Getting back in shape -

11:15 a.m. on July 3, 2007 (EDT)
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Ok - I'll confess - working in an office combined with spending a couple hours a day in my car getting to and from the office seems to be adding up on this 48 year olds waist.

I've never objected to carrying a few extra pounds in my backpack - but I'd prefer it be IN THE BACKPACK and not under my skin.

Other than the obvious (walking at lunch, trying to get a walk in at night, watching my diet (which at this point consists of bran cereal for breakfast and a plain salad for lunch (no meat or cheese, oil and vinegar dressing) and a modest dinner (I use a 3/4 size plate) - any hints or tips any of ya'all have found?

Oh - what brought this on? Simple - the wife accused me of obstructing her forward view while hiking up a trail on Sunday ....

Because of family, professional and community obligations I know that I no longer have the time to dedicate to fitness that I did when I was racing bicycle as a cat2 and climbing 5.11 on sight - but dang it - I'd like to get back in shape again. My BP and all are fine, my cardio is still pretty good (I don't run out of steam real fast on those steep uphills) - but my BMI is approaching the mid 20's - and I don't want it to get any dang higher!

Just figured there were others around here, about my age, or maybe even a year or ten older, who might have picked up on techniques that I've missed -

Thanks in advance


2:43 p.m. on July 3, 2007 (EDT)
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Staying Fit as Time marches on -

1. Retire so you have lots of free time to do all that exercise.

2. Just say no to the multitude of worthy volunteer organizations who will now believe you have lots of time that you would love to devote to them.

3. Stop growing older (no, wait, growing older is the pits, but the alternative is worse).

4. Before you retire, get rich enough so you don't need to go back to work (no, wait, that requires managing your investments, which takes more time and effort than when you are working - like several friends who believed they could "get rich with real estate", but now spend full time repairing their rental units that their tenants insist on trashing, but claim it wasn't anything they did to clog the plumbing).

I know! Ya gotta give up those nights jamming with your buds and drinking beer!

Sorry, Steve, that goes with the territory. Average weight gain is something like a pound a year after age 30, according to the articles in the AARP magazine. I've managed to keep it down somewhat, but mainly by doing lots of exercise (3-4 training hikes of 5-20 miles and 1000-4000 ft of climb each week or the equivalent) and keeping the food intake down (hard to do when your spouse bakes these chocolate chip cookies that just melt in your mouth).

One thing that helps, and you may already have, is to faithfully use a top-quality heart rate monitor that includes calories burned during your exercise (as a recent cat 2 racer, you probably already have one - USCF was pushing their use while Barb and I were still racing). Both of us currently use Polar 625x, which has the foot pod accelerometer, plus the bike speed module for bike rides. I try to make the activity burn at least 1500 kcal. In theory, 3300 kcal equals a pound (take in an excess 3300 adds a pound, burn 3300 more than you take in loses a pound).

The major temptation is those holiday dinners, late night snacks (the comment about the jam sessions wasn't completely a joke), and receptions (the fashion these days for memorial services - celebrations of life for the departed - seems to include a large spread of food). It is viewed as "impolite" to turn down the offered extra servings, but they do add up.

Oh, wait, I just realized - 48, eh? You are going into your Mid-Life Crisis! Next thing, you will be setting out to do the 7 Summits, drive a Formula 1 car (or NASCAR racer), or (we better warn your wife) find a cute young bimbo. Late 40s to early 50s seems to bring out this realization in most men (and lots of women, too) that ya ain't gettin' any younger. Yur MIDDLE-AGED, and on the Downhill Side Of Life!

Sorry, Steve. There is no easy answer. But look at it this way - Life picks up when you are on the downhill side.

3:29 p.m. on July 3, 2007 (EDT)
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Bill - if laughter is really the best medicine then I should be good to go for another 30 years ...

