You, too, can eat ALL you want and still lose up to 30 pounds! That’s right! This is the most effective weight loss opportunity ever! Just one catch – you must be willing to walk 800 miles to benefit…
One interesting side effect of our Appalachian Trail hike has been significant body weight loss. Chief has lost over 30 pounds and I am down fifteen pounds since our hike began two months ago. Truth be told, we started with some fat reserves but the reserves have quickly fallen off and we are now challenged with getting enough nutrients and calories. The average hiker can burn 4,000 to 6,000 calories per day by walking 15-20 miles and carrying a full backpack. If the terrain is challenging with lots of ascents the calories burned can be even greater.
Since a lighter pack weight is important most hikers try to carry food that is high in protein and calories but isn’t too heavy with which to hike. Having just enough, but not too much food is the balancing game we all play. Our meals typically consist of a Clif protein bar for breakfast; tuna, cheese or peanut butter with crackers and an apple or dehydrated fruit for lunch; and a freeze-dried meal for dinner. We also consume a Snickers candy bar in the afternoon to try to stave off tummy rumblings. The freeze-dried meals are lightweight and tasty and only need two cups of hot water added to prepare. Our favorites so far are beef stew, sausage gravy and biscuits, and mashed potatoes with grilled chicken. We have also discovered a way to get some fruit with a kick – blueberries covered with Dove dark chocolate is a new favorite snack. Chief has started freezing a bottle of Gatorade when we are in town and taking it with us the first day back on the trail. Anything cold on a humid June day is a real treat. Even our water is usually lukewarm unless we are fortunate enough to find a cool mountain spring.
Going into town to eat at a restaurant or convenience store is a central focus to hikers. We spend our days walking and often thinking about food. Keep in mind that the Appalachian Trail rarely passes through a town. Getting into town requires finding a road then hitching a ride or successfully obtaining a shuttle to town and back to the trail. Before a recent trip to visit our daughter, Chief and I text to her a list of foods we were craving. That list included strawberries, raspberries, watermelon, steak, KFC, potato salad, Barq’s root beer, and ice cream. She happily complied and filled our every food request! Consuming as many calories as the stomach can hold is our main nutrition objective at this point. We know that once we get back to the trail, those calories will be quickly burned. Our secondary concern is that we don’t continue to eat in that manner once we are finished hiking ten hours per day!
On a side note, we continue to make our way NOBO (northbound) through the state of Virginia, which holds the most miles of any of the 14 A.T. states. Virginia contains 550 miles of the A.T.’s total of 2,189 so it is taking us about five weeks to traverse this state. We expect to be in West Virginia by July 2nd, and complete that state’s six miles in a mere three hours.
We have some new hiking friends to tell you about. Log is thirty-something from Oklahoma and is working on a second (yes, SECOND) thru-hike with her dog, Yoyo. Log and Yoyo completed a successful thru-hike of the A.T. in 2012. Rocket and Timber are two young ladies from New York. We pass each other on the trail usually once or twice each day. Juice is an electrical engineer from Alabama that we have seen off and on for weeks. He is ex-military and a strong hiker so he may be far ahead of us at this point. We passed an older hiker this week who started the trail in February and is trying to hike 10-14 miles per day. He isn’t fast but he is determined. What we have learned is that every person needs to “hike your own hike” and that looks different for every individual.
So what we’ve experienced so far is that hiking the Appalachian Trail is grueling work, it’s rewarding, it builds strength, stamina, and perseverance, is an adventure, and it’s the ultimate weight loss program!
A Little Leaner But No Meaner, Chief and Toad