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ULers Carrying an Extra 20-40 lbs - WHY?!
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Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Don't Get Me Wrong on 07/30/2009 14:23:57 MDT Print View

Alex, I have LOST weight. Well over 30 lbs in the past 6 months. I have also put on that much in lean muscle on top of that loss.

And please, for your sake don't tell me to go visit a Doctor. I see them quite often enough, thank you very much for arm chair quarterbacking.

A. B.
thermodynamics on 07/30/2009 14:39:57 MDT Print View

Genetics will never explain why some people suffer from the delusion that their body some how is outside the laws of thermodynamics.

Alex Gilman
(Vertigo) - F

Locale: Washington
Genetics on 07/30/2009 14:42:25 MDT Print View

I have to agree that genetics are a factor. It's much harder for some to lose weight than others. However, environment plays a big deal as well.

If a person trains hard enough/long enough and creates a caloric deficit they can get down to the body fat percentage they're targeting. You're simply lying to yourself if you do not believe that.

Historic / scientific evidence demonstrates that ANYONE is capable of being sickly "skinny". I didn't say fit but skinny. No one is fat in a concentration camp if they've been there over a year right?

It's an extreme example but it demonstrates that "yes it's possible". The counterpart to that goes back to discipline. While it is theoretically possible to work ANYONE in to a fit and trim shape. They may not be able to mentally sustain the rigors and the length of the program and slack or give up. We all know what I'm talking about - there's always been a second here or there where you could have pushed just a little harder picked your feet up just a little higher. It's the person who at that moment drops down and pushes 20 and is willing to endure that will hit that targeted goal no matter what the genetic predisposition says.

Just to qualify.. this is coming from a guy who's boxed, wrestled and done martial arts from the age of four. I know what it's like to train 14 hour days months at a time cut weight, add mass consume over 10K calories a day and still have 4% body fat. Heh not now back in the day :)

It's all about heart. A lot of people don't need to push their bodies that hard nor do they want to, so they just don't. It doesn't make you a bad person it just means you have other priorities. It could take one person a month to get in to a certain shape and 2 years for another person. It doesn't mean it's not possible. You just have to want it more than the d-bag that has it easy.

Tom Caldwell
(Coldspring) - F

Locale: Ozarks
ULers Carrying an Extra 20-40 lbs - WHY?! on 07/30/2009 14:45:37 MDT Print View

LOL. I was a "fat" boy when I was 10 years old. Not to mention that I had asthma so I couldn't really participate in sports or P.E. class. That kind of killed my mity-mite football and little league baseball careers, and I didn't even consider high school sports. I slimmed up, gained weight, slimmed up, gained weight, slimmed up, gained weight, etc... I never get over a certain point, so I hope I don't gain anymore.

I keep my hiking legs working in the summer by wading and paddling my canoe up the local rivers. People think I'm crazy, but I enjoy the heck out of it. It's a different kind of leg resistance and it toughens up the ankles. If you look at my profile picture, I'm sure I'm packing at least 500 oz of beer alone.

I try not to worry about it too much, but this site drives me crazy. I just ordered two more little items that will save another 2 oz. in my pack, and the things I had weren't even broke in!

Edited by Coldspring on 07/30/2009 14:49:07 MDT.

Alex Gilman
(Vertigo) - F

Locale: Washington
Thermodynamics - hehe on 07/30/2009 14:50:07 MDT Print View

Sarah, well then you just proved my point. Clearly you were out of shape 6 months ago if you've lost 30lbs of fat and put on 30lbs of muscle. That's awesome! Stick with your program and you'll get to your goal in due time. Just don't quit. But don't get aggravated and give me this whole "I try but I'm still F A T" stuff. You haven't been at it long enough to get the results you're seeking. Just keep going is all.

But please stop trying to rip me a new one. - Deal?

I'm all for people doing this recreationally it's suppose to be fun. That's why I do it! If I wasn't having fun I'd do something else. I love the fact that I go to the gym to stay in shape so I can carry a heavier pack longer - and I don't think there are very many people in this world that hate the gym more than I do. I mean I just flat out hate it.

So regardless if you're having fun backpacking and its keeping you healthy that's what it's all about!

