Some thoughts on fitness, diet, and longevity for outdoor athletes (STo 003)

First and foremost, yesterday (16 April 18) was my pup’s third birthday. She holds a pretty special place in my heart, so I share her with the world whenever I can. Here’s a picture of her below.

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Just look at that adorable face!

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

I’ve spent many hours in the great outdoors. from the time I was kneehigh to a grasshopper to just a couple days ago, it’s always been with me. I’m sure you can relate, otherwise you wouldn’t be here! That being said, there are a lot of risks we take when we expose ourselves to the rigors of outdoor athletics such as skiing, hiking, climbing, mountaineering, etc. Because we’re outdoors we enter the realm of risks provided by wildlife, rivers, rocks, and our good friend the sun.

Now to be honest I hadn’t really even considered the long term aspects of things until sometime last week. I had been juggling all sorts of conflicting thoughts on diets to help my workouts without any effort put in to how that could affect my performance in the mountains. My mind was still focused on the “lift big” portion, and not so much on the “feed the furnace” portion. From here, I’ll break down my thoughts into 3 sections: 1-fitness, 2 – diet, and 3 – longevity. Understand these all play together and they may get a bit circular in reasoning, but I’ll try and share my experiences on each.

cool beans

1. Fitness

Because fitness can be pretty broad, and I’ve literally heard people argue over it, let’s start by defining it. According to merriam-webster, fitness is “good health and strength achieved through exercise.” Now good can be a relative term to some, but overall I boil it down to your ability to balance your body-wei

ght and strength in such a way as to accomplish your goals. For example, I’ve always been an avid skier. I great up skiing ski-bum resorts and doing the “turn-and-burn” since I was about four or so. When I got to college and started seriously exercising, I put huge priority on my core and legs as these are the mode to achieve best downhill control. I got results and was super excited. As time progressed I’ve enjoyed the mountaineering idea and wanting to incorporate skiing. I’ve had to completely re-invent my exercise strategy. What worked for skiing the lifts left me completely imbalanced for full body endurance exercise. I now utilize a solid balance of cardio and strength training to accomplish my goals.

With this in mind, I think that for any individual who will not be competing in a specific sport should be focused more on full body development and keeping a high overall strength to weight ratio. From where I stand that wi

ll provide the best base in case you do decide to dedicate yourself to one sport.

2. Diet

I’m no expert, but diet is arguably the most important of the group. First off, I hate what the term diet has become. It all evolves around this marketable scheme that’ll solve all your issues. The only diet that will solve your issues on weight is calories in<calories out. It’s and oldie, but it’s a goodie.

Anywho, diet is going to provide the most overall benefits and drawbacks for your physical goals. In many cases, especially in the realm of athletics, “you are what you eat.” There are so many disciplines of sports out there, so it may seem daunting to try and decide what you need. The important things to know are your three main types of energy sources, and how they’ll keep you performing at optimum levels. Theses are Carbs, Proteins, and Fats.

Here’s an excerpt from Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills 9th edition (https://amzn.to/2HJ7kLV) “Carbohydrates. The easiest food for the body to convert into energy, carbohydrates should constitute most of the calories. Think of the carbos as the main “fuel food” to keep your body functioning most efficiently. Good sources or carb starch include whole grain, rice, potatoes, cereals, pasta, bread, crackers, and granola bars. Sugars can be supplied not only by honey or granulated sugar but also by fruit, jam, energy gels, and drink mixes.

Protein. The daily requirements for proteins is nearly constant regarldess of type or level of activity. The body cannot store protein, so once it has met its protein requirements the excess is either converted into energy or stored as fat. High protein foods include cheese, peanut butter, nuts, dried meat, canned or vacuum packed meats or fish, beans, tofu, powdered milk, eggs, etc.

Fats. Because fats pack more than twice as many caloris per gram as protein or carbohydrates, they are an important energy source. Fats are also digested slower than carbs or proteins, so they will keep you sustained for longer. High fat foods include butter, nut butters, nuts, salami, beef jerky, sardines, oils, eggs, seeds, and cheese.”

So, how will this affect you? Basically, what kind of activity you perform should dictate your diet. Are you a long distance runner – low carb high fat may be a good choice. Are you doing something where you can snack at regular intervals and doing explosive activities – try something high carb. Ultimately, there’s no one set diet that can cure all ailements as your body type, size, and age all play a factor too.

So it’s really not a matter of perfecting the perfect workout – that’s only half the battle – the diet is the other half… and as Abraham Lincoln said “A house divided cannot stand.” (click here to watch some thoughts on diet)

3. Longevity.

This one is gonna be much shorter. Longevity is basically just being able to sustain yourself over time. I’m sure you all know that old adage of nothing lasts forever, but there shouldn’t be any reason not to make it last as long as possible right? That’s how I feel anyway. If you aren’t actively taking measures to keep yourself in the outdoors, and you do love the outdoors, then you are doing yourself a major disservice.

From where I stand, the only way to improve longevity of the body in regards to continued mountain adventures is through both diet and fitness. Diet is crucial in that it dill keep you fueled and running optimally. Take a car for example. If it takes 91 oct gas you’re not gonna put in 85 are you? That’d just reduce the operating time of the engine. Same thing goes for your body. For exercise, I truly believe if the body becomes stagnant then it’s game over. It’s necessary to keep yourself active for the sake of the long haul. It’s especially important when you doing workouts or train with weights to cool up and down to prevent excess strain or cause injury. Stretching has been proven to provide long-term benefits as well!

Thanks for reading

I hope you found the article useful!

 

Got a question? Drop a line over at glacier_life@yahoo.com

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