Category Archives: Health

Heart Your Kidneys on the Road

By Sarah Moon

Kidneys are small but mighty. They filter around 50 gallons of blood every single day to remove waste products. Working hard day in and day out can cause stress on the kidneys if you aren’t taking preventative measures and living a healthy lifestyle. Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a condition in which kidneys do not filter blood properly and leaves the body’s waste products to build up. This can lead to many negative health effects, but the primary concern of CKD is it leading to kidney failure, and when your kidneys stop working, so do you.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, 1 in 3 Americans are at risk for kidney disease and prevalence is on the rise. Often times, people do not even know of their condition until it is too late. Some risk factors to consider are diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, being of age 60 or older, and a family history of kidney disease. If you have one or more of the following risk factors, it may be a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor next time you’re in and talk about kidney disease, or stop by one of the free KEEP Healthy kidney screenings.

Prevention is crucial with kidney disease, but it is not always an easy road. Truckers have a more difficult and unique challenge when trying to be kidney-healthy. Between sitting in your truck for a good part of the day to the food choices on the road, it can be a whirlwind of obstacles to get through to keep your kidneys’ strong and pristinely functioning. Here are a few tips to #HeartYourKidneys and reduce your risk of developing kidney problems:

  1. Stay hydrated
    • Water is crucial to kidney function. When you stay hydrated, blood flows easier to the kidneys. Dehydration can slow that blood flow down and eventually lead to kidney damage. To ensure you’re getting enough, try this water bottle that tracks your intake and reminds you when you need fluids.
  2. Don’t smoke
    • Smoking is a risk factor for many chronic illnesses and kidney disease is no exception. The kidneys can’t filter properly because smoking decreases blood flow throughout the body.
  3. Skip the salt
    • The recommended amount of sodium for a day is one teaspoon. However, Americans consume about 50% more than that on any given day. Cutting down on salt is a difficult task because it is hidden in a number of foods. Asking your waiter/waitress to serve your meal without salt is a good start. You can also try reading food labels for a week. You may be surprised what types of foods contain salt!
  4. Don’t skip the fruits and vegetables
    • Diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure both can stem from a poor diet. The easiest swap that can be done on the road is if you are eating at a restaurant, swap fruit or vegetables in for fries or any starchy side dish.
  5. Exercise When You Get the Chance
    • Exercising regularly helps the body maintain a healthy weight and prevents many diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. It also helps regulate your blood pressure. Prolonged sitting can be linked to kidney disease, so exercising can be done to offset the negative effects. Opt for the stairs or park your truck at distance for easy ways to get in more steps!

Kidney deterioration happens over the course of many years from the added stress we put on them, but by being mindful of the risks and working to mitigate those stressors we can have happier and healthier hauls in the future!

Have questions about kidney disease? The National Kidney Foundation can help! Call toll-free at 1.855.NKF.CARES (1.855.653.2273). For more tips on keeping your kidneys healthy, visit www.kidney.org or follow them on Facebook!

10 Shower Bag Essentials

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Shower bags are a very important part of a drivers daily life, especially when he/she spends a long time away from home.  We have learned through the years that a well thought out and stocked shower bag can make us feel the comforts of home no matter where we may happen to be showering.

If your bag happens to be an over the shoulder style, you might consider getting one that has wheels on it.  It doesn’t take long for weight to add up.  By the time you get your clothes, soap, shampoo, conditioner, personal hygiene items, brushes, comb, personal appliances, etc., having wheels could certainly be a welcome addition.

For drivers who are just entering the profession, it would be a good idea to have a cosmetic bag or caboodle case if you’re a woman, or a shaving kit if you’re a man.  You can use this every morning to take into the truck stop or rest area with you so you can brush your teeth, wash your face, comb your hair and help get yourself going in the morning or the afternoon depending on when your day gets started.  Your bag essentials are:  toothbrush, toothpaste, a small hand towel or washcloth, deodorant, comb or brush, moisturizer or lotion, razor, perfume or after shave and any special soap or necessity.  I also ALWAYS carry a spray disinfectant to kill any germs that may have been unintentionally overlooked and left behind! You can never be too careful these days, right?  It’s no different than carrying hand sanitizer.  There are a lot of ugly germs out there and we drivers lead a solitary life that is mostly protected, so taking those extra precautions make sense for our lifestyle.

Some drivers have habits like wearing shower shoes.  This could be a pair of cheap flip flops that are used only in the shower.  Some use a hand towel to lay down by the sink to lay your personal items on.  Bath mat towels or paper mats are always nice for when you get out of the shower.

