about it, you are not DOING it.

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