Edited by Vertigo on 07/30/2009 14:52:10 MDT.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: ULers Carrying an Extra 20-40 lbs - WHY?! on 07/30/2009 14:56:59 MDT Print View

One thing that I've often thought about on the trail. Ultralighters tend to fall in to two categories... Very fit, experienced hikers. And overweight people who spend a lot of time on the internet. Ultralight is generally evidence that you read these forums and/or you have a lot of experience.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
the more you think you know on 07/30/2009 15:42:32 MDT Print View

the more you have to learn.

weight, fitness, health is more complex than we think.

i've hiked, run, biked, kayaked thousands of miles - i've been at 4% body fat before. i've survived illnesses, accidents and attempted murder by poisoning - some due to fitness, some due to heart, and some (like all "success" in life) due to dumb luck. when it was easier to lose weight and stay fit, i was smug about my level of health, fitness, heart and toughness.

time, humility and compassion have taught me a lot about my earlier assumptions and smugness, and also not to judge others in these areas - walking a mile in another's shoes doesn't even begin to inform us.

there are actually 3 kinds of people in the world: those who are good at math, and those who are not.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: the more you think you know on 07/30/2009 16:18:20 MDT Print View

"the more you have to learn.

weight, fitness, health is more complex than we think.

i've hiked, run, biked, kayaked thousands of miles - i've been at 4% body fat before. i've survived illnesses, accidents and attempted murder by poisoning - some due to fitness, some due to heart, and some (like all "success" in life) due to dumb luck. when it was easier to lose weight and stay fit, i was smug about my level of health, fitness, heart and toughness.

time, humility and compassion have taught me a lot about my earlier assumptions and smugness, and also not to judge others in these areas - walking a mile in another's shoes doesn't even begin to inform us."

Amen Cary. I too used to diet down to low bodyfat levels for bodybuilding competitions. I have done martial arts all my life (from age eight). I used to be a very good rock climber and mountaineer, and I'm still as strong as an ox. I know what it takes to achieve fatloss and fitness goals, and am quite capable of hitting the goal. But most of us cannot maintain that kind of intensity and hunger for decades, especially in an environment of plenty and sedentray jobs, plus the injuries that life may throw at us along the way.

Also, please don't tell me that genetics don't matter. Women are fatter than men by genetic design, and post-menopause the metabolism gets even worse. So please don't gloat just because you happen to be young, male and full of testosterone by right of birth and genetics. And isn't it ironic that the majority of identical twins ultimately end up being the same bodyfat and weight??

Anyway, I don't have to justfiy my excess bodyfat as, thanks to UL, it doesn't stop me from getting out there and just doing what I enjoy most.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: ULers Carrying an Extra 20-40 lbs - WHY?! on 07/30/2009 16:31:24 MDT Print View

First, I've posted before here about realizing that while I was fretting over fractions of ounces in my pack I had maybe 15 extra pounds around my middle. So to the OP, yeah, we need to lose weight from all places.

That said, a little story: Up until about five years ago I was living the life. Outside and playing every day. During the summer I'd kayak five days a week, bike 10 or 20 miles a day 3 or 4 times a week, walk/hike 2 to 4 miles every day. On top of that I took up body building. I don't generally beat my chest about this stuff, but it plays into the discussion here: I'd do bench press reps at 365#, max over 400. I'd curl reps at 85#. My rest phases between sets were as long as it took me to quickly grab the next set of weights. In the several years I was on this self-prescribed program I ran into perhaps two or three people who trained as intensely as I did in the gym. I was exceptionally particular about my diet. I knew how many calories I had eaten on any given day within about 50 calories, and I had the same approach with protein and fat intake. I ran a calorie defecit of at least 500 kcal a day for several years.

However, I still had a couple extra inches around my middle. My body fat percentage never dropped that far... around 12% at peak form. And my arms, though strong, were really no bigger than the sticks they were before or are now. I could never bulk up. I just looked more toned... but I could outlift many of the campus football players. It didn't matter how much I worked out, or how I ate... at a certain point I got no more returns. So yeah, genetics matter.

When I come across new diet or exercise plans and their inevitable testimonials it's easy to see how people could have so much success with the plans. They just needed to make a change to their lifestyle! So yeah, quit drinking a bunch of pop, eat healthy, eat fewer calories than you need each day, work out hard, and you'll get results. BUT... some of us will only get limited results. Some of us will plateau, no matter how hard we train or how much heart we have in it. That's the reality.

Edited by 4quietwoods on 07/30/2009 16:40:59 MDT.

Casey Bowden
(clbowden) - MLife

Locale: Berkeley Hills
"ULers Carrying an Extra 20-40 lbs - WHY?!" on 07/30/2009 16:58:54 MDT Print View


Are you sure you ran a 500 kcal/day deficit for several years?