Newly remodeled showers at the Iowa 80 Truckstop in Walcott, IA

We love when the truck stop provides a hair dryer, especially when it’s cold outside and you really shouldn’t be going outside with wet hair.  It’s not a bad idea to carry your own hair dryer for the times that the truck stop doesn’t provide them.

There are some days that just being able to stand under that warm or hot water is just what you need to get rejuvenated and ready to go out there and get on down the road!  The places that have good water pressure and private showers that are nicer than my bathroom at home, always make it to the top of my ‘favorite place to shower’ list.

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Beating the Winter Blues

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

The nights are longer, the days are shorter and the cold can chill you to the bone! By the time winter is over most people are suffering from cabin (and “cab”) fever. Rather than let it get you down, find ways to beat it and keep you happy ’til April showers bring May flowers and the warmth of summer returns.

If you are fortunate enough to run south in the winter, maybe you can take a me day and find a beach, watch the sun set into the gulf, or the moon come up out of the ocean. Have lunch or dinner at a nice little place overlooking the ocean and listen to the soothing sound of the waves crashing on shore.

If you happen to be in a place like Vero Beach, you can park at the truck stop, call a cab or get an Uber and head to the beach. If you don’t have time for that, just get out of the truck and into the sunshine. It will be just what the doctor would order. Not everyone has the luxury of running Florida or the southern coast states in the winter so you might have to find other ways to have fun and beat those winter blues before they beat you!

A lot of theaters have enough room to park a truck. Get a big tub of popcorn with lots of butter, a big Coke and take in a good movie. Hopefully they have a good comedy playing as they say laughter is the best medicine. Go take a big spoonful!

So many malls won’t let us park there anymore but if you can find one that will you don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a good time. Here you can “mall walk” and get some exercise and when you’re done with that sit down and people watch. I have found that can be quite entertaining. If there are a few things you need to shop for hopefully what you’re looking for is on sale. Sometimes a little retail therapy can go a long way, for women and men!

If a friend’s house happens to be in your flight path stop and visit. I have always liked to stop and see friends when the opportunity presents itself. I make a point to do this even more, we aren’t getting any younger and it seems that so much is happening time spent with friends is priceless.

It is always nice when you can get a hotel room. Get out of the truck, watch TV, order a pizza or Chinese to be delivered and just relax. See if there is something close by worth checking out. Anytime you can take a break, get away from the truck for the night, just get out of there and treat yourself to a ‘mini’ vacation, it will refresh you and give you a new outlook on life. Sometimes, we just need it.

A friend introduced me to K1 Go Kart racing. There are several places across the country where you can do this and boy is it fun. Take out a little frustration and go have a good time! Let’s face it we’re drivers and this is driving for fun as well as a little friendly competition!

Book a spa day where you go and you have a massage (this is a great stress relief). If you’re a lady driver, get a mani/pedi. Maybe be daring and try one of the polishes that change colors when it’s hot or cold. It’s fun and there is nothing wrong with doing something that makes you feel better or pretty.

For the guys, maybe you could stop into a Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shop kind of place and wander around for a bit. Some have a shooting range so you could do a little target practice. Whatever you do make it fun. It’s the best way to beat back the winter blues until spring has sprung!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Cooking in the Truck 101

Cooking in the truck 101By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Some drivers have cooking in the truck perfected, but this blog is for the drivers who are just getting started or want to dip their toes in the kitchen and see if this will work for them.

Let’s get cookin’!  A lot of companies provide generators and a small refrigerators in each truck.  If your company provides these it will be easier, but if they don’t you can still make it work.  After all, we did years ago before many of today’s conveniences became standard equipment. For a minimal initial investment you can get started cooking your own meals. This allows you to keep the wheels turning and earn money while the smell of dinner cooking wafts throughout your entire cab! When it’s time to stop for the night you’ll have fresh, hot food ready to eat right in your truck.

If you don’t have a generator or an inverter you can purchase appliances that use power from the 12-volt cigarette lighter plug.  A lunch box cooker is priced at most truck stops between $30-$40, a small hot pot runs about $20-$25, and a refrigerator will cost $200+ (you can even start out with a cooler and ice until you gather all these other 12 volt goodies!) If you are going to cook, it’s a must to be able to keep food cold.

After gathering a few of these appliances, you will need the food. The cookers include a few recipes and there are also many online resources you can tap into for ideas. Let’s use a simple dinner example of pork chops and mushroom gravy, mashed potatoes and peas.

