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Re: [at-l] Weight Loss



Will,

>All this talk about weight loss has me a little apprehensive. I expect to 
>loose some weight, but I'm a
>rock climber as a first sport, I wrestled in High school and college and 
>have a body type typical of
>these sports, great strength to weight ratio in the upper body, small legs, 
>and I carry about 3-4% body
>fat, very very low. My training for my hike at present includes getting out 
>to hike as much as possible
>with a loaded pack on the AT here in GA, and I'm trying to put some muscle 
>mass on my quads and
>hamstrings (leg bi's). I'm also trying to actually gain weight be it fat or 
>muscle, but I train on the
>stairmaster during my endurance phases of working out (I use a pyramid 
>training system for muscle
>development based on cycling through three cycles every 8-9 weeks one each 
>of endurance, then strength,
>then power, then back to endurance) and I still work out my upper body three 
>days a week and climb
>another day or two a week.  This makes it hard to gain any weight.

>I am currently at 5'8" weighing about 135. I hope to get my body weight up 
>to 150 before I hit ME in
>June. The lowest body weight I've carried since I quit growing was about 
>119, this was just after I
>completed basic cadet training at the US Air Force academy (I transfered to 
>Ga Tech shortly after) but
>even though I was definitely underweight (I mean I wrestled at 125 and it 
>was tough my senior year to
>make weight, I didn't always make weight) I was in amazing shape, after 
>getting acclimated and running
>5-7 miles per day at 7000 ft. I came home to GA and could do 8-10 miles 
>(running that is) without a
>problem.

>So the question is, at what point should I really start worrying about my 
>weight dropping too low? Am I
>just worrying because the thread came up, or do you think I have a legit 
>concern?

  Hope this helps you.  I will base my answer on my thru-hike of the Pacific
Crest Trail, since I found the conditions more demanding than the AT upon my
overall physical health. I am also a climber of 22 years now (rock, ice and
mountaineering) so my answer might be more acceptable to you.  I weigh
exactly now at age 42 that I did at age 16, when I reached my full size at
5' 10.5", which is 145 lbs.  Since I wanted to play football in high school,
but couldn't gain weight, I felt that I was cursed; of course, now I
consider myself genetically blessed, have long since forgotten about
football and also enjoy a high strength to weight ratio, which we both know
is just what a rock climber wants.  My wife is constantly giving me the evil
eye, as she has not been so blessed.  I was eating only 2 meals a day in the
last months before leaving for California and so my weight actually dropped
down in the 130's by the time I left Mexico.  Due to the combination of cold
and snow in the High Sierra and the drain it made on my reserves (not that I
had any), by the time I got to Mammoth Lakes after 18 days of slogging a 50+
lb pack, I had an all-time adult (I was 20 years old then) low weight of 128
lbs!  For me, this was seriously on the edge of good health, but I was still
strong (actually stronger) and had lots of energy.  I immediately started to
consume massive amounts of food at every available oppurtunity (since
thru-hikers are known to eat obsessively in towns all I can say is that even
my fellow thru-hikers were losing food-eating contests to me), only slowing
down partially when the snow was gone for good (a month later) and the
temperatures were climbing into the 90's, depressing the appetite somewhat.
When I reached Canada, I weighed my also life-time high of 155 lbs.  Since
then, I have cycled in the same manner on other long trips (canoe, ski,
bicycle, backpack and wilderness climbing) though never such an extreme,
more in the loss of 10 lbs range.  At my current age, I would be very
concerned if I lost more than this, since I no longer have youthful
exuberance on my side, parenthood having long drained any last trace of it
from my system ;-)
  It sounds to me that you probably do not have any real concern since your
experiences have reflected my own and it sounds like your body type is
exactly like my own.  Also, the AT has a lot more oppurtunity for
pigging-out on a regular basis compared to the PCT, so your weight is not
likely to fluctuate much.  And it sounds like you are doing a terrific job
of preparing yourself physically for the upcoming trail trauma, much more
than I ever did; before my hikes, I was walking to work (just a few miles)
and riding my bicycle everywhere, since I did not own a car (though I did
have a motorcycle if I had to go anywhere substantial and I could also
borrow my parent's car).  For all the leg exercise I have done in my life
(and continue to do - I ski a lot, cross-country and downhill, and ride my
bicycle to work in summer), my legs are still skinny while my forearms tend
to be the standard rock jock size (Popeye-like, for all you non-climbers out
there); I guess the lesson here is that it doesn't matter the slightest for
a thru-hike.  In fact, I think that you will find that you are on the
"cutting edge" of thru-hikers when it comes to your overall body fitness,
according to your descriptions.  Honestly, I would be more concerned about
blisters and foot injuries, if you are going to worry about anything.
  Since you sound like a very thoughtful athlete who enjoys reading up on
fitness information and following through on the recommendations, I am going
to suggest that you read Ray Jardine's "PCT Hiker's Handbook", which you can
find on the Web at http://members.aol.com/advenlore/alpweb.htm.  Just in
case you didn't know, Ray invented Friends (and is thus financially
independent - smart guy...) and was the first climber in the world to climb
5.13 (Phoenix in Yosemite Valley).  He and his wife/co-author Jenny have
hiked the PCT 3 times, plus the Continental Divide and, just a few years
ago, the AT. He has a very excellant physical conditioning section in the
book, preparing for the pitfalls of the long hike.  Some of his ideas are
extreme (and the source of lots of comment and humor) but - hey - that's Ray.
  Finally, a question for you.  Are you going to try to climb occasionally
while on the trail or just chuck it?  I would have a hard time not carrying
at least my shoes and chalk bag (if not harness) since there are some great
places to climb along the way and at least stay in shape with a little
bouldering.  Though this may not make sense to most of the folks on this
list (not being climbers and, therefore, not eternally damned with the
"itch"), I will simply compare it to the movie-lover who stops at every
theatre in the trail towns and would die with a "fix".

Alan

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