Halvor Lines team sheds weight, wins goldBy teaming up and shedding the pounds, a dozen Halvor Lines Inc. employees earned national recognition last month. The Superior team lost a combined total of 380 pounds during the Third North American Battle of Trucking’s Weight Loss Showdown, taking the top spot in the nation. One Superior employee earned the individual trophy, as well.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
By teaming up and shedding the pounds, a dozen Halvor Lines Inc. employees earned national recognition last month. The Superior team lost a combined total of 380 pounds during the Third North American Battle of Trucking’s Weight Loss Showdown, taking the top spot in the nation. One Superior employee earned the individual trophy, as well. Driver manager Keith Kitch dropped 56 pounds, or 22 percent of his body weight, during the competition.
“It’s a whole lifestyle change,” he said. “Before I would look at food as a reward or treat. Now I treat it more as a fuel source.”
Another Halvor Lines employee lost 53 pounds; one of the drivers shed 40 pounds. Each member of the team lost at least 5 percent of their body weight. And their success stretched to encompass the entire business. Halvor Lines health and wellness coordinator Becca Matson said employees company-wide have lost 730 pounds and are focused on a goal of losing 1,000 pounds by the end of the year.
“The whole culture has changed around here,” she said. Before and after pictures of the team members are posted at the business; exercise classes are being held in the drivers lounge workout room; workout bands and pedometers are commonly seen in truck cabs.
“The success has caused interest,” Matson said.
Halvor Lines owner Jon Vinje steered the business into the competition. Over a 10-week period that started in June, participants followed the Lean for Life program, a moderate-carbohydrate, low-fat, moderate-protein menu plan coupled with exercise, nutrition education and lifestyle changes. The competitors also received weekly phone calls from coaches.
Kitch, 48, has been trying to lose weight off and on over the past 20 years. The difference this time, he said, was that “they program you how to think when you’re done, not just when you’re going through it.
“Anybody can do it,” he said. “It’s putting small steps together and staying on the path.”
About 80 percent of the process was diet modification, Mathews said. Often truck drivers skip breakfast and fuel up with a huge meal later in the day. Showdown participants were encouraged to eat smaller, balanced meals throughout the day and exercise to keep their metabolism revving.
“I just tell people to focus on three simple things you can change each week,” Mathews said, like drinking more water, eliminating cream from coffee or taking a 15-minute walk break each day.
“The little changes add up,” she said.
Kitch was a last-minute addition to the team; they were looking for a 12th participant, and his wife nominated him. He wasn’t expecting to lose much until he shed his first 10.5 pounds … in the first week. Then he was hooked.
“Since the program ended, I’m down another six pounds,” he said Friday. “I’m 188 now. I was 250 when I started. I can’t believe I got that big.”
Sticking to a diet was challenging, especially during a weeklong camping trip and his daughter’s graduation party.
“They wanted to do a Mexican theme, my favorite food,” Kitch said. He got through the night without sampling a taco or some refried beans by munching on a protein bar.
Before the challenge, a typical breakfast for Kitch would be eggs, pancakes and hashbrowns. Now, it would be eggs and yogurt. Bread and potatoes used to be staples; now they’re special treats. Veggies and lean meat comprise the bulk of Kitch’s diet, and he knows how many carbohydrates are in each dish he eats.
“I keep track of everything as far as carbs go,” Kitch said, and he practices portion control. Going out for pizza means eating a salad first, then selecting only a few slices to eat. Sitting down to watch the Vikings game means bringing a bowl of chips to savor, not eating a whole bagful.
The Weight Loss Showdown, sponsored by the Truckload Carriers Association, started in 2011 on the heels of an American Dietetic Association study that found 86 percent of long-haul truckers were overweight or obese. And, Kitch said, the average life span for truckers nationwide is 62 years.
“When you have grandchildren, you want to see them,” Kitch said. “Sixty-two years just isn’t enough.”
The competition one of many steps being taken at Halvor Lines this year to promote employee health. Matson said they also held a drivers’ focus group and developed meal plans for drivers.
Having won the competition, Halvor Lines Inc. will receive another $11,000 in services from the Lindora Clinic, which provides the Lean for Life program. Kitch received a $2,500 prize for his loss. He said he used part to buy a new TV for football season and bring his family to a Twins baseball game. Most of the rest, said the 48-year-old, will probably be earmarked for his children’s college.