First make a list of ingredients. It’s really easy to over-buy, which can be a problem if you don’t have much storage space. Get a couple of spices, salt & pepper, and butter. These are staples that we always seem to use. The lunch box cooker will let you cook meats, bake a cake, and get creative all while enjoying the aroma of your cooking lunch or supper. Get a small package of the foil liners for the cooker, it makes clean up a breeze!

Back to the list. On that list you should also add everything you need for easy clean up.  Paper plates and bowls, plastic silverware, paper towels, baggies and a big container of antibacterial wipes. I’ve used them for years without ever having a problem getting sick from clean up of my appliances or utensils.

Cooking in the Truck 101- Some drivers have cooking in the truck perfected but this blog is for the drivers who are just getting started, or want to dip their toes in the kitchen and see if this will work for them.Get a small package of pork chops (2 chops), 1 can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, 1 small bag frozen petite green peas, 1 small envelope of garlic or butter instant potatoes, 1 small container milk, 1 small butter/margarine, salt and pepper.

First, put the pork chops into the foil liner inside the lunchbox cooker and cover with the cream of mushroom soup. Then, plug it in and cook it according to directions, usually 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pork, like chicken, needs to be thoroughly cooked and the stirring keeps it from sticking to the bottom. The foil liner isn’t a requirement, but you will find that it is well worth the extra investment! Depending on the thickness of the chops, the time to cook will vary, you will have to determine that by checking them yourself.

When you stop, fill the hot pot with water to boil the peas. When they are done, remove them and use the same water to add the instant potatoes in a bowl so you get the nutrients from the peas as well as the flavor! If you don’t have enough water left, add some and reboil before making the potatoes, making sure to add dry potatoes SLOWLY as they take a few seconds to get to proper texture.

When everything is done, put it together on a plate, add the gravy on top of the chops and potatoes and voila! Hot, hearty supper in the truck! This works no matter where you happen to be! Cooking in the truck can be a life saver, and a reminder of home, when you find yourself in the middle of nowhere. You may find that you enjoy it and just the beginning of a lifetime of “Cooking In The Truck.” Happy Cooking!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

It’s Cookout Time

It's Cookout Time | Trucker Tips

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

One of the things most of us look forward to this time of year is getting outside and firing up the barbecue. After the long, cold winter nothing beats getting out and grilling your favorite; whether it is a steak, burger, hot dog, chicken, or a pork chop.

On the weekends a backyard barbecue brings friends and neighbors and it becomes a party. Break out the grill in a truck stop, and we have seen that same party you would have at home happen in a parking lot. Drivers will all chip in and buy the ingredients for the perfect barbeque.  Friendships can be made, not to mention that it’s really nice to spend time with other people who do the same thing you do and really understand what you are doing for a living. When you are on the road it helps to bring just a little bit of the normalcy of home.

It’s Cookout Time- One of the things most of us look forward to this time of year is getting outside and firing up the barbecue. After the long, cold winter nothing beats getting out and grilling your favorite; whether it is a steak, burger, hot dog, chicken, or a pork chop.If you have the space to store a small grill and a bag of charcoal, you can buy a nice little Smoky Joe Weber for about $30, or tool box size propane fueled gas grills are also readily available. We carried a cool little collapsible charcoal grill that folded completely flat and fit into a carrying bag that measured about 12”x12”. It was perfect for the truck and was less than an inch thick when flat. We used pre-soaked charcoal so we had less stuff to tote. If you don’t have the space to store something disposable, one time use grills are available. They come complete with charcoal and you can purchase them almost anywhere. With this style, after you use it, be sure to let it cool down or soak it completely before throwing away.  Likewise, if you purchase a grill you can reuse ALWAYS make sure it’s completely cool before you clean it up and put it away.

It doesn’t take up much space to carry along a few spices, the necessary tongs (which will probably handle anything you would ever cook on the grill) along with a metal brush to clean off the grill and you’re all set! Paper plates and plastic utensils are your friend here, easy clean-up is a must when you are having fun!

We would like to share a yummy summer recipe from our dear friend Bette Garber. Years ago she was at our house after the Jamboree and we were having a barbecue. She decided to put a little twist on the traditional cucumber salad. I’ve been making it ever since. It’s always a hit.

Bette’s Cucumber Salad

  • 2 Cucumbers
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes or 1 large tomato
  • 1 small can jalapeno sliced black olives
  • 1 small jar of artichoke hearts
  • Bottle of Balsamic Vinaigrette

Slice the cucumbers and onions. Cut up the tomatoes. Drain the juice off the olives. Cut up the artichokes do not drain the juice. Mix everything all together including the artichoke juice pour on the balsamic vinaigrette to cover. Enjoy! This is a great dish to take to a summer potluck. Make it the day before. It’s even better after the flavors mix!