Retirement? What's that? I've got two kids in college right now and a third in the wings - I'll be working until I'm 90 (which, should I live that long and still be able to work, is fine by me!). I keep waiting for a rich, unknown relative to die, but unless they're still in Germany and somehow know of me and want to leave me a pile of dough - I'm not holding my breath!

HRM's were just coming into fashion when I was peaking as a bicycle racer (as were hidden cables and indexed shifting - about 22 years ago) - I do monitor my heart rate the old fashioned way, though (count beats for ten seconds, multiply by six) - I do have an old Polar HRM laying around somewhere ... probably in the same box with that danged bicycle computer that lies about my speed on flats and uphills!

I guess I just need to get the intensity up - my main problem is that I HATE the gym and have real loathing for treadmills - guess I'll just have to get over it.

As for jamming late into the night - I find that I play better and can remember lyrics better if I stick to club soda and water - I've got enough musician friends with serious substance abuse problems - this kid ain't goin' down that path. Everything in moderation (and nothing when I need to be at work the next morning!).

7 summits? Unlikely - I respect the goal and think it's really cool that people do it - but it's not my cup of meat - sailing solo around the world - if I could put the time and money together - K2 or Nanga - maybe - backpacking the continential divide - almost likely!

Have a great one - I've got to wade through holiday traffic (I live near Gettysburg PA) and then take a hike ....


3:33 p.m. on July 3, 2007 (EDT)
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I heard that the Marines are looking for a few good men. I think they even increased the age limit to join now.

4:40 p.m. on July 3, 2007 (EDT)
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I now know what got into me lately. Hiking, biking, even considering going back to college. I hit 55 this past year. I really want to get back in shape, too, so if you find a sure fire answer, Steve, let me know.

I have a large garden, I walk at least 5 miles a day, and all the exercise is nullified by the fact that I quit smoking this year. I just can't get this belly to dissolve.

Well, thanks guys for all the info.


8:40 p.m. on July 3, 2007 (EDT)
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I just turned 61, can and do carry an honest 100 lb. pack near my home to "train", am kinda thickwaisted, hate the gym, but, go 2-3 times per week and backpack hunt the remote mountains of BC as well as do long solo trips into alpine lakes. I fully intend to do this into my 90s.

I eat well, seldom touch alcohol and try not to think about getting older. I have severely damaged legs from accidents and surgical errors AND I do what I like, as I can and don't WORRY about it!

This seems to work for me and I have two trips coming up later this month, at home in the West Kootenays of BC,, the most beautiful part of this province.

6:53 a.m. on July 5, 2007 (EDT)
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The military increased the age limit to 42 - I'm 48 - plus - I've been there, done that.

1:13 a.m. on July 7, 2007 (EDT)
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Steve, aside from Bill's great suggestions, from a practical standpoint, the only thing I can suggest is diet and exercise-no easy way around it. I'm lucky, I have a gym in my apartment complex, so I can get there almost every day. Still have your bike? Get one of those trainers you mount the bike on and ride it while watching tv. You need to bump up your metabolic rate and that should help. Swimming is great exercise too if you have access to a pool. Sounds like cycling to work isn't too practical, but maybe weekends on the bike would help too.

7:25 p.m. on July 8, 2007 (EDT)
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I lost a lot of weight - 28 pounds- by keeping busy and dumping all simple sugars (breads,pastas, bagels, etc.) eating turkey and chicken breast(no skins), tuna, all sorts of salads with just a sprinkling of favorite cheeses and oils (just a sprinkling! need some taste), fresh vegetables, and fruits. I would start out my day with a banana, work to an apple, maybe a small tin of tuna or sardines, then the small salad (which was loaded with onion, tomato, black and green olives, celery, whatever...),to an orange, maybe another apple, to veggies and chicken or turkey breast ( sometimes just sliced like cold-cuts)....NO ice cream!!! No dairy except the sprinkling of cheese on the salad and low fat or no fat milk once a day. Nothing to eat after 7...went to bed at 10-11pm. My blood tests are very good. This was started in November 2004. As of today, I have kept 20 of those pounds off. This last week I climbed my first 4000 footer since the last oil crisis and have eaten like a pig because "I deserve it"...which caused me to gain all that weight in the first place.

