Before and after shots of John Drury.
Earlier this month, we shared a CNN story about “Big” John Drury and his amazing weight loss transformation. John started off at 400 pounds and was living an unhealthy lifestyle on the road. However, through eating right, exercise, and a positive attitude, he has lost 100 pounds. John attributes a big portion of his weight loss to dancing, which he rediscovered through Zumba classes, and he now runs dance fitness classes on the weekend. John took some time out of his busy schedule to speak with us about his weight loss, and how he became the “dancing truck driver.”
RM: Explain what your pre-weight loss life was like.
JD: Prior to becoming a truck driver, I was a skinny guy. Throughout high school, I danced and played sports. Where I grew up was kind of a rough neighborhood, so dancing, particularly break dancing, was part of the culture. In 1994, I got married, and actually met my wife on the dance floor. In 2002, I began driving a truck and in 10 years, I went from 260 pounds to 400 pounds. I worked for US food delivery, and when I dropped off stuff at restaurants, they would always feed me.
RM: What did you normally do for exercise before you lost the weight?
JD: Before my weight loss, I never exercised. My job was my exercise — I carried 50 pound bags of potatoes up and down the ramp, and worked 60 to 70 hours a week. I always had excuses about why I could not exercise outside of work, though.
RM: What did you typically eat while on the road prior to your weight loss?
JD: I drank a lot of chocolate milk — and not the small sizes — like 32 ounces of it. I was also big on sweets and donuts, it was all grab-and-go for me. I drank a lot of Coke and Mountain Dew as well. I really had no restraint — everything was just a factor of convenience. I really just ate whatever was at the truck stop like Pizza Hut or Popeye’s. All the time while I was eating this stuff, I knew I was killing myself.
RM: What was the moment you decided that a change needed to be made?
JD: Three things took place in my life that really hit close to home, and made me realize it was time to change my ways. A cousin of mine passed away at a young age of bone cancer, it really was very sad and seeing his young children at the funeral without their father really scared me. Then a fellow truck driver, a good friend of mine, passed away due to complications from obesity. This guy was on similar meds that I was on as a result of our lifestyles. I was trying to lose weight, and would take small steps towards my goal of losing weight, but could not get over the hump. Then a local radio station had a biggest loser competition, and I basically begged them to let me on. I got help and worked really hard. I am a very competitive guy, so I wanted to win.
RM: So why did you pick dancing as your method to lose weight?
JD: I have always had a passion for dancing that goes back to the mid 80’s. I was a break dancer when I was younger. I grew up in a rough neighborhood, and sports, music, and dancing kept me out of trouble. Dancing was kind of a way of life for me back then. So after I started losing some weight with the Biggest Loser Competition, I started to feel good about myself, so I started dancing again. I would go to these Zumba classes and I was the only guy in the room, but I love dancing, so I felt very comfortable doing it. Dancing was just my thing. I knew God gifted me with rhythm and I was meant to teach.
RM: Talk about your diet and what you eat now.
JD: I now prepare most my meals instead of eating out. In the mornings, I have a protein shake to get my metabolism going. I drink a lot of water every day now (instead of soda), and I try to stay off the salt. Portion control is very important. I try to stay around 2000 calories a day because that is the right amount for me. Pre-weight loss, my favorite food was southern fried chicken. Now, I really like salmon with steamed vegetables and rice. Losing weight is really all in your head. A lot of people believe they cannot do it, but everyone can do it.
RM: Is it difficult to stay healthy on the road?
JD: You know, I cheat every once in a while. I lost 100 pounds by the beginning of 2012. I am still battling though. I now know what I am supposed to do, and I am helping others with their weight loss goals. I still have a weight loss goal, and am working towards that.
RM: How do you stay healthy on the road?
JD: I am more local these days, and am able to come home at night. I walk around a lot, and when I was at the truck stops, I used to just get out of my truck and just walk.
RM: How have you encouraged other drivers out there to start losing weight?
JD: My employer wrote up an article about me in an effort to help spread my story. I just tell people to take little steps: get your heart rate up, 40 minutes a day of just walking, eat right, do not eat before bed, and always eat breakfast because it gets your metabolism going. My mission is to try and create a workout DVD for truck drivers. These truck drivers might not feel comfortable going to a Zumba class, but in their own home, they might feel more comfortable.
RM: What is the one message you want to get out to people who are struggling with weight loss and living a healthy lifestyle?
JD: Start believing that you can lose the weight. We can make excuses but really there are no excuses. Everyone can do it. It all starts in your head, and from there it’s the little things. You just need to believe in yourself, and get the momentum going. Keep track of your results, and get excited about losing weight. The whole process can be very empowering. Through weight loss, you can become more confident and happier about just living life.
RM: What can the trucking industry do to promote healthier lifestyles?
JD: There need to be more options at truck stops, such as a wider variety of healthy foods. I envision more gyms and basketball courts at truck stops, and when the drivers are on their 10-hour break they can sleep and get a workout in.
RM: Finally, we have to ask about the TI quote tattooed on your head?
JD: The tattoo is just me, I have always had tattoos and I am a really passionate guy. “The old me is dead and gone” really ties into my weight loss: the old me was the 400 pound guy, and he is dead and gone.
How about you, readers? Do you have any tips for success on losing weight or staying healthy while on the road? Let us know in the comments below! And be sure to keep up with John on his Facebook page.