Here is another easy and healthy recipe that you can keep in the fridge and use at your barbeque or as a snack.

Summer Cottage Cheese

  • 1 tub of cottage cheese
  • 1 medium tomato
  • Fresh Basil (dry if fresh is not available)
  • Pepper

Cut up the tomato. Chop the fresh basil. Mix everything together add pepper   to taste. This is better if you let it set and the flavors mix before serving.

It’s Cookout Time- One of the things most of us look forward to this time of year is getting outside and firing up the barbecue. After the long, cold winter nothing beats getting out and grilling your favorite; whether it is a steak, burger, hot dog, chicken, or a pork chop.

Both of these recipes are easy, healthy and ingredients are readily available, plus they can be easily made in your truck. We would also suggest using a can of baked beans which are very healthy, delicious and can be heated either in your microwave or on your grill right in the can (once you’ve opened it, of course!) Eating like this gives drivers the opportunity to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and meet other drivers. It promotes camaraderie that you don’t otherwise get; trust us! Breaking bread with fellow drivers in a parking lot can be a very rewarding and really fun experience!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Food & Fitness on the Road

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

It’s not always easy to get and stay healthy when you are a driver, but many truck stops like Iowa 80, are helping by offering fitness centers where drivers can workout whenever they have time off. Some truck stops have even built walking paths where a driver, or a driver and their pet, can get out and take a nice leisurely walk.

Walking is great exercise, its low impact, good for getting your blood pumping and working your muscles, besides, getting fresh air is always good for you! Parking way at the back of the lot is an option many times, doing this will increase your exercise for the day just by making the distance you have to walk that much farther to get into the truck stop itself. If you choose this option, be sure you are extra vigilant when you are out walking around among moving trucks, always be sure they can see you and take extra precautions to remain safe. NEVER walk out from between two trucks, stay in aisles and driveways, stay in lighted areas, wear visible clothing, carry a small flashlight to be sure other drivers can see you! The best prevention is caution.

Food & Fitness on the Road- It’s not always easy to get and stay healthy when you are a driver, but many truck stops like Iowa 80, are helping by offering fitness centers where drivers can workout whenever they have time off.
Fitness Center at Iowa 80 The World’s Largest Truckstop

There are many useful tools today that are available to help us get and stay fit; from something as simple and basic as a pedometer to something that I, personally have, a FitBit. I love it! It not only keeps track of my exercise, my steps, my calories, etc., it tracks my sleep! It tells me how much, how well and how interrupted my sleep was. It’s amazing. I set it to sync it with my iPhone continually and I charge the dongle about once a week (it even tells me when it needs to be recharged), and it keeps me on track with as much information as I choose to input. This thing even has a feature on it that allows me to set a silent alarm! It vibrates around my wrist so it can wake or alert me without bothering anyone else, I happen to think that’s pretty cool. There are also plenty of apps available you can put on your smartphone that are free and easy to use; apps like Map My Walk, Fitness Buddy, Daily Workouts and such. All of these can provide  you with help on your journey to get fit.

 

Eating right is not always easy to do while on the road. The ‘grab -n- go’ choices that are so readily available to us are usually the wrong choices. There are alot of greasy, fatty, salty, starchy, sugary fast foods with zero nutritional value. Thankfully though, changes are being made, there are healthier options showing up if you just look for them. There are fresh salads and fresh fruit cups at almost every truck stop fuel island these days along with mixed nuts, hard boiled eggs, celery and carrot sticks as well as yogurt and cottage cheese. There are also a variety of granola and protein bars. The right choices are there and available, it’s up to us to choose them. You have to fuel your body like you fuel your rig if you expect to keep them both running and running right.

Soup is a winner any time but seems to taste even better on a bitter cold day or night. Chili is good and most places have that one as a staple and then offer a variety of other choices sometimes rotating them on a day to day basis. We have noticed that a lot of truck stops have begun carrying 3 or 4 different soups on their take out counter area so that its an easy thing to get, hot, nutritious soup to go.

Food & Fitness on the Road- It’s not always easy to get and stay healthy when you are a driver, but many truck stops like Iowa 80, are helping by offering fitness centers where drivers can workout whenever they have time off.
Fitness Center at the Joplin 44 Petro

The beating our bodies take while driving our nation’s highways is beyond description at times and it definitely does a number on us physically. There are times you get so out of whack that you really would benefit from a visit to a chiropractor, both of us are firm believers in them! It’s a wonderful thing when you find a truck stop that has one, getting an adjustment can do wonders for an aching body!

 

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.