Overcoming the Challenges Of Prepper Fitness

Dieting and fitness are about self-control, and that is a skill that is good to practice for SHTF or a long emergency

Lack of self-control is the root of a lot of behavior that can get you into trouble during a long emergency. Learning better self-control could prevent you from making some poor choices in the future as well as help you combat some of the problems you may be battling right now.

Before Matt and I moved to our property we both had been office workers for 2 years and to be blunt, it had wreaked havoc on our physical fitness. It didn’t help any that the years before that we had been eating cafeteria food that was absolutely terrible. Not all colleges have good food options, regardless if they are private or public.

Prepper fitness is a challenging issue to address. I want this post to inspire people, not tear them down, but at the same time, some realities must be faced. I have had to do it myself, and so has my husband, Matt. Over the last year or two, we have lost a combined 45 lbs.

Getting into shape and eating better is a prep that you can do right now, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, you may find that you save money. A lot of people talk about how much healthy food costs but then they will go spend $10 on a fast food meal. I can cook a steak dinner for that at home!

You are doing to be hungry while getting into shape

I could not make it up the hill to my property without getting out of breath when I was 25 years old. I can say it made me wonder how on earth we were going to build a house. The answer is the same as with any big project, and that is one step at a time. Physical fitness and weight loss when you have a decent amount to lose are not easy. You are going to be hungry and tired, but there are things you can do to minimize how much this affects you in your daily life.

Weight loss and fitness take time. There are no short cuts.

The concept of calories in and calories out is the golden rule.

You have to burn more than you consume to lose weight. Although a balanced diet is always recommended for your overall health and wellbeing, as far as weight loss goes, you can eat a lot of junk and still lose weight if you are consuming less than you burn.

Some weight comes off fast, but it slows down as you lose more

I have heard a lot of people, myself included, get really excited when the first 5 or 10 lbs goes away because it is exciting and something to celebrate. Then another month goes by, and you lose half that even though you feel like you are working hard towards your goal. It is easy to get discouraged at the point but you shouldn’t. This is a healthy way to lose weight. If you lose weight too fast after that first month or so you can feel terrible. A lot of doctors recommend no more than 2 lbs per week and some only a 1 lb per week. Just keep your weight loss to a healthy and steady rate and exercise some patience because it will be to your long-term benefit.

We are all different and have our limitations

Those with some medical conditions or that have limited mobility have a harder time staying fit. I have to encourage my own father to move around as much as possible regardless of his disabilities. He also has to keep his weight down because having a prosthetic foot, and diabetes means his weight could make it health a lot worse.

Do what you can to maintain the best level of fitness and weight for your unique circumstances. You may want to discuss it with your doctor at your next checkup. There are a lot of exercise routines and diets that can help you be your best! You don’t have to try to achieve some crazy ideal; the goal is to get to the level of fitness so that you can have a fulfilling life without as many health issues.

BMI is a guideline. Other factors can cause you to have too high a BMI even if you are in excellent shape.

Very muscular people can have a high BMI. Other physical characteristics can also throw off this measurement.

Clothing sizes should never be used as a primary weight loss goal

The size of clothing has changed a lot over the years. I feel that a lot of people uses their clothing size as a weight gauge and that it can cause some issues. When I buy pants, I know that I will probably wear 1 of 3 different sizes. Brands vary a lot, and although it seems to be more of a problem with women’s clothing than men’s, it has started to be a factor for the guys too.

Just because you can’t fit into one companies size___ doesn’t mean you need to lose more necessarily. Clothing sizes used to be sized for much smaller people. I know that people complain about how it is ridiculous that there is a size 0 in clothing, but it is important to remember that it is closer to a 1950s size 4-6. Using a clothing size as a loose goal is one thing, just be sure to not fixate on it too much and get discouraged.

It is easier to stay in shape if everyone in the house is on board with being healthier.

If someone else in the home is not practicing good physical fitness and eating habits, it can make it harder for others to stick to what they want to do. You see this with vices too. My mother in law was a nurse for decades, and one thing that I remember her commenting on was that if a couple lived together and both smoked and one decides to quit, and the other does not, the failure rate is exceptionally high. Having a lot of temptation in the house makes it easy to slip.

When everyone in the household agrees to eat healthier, then you can just cut out some of the snack foods and unhealthy things from your grocery list, so they are not right there, waiting for you to have a hard day or for when you think you are too tired to cook. I find that I eat less if I have things that take a decent amount of time to cook and if I limit the amount of easy to snack on foods.

Practice carrying a pack with weight in it

Over my 2 years of writing about prepping and survival online, I have read a lot of people’s opinions and comments within the prepping community and it is pretty clear to me that a lot of folks know their limitations and how unrealistic it would be for them to bug out for a long time or without decent transportation. On the other side of this are the people that think if SHTF they are going to turn in to superheroes. It’s just not like that. Unless you can carry 25 lbs on your back and stay on your feet for many miles, then bugging out on foot is probably not something that should be attempted unless you can get to other transportation quickly.

Some people are going so far to train with packs loaded with weights when they are walking around town. This is called Rucking, and it has a big following. I suggest putting some camping gear or a bug out bag together and hiking with it and setting up camp. Even if you just take it to close by trails and then set up a camp in your backyard, it is far better than not practice at all, and it will let you see just how well you do with a specific weight of pack. You can use the bathroom scale to see how much you are carrying. There is no shame in starting out with a pack that weighs 10-15 lbs and working your way up! That is called getting started, and that puts you ahead of a lot of others that are not thinking about this stuff.

