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Bust your gut! Weight-losing strategies for truckers

How to get your body under control no matter how many hours you drive a week

You notice them at the truck stop parking lots. At the pumps. In the restaurants. In fact, they're everywhere: men with spare tires around their waists instead of their trucks. It's pretty scary, and it could be you soon, if it isn’t already.

The pounds just won't come off, you say. You’re in the driver’s seat 10 or more hours a day, have a hard time getting exercise, and eating is a haphazard affair. Those extra pounds are simply stubborn.

To get them off, you're going to have to be more stubborn and better educated. There is a clear reason you have that extra flab and a clear path to getting rid of it. Here are some boldfaced no-no’s and how to counteract them.

A little fast food won't hurt. So what if you eat lunch twice a week at McTacoHut? While it might not seem like much to you, it's many more calories than you suspect. If you don't believe that, grab a copy of the fast-food chain's nutritional information or look online. All of them now confess to what their food contains. What's more, the amount of sodium in fast food is obscene.

When you have the occasional moment needing food and can't find anything around, get the lightest grilled chicken sandwich possible, no fries, and diet soda. No one-time splurging. That's what you've been doing, and obviously it's keeping those extra pounds on you.

You can diet periodically and lose it. You might think you're smart enough to know that diets don't work for the long term (and you're right), but you don't worry about a few pounds because you can always diet for a couple of weeks and lose the extra weight. That might be true, but it's stressful, and doing it this way will never help you achieve a constant slimness.

"The problem here is that your body gets very efficient eating less calories and actually slows down its own metabolism, thinking there is a famine," said Dr. Lawrence Borawski, who has been a consultant to World Gyms and Gold's Gyms, and who teaches weight management seminars called Leave Your Fat Behind.

Many diets rob your body of appropriate nutrients while it crashes off the weight, he explained. The popular Atkins Diet is a good example. The diet consists of cutting out most carbohydrates, eating mostly protein and unsaturated fats. "It might seem like you are losing weight, but that weight is quickly replaced when you go off the diet," said Borawski.

A study at George Washington University Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health showed that overweight people who went on the diet did indeed lose weight but had a nearly 50 percent increase in ‘bad’ cholesterol and a similar decrease in ‘good’ cholesterol.

You're gobbling and gaining. You don't hear a lot in the media about how the speed with which you eat affects your weight, but it's an established fact. "If you eat too fast," noted Borawski, "your stomach doesn't have time to send a message to the brain that it's full, so you end up eating more."

That doesn't mean you have to follow those rigid suggestions of eating one bite, setting down your fork, eating another bite, and so on. Hell, most of us eat on the go without a fork at all! Just consciously slow down while you eat.

It won't happen overnight. You will have to pay attention to it for several meals before you get the hang of your eating speed. Another trick is to drink water with your meal (even if you're drinking something else) in greater quantities than you typically would.

You drink enough. Speaking of water, there is a good chance you don't get enough. Most men aren't concerned about this because they don't feel ill or fall into sudden bad health just because they don't drink enough water. But consciously taking in more water is beneficial by helping you eat less food and feeling more full. And there's another way it assists that you probably didn't even know.

What water does, according to Borawski, is "flush waste products from your body, transport nutrients to muscles, digest food, and keep your metabolism working."

You can always cut carbs. You will always find people who swear that cutting carbs is the best way to lose weight. We all eat too many carbohydrates, we often hear, and should cut back.

Not necessarily so, says Robyn Goldberg, R.D., a nutritional counselor at the Wright Institute in Los Angeles. The story goes that eating carbs increases blood sugar, which boosts extra insulin into your bloodstream. That extra insulin makes you feel hungrier, which makes you eat more, and the cycle is repeated.

Indeed, Goldberg explained, consuming carbohydrates will increase your blood sugar, temporarily. "This is a normal response to eating," she said. But if you aren't diabetic or hypoglycemic, you will have an increased insulin response. This counteracts the effect of raised blood sugar.

"It is not primarily carbohydrates in your meals that get converted into body fat," Goldberg continued. "The carbohydrates that you eat are, for the most part, either burned as fuel or stored in your muscles and liver for later use. It is the fat in your meal that gets converted into body fat."

You're eating low-fat foods. Making the choice to buy and eat low-fat foods is good, on one condition. You can't eat more than you normally would. This is often the tendency, since the food is ‘low fat.’ Even fat-free foods can pack on the pounds. Not all weight is gained merely from fat. If you eat too many total calories in a day, you will still gain weight, no matter where those calories come from.

It's your metabolism. Your dad is fat. Your brothers are fat. It just runs in the family. You're just big-boned. You have a big stomach and need that stomach-stapling surgery or you'll never get slim. If you really believe all of these things, why not check with your doctor? If there's really a medical reason, you need a medical professional. If there's not a medical reason, the one thing you don't need is excuses.

 

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