500 kcal/day x 2 years x 365 days/yr = 365,000 kcal

If you burn 3500 kcal to lose 1 pound of fat then you must have lost over 100 pounds (365,000 / 3500 = 104.3). If so, right on!

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: "ULers Carrying an Extra 20-40 lbs - WHY?!" on 07/30/2009 17:07:01 MDT Print View

Casey, I wouldn't go to court about it. That's my recollection. Or should I say "I don't recall" ?! My body weight only fluctuated about 15 pounds; I lost fat and gained muscle. My recollection of my diet, though, was that I did run that defecit for a matter of years. If that doesn't add up in calculations, it could be that the several different metabolic calculations were done on incorrect information. I've heard/read about people whose metabolisms were perpetually slower than they should be. Oh, and I did have one day a week where calories didn't count ;P Technique I picked up in some body building lit so the body didn't go into starvation mode, keep the body guessing. Of course, it is also possible that I was just wrong and that I only ran that defecit for a portion of those years, and tried to keep it at zero the rest of the time. I haven't been in the weight room since 2002! (Bad shoulder injury, and lost interest.)

Edited by 4quietwoods on 07/30/2009 17:12:13 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: "ULers Carrying an Extra 20-40 lbs - WHY?!" on 07/30/2009 17:25:40 MDT Print View

Calculating calorie deficits is just a very rough estimate. The real world deficit is determined by how much weight you actually lose. Either Brads calculations were off the mark, or more likely that continuous dieting killed his metabolism. This is the biggest reason for rebound weight gain when stopping a diet, and why long term "diets' just don't work for most folks. I certainly stuffed my metabolism with repeated rounds of crash dieting followed by "bulking". It's an insane way to live, consantly forcing yourself to eat less than your brain tells you you need to be happy.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : ULers cattying an extra 20-40lbs - why? on 07/30/2009 17:36:51 MDT Print View

Carrying extra weight is a nightmare if you can't burn it off. I've always been active, running, cycling etc, but an injury has forced a long lay off. I've put on about 15 pounds waiting for a surgical operation. Two steroid injections haven't helped with the weight gain.
I would never judge a person by their weight, as you don't know their circumstances.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: ULers Carrying an Extra 20-40 lbs - WHY?! on 07/30/2009 17:45:43 MDT Print View

Jack, I'm always amazed at how black and white people view things. I'm in moderate shape, as I've said maybe 15 pounds overweight, relatively fit and able to do anything I wish, including hopping into a canoe and paddling 120 miles in two days. I have decades of experience outdoors. But I'm not "very" fit. I do have a bit of a beer belly. Funny, eh? I'd say your last sentence captures it best... "Ultralight is generally evidence that you read these forum..." IE, it's not limited to fitness vs. chub.

Jason Smith
(JasonS) - MLife

Locale: Northeast
Burning muscle on 07/30/2009 17:50:11 MDT Print View

Your body can also decide to burn muscle instead of fat. I gained some weight during a period of time when I had to very intense with my job with the theroy that in the past when I needed to I would work hard and just lose the weight. Well, losing weight has not been that hard. The problem is while my weight has decresed my body fat percentange has only decresed very slowly. I have been sure to check that I am only losing weight slowly. I have started to lift more and watch when I eat and what type of calories I am taking in. But for me while not impossible getting into the shape I want is not as simple as reduce calories And more cardio.

Bill Poett
( - F

Locale: Santa Barbara
"ULers Carrying an Extra 20-40 lbs - WHY?!" on 07/30/2009 17:53:59 MDT Print View


I love people and I love nature. I am a sports fitness specialist and CPT with licences throught the National Academy of Sports Medicine. 47 years old, broken back, shattered elbow and pins in one ankle twenty five years of martial arts and playing hard . I regulary do 50 mile weekend UL trips and keep my body fat just under 10%. Sounds to me like you are all right. Specializing in physigue transformation programs for my clients I can tell you without a doubt, there is more to this than a simple calories in calories out formula. Genetics, personality, enviroment and cultural programing play huge roles in individuals ability to lose weight. But there is also truth in the concentration camp analogy, I don't remember seeing any "fat" people in those pictures. How bout investing an equal amount of time and energy in learning how to maintain a strong healthy, functional body for as long as we can so we can be doing these trips in our 90's as we spend reading technique, tips, and gear reviews.

Just my 2 cents.

PS if I ever meet you on the trail I'll be looking forward to finding a kindred spirit what ever your size ;0)

Edited by on 07/30/2009 18:25:20 MDT.