Muscle is denser than fat

If you put on a lot of muscle, you may look exceptionally skinnier but still, weigh closer to your old weight than you would expect. Some people get horrified when they see their weight actually go up after a certain point of fitness. This is why you can look at two people of basically the same height and weight but one can look slim and the other a bit overweight.

I was 172 lbs when I lived in Alaska. Towards the end of our time there I did start trying to eat better and walk to and from work so that was good but when things really changed is when Matt and I began farming and building our house. I lost about 15 lbs. Over the last year, I have lost another 15 and feel a lot better. It makes it easier for me to do my jobs around the vineyard and farm. While I don’t want to promote unhealthy dieting, I do have to say it is easy to be carrying weight all over your body that you don’t realize you have to lose.

Me at around 24 years old and 172 lbs and me at 35 and 143. Building a house, starting a vineyard, raising a lot of pigs, sheep, goats, cattle, putting back firewood, and all the activities associated with those things were a big help.  Diet changes made the weight come off faster too. If I can get into better shape, you can too!

You lose weight uniformly a lot of the time. Your stomach is not going to go away immediately.

When you lose weight, it comes from all over your body. Sure it may seem like a lot of it melts off of specific areas on some people, but that doesn’t mean that it is not being lost all over the rest of your body.  Some people go to extreme measures to sculpt areas because they cannot handle how this works.

What you can do to get on the right track

Big changes start with small steps. Here are some things you can do to get started on getting into better shape or losing weight.

Avoid eating out and when you do, stay away from fast food

The portions and ingredients at a lot of restaurants, especially fast food chains, are enormous and packed with a lot of fillers that allow them to have a ton of calories and fat crammed into them. If you need a quick-lunch, pick up something healthy at a grocery store deli or get in the habit of packing your own healthy lunches. Put the money you save by packing your own into a fund for either more preps or a splurge.

If you do eat out at one of the places with huge portions, then eat half and take rest to go and eat that for a second meal. Portion sizing and control is critical, especially for those that must eat during a hectic workday.

Sign up for a fitness class or hiking group or grab a friend and get outdoors

Some people do better if they have some structure to their fitness routine such as a class or group that meets regularly. You may find some people that become your friends while you are getting healthier together! There are gyms everywhere that you can use for a fee, but there are plenty of free or inexpensive activities at community centers, clubs, YMCAs, and parks and recreation programs in your area.

If you have a friend that likes to hike and wants to get out and walk with you, then that can work great too. If it is just you, it can be harder to stay on track with your fitness goals.

Stay busy and entertained

Boredom and being stuck inside is a big factor when it comes to the struggles people face when trying to exercise and stay healthy. I lived in places when I was younger where it rained 13.5 feet per year, so I know a bit about being stuck. Even if you re doing things that are not very physical, staying entertained with a hobby can take your mind off whatever great snacks you have. Comfort eating is something I think most of us are guilty of at one time or another, but when it becomes too common, it is easy to get out of shape and gain weight.

Stay on track but don’t be so hard on yourself that you set yourself up for ultimate failure.

At some point, you have to settle into some type of routine that will allow you to maintain weight and fitness while not always denying yourself anything enjoyable. You really don’t have to give up on eating favorite foods entirely unless there is a medical reason that requires it. The key is moderation.

Your taste buds will change if you dramatically change your diet.

Since high blood pressure is a concern, we cut out a lot of salt from our diet. We usually cook from scratch and add salt and spice as needed. Matt and I also cut out high fructose corn syrup and a lot of refined sugar. Now foods that a lot of people eat taste too salty or too sweet. If you give it time, you may find that you don’t miss the extra salt and sugar.

If you cut out a lot of processed foods, artificial colors, and flavors and then try them again, they may taste a bit “off.”

I was so disappointed after giving up some foods to go back to them later and be appalled at the flavor. Maybe this doesn’t happen to everyone, but it did to me. Real food just tastes better and not just like a bunch of salt and fat.

Protein and vegetables are delicious, and you can eat a lot of them and still lose weight if you balance your calorie intake and exercise level

We eat a lot of meat, but we buy good quality. With no health insurance, eating well is one of the things we can do to stay healthy and not spend any time at the doctor.

Advanced prepper fitness

Some of you may want to take it to another level, so you can get through some tough times. Here are a few ideas. I encourage you to add to the list in the comments section of this post!

  • Hike around town with a weighted pack
  • Play paintball with a bug out bag on. You don’t have to put all your real gear in it but try to mimic the feel and weight of what you plan to carry. Shooting and sneaking around with a bag on is a lot different than shooting and hiding with little weight on your back.
  • Hike into a remote area and practice with your gear at least a few times a year. Do it in different seasons because SHTF doesn’t just happen in one.

Prepping and homesteading tends to take the weight off regardless of diet changes

If you are doing more physical labor and eating the same way, you will lose some weight and get in better shape, but it will take a while.

What do you to stay in shape? What is your biggest challenge when it comes to fitness? Any good recipes for meals?

Samantha Biggers can be reached at sam@samanthabiggers.com.