Matt: So tell us a little about yourself and how your path led you to work for prime.
Mari: I used to be a firefighter/emt/first responder, and there came a point in my career that I took in 2 children in my home to raise. So I gave up my firefighting career to raise those children, and doing that I allowed myself to get to a desperation point of being overweight because I didn’t do what I needed to do for my health. Instead I was so focused on the 2 kids that I put my health on the back burner. It really forced me to think seriously about my health and make it more of a priority.
Matt: You’ve been working at Prime for how long now?
Mari: I started with here in February of 2019 and got my own truck in May 2019.
Matt: So what kind of driver are you?
Mari: I’m an over-the-road solo driver. I have my service dog along with me for the ride in my truck along with my husband.
Matt: So what made you start getting on the path to live a healthier life and lifestyle? And how did you implement these changes into your everyday life?
Mari: It goes back about 6 years ago when it all started. The two kids I mentioned earlier were raised at this point and I went to my doctor because I hadn’t been feeling well. We did some blood work and they put me on insulin right away. My blood sugar was around 400 so I was classified as diabetic. I was mortified I had let my health get that way. To me, taking those insulin shots every day was like a death sentence. Besides my blood sugar being out of whack my blood pressure had also sky rocketed and my cholesterol was out of control. They started giving me my numbers and compared my numbers to the “normal” numbers for people, and that’s the point I got a little scared. I had to take a deep look at how I was eating, what I was eating, how often I was eating, what I was drinking, etc. Before that point I had no concern for these things. Just living life, drinking soda every day and care free. Deep fried foods were my friend. Being a driver on the road so often fried foods are easy to come by and I could get them anywhere. Fast forward a couple more years and I got sicker. I got to the point I was home bound. It hurt to walk or even move. I had pain everywhere. Then the doctor had to put me on pain meds, and I just lived in a drugged out state for a while. This wasn’t how I wanted to live. I wanted out of that cycle of pain and pain meds. I wanted my freedom back. I wanted to walk through a grocery store instead of using a ride on the cart. I wanted to walk with no pain. At that time I couldn’t imagine living the life I live today. I am finally completely pain free, diabetic free, my blood pressure is normal, and my cholesterol is normal which to me is amazing.
Matt: In order to move yourself in the right direction health wise, what are some of the things you do on a daily basis that have led you to get to where you’re at?
Mari: I don’t eat fried foods for starters. I also cut out things with a lot of salt or sugar. I now cook in my truck which saves me a ton of money and allows me to eat healthier much easier. I also invested in cooking equipment for my truck. I use a Foodie Ninja for all my meals and that is hands down the best piece of equipment I have on my truck. I bought a freezer on Amazon that I use to store meat and veggies in. That helps me stay prepared so I’m never forced to eat at gas stations or truck stops because I’m out of food. You just HAVE to be vigilant. You have to read the nutrition labels so you have to know what you’re putting into your body. I also had to learn how to eat less which was very difficult for me. Sometime you go to parties or social gatherings where you see everyone eating all these foods that you really love, and you have to practice self-control to not over indulge like you have in the past. That’s where you have to remind yourself why you’re doing this and why you started trying to be healthy in the first place. In those moments I have to remind myself that I didn’t want to die or be another statistic. I had a doctor tell me I had 2 years to live. In that case the choice is pretty easy. Either get healthy, or enjoy the last couple years of your life. I will say that the number one key to success in being healthy is a very strong support system. I had one and it helped get me through some tough times and ended up being what I needed the most. <p>
Matt: What advice would you give to other drivers who are considering making some changes to live healthier but don’t know how or where to begin?
Mari: For me, I think having a solid support system in place was my number one key. Once my friends were on board and I cleared my mind of all the negative thoughts I had towards myself, it was huge for me. There were many times I gave up on myself and that’s probably the number one enemy in life in general. You have to remind yourself on a daily basis “I’m worth it, I’m worth this fight.” If you’re considering making a change, fight for it, I promise it’s worth it. I’ve grown to be very passionate about this because I know how easy it is to say “I can’t do this anymore.” For me, that’s when I have to reach out to my husband and find comfort in my dog to give me strength. Like my dog needs to eat our bodies need exercise and movement. I’ve even made my dog a part of my exercise routine. So I would say you need someone that you can call in your darkest moment. Someone that won’t laugh at you when you call, but that will be there with you and say “You got this, you can do it, dig a little deeper.” I wanted to do something with my life, and truck driving seemed like the perfect fit for me. And I didn’t realize how perfect of a job it was going to become. I’ve had to learn how to take the challenges of this lifestyle to live the lifestyle that I want. Healthier, happier, and alive again.
Matt: So do you track or do anything to see how far you’ve come since you started with your healthier lifestyle?
Mari: No I do not track. Why? If I track, I become obsessed with the number on the scale. If it’s not what I want it to be I become obsessed with getting that extra weight off. It becomes unhealthy for me at that point. I believe that once you get where you’re comfortable with yourself that you can put the scale away and only weigh every once in a while. I’ll be honest, there is one habit I haven’t kicked since starting to live a healthier lifestyle. I drink a frappuccino every day. That’s the one thing I allow myself to do, my one vice. You can take things out of your life, stop eating things, and become a 100% clean eater, but the people I’ve know that do that tend to become a closet eater. You just have to learn to not go over your limits. That’s probably one of the hardest things to do, teaching yourself, “I don’t need that whole plate but instead going to half a plate, half a serving.” I’m big on using smaller plates for everyone. I think when you see that there’s empty space on a plate your brain tells you that you don’t have enough food. For this reason I switched to only eating on smaller plates.
Matt: So last question I’ll leave you with here…Do you have any parting wisdom to pass on to drivers that want to start getting healthier and making their health a priority?
Mari: Don’t give up on yourself. Keep fighting the good fight. Never ever allow yourself to think you’re not worth it or not good enough. Everything you do as a driver is so worth it. I’d like to end with a quick parting story that made me appreciate my job even more. One time on the road as a Prime driver I shook a soldiers hand and thanked him for serving our country. The soldier reached out, grabbed my hand and said, “No let me thank you.” I replied, “Why would you want to thank me?” The soldier said, “I want to thank you as a truck driver because you helped feed and clothe my family while I served 2 tours in Iraq.” It was all because I didn’t give up on my health that I got to enjoy this moment with this soldier. So I would say again don’t give up, keep up the fight, do what’s good for you.