Jan 29, 2009 at 9:53 am #1233635
Hmm…I feel like I'm venturing onto thin ice with this thread, but here goes!
I'm going through my gear list like most here and seeking to lighten my load wherever logic and pocketbook permits. So far I've picked the low-hanging fruit to reduce pack/sleeping/shelter weights, but the marginal weight improvements thereafter can be slow in coming and are dramatically bigger $ per oz. improvements.
One of the other areas for exploring weight reduction is in a different realm altogether, that of reducing body weight. It seems to me that focusing on shaving another few ounces from my carried weight may not be as productive as losing another 5 or 10 pounds bodyweight. I readily admit that there are practical limits. At 6'5" I'm acutely aware of what impact physiology has on healthy weight limits. But I can also testify that I'm MUCH happier hiking at a body weight of 205 pounds than I was at 255 pounds. Being in good shape matters a lot in terms of enjoyment, but carrying less overall weight into the world seems like a worthwhile goal.
I'm generally happy with my weight in the 200-205 pound range with my overall body type/height/genetic inheritance, but I can also see the possibility of losing another 10 or even 20 pounds without trespassing into the gaunt survivor look.
I don't want to come off as "preachy" about body weight, nor am I attempting to call attention to my own situation. What I'm hoping is to stimulate some discussion about the importance of managing weight at a "healthy" level as part of an overall strategy for enjoyable backpacking. This thread is definitely one of "philosophy & technique".
What do others think? Is this a topic worth discussing or do we assume that our lightweight efforts are all "skin out".Jan 29, 2009 at 10:15 am #1473798
@creachenLocale: East Bay
I am with ya William. I could loose a few pounds myself. I am 6'3 – 235 lb. My Doctor told me techniqly I am fat- I should weigh between 205-210. It is basically a trickle down effect or up..Depends on how you look at it. If I lost say 20 lbs that would take pressure off me feet (Planter Fachites) then it would help my knees and then take pressure off my lower back. It is all connected, the lighter the better= pack and body!!!
-JayJan 29, 2009 at 10:28 am #1473801
@jdw01776Locale: Southeast Texas
I don't believe that carrying excess body weight as fat is healthy, plus I don't find backpacking very enjoyable when overweight.
Part of my motivation for a regular exercise regimen is to do more challenging backpacking trips. I am trying to maintain a healthy body weight, stay aerobically fit, and maintain core muscle strength.
Of course, losing so much weight that you are losing muscle mass is not healthy either.
My pack weight is at the point where significant weight reductions will be expensive — losing 5 pounds of excess body fat costs me nothing.Jan 29, 2009 at 10:45 am #1473804
As a point of reference, I went from 255 pounds (April 2008) to 200 (November 2008) by following a relatively painless path using Weightwatchers Online. YMMV. I'm also 63 years old (young?). Though I'm carrying 205 ATM (thanks to my holiday indulgences), I'm much happier/healthier and enjoying jogging/walking/hiking a lot more with fewer pounds.
With the focus on reducing weight for backpacking, it has occurred to me that my old target weight of 205 +/- may soon be subject to revision downward.Jan 29, 2009 at 11:16 am #1473813
I find it ironic that a site dedicated to backpacking light is sorely lacking in this kind of discussion. I have also embarked on a personal lightening up approach that costs me nothing and makes me healthier and fitter, but it seems to me that the majority of people who contirbute to this site are more gear oriented than worrying about total skin-out weight. And of course many members are just plain skinny, so have other priorities. But I'll bet, statistically speaking, at least half of us could lighten more than our packs if we made it a priority. I agree, the trickle down effects on overall health, joints, longevity and just plain feeling good are immense. However, I am also acutely aware that 'diets don't work', and long term maintenance of weight loss is succesful less than 5% of the time. So it's really gotta be a permanent lifestyle change rather than a 'diet'.Jan 29, 2009 at 11:31 am #1473818
Funny this should be here. I joined the Y yesterday, and I'll probably start back at Weight Watchers next week. Those will do me more good than any amount of gear weight reduction. Although I sure like to eat.Jan 29, 2009 at 12:06 pm #1473826
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Losing excess weight, yes! Losing when you're already at normal weight, definitely no!
Look at it this way–most people lose weight on longer backpacks anyway. If you're already at normal weight, you'll be below normal when you get back. If you lose weight before you leave on a week or 10-day trip, then you could be significantly underweight–enough to affect your health–by the end of the trip.
I wish I had that problem, though. :-)Jan 29, 2009 at 1:48 pm #1473858
@rglessLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
When I first started making a serious transition from lightweight backpacking to UL a few years ago, one of the first things I did was to drop 15 lbs to get back to the upper end of where I was in college (many years ago). I find UL backpacking a good motivator to keep it off. In addition the more I hike, the easier it is to keep the weight off.Jan 29, 2009 at 3:15 pm #1473879
@ouzelLocale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
One sure way to lose weight as a backpacker is to carry less food on a trip and burn body fat instead. It is my standard approach to backpacking. That said, my problem is adding the fat before starting out, as I am one of those "skinny" guys mentioned in a previous post. Keeping the weight off when you return to civilization is another matter entirely from what I have observed with my backpacking companions. That's where altering your lifestyle becomes crucial. No easy task in this stressed out society where food is trolled under your nose at every opportunity, but it can be done.Jan 29, 2009 at 5:16 pm #1473910
I am not sure if there are any articles about body weight on BPL, but we have discussed fitness and weight loss in several threads in the forum.Jan 29, 2009 at 10:09 pm #1473972
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Actually, this subject is really important.
