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Weight Reduction
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William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Weight Reduction on 01/29/2009 10:53:42 MST Print View

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".

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Weight Reduction on 01/29/2009 11:15:57 MST Print View

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!!!


Edited by Creachen on 01/29/2009 11:16:53 MST.

John Whynot

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Weight Reduction on 01/29/2009 11:28:08 MST Print View

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.

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
RE: Weight Reduction (full disclosure) on 01/29/2009 11:45:26 MST Print View

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.

Edited by Beep on 01/29/2009 13:25:52 MST.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: RE: Weight Reduction (full disclosure) on 01/29/2009 12:16:26 MST Print View

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'.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Weight on 01/29/2009 12:31:28 MST Print View

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.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Weight Reduction on 01/29/2009 13:06:29 MST Print View

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. :-)

Edited by hikinggranny on 01/29/2009 13:08:04 MST.

Richard Gless
(rgless) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Weight Reduction on 01/29/2009 14:48:22 MST Print View

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.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Lighten the food you carry on 01/29/2009 16:15:45 MST Print View

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.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: RE: Weight Reduction (full disclosure) on 01/29/2009 18:16:08 MST Print View

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.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Great Post on 01/29/2009 23:09:50 MST Print View

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.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Overweight woman on 01/29/2009 23:40:05 MST Print View

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.

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Weight Reduction on 01/29/2009 23:57:36 MST Print View

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.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Great Post on 01/30/2009 02:12:00 MST Print View

> 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.


John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Re: Weight Reduction on 01/30/2009 11:06:21 MST Print View

William Puckett
(Beep) - F

Locale: Land of 11, 842 lakes
Re: Re: Re: Weight Reduction on 01/30/2009 11:35:00 MST Print View


Cool site! A bit o'interactive risk assessment!

Here's another one...

Edited by Beep on 01/30/2009 11:48:38 MST.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Great Post on 02/01/2009 12:58:53 MST Print View

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!

Edited by retropump on 02/01/2009 13:16:31 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Great Post on 02/01/2009 13:10:20 MST Print View

> walk 50km days with a heavy pack
With age comes wisdom too!

(And hang in there)

Robert Blean
(blean) - MLife

Locale: San Jose -- too far from Sierras
Endurance with age on 02/01/2009 20:00:10 MST Print View

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.

-- MV

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Endurance with age on 02/02/2009 03:16:06 MST Print View

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.