Victor Martinez is one heck of truck driver, but it is his cooking skills and healthy attitude getting the praises here. After earning a commercial art degree, Victor got bored working in an office every day. He wanted to get outdoors and do hands-on work, so he began working as an airbrush artist and doing custom body work and modifications on trucks. But, not long after that, he gave it up to get on the road and be a driver.
His driving career started 13 years ago, with the last 10 years being at Con-way Truckload. On and off for the last seven years he has been a trainer, and he is famous for surprising his trainees with the amazing food he prepares for them on the truck. But, being a trainer is not easy – and not all trainees make it (one had to turn around after only 100 miles). Drivers who have been out here a long time know that this is not a profession for everyone. It’s not just a job, it’s a crazy lifestyle, and for those of us who truly love it, we don’t want to do anything else.
Many drivers struggle with the diet yo-yo of losing weight only to gain it back, then lose it again, and then gain it back again, etc. – it’s a vicious cycle many of us know, including Victor. Before becoming a driver, workouts were a regular part of his routine, and when he started driving, he continued working out on the truck. But, gradually, he neglected his walks and the pounds began to pile on. Last November he got a wake-up call – he had a heart attack. At that time, he weighed over 300 pounds. After that event, he decided to take control of his life and made some life-saving changes.
Today, he cooks with products that are low in sodium, and to flavor his foods, he likes to use Mrs. Dash, fresh herbs and spices. He also walks five miles a day, likes to juice foods, and is no stranger to a 20-day detox. Some drivers say they don’t have time to walk, as they sit in the TV room with a pizza and a 2-liter bottle of soda. Often times, Victor will go take his walk and these same people will still be sitting there, in the same place, when he gets back! Victor’s doctor has been impressed with his weight loss, and his heart is showing signs of improvement, too.
Some of Victor’s favorite foods are chicken dishes, organic chili and veggie pizza, made with a cauliflower crust. Finding organic produce is getting easier, and he has a few favorite spots he enjoys walking to (there is a mom-and-pop store that is all organic in Baltimore, and when in Nashville, he walks to the Rosa Parks Market from the TA).
Con-way is really behind their drivers getting healthy, too. They recently held a contest called “True to Blue 7” where drivers had to create a healthy dish using ingredients that totaled less than $7. Once the dish was done, they had to take a picture of the final product with a receipt showing the price of all the ingredients. Victor made four entries: Veggie Pizza, Avocado Chicken Salad, Pork Skewers with vegetables, and a Taco Pizza. As one of the two winners selected, Victor receiving a Subway gift card, a carrying bag, a hat and a t-shirt.
The company is also going to sponsor a “Biggest Loser” contest, open to drivers and office personnel, with the prizes being gift cards and a shopping spree. They also offer a website, open to any driver from any company (www.steeringyourhealth.com), dedicated to encouraging constructive dialogue between over-the-road drivers across the industry to promote health, safety and wellness. It is my hope that more companies will jump on this “healthy driver” bandwagon soon!
We would like to congratulate Victor for not only getting healthy, but for also earning a Million Mile truck while doing it. Like anything, weight loss involves starting slow – the weight didn’t happen in a day, and you are not going to lose it in a day. Make an investment in yourself – get a good pair of walking shoes and get out there. Some truck stops now offer walking trails and fitness centers, so take advantage of them. Be safe out there, and keep on cookin’ healthy!