It is not so much our weight, but our overall fitness. Here is a little bio about me. Please don't take the comments wrong. I am only a guy who likes to hike in solitude, and have been doing it for a long time. Just want to share some simple things I do, and perhaps it might help others.
I am 58 and weigh about 5 lbs more than when I was 18. I am blessed with a fairly high metabilism. But I do stay active year round. Although I have moved to UL, there are still times I need to carry a fairly heavy pack (usually a lot of water in the desert), and it is not as hard as one would think. I can still pack 40 lbs fairly easily… not that I really want to… well other than sore hips, fairly easy!
Last month I went on a week-long backpacking trip with my son, who is in college and is a cross country/middle distance runner. He runs about 90 miles a week. Actually he is pretty good. Last year he ran a 1500m in 3:46, which converts to about a 4:04 mile.
Anyway, I had not gone packpacking with him since he was about 10 years old. On this trip he was absolutely shocked that I could keep up with him. I was not trying to impress him, we were just moving along at a reasonalbe pace each day.
I am not bragging. I don't excercise a lot. I usually go to the gym maybe 3 times a week max, and exercise for less than an hour. Sometimes I don't go to the gym for a couple weeks at a time. Currently, it has been over a month since I want to the gym. I take my dog on a long walk two times a day. I do run off and on, but nothing serious… work alsways seems to interfere with getting into any kind of running shape. On weekends, I usually hike with my wife or go backpacking by myself. We live at 400 feet above sea level, but are close to the PCT in the San Jacintos. She has never backpacked, but we both have no trouble hiking this section of the PCT which gets up to about 7,000ft, which is maybe a 2000+ foot elevation gain from the trail head. We often do a loop that is about 16 miles, only carrying day packs with water and a few items. I don't have any problem averaging 15+ mile days on my packpacking rips carrying up to 20lbs or so. I guess the important thing is that some sort of excercise/outdoor activity has just been something I have done all my adult life, because I enjoy it. Once you get into shape, it is not that difficult to stay in shape.
I don't necessarily watch what I eat, just don't eat too much. We are not "into" fitness, we just take a little time every week to enjoy ourselves outdoors.Jan 29, 2009 at 10:40 pm #1473975
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
I'm an overweight woman. While hiking the PCT last summer I lost about 20lbs and was still chubbier than most women hiking the trail. Some of them were really skinny. I was normal weight like I should be.
When I returned home I had to fight against that gnawing hunger that the PCT gave me. I ate only fruit and salad. I gained most of the weight back on fruit and salad, and most of the rest on regular food after my craving for fruit and salad was over. The gnawing hunger did not go away for months. It is finally gone now, 6 months and 20lbs later. I think my weight is finally settling downward a little bit, too.
I learned from this that I can be a normal weight if I walk 20 miles, or 12 hours, a day. I can't possibly do that unless I get a job as a fitness instructor.
I'm resigned, as someone who works with computers, to spend my days over my optimum weight. It's the best I can do.Jan 29, 2009 at 10:57 pm #1473978
@maynard76Locale: New England
Technically body weight is pretty irrelevant, the fat % of your weight is. You can lose fat and gain muscle and be heavier. Just look at bodybuilders who weigh 270+ pounds with 4% fat. I bet their doctors tell them their overweight for their height.
Save your money on Weight watchers and the like, do what Grandma told you and eat your veggies, drink water not soda, eat only whole foods and whole grains,get your heart rate up 20-40 min a day, eat lean meats mostly at supper. And stop your passive rebellion against healthy foods drilled into our heads by the media (kids hate broccoli! -don't you!).
An over simplification is ever there was one- but its true.Jan 30, 2009 at 1:12 am #1473984
> On this trip he was absolutely shocked that I could keep up with him.
Sprinters are all teenagers.
Mile runners are a bit older.
Marathon runners are often well over 30, maybe over 40.
Ultra-marathon runners – up to 70.
As you get older, if you keep active your muscles get tougher. Endurance improves. You don't suffer 'the day two' pains.
CheersJan 30, 2009 at 10:06 am #1474054
@jshannJan 30, 2009 at 10:35 am #1474057
Cool site! A bit o'interactive risk assessment!
Here's another one…Feb 1, 2009 at 11:58 am #1474493
Roger pretty much nailed it-stamina increases with age (to a point). My mother in law is still running marathons at the age of 74!