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: "ULers Carrying an Extra 20-40 lbs - WHY?!" on 07/30/2009 18:53:28 MDT Print View

"But there is also truth in the concentration camp analogy, I don't remember seeing any "fat" people in those pictures."

Yeah, but look at what happened to them when they got out of the camps. They had lost all their fat AND muscle, and thier bodies screamed to eat to excess.Yes, If we actually lock people up in concentration camps, and deprive them off food, everyone will lose weight. Do it long enough, and they will starve to death But, what the starvation studies seem to show is that the minute the survivors leave the concentration camp, they will be very fixated on food, their metabolism is low, and they will gain weight. The defects in metabolism are often permanent. The brain gets re-wired post-starvation.

The situation for the dieter is somewhat analogous to the concentration camp victim who, for some reason, wishes to keep their weight low.

It’s the body’s reaction to starvation that makes it more difficult to lose weight than one might otherwise think.

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
Re: "ULers Carrying an Extra 20-40 lbs - WHY?!" on 07/30/2009 22:23:22 MDT Print View

I had the privilege of meeting and talking for a while with two trail legends on the PCT last year, Scott Williamson ("Yo Yo") and Tatoo Joe. Scott looks --- and is --- the sort of poster guy for long distance hiking, he looks like someone who can do the things he does.

My understanding is that Tatoo Joe, however, starts out on a long trail carrying a fair bit of (body) weight. I met them in Oregon so he had lost quite a bit by then I think, but those two were doing really big miles all the way (set a new record together last year), hanging together and having a good time at it.

So now I'm less tempted to judge someone's abilities based on body mass index or anything like that. Different genetics or lifestyle or whatever, one great thing about backpacking is that a person can start in less-than-perfect shape and just walk themselves into better condition on a long journey.

Good thing, as all the substantial pounds I lost on the trail last year I gained back over the winter. Multiple back-to-back upcoming trips will hopefully take some of them off again!

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Re: "ULers Carrying an Extra 20-40 lbs - WHY?!" on 07/30/2009 23:00:13 MDT Print View

Though some people say that they train and eat well and still were unable to loss weight- I would simply say that the diet and exercise program was ineffective and I would blame that long before I started blaming genetics.
its a common misunderstanding but WHAT your body does with the calories you eat is more important than simple numbers.
if your insulin is high you will resist using fat stores and will also store carbs as fat. All calories are not equal. then their is the issue of chemicals in the food, both "natural' and artificial. These can mess with hormones and block the absorption of nutrient.
Why? I would answer both the obvious not enough time not enough motivation. Second, too much miss information about what a healthy diet actually looks like.

Edited by MAYNARD76 on 07/30/2009 23:09:49 MDT.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: "ULers Carrying an Extra 20-40 lbs - WHY?!" on 07/31/2009 05:24:13 MDT Print View

I try to avoid these threads usually because everything is so subjective but..

First, there's a difference between being "in shape" and looking "in shape". When I did WT3 last year I was around 175 lbs (I'm 5'8) I believe. I had a decent gut on me and was soft all over, but I was in great shape for backpacking and mountain biking. I spent the majority of the year mountain biking at least twice a week and doing backpacking trips 2-3 weekends every month. Some of these overnight trips covered close to 40 miles.

5 years ago I was 211 lbs and near a 40" pant. To get down to 175 mostly required cutting calories down to about 1800 (probably coming from 3-4k) and adding in a small amount of exercise. Once my body adjusted to the low cal intake I gradually increased back up to around 2500.

End of last year I went to the gym for a month or so and had started cutting cals again. I was able to drop another 10 lbs this way and got down to 165. I still had a decent gut on me but was down to a 34" pant.

Jan 11 I started p90x at 163 lbs, 35" actual waist, and around 15% fat. This required upping my exercise to 1-1.5 hours a day for 6-7 days a week. I had also started running again some. My calorie level per the program was set at 2400 which wasn't an issue for me since I had been effectively dieting for years at this point. 90 days later I had lost around 13 lbs, 4.5 inches off my waist, and was down to around 8.5% fat. I also had a lot of other positive results but those are the relative ones.

Since then I did another 90 days and am steady around 145 lbs and 5-6% fat. That last bit of gut I couldn't seem to get rid of is gone. I'm also eating like a horse but finding it somewhat hard to eat enough for fear of getting fat again. Anyway, the result is I now look in shape in addition to actually being in shape. With that said, looking in shape is a lot harder than getting/being in shape.

Just because the p90x program produced great results for me doesn't mean it will for you. As said above, this is all very subjective.

Edited by simplespirit on 07/31/2009 05:30:40 MDT.