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Health on the Highway

Health on the Highway

Sandi Suter’s small business is a lifeline for locals in her country community, but it’s also a handbrake on her health.

My day starts early. There’s no time for sleep-ins when your team travels hundreds of kilometres of country communities in New Zealand’s South Island, every day.

My companion transport service is crucial for a lot of elderly folks in regional communities like ours. Local transport options are limited and taxis often don’t provide the kind of assistance our clients need. People have come to rely on our service - be it medical appointments in the city, errands around town or simply getting friends together for an outing.

 

 

The business has even grown to include ‘Travel Club’ – bringing together old and new friends for trips to attractions around the region and ‘memory tours’ around town. We even make it all the way to Wellington for the annual national Wearable Arts festival!

I’m proud of what the team and I accomplish each day, but it’s not easy. With the first pick-ups at 7am (sometimes 6am), quick team meetings and a rushed breakfast set the pace for a day on-the-move.

When I’m not orchestrating drivers, I’m out on the road with clients myself, often for hours at a time.

I love the work. I’ve always enjoyed spending time with the elderly and helping them feel connected to their community. It’s a wonderful feeling to help remove those obstacles holding them back from the things they love to do. 

What I don’t love however, is the sedentary lifestyle that comes with it.

I’ve always considered myself to be an active, healthy, outgoing person. I still do – I just don’t have time to get out there and be active, healthy or outgoing!

At 54 years old, I have concerns about my health, weight and wellbeing. Specifically, I worry about the quality of food and lack of exercise that comes with my busy lifestyle.

I’m just not sure that I’ve got the balance right.

It’s certainly not through a lack of trying. Like most of us, I have a gym membership that’s not used enough, and I’ve made a conscious effort to prepare as many of my meals and snacks as possible.

A big one for me was taking the time to learn about nutrition as well. I’ve even done an online course to better understand my relationship with food. It was definitely time well spent and learning how to visualise a healthy diet has been a big help (hint – 8 pieces of vege and 2 fruits is my daily goal!).

I know what a healthy lifestyle looks like, my challenge is finding the time to get moving and avoiding those gas-station snacks and stress eating that undoes all my hard work.

So, about a month ago, I decided to draw a line in the sand and take charge of my diet by making better food choices.

 And here I am - 4 weeks later and genuinely surprised and pleased with the results!

 What’s changed? A bunch of little differences throughout the day that add up.

For a start, my usual lunchtime club sandwich has turned into a salad and my unhealthy snacking is almost non-existent! I find it easier to avoid sugary treats and potato chips on the road and stick to my prepared snacks (carrot sticks & nuts are my favourite). I find that my prepared meals from My Food Bag go further at dinner time, which make them great for lunch the next day – that never used to happen!

It’s really uplifting to see results, feel a little trimmer and be a little tougher in the face of sugary, convenient temptation.

That said, I know I need to get back into regular exercise and stick to my daily nutrition goals – that’s the real recipe for long-term health.

There’s a lot of trips to the gym ahead of me, but I feel like I’m off to a great start.

 

Sandi’s tips

  • Think first, eat later.
    • Take time to understand the basics of a healthy diet – food groups, the role of carbs & proteins and what healthy meals look like. I really enjoyed Dr Libby’s health and nutrition course and there are plenty of others online.
    • It doesn’t have to be fancy prepared meals from My Food Bag, simply making lunch (or in my case, healthy road snacks) has been a big help in keeping my diet in check. Preparation gives me options and makes it easier to resist the sugar, salty or fatty temptations on the road.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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