Fitness is a journey, but I know it’s not the number one reason you read this monthly publication. However, with out it, much of your hunting or fishing endeavors would suffer. The journey is also a year round pursuit in a perfect world, not a quick 90 day fix before the season. Fitness is never convenient, never comfortable, takes time to improve, and only seconds to lose. If you’re like most of us, you have some basic questions on fitness, but it seems like everyone out there has a different answer making things appear a little hazy. I hope to wipe away the fog and focus on some tried and true facts when it comes to your fitness questions, so here goes.
Q: I can’t get the scale to budge, what am I doing wrong?
A: Please do not get hung up on scale weight. If you step on a scale, it just gives you a number. There is no info on how much muscle and fat you have. Building lean mass is key to success. We want to be less concerned with weight and more concerned with our ratio of lean mass to fat. I used to weigh 180lb in my early twenties, now I am in my thirties and can barely stay around 150, due largely to a Paleo/Caveman food plan and working out for shorter, but more intense training sessions. When you first start a fitness program, have your body composition done by a fitness professional to get an accurate measurement of your lean and fat mass numbers. Don’t depend on the scale.
Q: I’m a runner; do I need to lift weights?
A: Definitely! There’s no doubt that running will significantly improve your endurance, stamina; but a preponderance of running can leave your fitness portfolio lopsided and overuse injury could occur. Outdoor activities coupled with Mother’s Nature’s lack of mercy can produce some nasty curveballs to tend with. I like the idea of being a mountain decathlete, well rounded in many events, versus a one-sided endurance runner. Mountains mean business, like carrying a large load on your back, lifting heavy elk quarters, dragging deer, hopping over streams, and crawling on your belly. A well-rounded athlete like a decathlete has minimal weaknesses and is prepared for many eventualities. Plus, running is hard on anyone’s body and after time, chronic pain in your ankles, knees and hips can occur. Keep running, but mix some cross-training in from time to time in order to be at your best.
Q: Are carbohydrates bad for you?
A: For every gram of carbohydrate you eat, you will store 3 grams of water.This is not a bad thing and will keep you hydrated and satiated. Low-carb diets leave your body deficient in many vitamins and minerals and lack fiber. I am a carbohydrate advocate, as long as they’re Paleo in nature (IE fruits and vegetables). The longer the carbohydrate source takes to break down in your body, the better. Find carbohydrates that are low glycemic, contain fiber, and that are low in sugar. Carbohydrates digest slower when you eat them with a low fat protein source and a good fat source. Balancing out your meals is a key concept when it comes to consuming carbohydrates.
Q: Nuts seem to be high in fat. Are they bad for you?
A: Nuts provide good, unsaturated fats and are a great source of protein and fiber. A handful is healthy, breaks down in digestion slowly, and is very convenient. I give nuts the nod as a fabulous fat source! While we are talking fats, make sure to supplement your daily intake with at least one serving of fish a day or do what I do and take fish oil tablets for their health benefits. The health benefits of fish oil include its ability to aid in treatment of heart diseases, high cholesterol, diabetes, inflammation, arthritis, and a whole bunch of other stuff. Most of the health benefits of fish oil can be attributed to the presence of omega 3 essential fatty acids and some good sources of fish oil are mackerel, rainbow trout, lake trout, halibut, herring, sea bass, sardines, swordfish, oysters, albacore tuna, blue fin tuna, yellow fin tuna, turbot, pilchards, anchovies and salmon.
Q: Are squats bad for my knees?
A: A recent study in Medicine & Science found that machine leg exercises—those in which a single joint is activated, (IE leg extension)—are potentially more dangerous than closed-chain moves—those that engage multiple joints, such as the squat and the dead lift. To squat safely, hold your back as upright as possible, keep your weight on your heels, and lower your body until the crease of your hips are below kneecaps. The squat is vital to your wellness, athleticism, and injury prevention. You cannot hide from the movement, unless chairs are foreign to you. The squat is remarkably rehabilitative to fragile knees. In fact, if you do not squat, your knees are not healthy regardless of how free of pain or discomfort you are. The squat is the most organic movement known to man and has been a part of human movement since the beginning of time. The bottom position of the squat is nature’s intended sitting posture and the rise from the bottom to the stand of the squat is the biomechanical method by which we stand-up. In the past I’ve heard personal trainers and health care providers suggest that the knee should not be bent past “90 degrees”. At first, this might sound like sound advice, however, I find it very difficult to translate a “90 degree” squat into the world that we live in, especially in the arena of athletics and outdoor adventure. Bottom line: The truth is that it’s entirely possible to injure yourself squatting incorrectly, but it is also exceedingly easy to bring the squat to a level of safety.
Hopefully a question or two pertained to you. Start or continue your fitness journey and enjoy God’s country as long as possible. Life is short, so you owe it to yourself, your loved ones, and your hunting partner to be the best possible version of you. Tame the Mountains!