From the cab of his 18-wheeler, long-haul truck driver Glenn Keller uses his voice to motivate people to improve their lives. Glenn is not only a truck driver – he’s a certified motivational speaker who helps people set and achieve goals to be the best version of themselves. He motivates people through videos and podcasts that he records from his truck, which he calls the “Empowerment Express,” as well as at his church and on Facebook. And while Glenn can tell you all about the 7 steps for setting goals, he is the first to admit that he didn’t always focus on setting goals for himself, especially when it came to his health. One day, Glenn’s doctor told him that he was morbidly obese.
“It added insult to injury,” says Glenn. “I already knew it, and I knew how it was affecting me.”
Still, Glenn didn’t make any changes right away. “I was in a lackadaisical place where I knew I needed to do something, and I kept putting it off. I couldn’t see anything that would motivate me to change.”
Things might have stayed that way if not for the Healthy Trucking Association of America (HTAA), a group that reached out to Glenn and told him about CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) lifestyle change program, which would teach him healthy habits to reduce his risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The representative from HTAA told Glenn that he’d be eligible for the program if he took a 1-minute prediabetes risk test and came back with a high-risk score, which he did. Hearing about the program was enough to spark Glenn’s motivation to get healthy.
“I told myself I needed to pull my life together,” says Glenn. “I said to myself, it doesn’t make any sense for you to be obese, let alone morbidly obese. I told myself that I can do better, that I have done better.”
So Glenn signed up for the program. Because his work as a trucker meant he was usually on the road, he was able to participate through an app on his phone. He tracked his meals and physical activity and had access to a lifestyle coach when he had questions.
“It’s a pretty amazing program from the standpoint of making us accountable for what we were doing,” says Glenn. “You had to put in your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any physical activity you did that day. You had to weigh yourself, and you couldn’t fudge on that because the scale sent your weight directly to the app. Without that accountability, you wouldn’t feel anything if you ate healthy or unhealthily. With the program, I had a really good feeling when I had a good breakfast, good lunch, and good dinner.”
Participating in the program wasn’t always easy – when Glenn first started, he wasn’t in the best shape and wondered if he’d be able to stick with it. But he kept going and eventually became motivated by his own success after losing 35 pounds. Now he’s gotten his wife, Jennifer, involved in the program, and the two are supporting each other in making healthy choices. He has a goal to lose 45 more pounds.
Being a part of the program has also made Glenn think differently about setting health goals, and he uses that insight when he’s motivating others.
“Setting goals about a diet has a negative connotation,” says Glenn. “The goal is not just to lose weight. The goal is to eat properly. The goal is to set aside time for exercise. If I set those goals, the weight loss will come. I don’t need to focus on it. The reward is better health.”
Glenn is grateful that the program gave him the chance to reduce his risk for developing type 2 diabetes, as he’s seen how the disease can affect people. Glenn’s first cousin – who was also a truck driver and who he looked up to as a child – had diabetes. Glenn says the disease “got away from him.”
“He went from being out on the open road for most of his life to being a double amputee in a wheelchair,” says Glenn. “There are a lot of people who don’t really know the true impact of having diabetes and what could happen.”
Luckily, Glenn’s outlook on the future is a positive one. He turned 60 earlier this year and has big plans for how he wants to spend his time in retirement.
“If I do everything I’m supposed to do to take care of myself,” says Glenn, “then when I retire it allows Jennifer and me to keep living our life. I haven’t limited myself by allowing type 2 diabetes to take control of me.”
This November for National Diabetes Month, you can be like Glenn. Set goals for better health to reduce your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Learn more about the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program here.
The National Center for Farmworker Health
Improving health care access for one of America's most vulnerable populations