I want to introduce you to a friend of mine – Les Davis. Les is 51 and from Minnesota. He drives a huge, Peterbilt 579 truck for a living, and drives around the country hauling heavy loads for a living. He’s on the road 95% of the year, and bless his family – they don’t see him as often as they would all like. Les has spent many years eating a typical, All-American trucker diet, sedentary as he travels the country. But as a result of seeing too many people he cares for suffering the consequences of the American way of eating, and a lack of exercise, not the least of which are heart disease, stroke and early death, Les is determined to beat the odds, and stick around to see his grandchildren grow up! And in the months ahead, I will document Les’s journey to get healthy.
Both Les and I hope that if by telling his story and showing his successes, we can change the life of just one American Trucker – all of the hard work will be worth it.
But first, let me share the unique story about how Les Davis (AKA @GrandpaSpanky) and I met…
Everyone who knows me, knows that outside of clean eating and fitness, another major passion of mine is football – and more specifically, the NFL. When I’m in my car, I listen to SiriusXM NFL Radio 365 days a year. In fact, I call in from time to time, mostly to talk about my New York Football Giants – my radio name is Ali from Cali. Well Sirius has a group of VERY SERIOUS listeners and callers, called The Sirius Football Heads. This group is made up predominantly of Truckers, and some others from around the country who listen everyday, and who call in regularly. They are all very well-known by the show hosts, they have pools and draft events during the year, and in fact, many of them meet up every year in Mobile, Alabama for the SeniorBowl – to reconnect, do awards dinners with the SiriusXM NFL radio show hosts, and to mingle with and watch/study the up and coming players getting ready for the draft, as well as coaches, scouts and other NFL personnel. This is SERIOUS bunch of football fans (no pun intended)!
So over time, I became sort of an honorary member of the Sirius Football Heads group, and by way of social media and listening to regular callers, had the great opportunity to get to know Les – a voracious Minnesota Vikings fan! We chatted football over Twitter (@aliconig) and Facebook, and I joined a few group conference calls (I think that’s where they found out I know a few things about the topic of football).
Several months ago, I ran a 30-Day Clean Eating Challenge on Facebook with a group of friends and family across the country, and Les asked to join in. Now while I don’t think Les followed the Challenge rules to their word, he chimed in from time to time, asked questions, and it was easy to tell that he was really thinking about his health a bit more than he may have in the past.
So we started discussing this 1:1 a bit more, and he told me that he was really very concerned about heart disease, and he wanted to be around for his family. He told me he seriously had to lose around 100 pounds, and he needed help, encouragement and guidance.
And as someone who is committed to a healthy lifestyle and choosing nutrient dense (instead of processed) foods and physical activity as a way of life, as well as being a student of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN), I found myself thinking about Les’s interests A LOT. I mean – A LOT! I couldn’t get this challenge out of my mind! HOW could I help a guy who is sitting in a truck most of his days, stopping only at Truck Stops overladen with unhealthy, processed food, to reach his goals? WHY is it that just because of a person’s profession, truck drivers are practically FORCED to eat unhealthful diets? ARE THESE AMERICANS NOT WORTH MORE than chemically-ladden foods that have been soaked in dirty grease and filled with sugar and corn-syrup? WHY shouldn’t these Americans have more of an opportunity to be educated about HOW to choose quality foods that can be healthy? WHY shouldn’t they have more opportunities to stay active while on the road? This really bothered me.
One day in early July, 2014, Les let me know he was heading for a truck stop in Hayward, CA – Hayward happens to be right across the San Mateo Bridge from where my home is! We would finally meet in person! So he gave me the address of the crane company where he would unload one of 2, HUGE industrial-sized air conditioning systems, and I would meet him there. What a great opportunity to meet face-to-face, and help Les get this journey formally off the ground! We would have very little time, so I wanted to make the most of it by delivering some educational tools.
Before heading over the bridge, I stopped at my local Whole Foods Market, and picked up a care package of educational tools, and some useful items (which I will discuss in the next blog)…
And then I headed across the bridge to meet my friend face to face for the first time. And the looks on the faces of the other guys at the crane company were pretty hilarious when this blond woman driving a black Audi All-Road drove up, parked, and took a big step up on the driver’s side of the 18-Wheeler…