Whether you’re an independent owner operator, company driver or a local driver, you know that the isolation of solo driving can impact your mental health. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which makes it a good time for us to talk about trucker mental health, a serious subject that hasn’t always been in the spotlight but that needs to be. According to some estimates, truckers face depression rates that are eight times higher than that of the general population. With this in mind, we recently had the good fortune to speak with Candace Rivers, founder and owner of Fit’s Possible Trucking. Through Fit’s Possible, Candace provides one-on-one, group and digital support to individual truckers and carriers around trucker mental and physical health.

Read on to learn more about Candace and how you can use her habit-building approach to improve your mental (and physical) health.

The Inspiration To Work with Truckers

“My path toward working with truckers all started with God, to be honest with you,” said Candace. “I’ve been in the fitness industry since I was 19 and I’m 38 now. I was an athlete my entire life, but I’ve always been interested in advocacy and making fitness possible for everyone. A few years ago, I was at a place where I was thriving, but I felt like there was something I wasn’t doing that I was supposed to be doing. I live right off Interstate 20, which runs through Alabama where I live, and I was hopping on the interstate one particular day and I was talking to God in the car, saying my career in fitness had been a blessing, but I asked God if there was something more that I needed to do. All of a sudden after I asked that question, I felt some of the darkest ugliest, nastiest feelings I’ve ever experienced out of blue. Then I heard the words, ‘They’re forgotten about and they think they don’t matter.’ I realized in that moment that I was surrounded on all sides by trucks and truck drivers sitting in traffic. Here I was, an advocate for people for fitness and up until that point, not once had I heard somebody talk about truckers and fitness or health. I knew at that point that the Lord wanted me to help truckers be healthier and happier, and to let them know they matter.”

At the time, Candace wasn’t connected to trucking and transportation at all. To educate herself about the industry, she started researching trucking and learning about the specific challenges that truckers face in their day-to-day routines. She visited local truck stops to talk to truckers and pick their brains about what kept them from exercising, eating right and making time for themselves.

“So I would go into truck stops and tell the truckers there that I was doing research to try to see how I could help them,” Candace shared. “Most of the drivers told me that there is nothing for them on the road to support a healthy life. They didn’t know what they were supposed to eat or how to get it. They told me they felt alone and isolated and that other people just didn’t understand.”

Candace also researched what foods are available at truck stops and spent time figuring out which types of exercises truckers could do in their cabs and outside their trucks. In her research, Candace discovered that the life expectancy of a trucker is 19 years less than the average American, which made her want to help even more. She earned her CDL, as well, so that she could truly understand life as an OTR trucker.

Building Small Habits That Can Be Life-Changing

“My mission is to close that life-expectancy gap and give truckers back their well-deserved years,” Candace shared. “What I’ve learned about life in my own experience is that life is here today and can be gone tomorrow. The choices we make today have a lot to do with that. I cannot knowingly eat myself into an early grave or think myself into an early grave. It’s frustrating for truckers to not be able to do what they want to do because of their physical limitations. It’s about taking control of the little things we do every day.”

“My mission is to close that life-expectancy gap and give truckers back their well-deserved years,” Candace shared. “What I’ve learned about life in my own experience is that life is here today and can be gone tomorrow. The choices we make today have a lot to do with that. I cannot knowingly eat myself into an early grave or think myself into an early grave. It’s frustrating for truckers to not be able to do what they want to do because of their physical limitations. It’s about taking control of the little things we do every day.”

With her trucker and carrier clients, Candace starts with small, achievable changes, often starting with drinking more water every day. She recommends working toward a goal of drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day. Candace doesn’t put a time-limit on increasing water intake or implementing any of the health-boosting habits she uses with her clients. Once you get used to drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every day, Candace recommends adding another small change to your routine, such as getting apple slices instead of French fries at the drive-thru or maybe ordering a grilled chicken sandwich instead of a burger.

“Now you’re cruising, you’re eating your grilled chicken and you’re eating your apples and you’re drinking your water,” Candace shared. “You’ve cut your calories probably by half and you’re going to start making a difference just from that. You’re still eating out. You’re not forcing yourself to add another task of cooking to your to-do list. Eventually, you’ll train your taste buds to want healthier food and maybe start to cook more of your own food. It’s those little things that I’ve learned that aren’t necessarily taught, but they need to be taught and shared.”

Success Stories: Wellness on 18 Wheels

Candace is thankful that she has the opportunity to touch the lives of so many people with Fit’s Trucking. She’s worked with several truckers who’ve lost large amounts of weight, improved their mental health, quit smoking and built muscle thanks to her coaching.  

“One of my clients, Perry, is phenomenal,” Candace said. “He is a truck driver who had a heart attack, but he has been able to make some changes and is doing amazing. Another one of my guys just hit his one year mark of quitting smoking. The first change he made when I started working with him was to exercise more. For two months, his goal was to just walk around his truck. I told him that 32 laps around a truck is one mile and if he’s at the shipper waiting, he can get out of the truck and do 10 laps or so, go back inside and chill for 30 minutes, and then go back out there and do 10 more. He built endurance with that and then signed up for Planet Fitness. He also uses some of the stretching videos I have on TikTok to work out in his cab. He lost 15 pounds in the first two months and he was just so pumped and I was, too. He was so surprised to find out that those little wins are actually big wins that build your confidence. So then at the two month mark, he decided to quit smoking and he did. By the one year mark, he’d lost 45 pounds, stopped smoking and built a muscle base. He told me that the biggest change has been in his mindset. Another client of mine has quit smoking as well and has lost over 100 pounds.”

In addition to providing one-on-one health and fitness coaching, Candace has developed a Trucker Wellness course and certificate program through which truckers and others in the trucking industry can get trained in trucker health and wellness. The digital program encompasses all aspects of health and wellness, including sleep, exercise, nutrition, relationships, mental health and more. Candace calls the program “Wellness on 18 Wheels.” Through Fit’s Possible, Candace also consults with trucking company HR departments that want to roll out a trucker wellness program to their drivers.

To learn more about Candace, Fit’s Possible and the 10,000 pound trucker challenge, visit https://www.fitspossibletrucking.com or follow Candace on TikTok.

If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.