8:01 p.m. on July 8, 2007 (EDT)
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Sometimes, a slight "pigour"is healthy as you need to stay relaxed about all of this and enjoy it!

During the decades I worked in forestry, I weighed 190-195 lbs. and could RUN up a mountain, with a pack on, no problem. But, age and other interests such as reading serious history, literature and so forth put on 50 lbs. I am working it off, will climb to about 7000 ft. in a week at home in the Kootenays and I honestly don't woory about, I enjoy tough hikes and will stay in reasonable shape.

I find that carrying one of my big packs with a heavy load each day for an hour REALLY helps, especially with leg strength and joint fitness.

1:51 p.m. on July 9, 2007 (EDT)
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No one is answering the question it seems. A stair climber is perhaps the greatest way to get into hiking shape(in the gym anyways), for obvious reasons it will have a huge impact on your backpacking stamina. The biggest problem as people grow older it seems(i'm a young guy by the way) is the lost in core strength. The emphasis on lower back and abs should be the strongest. I highly recommend using some sort of ball workout, as this exercise device is wonderful for strengthing your core in a very quick manner, and requires all those little stabilizing muscles to get working. It is also very cost effective due to the diversity of exercises one can do on them. I'm a workout nut so if you want anymore suggestions just post something up. GET UP AND WORK OUT!

9:28 p.m. on July 9, 2007 (EDT)
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I really wish, that as I have attained my elevated age, that my biggest problem was my core strength!


10:35 p.m. on July 9, 2007 (EDT)
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haha, so what's your biggest then?

3:12 a.m. on July 10, 2007 (EDT)
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Steve, the best way to lose weight is to do what you used to do, that is, ride your bicycle. There is no other form of exercise besides cross country skiing that allows you to sustain a fairly high metabolic rate for a significantly long period of time without reeking havoc on your weight bearing joints. Try to do 1 or 2 long rides on the weekend and schedule 2 to 3 short workouts during the weekdays on the stationary bike (you can read comfortably on the recombant) or jogging for a total of 4 workouts per week. Also try to walk everywhere you can and use the stairs. Lastly, try to eat as close to vegetarian as you can. In fact, a recent study showed that subjects on a vegan diet lost more weight and reduced their symptoms of diabetes better than those on the American Diabetes Society diet. Further, switching to a vegan diet reduces your footprint of green house gases more than switching from a Hummer to a Prius. No, I'm not a vegan, but I'm thinking about it. Don't forget the squats or leg press, perhaps the most important exercise(s) for backpacking.

6:51 a.m. on July 10, 2007 (EDT)
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Ska-T - thanks for the info. It's funny - I can cross country ski in real, actual snow, with a reasonable amount of grace, but put me on a noric-track or other ski simulator and I look like I'm making an "Americas most un-coordinated" video.
I've started riding my wind trainer again - to ease the stress on my joints and to allow me to exercise outdoors (on the patio) when it's dark out (so it's a bit cooler) - in addition to walking everywhere I can.
I hadn't considered the ecological advantages of a vegan diet before - but it makes absolute sense. I suppose a rawist diet would be even "healthier" for the environment (although maintaining proper nutrition as a vegan can be a real problem, as a rawist even more so I suppose). So now I've got more to consider ... hmm ...



2:37 p.m. on July 10, 2007 (EDT)
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My problem, other than, er, uh, ......??

Oh yeah, my memory, seems to be arthritis in my hands. My metabolism isn't what it used to be. My hands swell when I walk for any distance. My back aches if I put a lot of bending work load on it.

