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A Not So Heavy Load: Superior Truckers Shatter Stereotypes

Updated: 02/05/2014 8:14 PM
Created: 02/05/2014 3:55 PM WDIO.com
By: Laurie Stribling
lstribling@wdio.com

Larry Letourneau spends hours on the road. You'll find his 18-wheeler all over the country.

This trucker often spends five days away from home to places like New Jersey and Texas. He also works 11-hour shifts traveling 600 to 700 miles a day.

While it's a lot of work, Letourneau likes it.

"You're kind of like your own boss in some ways," Letourneau said.

When you're in charge, it's easy to lose motivation. At least, that's what you would think.

"I'm starting to get abs again at 54," Letourneau said.

In the middle of his hard work, you'll find Letourneau working even harder with his gym on wheels.

"It's good, whenever you stop, if you can exercise for 10 or 15 minutes just to get your blood flowing through your body," Letourneau said.

Letourneau is a health nut and truck driver. It may seem like an unusual combination, but at Halvor Lines in Superior they're shattering stereotypes with the help of a staffed trainer.

"Basically my job is to be a resource for our drivers to give them information regarding exercise, nutrition and staying healthy on the road," Health and Wellness Coordinator Becca Mathews said.

In 2013, Mathews said participating employees lost more than 1,460 pounds combined. A group of workers even snagged a first place spot in a nationwide weight loss competition for trucking companies.

About 75 employees worked to lighten their loads. Some dropped 15 pounds others lost almost 70.

For example, Mike Purdum lost 45 pounds, Steve Shanda lost 20 pounds and Chris Garrett lost almost 30 pounds.

"I just want to protect our drivers," Mathews said. "You hear a lot of stories of drivers having strokes, having heart attacks and we want to change that."

All this glory comes with humble roots.

"I've lost about 50 pounds myself and it's easier than I thought," Halvor Lines Owner and President Jon Vinje said.

Vinje decided to get in shape back in 2012. A few months later, he hired Mathews to help out his staff.

"I think it's just so important to have the education and resources for employees to achieve their goals," Vinje said.

These drivers don't just commit to working out. They've restocked their fridge.

"You can eat all day long," Letourneau said. "You just got to eat the right foods."

Letourneau said the key is prepping food before hitting the road. He survives on greens and lean meats. He cooks it in a lunchbox cooker and it looks more like gourmet food than a packed lunch.

He has a cupboard stocked with organic and gluten-free snacks.

"I'd say I've lost between 40 to 45 pounds, somewhere in there," Letourneau said.

An improvement not just for his waistline. Larry has type-2 diabetes.

"I was on five different meds and I'm down to one right now," Letourneau said.

That's a change that means more than smaller jeans; it means a life inside them.

"I got grandchildren now," Letourneau said. "You want to be around for the grandchildren. So, I got to be healthy. It's just part of living."

Mathews said nutrition was the focus last year. This year, they'll be focusing on exercise.

One resource will be weekly videos from Mathews that drivers can take with them on the road.

Mathews expects with the combination of good nutrition and exercise results will be even better in 2014.

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