Starting Your Weight Loss Journey

10 tips to dropping the pounds for your hunting season



With any journey, we have to have a plan on where we are going and how we are going to get to our goal. In the world of fitness and fat loss there is a massive amount of information. I am sure many of those who are reading this enjoy the outdoors and it’s bounty that it provides. We can use these outdoor passions to help us with our weight loss journey. As a personal trainer and going through my own battle with weight loss, I will relate to you what has worked for my clients as well as myself.


As a side note, I do want to touch on the concept of these lose weight fast diets and diets that do not include strength training. Maybe for others, but we can’t afford to be weak in our pursuit of elks, bucks and little green ducks. I see people all the time lose a lot of weight in a short period of time and also lose a lot of muscle as well. In the beginning just adding some strength training at least 2X per week will be beneficial in your outdoor activities. I will discuss maintaining/gaining muscle mass while in a calorie deficit for a future article. (So be sure to follow the Facebook page Oak & Iron Outdoors)


Before you start any weight loss program, be sure to meet with your doctor. It’s not a bad idea to get some blood work done and also check for other possible ailments that may hinder your progress. A physical assessment by your physician or a physical therapist to determine your cardiovascular health as well as your musculoskeletal health is also recommended.


Let's get started as here are the 10 tips in no particular order:


1. Picture yourself as your goal, right now! - For some, they know they have to lose weight and get in shape. This can seem like drudgery because someone told them that they have to. Instead, take a different approach. Picture yourself where you want to be. Don’t be afraid to use your imagination. Even take a look back at some older pics of yourself and try to remember what it felt to look that way. Of course we cannot turn back time. However, you will feel much better about yourself and performing your daily activities. Be realistic of course, but if you can see it, you can do it.



2. Get your mind right - A lot of people are where they are because they allow their mind to get into a negative mindset. Learn focus and discipline. Start with saying no to yourself when it comes to those foods or bad habits such as mindless programs on television. A small win of not eating that cupcake on the counter is going to start building your confidence. Cut negative people out of your life, especially on social media. That is what I did in the beginning and it was one of the best moves I made. On the other end of the spectrum, gravitate or reconnect to those who offer you positive value, and be sure to return the favor.


3. Increase your calorie burn with your outdoor endeavor - If you're an ice fisherman ditch the electric auger for the old fashioned hand auger. (The calorie burn is tremendous). If you're a open water fisherman, look at getting a kayak and troll. Deer hunters increase your scouting on foot. Scouting for deer, especially in hill country can be a great workout. Upland bird hunters, get out with your dogs in the offseason and work with them too. Especially during the cooler times of the day. In reality, any type of activity that gets you in pursuit of your quarry is going to help you burn calories. The key is to keep it consistent.



4. Focus on your catch and harvest as a nutrition source - In mainstream society in regards to nutrition, the focus is on eating organic. What’s more organic than harvesting our own fish and game as well as what we can grow in our own garden? Almost all meats from the wild are an excellent source of protein & have lower fat and overall calories compared to the livestock raised for mass production. This includes Venison, elk, rabbit, squirrel, grouse, geese, ducks, alligator, you name it. Fishing you have to be a little more careful of as some of your larger predator fish can have higher levels of mercury and PCB’s. However, panfish and your smaller sized fish are another excellent source of protein. Trout really hit high marks on the nutritious food scale due to it’s high levels of Omega’s 3’s.



5. Create Accountability - Notice how I didn’t say “find” accountability. While the obvious answer is finding a workout partner. I like my client’s to learn to create their accountability from within. Post a blurb of your fitness journey on your social media site and check in every week with your progress. Place sticky notes on your refrigerator with your goal on them. Change your screensaver on your phone and laptop to that big hunt that you need to get in shape for. If needed, then get that workout partner or personal trainer to help keep you stay on task.



6. Hire a personal trainer - The personal trainer should not only be used as a guide in the gym but also as a person to give you education that you can use away from the gym. Finding a good personal trainer can be tricky. I always recommend that you set up an interview with the trainer and to find one that gels with you and your personality. When you're on the same page it will make the workouts more enjoyable and you are way more likely to keep your appointments. For a beginner who is brand new to the fitness scene a good trainer will cut the learning curve in half.



7. Create your goal & plan and then take action - You may not even know the best plan at this time but that doesn’t matter. Any plan is better than no plan. You already know the goal. Make sure that your plan is realistic. Losing 50 lbs in one month is probably not going to happen nor is it very safe. The key to the plan is to take action. Get your mind ready, pick a day and go! When starting your plan, err on the side of caution. Push yourself but don’t go berserk. See how your body feels after the first day, the first week, and the first month. Then you can alter your plan accordingly.



8. Lift weights - Lifting weights should be part of any weight loss journey for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that when people are in weight loss mode, they are usually in a calorie deficit. When you are in this mode, the fat comes off but to an extent you lose some muscle as well. By lifting weights, you preserve your muscle mass so you don’t end up looking like a deer suffering from CWD. The second reason is when you lift weights you also burn calories after the lifting session. Studies have shown that the EPOC or afterburn can last as long as 72 hours and averages around 48 hours. There is nothing like burning calories when you sleep!


9. Walk, walk, and walk some more - You have heard about HIIT training, Zumba, Sprint 8, etc. Those are all fine and dandy and you will get there. This article is entitled “Starting your weight loss journey”. For most, that means moving. And nothing is safer and better for you than a long walk. I like to tell my clients to start with progressive walking. Which is simply adding a minute or two to each walking session. However, a word of caution. Do not start your walking with ankle weights as the weights can throw off your natural gait and cause knee, hip and back problems. Once you can walk comfortably for 45 minutes, then you can look into upping your cardio component with different forms of cardio and equipment.



10. Increase Your Protein - Protein is the building blocks to increasing muscle mass and in turn strength. Protein will also help you to stay satiety (full) longer. Start with your lean meats first, after all we are hunters and fisherman first. When looking at to supplement protein look at getting your protein from a reliable source. Personally I look for protein that has little to no additives as I want as pure of a protein as I can get.


Maybe all of these steps will connect with you, or maybe just a few. The key is to get started and stay consistent. Find your goal and stay focused. I tend to find that an indirect goal makes the initial goal easier to achieve. Losing weight is seen as tough, However, if the goal is to go on a hunt out west or a canoe trip to the boundary waters of Minnesota, then the goal of losing weight becomes easier. You become your thoughts, so think positive. If you have read this article up to this point, you know what you need to do. Good luck with your weight loss journey and just get it done.

-Clint Ward







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