I did, though, get to watch the paid advertisement for some exercise program where they gave you a big free ball to fix my 'core', whatever that is, in the emergency waiting room last night. Is that, by chance, what you're referring to, MTB416. I do know that Brooke Burke is hot, to paraphrase Paris. ;-)

You would have gotten a real laugh if you had watched me sprint to the house from the barn the other day. Now that really triggered, in my mind, the need to do something for my health. It felt like I had never ever ran before - real ackward. I've started rebuilding my road bike, and I hope it's true that you never forget, but then you better reread the second paragraph.

Anyway, health and fitness is something that I am realizing just now that you shouldn't lose. You should never need to "Get back in shape" once you attain shapeness(?). It's really hard to get it back at my age. I have quit smoking this year, walk 5+ miles a day, work in my garden, and things are still coming back very slowly, but surely.

I think SteveTF has the right idea. The added benefit of really doing things and experiencing what you are doing is the best way to get through it. I can't imagine riding my bike on a trainer even compares to riding it in real time on a real road.

I'm going to set a really high goal for myself, maybe a 5K run, in the next year. It doesn't sound like much, I know, but I really let myself go for quite a while. I'll report back in on how it's gone then.


3:32 p.m. on July 10, 2007 (EDT)
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Yeah, riding the rollers gets pretty boring. There are several varieties, ranging from rollers that you have to balance on your bike (the bike just sits on the rollers, with the balance being all your own as you ride) to various kinds of wind trainers that the front fork (minus front wheel) is locked into while the rear wheel drives a fan or the type that the rear wheel is latched into the roller that drives the fan, with the front wheel still in place, sitting on the floor. In the wind trainers (we have regular rollers with a fan attached to the rear wheel section), the resistance increases with speed, since you are pushing harder into the air. You can also change resistance by shifting into higher gears.

Still, just sitting there on the bike spinning the wheels while staring into space gets boring after a few minutes. But some people put a TV in front of the bike and watch something exciting like the evening news, hmmm, well, maybe an exciting movie. There are computer programs you can get that link to the bike and simulate riding in a race or on a scenic route.

On the other hand, if you have a goal and a riding program, riding the rollers isn't too bad. The program would be something like warm up, ride a distance (assuming you have an odometer on the bike) or time at a steady speed, then do some sprints (out of the saddle sprints get real exciting on the type of rollers where the bike isn't locked down - a friend rode through the wall once when the bike came off the rollers), then a slow steady cool-down. Make up your own program mixing steady distance with sprints and changing resistance to simulate hill climbing.

3:56 p.m. on July 10, 2007 (EDT)
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It seems to me that a healthy, natural diet for an omnivorous beastie such as "Homo NotalwaysSapiens" should mimic that which we evolved eating. So, today, I had my breakfast Mooseburger and some fruit, then, put 75 lbs. into my spanking new Mystery Ranch NICE-OVERKILL frame with Crew Cab, a superb working/hunting/heavyduty pack and went for a walk in the 90*F heat.

This is Vancouver, BC, even more diverse, laid-back and totally relaxed about outer appearances than San Francity is reputed to have been 40 years ago (can it really be that long?), so, nobody even looks at a guy strolling along under a heavy pack.

This gets me into shape for backpacking like nothing else, toughens my calf muscles and strengthens my elderly bod in many respects. The pack is a piece of sheer genius, I have the matching NICE Frame-6500 bag as well plus a MR BDSB and an MR Deluxe; these will carry 100 weighed lbs. of sand bags with NO discomfort and nothing I have ever used will worls as well for conditioning.

5:59 a.m. on July 11, 2007 (EDT)
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It still amazes me what I see just walking. I've mentioned before my little town of 1700 or so people. The quaintness and honesty of it's folk are uncommon in today's America. Anyway, on my walk yesterday evening, along the same railway I usually take, I notice different things, so different that I have to take mental notes about the difference, but realize these things were always there. Not that much changes in my town. I guess it was just because of the time of day and weather and the people I met along the way.

My challenge to getting back in shape not only is an effort to do just that, but to notice all I can along the way. I don't necessarily have to stop and smell the roses, but I do at least want to notice them. My point is that I want to be outside as much as possible during my healthy recovery.

