Koh Samet, Thailand
The Princess of Pavement reminds me of two universal principles.
First, that while bad things happen to good people, we are not powerless in changing our situation. And second, if you have a good deal, protect it.
The Princess, my friend and fellow blogger, is a Type 1 insulin-dependent diabetic. Unlike truck drivers, who often let a good deal go bad and end up with diet-induced diabetes, known as Type 2 diabetes, or other unhealthy conditions, my friend’s bad deal was bestowed upon her at nine years of age. Too early to have let a good deal go bad.
There is much that I envy about the Princess. She is smart, funny and charming, and as you can see by the photo, beautiful. But the quality that I admire is that she is feisty. She embodies every sense of the dictionary definition, “full of animation, energy and courage; spirited; spunky; plucky.” She can be a little difficult, she divulges this in her blog, but you would be to, living with demon Diabetes, and aren’t all beautiful women a little difficult.
The Princess reminds me every time I check in on her — that while she must prick her finger daily to test her blood sugars, fingers that are raw from more than 20 years of poking — that I have a good deal. A body that works. She wears an insulin pump, she does daily calculations, which after months of reading about them I still don’t understand how they work or what they mean.
Despite all the things that we read, know or think we know about diabetes, here’s one we don’t, she has not forsaken a non-diabetes lifestyle. She enjoys her food and desserts — she is a master baker, turning her nose up to the latest diabetes advancement, so-called sugar-free treats — and wine. She travels despite the diabetes gear and including the sneakers. Her blog details the agonies and victories in a life with diabetes.
The key to having it all? Exercise. There is no success, in any endeavour, without persistence, and she makes a persistent effort, staying active, with such aplomb that I often feel like a whiner and a complainer.
The most troublesome aspect of a Life With No Fixed Address is that our lifestyle is both its best part and its worst part. We love our vagabond ways, but it’s hard to eat well and exercise when we wake up in a different state most mornings, when we can travel from Los Angeles to New York in 60 hours, when we have a change in weather, winter-to-summer in 24 hours, when we don’t know the location of the closest grocery store or if the road at the truck stop is safe enough for a walk or a bike ride, and more often than not, it’s not and the task is overwhelming. In a hotel, even here in Thailand, MacGyver opens his eyes and asks: Where are we?
Staying healthy and fit is our greatest concern. When I look around the truck stop, I see the alternative, the overweight and obese. More drivers are worrying about it too, we see a few lifting weights at the truck stop, TA and Petro are providing some gyms, one guy at the Flying J in Winchester, Virginia was riding a unicycle, more drivers are like us, carrying bicycles. Drivers have started to track and trade cycling routes.
This month it will be four years since we loaded a rental car and drove from New York City to Carlisle, Pennsylvania to Schneider School. Four years of a largely sedentary lifestyle, relieved by some walking and biking. Miraculously we are within a few pounds of our starting weight. All I can say is: We are what we eat. No soda — truck drivers drink enormous quantities, using port-a-potty-sized mugs — little junk food, lots of fruit and vegetables and limited meat protein. No second helpings at the TA. Never. Even though they are free. Reading labels, looking for low sodium and no added sugar. It helped that we couldn’t back up the truck easily for the first few months limiting our opportunities to visit McDonald’s or Burger King or Iron Skillet or Denny’s on the spur of the moment.
We spend big money on good food, at Whole Foods, Portland’s New Seasons Market and of course, Wegman’s, our favorite with its yummy sushi and deli of homecooked meals, steamed and grilled vegetables.
Our problem is that we don’t get enough exercise. Often we don’t feel we can take the time, which is ridiculous.
Successful new starts for me begin in March. I quit smoking March 1, 1990 after almost 20 years of thinking that I looked sophisticated dragging on my cigarette. I quit drinking one March for ten years — saving an unbelievable pile of money because SIN taxes in Canada are astronomic — because I thought I’d had enough white wine and Vodka and Tonic, I blame journalism, in my 20s to do me until my 40s. I recently quit again because my body simply doesn’t want anymore alcohol not even one glass of champagne. My best exercise intentions have also started in March.
This month I am channeling the Princess of Pavement. There are no marathons in my future, the Princess has done it, or half-marathons. Definitely no running. I hate sweating. I am the Queen of Cheesy Exercise. I used the treadmill at the hotel in Bangkok every morning since we arrived, 30 minutes, working my pace up from 3.0 to 3.5 mph in a week, including 10 minutes of upping the incline for one-minute intervals for a little extra burn. Each morning at the beach, I have been stretching and swimming spending 30 minutes moving.
When I get back to the truck with my new habit, my intention is to move every day for 20-to-30 minutes, walking or skipping my rope or using the resistance bands and five pound weights that have been rolling around in the truck for four years.
My reward? Other than health, in July, I will fit into my wedding dress. While it was last worn in 2002, it fit when we started trucking and its the same dress I wore the day MacGyver asked me for our first date in 1991.