Embarking on a large physical endeavor like hiking the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) requires you to be fit, not fat. Hiking the CDT is the equivalent of hiking the Boston Marathon every day for 4 months, so not getting into hiking shape before I hit the trail is a sure way of getting injured and making my life hell from the start. I’m going to need to arrive at the trail with strong cardio and high levels of endurance, so I can handle the day to day hiking. I need to lose weight and build up strength in my legs, core and overall body composition to handle the repetitive nature of walking.
I started getting serious about losing weight the day after Christmas, when I weighed myself and saw that I had ballooned up to 292 lbs. I had let the stress of my life get the best of me. I was feeling horrible about most everything in my life . Feeling depressed, frustrated and just tired had helped me get to this point. I had a big belly and a double chin from too much beer and not enough exercise.
Months earlier, I found out that I had a blood clot in my lower left leg. This was the 4th time I’d had one. This forced me to give myself injections of heparin directly into my stomach to dilute my blood to fight the clot. I looked into the mirror with the needle in my hand and my fat, bruised up belly and saw this sad looking boy staring back at me. I felt pathetic.
Eating Paleo has helped me lose 58 lbs since Christmas and will help me reach my goal of 215 before I hit the trail. I’ve gotten to this point through eating right, learning to love running, boxing classes, and staying motivated while setting incremental, attainable goals. I currently weigh in at 232 lbs. Here’s a chart of my progress over the last 9 months:
I started the Paleo Diet after New Years, joining the millions of other Americans with resolutions to lose weight and live a better life. A trainer had mentioned Paleo to me, at a gym I had gotten a 7 day pass at, saying he had lost a lot of weight from the program and, as a side benefit, it made his stomach feel better. I’ve had problems with my stomach my whole life. I’ve been diagnosed with about 6 different stomach ailments over the years, from Crohn’s, IBS to GERD. The Paleo diet is all about what cavemen would have eaten.
You have to picture yourself as an ancient person, living in a cave, and think about how and what you would have eaten. Most of what you eat is meat, fat and vegetables. Whatever you can hunt and kill, or pick from the ground or a tree, is what you are eating. Nothing from a box, no agricultural products or man-made from chemicals. This way of eating has made me feel better than I have felt since the pain started when I was 7 years old. Paleo has taught me that I have an intolerance to gluten and it was the cause of most of my stomach problems. I grew up in a Czech immigrant household, where we ate bread with everything and every meal. Eliminating grains, wheat and barley from my diet has helped me start feeling better, and as a result, helped me gain control over my weight. I’m not here to say one way is better than another but, I do know what works for me.
I have 6 months before I hit the trail and I am going to be spending much of my time on fitness and getting my body and mind ready. The time spent working on maps, gear, food, permits and this blog can’t compare to the time I need to put into my health. Without a healthy body and a strong mind, all of this is pointless.