It was a simple proposition for Benjie Burns: lose weight – a lot of it – or die.
That’s how the 40-year-old tanker driver from South Carolina saw his situation 10 months ago. In February he weighed 375 lbs., was on three different diabetes medicines and one for controlling his high blood pressure. He wore pants with a 54-inch waist.
Today, Burns weights 255 lbs., is taking no diabetes or blood pressure meds and slips into pants with a 44-inch waist easily. And, he wants to lose even more weight.
“I looked at myself in the mirror one day, and said, ‘If you don’t do something soon, you’re gonna die,’”
And, Burns did something.
He changed his eating habits – some might say drastically — and began a modest, but consistent exercise routine. Burns said he didn’t go on a diet; instead he made a total lifestyle change.
“I now feel super,” he said. “I feel like a brand new person.”
Now Burns, the former owner-operator who today drives for St. Louis-based Slay Transportation, wants to do even more: he wants to encourage others to do what he did. His Facebook page is titled Trucker Slim Down, and it tells some of his story and even includes routes he takes when walking, of which he does a lot.
Here are a couple of his more inspiring posts:
Burns confesses his weight loss approach has been helpful for him, but may not be for everyone. His routine: two healthy smoothies a day – breakfast and dinner and hit the salad bar at TA hard for lunch. He said he relies on Smoothieking for some of his meals.
He even sites a passage from the Bible as part of his slim down success. Genesis 1:29 reads, “Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.’”
While he eats loads of vegetables, Burns confesses there’s just some meat he won’t give up.
“I’m a deer hunter, and I have venison every day. I admit it,” he said.
Burns has an inverter in his truck and a blender on board and ingredients to make his healthy smoothies.
Burns said he also drinks plenty of water and since he’s not a coffee drinker, he indulges in the occasional diet Mountain Dew.
While he no longer takes meds for diabetes or blood pressure, he said he does take a cayenne pepper supplement and a Men’s One A Day vitamin each day.
His exercise routine includes walking as much as he can as often as he can. Burns said he relies on that old suggestion on how to sneak more exercise into your day: he parks his truck in the space farthest from the door of the truck stop or the terminal. He also walks on his 30-minute breaks. In all, he logs about 10 miles a week.
In addition, Burns has taken up kickboxing.
This driver whose father hauled tankers for 30 years hopes his story inspires others, but not just fellow drivers. Burns thinks the trucking industry, as a whole needs to get serious about driver obesity.
He said ideally, he’d like to visit companies and reach out to other drivers, tell them how he accomplished his weight loss and explain how they can too.
“I’d like to get more people onboard with weight loss,” said Burns. “Trucking would be a lot better off and a lot safer too.
“But, if I can help just one person, that would be great.”