Luck and genetics also plays a big role. I was in my peak of fitness at the age of 40. Even though I weighed 8 kilos more than in high school, I was actually leaner due to a concentrated effort to gain muscle and lose fat. Then I crushed my ankle, and the repercussions from that have been dogging me ever since. Less exercise during recovery lead to both fat and weight gain, muscle loss, and now osteoarthritis in the joint. I think that if it hadn't have been for that accident, I would be in my best shape at 50, and still getting better every day. As it is I can't do any kind of exercise without anit-inflammatories, and I await an ankle fusion to hopefully get me back in the game. But I doubt I will ever be svelt and able to walk 50km days with a heavy pack again. At least thanks to this site, I don't have to carry the heavy pack!Feb 1, 2009 at 12:10 pm #1474498
> walk 50km days with a heavy pack
With age comes wisdom too!
(And hang in there)Feb 1, 2009 at 7:00 pm #1474628
@bleanLocale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
I have noted an interesting thing. The local Sierra Club has two different groups devoted to day hiking. They are not explicitly age-segregated, though de facto it appears to work out that way. I was surprised at the way the division works, though.
One of them is mainly people age 40 (give or take a bit) and their trips tend to be 10 miles or so. The other group is people age 60 (give or take a bit) and their day tips tend to be 20 miles or so.
— MVFeb 2, 2009 at 2:16 am #1474691
Then I must tell a story about a local bushwalking club here in Oz. It is meant to be true.
A bright fit young thing decided that she would join a bushwalking club – maybe she was hoping to find a fine collection of fit healthy males there? So she joined, went to a club meeting and signed up for a walk. OK.
Then she found out that most of the males going on the walk were actually all over 60. She was a bit concerned about this, and expressed that concern to a slightly older friend of hers who was a long term member. Don't worry, her friend said, they are all very nice and won't lose you…
So off she went on the walk. And afterwards she admitted the old men were all very nice and did not let her get lost. In fact, they waited for her to catch up to them on top of every hill.
CheersFeb 2, 2009 at 12:20 pm #1474801
@dallasLocale: North Texas
"I find it ironic that a site dedicated to backpacking light is sorely lacking in this kind of discussion. I have also embarked on a personal lightening up approach that costs me nothing and makes me healthier and fitter, but it seems to me that the majority of people who contribute to this site are more gear oriented than worrying about total skin-out weight."
Lynn (didn't you used to be Allison?),
I totally agree and have broached this subject before. I still would like to see a section of this site that addresses this issue since fitness/conditioning is certainly an important part of what we do. Maybe not as important as 'gear' of course, but I'm at the point that I can't drop 10 more pounds off of my pack weight, but could probably drop that off the total weight.Feb 2, 2009 at 12:59 pm #1474806
@clt1953Locale: northern minnesota
I have finally convince my hubby that the best way to lose weight is to go hiking with me. He will do his first backpacking trip this coming memorial day. I finally got him interested in hiking when I announced that I would be going to the Sierra Nevadas this July to hike with people I did not know…boy, did that ever work. Pretty sneaky, eh? He will be hiking the first week of my 4 week hike on JMT. He has actually started to walk with a 35 lb. weight vest to prepare for this summer. He wants to lose at leat 20 lbs. before the trip. He has seen me over the years keep my weight down and even lose a few pounds after a hike. He is now dedicated to losing that extra weight…and getting healthy.Feb 2, 2009 at 2:31 pm #1474830
@rezniemLocale: San Francisco
Best way is to do high-intensity, short aerobic exercise FIRST THING IN the morning on an Empty stomach….of course, eat small healthy meals all throughout the day, but that exercise in the a.m. when you are starving will really burn the fat.Feb 2, 2009 at 3:24 pm #1474851
@rinconLocale: Desert Southwest
I'm not sure I agree with you Nate. Most of what I have read and experienced would indicate that high-intensity exercise largely burns glycogen, produces lactic acid and spares the fat.
To loose fat, it appears best to exercise longer (30-90 minutes) at around 65-70% of ones maximum heart rate. This is a heart rate that can be sustained for a considerable period; the fitter one is the longer the period. Exercise at this heart rate is supposed to burn fat directly. The lower exercise heart rates are also less likely to cause delayed muscle pain.
There is also a heart rate goal called the Lactic Threshold Heart Rate; cyclists use it for training but it is much harder to determine. You can Google LTHR if you are curious.Feb 2, 2009 at 4:36 pm #1474875
Both will work as long as there is a calorie deficit. High intensity sprints may burn mostly glycogen, but there is an effect called "EPOC" or Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption. Basically the sprints elevate your metabolism for much longer than aerobic exercise, ultimately setting you up for all day long fat burning. You won't find a fat sprinter, but you will find some really skinny and stringy endurance athletes. Endurance activities actually teach your body to store fat, sprinting teaches it to burn fat.
Not only that, but in a series of elegant experiments comparing interval training (10 times 30 seconds sprints with one minute rest in between), to constant state one hour aerobic activity, at the end of 12 weeks, the sprinters had lost more fat, gained more muslce, AND had higher VO2 max than the aerobic group…running was more effective than biking, but both benefitted from interval training more than the aerobic group.
Of course, if hiking is your ultimate goal, that is the best exercise you can do! But in between times perhaps a variety of both sprint training and longer aerobic sessions will be optimal.
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