Recently I had the privilege of sitting down with one of our very own Prime drivers, Lorrie Knapp. I learned about her story, how she manages to stay healthy on the road, and how being healthy essentially saved her life. Check out our conversation below.
Matt: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how your path led you to come to work for Prime?
Lorrie: I've always wanted to be a truck driver, but I chose not to pursue it for awhile because of my children. I started off by driving a school bus for 36 years and then started training new drivers for 25 years. It was a great job to raise my children because I was home nights, weekends, holidays and summers. I retired for about a year and then decided to try my hand at truck driving at 55 years old.
Matt: How long have you been at Prime? What type of driver are you?
Lorrie: I came to Prime in January of 2014 and currently work in the Reefer division. I was solo for 3 years, did TNT for a few months, and then went team in January 2017. I enjoy being a team driver more than solo.
Matt: What motivates you to stay on track in your health journey? Did you want more energy? To get your health numbers better? To be healthier for your family?
Lorrie: Back in 1995 I had some heart problems and angioplasty, but overall, I thought I was at a good weight and in decent shape before coming to Prime. But then I began my career as a truck driver and immediately starting gaining weight. I tried to stay positive and told myself to get through the first year then I would deal with the pounds I put on. Spoiler alert... That didn't happen. Then, in November 2015, I had a heart attack on the road. To recover I went home and got off the road for about 4 months. When I got back on the road i had several complications from the excess weight I had put on. One being that my legs hurt so bad that I would be tears just on the walk from the fuel island to the bathroom. I didn't know what was wrong. Finally, in 2017 I found an answer. I had Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). Over the following 2 years I was in the catheter lab around 10 times to get the blockages in my legs cleared. I then started focusing my efforts on getting healthier…The right way. I started a whole foods plant based approach and in just two weeks the pain was gone! I am still amazed today at how fast this happened. To be able to walk across a parking lot without looking for a light pole to sit at is a wonderful thing! My motivation was to be able to walk without pain. The weight loss was just an added bonus that came along as I started to clean up my diet. Nowadays I can eat all I want and the weight keeps coming off. Not a bad problem to have!
Matt: When did you start dialing in the process it took you to get to this point in your health? When did it click that I HAVE to start getting healthier?
Lorrie: Mid-June 2019. Looking back I had my last leg unblocked April 1, 2019 and was having a reaction to my cholesterol medication at the time so my doctor changed it. Once he did it made everything worse. I hurt absolutely everywhere. My bones, muscles and skin hurt to the touch, even from something as light as a sheet. So then I was taken off cholesterol medication after being on it for 25 plus years. Now that was scary. I didn’t know how I was going to survive. The cardiologist told me the only cure was to wait for a new procedure or medication that could help my legs with the pain I was having. I asked if I came off the road would if help my legs. He said "No, you are so riddled with the disease it won't matter." My last conversation with my cardiologist was back in April of 2019. I told him if I don't start losing this weight I was getting off the road by the end of the year. Then he said “Well maybe we can get you eating cleaner then.” At the time, nothing clicked in my head about what he said. I just knew I had to figure a way to get rid of my extra weight. I had been living with the pain in my legs for 5 years, and this was where my journey to being healthier all started.
Matt: Take me through what a typical day looks like for you out on the road and how you manage to weave health into each day or at least into most days.
Lorrie: My way of eating is Whole Foods Plant Base SOS free (salt oil sugar). I use a 6 qt. instapot to batch cook white and sweet potatoes. I also batch cook old fashion rolled oats and use a cooking bag to make the cleanup process easier. Once the oatmeal cools I cut the corner of the bag and squeeze into the bowls. I add 1 tbsp. of ground flaxseeds, frozen berries, unsweetened almond milk and then, most important, is a sliced banana for the sweetness. I have a small rice cooker to batch cook my white and brown rice. The freezer is filled with frozen veggies too. My food groups are fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. I don't do oil, salt, sugar, coffee, meat and dairy. Herbal teas have been my drink of choice. It's not easy making salads unless you buy everything pre-bagged so my go to for a salad is to go to Subway. Most the time I eat veggies with potatoes, or I'll make a bowl with rice, beans, lettuce, salsa and hot sauce. I also have 2 meatless chili recipes I use and a cabbage/veggie soup recipe as well. The only supplement that is needed when eating whole food plant base is B12 and vitamin D. You should be tested for vitamin D before taking though just to be on the safe side.
Matt: Healthy habits and a routine are good things to fall back on when you start trying to make your life healthier. What habits or routines have you created to help you stay to on track when it all starts to fall down around you and life gets stressful and hectic? If any…
Lorrie: Always batch cook. Have food in the fridge ready to eat. Keep your environment clean. Nothing in the truck is something I can't have. I also carry balsamic vinegar for times I have to get a salad outside the truck. It’s healthier and lower in calories and less additives than most dressings.
Matt: What advice would you give to other drivers that are considering making changes to get healthier, but just don’t know where to start? Or that say it just isn’t possible being a truck driver?
Lorrie: If you don't think you can go 100 percent in on being healthy then break it down into smaller steps. Add veggies and then add more veggies. Make your plate 50% veggies for every meal. I found an air fryer at a truck stop on Iowa 80 that my inverter can handle and I am always making crispy potatoes and fries. Also…Read labels! Oil is in everything. Try to avoid this ingredient as much as you can. I read “The Starch Solution” by Dr. McDougall and , “Ultimate Weight Loss” by Chef A.J. and it helped to change my perspective about what I eat everyday. I encourage you to educate yourself and do the same.
Matt: Do you track your weight or measure how far you’ve come since beginning your workout and diet routine? If so, what improvements have you seen? More energy, better focus, weight loss, etc.? Improved health numbers?
Lorrie: I do track my weight and I'm down 52 pounds since my journey began. When I started the whole foods plant based diet it had nothing to do with weight. I simply made the change because I wanted to be healthier. There is no calorie counting. I eat till I'm full. Living without pain is enough to keep me going. The fantastic thing I got from all this is that I can finally walk. It feels great to be able to walk into Walmart and do my own shopping! I have so much more energy and I feel great compared to what I used to. I'm still off cholesterol medication and I’ve been taken off one of my blood thinners as well. I haven’t found the time for exercise quite yet but I do walk as much as I can.
I'm down 52 pounds since my journey began. When I started the whole foods plant based diet it had nothing to do with weight. I simply made the change because I wanted to be healthier.