Getting into Backcountry Shape – Getting Started

Edge of Bighorn National Forest

In this first post I am going to focus on setting the stage for the posts to come. I am going to share my starting stats, apps I use to track progress and share my starting exercise routine. Following this post I plan to share updates every two to three weeks. These subsequent posts will not only contain my current stats but also changes to my routine. I may include some notes about my diet but just for information only.

My current status – I am going to preface this with some information about my daily activities as I feel this is important. Some people have jobs or daily activities that are more rigorous than others. For me, I am seated at a desk for the majority of the week from 8am to 5pm. As you can imagine, this does not provide a lot of exercise. I factor this into my diet at least while I am trying to shed a few pounds. For the time being I am monitoring my caloric intake pretty closely with the simple goal of consumption of less calories than burned.

On the first day I began tracking progress also happened to be the last day of the 2017 deer season here in Georgia. This was January 15th, 2018. I am 6′ 1″ tall and on the morning of January 15th, 2018 I measured 213 pounds. I am currently wearing a size 38″ waist which has a snug fit, but is not tight. I am still wearing some 40″ waist but they are loose and I can only wear these if I employ a belt. As I mentioned in the kickoff article for this series I have not been exercising since September 9th, 2017. That date was the start of the 2017 hunting season and while I have been active while hunting I was not exercising regularly.

Apps for Exercise and Tracking – I used to use a fitness tracker, like fitbit, but now I only use my smart phone. With so many free apps available it just does not make sense, at least to me, to wear a tracker. I am an iPhone user so the apps I use are available on iPhone, but I am sure most of them or an equivilent are also available for other devices. So let’s get started:

MyFitnessPal– My go to app for tracking progress here I can track my calories consumed and calories burned. You can link other apps to automatically input exercise information or you can enter it manually. This app will also track your progress if you are looking to shed a few pounds and provides a graph showing progress. It will even congratulate you on your progress and of course you can share progress with friends via social media if you like. This is a free app.

MapMyRun – A great activity tracker. Select from Walk, Run, Hike and many more activities. The app will estimate calories burned based on your current weight, distance, elevation change and more. You can easy to share your workouts with others if you desire to do so. Plus you can link these Under Armor apps so the information for your workout can be automatically sent to MyFitnessPal. This is a free app.

Couch To 5k/10k – The Couch to 5k program is a great way to ease into jogging or running. It starts you slow and increases intensity weekly as your body adapts to the workout. Before you know it you are jogging like you have been doing it for months. Couch to 5k and Couch to 10k are both apps that have a trial to get you started but if you want the full program there is a nominal fee. Also, running can be hard on your joints so check with your doctor before starting any exercise program and take proper precautions to avoid injury.

Interval Timer – For some of my non-cardio days I use an interval timer for setting up a workout routine. There are many of these available. I use one called Seconds. With these interval or HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) exercises you are doing intervals of exercises with short rest periods between each. I start out with 30 seconds for each exercise with a 10 second rest period in between. Really that is just enough time to switch stance for the next exercise. Personally I am trying to accomplish several things and choose my starting exercises with this in mind. My initial goal is burning calories, secondary goals are to increase core strength and endurance. I will cover my HIIT routine and schedule below.

Equipment – For now all of my exercises will be based on equipment most people either already have or can purchase at little expense. The one exception is that I do own an eliptical. I really only use it as a warm up on HIIT days and if the weather prevents me from doing cardio work outdoors.

I also own several dumbells ranging from 10 – 80 pounds but for most of my exercise 20 or 25 pound dumbells are the heaviest I use. I plan to add some kettlebell weights at some point but currently I do not own any.

I have an exercise mat to keep sweat off of my carpet, a sturdy backpack. I use one of my hunting backpacks for this but any sturdy pack will do. I also have a pullup bar. I think mine was around $20 at a local sports store.

I want to keep this post from being too long so for now I am just going to share my current weekly workout and high level diet.

Diet – for now I am going to keep this simple. I strive every day to end up with a caloric intake deficit. I want to burn more than I consume while at the same time being safe. There are several websites to help you determine what is safe for you. I use Healthline  to calculate mine. Based on my age, weight, hieght and lifestyle I need to consume roughly 1800 calories per day to lose weight without any exercise. (To maintain my weight I would need to consume 2250 calories) It is also important to eat the right calories. Obviously 1800 calories of candy and ice cream will not help you obtain your goals. I may go futher into diet later but for now I will leave it at this. I try to eat a lot of good protien. Chicken, fish, meat and beans. Black beans are a really good source of protien and luckily I like eating them. Also included are vegetables and some carbs but I try to eat good carbs like brown rice, sweet potatoes and whole grains. Also, on days when I workout I can choose whether or not to eat more and based on how I feel I may consume more than my goal of around 1800 calories. Once again, I am no expert but I do a lot of my own research and recommend you do the same and speak with a doctor or nutritionist. Lastly I do take a daily multi-vitamin and a daily supplement for joint health. Because aging sucks!

My starting exercise routine:

1 -2 days each week – Walking/Jogging. Depending on how I feel and my mood I may just walk. This rarely occurs as I use end up jogging at least part of the time but if I do walk it is not a casual stroll. I am walking fast, at least a 3.0 MPH rate. I want to at least get my heart rate slightly elevated. Most days I am doing intervals of jogging and walking and some days I will do sprinting intervals. The Couch To 5K program is great for this. Some days I will simply follow the program and advance to the next level when I feel I am ready and capable. Some days I will go back to an early stage and perform sprinting intervals. Running as fast as I can for 90 seconds and then walking for 120 seconds. Once you review the program this will make more sense. On running/walking days I shoot for at least 3-3.5 miles. Some days I do as much as 5 miles.

1 – 2 days each week – Rucking. Rucking is simply walking with a weighted pack. Because I did a lot of this over the summer I was able to start out with a pretty heavy weight of 60#. I strongly recommend you start with much less weight and work your way up. When I started last spring I began with 20#. I try to walk where there are lots of hills. Luckily my neighborhood offers this type of terrain. I also have a local school where I walk after school has let out. There I can also climb some pretty steep hills. Bleachers will also work but I prefer steep terrain. I am starting out at 1.5 miles but will likely increase this distance fairly rapidly until I get to 3 miles.

1 – 2 days each week – HIIT Training. I have outlined what HIIT training is above. I am starting out with the exercises listed below and I will be doing 2 sets in the beginning. As I get stronger I will add an additional set and also add new exercises. Many of these you can also add weight and/or duration to make them harder as you get stronger. Each exercise is performed for 30 seconds and there is a 10 second rest period between each exercise and each set. 10 seconds is usually just enough to get into position for the next exercise..

My starting HIIT Workout: (Each exercise includes a video so you can see an expert show you how it is performed.)

Warmup (5 minutes) I usually use my eliptical for this but you could substitute running in place, jumping jacks, or going up and down some stairs. Anything to get you warmed up and the heart pumping a bit before you jump into the exercises.

This will pretty much carry me into February and sometime during February I will post an update and any changes in my routine. **One note, I managed to catch a nasty bug on a business trip last week and between the weather and my complete lack of energy I have pretty much taken the last week off from any exercise but starting today I am getting back into the groove with a full HIIT workout. Tomorrow back to a morning run.

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