I know I’m Not Alone

The bio in my social media profile pretty much says it all.

Overweight and out of shape older adventurer touring and exploring abandoned spaces and historic places. I know I’m not alone. I don’t know where all those who may be like me are, but then I hope to meet some of you in this space.

I’ve enjoyed the outdoors my whole life. I have in fact been overweight for most of it. There was a time when, despite my weight, I was in decent shape. I hiked, mostly in the Catskills and White Mountains. Flash forward, a lot of life has gone by. After things like menopause and knee replacement I don’t think its particularly realistic to go after peak bagging anymore. That still leaves me with thousands of places to explore that don’t involve too much vertical.

When I got married my wife and I became charter members of the then new treasure/scavenger hunt GPS game Geocaching. Our caching handle is the Adventure Girls. Before the interwebs got going we used that name to tie together all of our travel pictures. I also worked in tourism marketing for a number of years so now, as an older adventurer, I definitely do more touring than adventuring, thus the name Adventour Girl!

I love kayaking in the warmer months and snowshoeing in the winter. As a kid, I grew up skiing but that’s not happening anymore. I’ve learned to adapt to my increasing limitations without ever giving up on the outdoors. Meeting a challenge may be as simple as starting a fire with a ferro rod, finding a geocache, or tying that taut-line hitch right the first time. I love the feeling I get when I practice a bushcraft skill. Self-reliance isn’t a skill set we’re taught in school. Scouting may provide some of the tools of self-reliance but there is no substitute for actual real-world practice in a non-survival situation. It reinforces resilience, confidence, and inner strength.

While recovering from knee replacement surgery I felt useless, like I would never be able to do anything I loved outdoors again. I gained even more weight and it definitely weighed on me. I needed a new, holistic approach to moving forward. Eventually I started a yoga and meditation practice. I cleared my mind. After feeling horrible physically for so long I finally made a radical change in my personal eating program. I say program because dieting is not a good thing. All diets end at some point and if new habits aren’t made the weight and strength benefits erode almost immediately.

I have a number of friends who made the decision to eliminate sugar, in all its ugly forms, from their diet (eating program). I took the plunge. Along with sugar, I scoured my kitchen and pantry for any processed foods I was harboring. You know the ones I mean. They are the foods in boxes with lots of ingredients you can’t pronounce or flat out chemicals used to eradicate weeds. I took on the principles of the 70’s diet Sugar-Busters. Sugar may come across as a sweet enhancement to life but in reality it is the evil ingredient that can single-handedly strip you of your health. To support what had been nagging me in the background for years I also started applying the Whole30 diet plan to my daily eating, never thinking about the 30-day part. I watched a lot of Michael Moore-esque food documentaries. The American food supply system from farming to distribution is fraught with perils at every turn. If it’s not GMO corn that is fed to every livestock animal (a diet that is not natural to cows and pigs), to e-coli, listeria, and salmonella contaminating our food processing plants then it’s the abominable way we treat our food animals. The western diet, born out of technology and innovation is more and more bereft of actual nutrition. Our food science and technology is literally processing the nutrients out of the foods we eat and we are paying more money for the privilege. So, if it is a whole food, a food which cannot be further broken down into a subset of ingredients, a food with just one ingredient then it is a safer choice to eat (until you learn what chemical applications were used to bring it to market). Shop the perimeter of the supermarket people. Produce, meat and dairy are always around the perimeter and the “everything else” is down the aisles.

In the past, I was able to drop almost 60 lbs when the South Beach Diet came out. I was very successful at managing my carbs. After a year of South Beach I morphed back into old eating habits and then there was the year of putting the lost weight back on, but not in the same places. Several attempts to replicate that previous success failed. My body did not respond to the carb reduction. Immediate changes started to take place when I eliminated sugar. I began detoxing. Similar to what ketogenic dieters experience as the keto-flu, I had stomach and digestive issues, headaches, low energy, and a general blah feeling. Some of these symptoms stayed with me for almost a month. At the same time, I began sleeping better. I am a lifelong insomniac. I upped my average nightly sleep from under 4 hours to over 5 hours pretty quickly. This alone was reason to celebrate. I started to feel my stress, energy, and mood to level out. I started dropping weight. As I was transitioning from burning sugar and carbs for energy to burning fat I lost 25 lbs in the first 4 weeks. Dropping that much weight really boosted my energy level and I started moving again.

I broke out the bicycle, got a new-to-me trailer for my kayak and started hitting rail trails and ponds nearby. Feeling good about eating better, making healthier life choices, I made my first goal. I wanted to solo backpack. I did it! And it was thrilling! That is a story with an adventure that I hope you will read about here. I hope that you will follow my adventures, and maybe tell me about your own.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton


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