Another rambling post from:


1:06 p.m. on July 16, 2007 (EDT)
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I suppose it comes down to what Lance Armstrong said on a TV advertisement a couple years back. I'll paraphrase "people ask me what I'm on, I'm on my bike".

7:09 p.m. on July 16, 2007 (EDT)
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I'm a few months shy of 70 now and have to work at it to keep fit. Like Kutenay, I worked in forestry. I worked the profession for about 35 years and retired at 59. Being retired gives me more time to work out which is great but if one hasn't made exercise a habit during the working years then it is hard to do once you retire.

I spent a large part of my career in forestry research with a lot of field work involved; staying fit came with the territory. I now feel guilty if I don't work out regularly. To stay in shape now, I bike 15 to 25 miles 3 to 4 days a week and walk 4-5 miles the other days. I use a heart rate monitor and keep my HR at about 70% of my MHR except on long rides and some of my more slothful walks. I also have a series of weight exercises I do four days a week to keep my core strength up. I eat well and get plenty of sleep. I live on eight rural acres in the desert so do not have a lot of stress in my life. I'm hoping I'll still be chugging along in another 15 years.

1:24 a.m. on July 19, 2007 (EDT)
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My last expedition required me to carry 62 lbs for 2 weeks (the pack didn't get lighter for over half of the trip as we had to carry gear for 2 people who couldn't handle the weight and one guy had to be medevac'd out).

My training consisted of 5 weeks of progressively longer, steeper trails and increasing the pack weight till I was up to 55 lbs. I tried to hike every day, but that made it worse--very tired and weak. So, I cut back to 3 days a week and that was the ticket to success. This training regimen made all the difference; unfortunately, I didn't lose any weight till I went on the trip. Then only lost 5 lbs and it was a strenuous hike.

Having reached middle age, I find that it takes strict attention to how many calories I eat daily and also try to exercise somewhat regularly even if it's just a weenie walk. I had no idea how tough it would be to stay in condition in my golden years. But, I am determined to make them golden and stay in the best shape possible in spite of nature pushing hard the other way!

Kutenay, what is a "Mystery Ranch" pack and why do you think it is such a good pack? I spent 2 months hunting for a comfortable pack and settled on a Gregory which is ok but certainly not perfect. I'd get a second mortgage to finance a pack that would fit me comfortably.....

12:27 p.m. on July 19, 2007 (EDT)
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Mystery Ranch is the company that Dana Gleason started after he sold Dana Design to K2, stayed on as a consultant, then got disgusted with the way K2 was running Dana Design. He came up with some very interesting new ideas, some of which work very well (as most of his designs do), some of which are as quirky as he is personally (I have met and talked with him a number of times over the years). His packs have always been very comfortable to carry, even with very large loads. I have the Dana Terraplane OK (for OverKill) that I got while he still owned the company. My wife has his Terraplane 10th Anniversary edition, which has most of the same features, but a lighter fabric that is just as strong. My son has the Bomb Pack, which was very much the favorite of ski patrollers for carrying the charges they use for avalanche control. The OK is really heavy unloaded (8.5 pounds), but I have carried 65-70 pounds in it on expeditions quite comfortably.

Dana licensed some of the features of the Mystery Ranch suspension system to Kelty for a couple years, but was unhappy with what they did with it (yes, he is a feisty curmudgeon, but a fun guy to talk to). People I know who have the MR packs say they are very comfortable to carry.

But no matter who makes it, packs, like boots, have to fit you properly. Part of this is getting an experienced, trained fitter who will work with you. I have found that there are a few brands of packs that fit me very well and a few that I can't get to work for me at all (including some very high quality brands that fit some of my compatriots extremely well). Just like boots - there are a couple of brands that fit me right off the shelf as if they were built especially for me, and others that make me miserable.

3:35 p.m. on July 19, 2007 (EDT)
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What an awesome quote Fred. Lance Armstrong is the man.

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