Confessions Of a Fat Man On The Mini Appalachian Trail

I enjoy being outside so much that one would hope the struggle with my weight would solve itself.

When it comes to hiking, backpacking, or working on the fishing boat, the same dynamic seems to apply. The more I work, the more I eat. That is an unforgiving cycle.

I often post pictures of my outdoor excursions and people on the internet get this image that I am this fit wilderness guy.

Last year I was posting about our upcoming hike on the East Coast Trail (ECT) in Newfoundland. and I had these strangers telling me it is a brutal trail in sections, “But if anyone could do it you can”

Now this is the kind of impressions people form from a few simple pictures posted on the internet.

Some were praising up my strength, not knowing i had a fat ass and I was heading into the ECT very timid and humble. I knew full well the ECT would call for every ounce of effort this fat man had to give.

It turns out I got very sick and had to bail after three days. I could not eat, vomiting, and then I flipped out of my Hammock tent at night and ripped off the mosquito net. I was not going to camp on the ground. Nope. Not me. I could not get a replacement in Newfoundland. that was the final straw. So I just bailed to get well at home.

If I had been able to get a new hammock tent, I would have stayed and continued after a few days in the hotel. But I had no intention of switching to a tent.

I think that choice really bummed by son (27) who was with me. He could have kept going, but came home with me, and I felt very badly about that. It hurt to come home.

As my sister-in-law once commented (No offence taken). 

“You are a fit fat. You do not let your size prevent you from getting out there and doing things. You get out there and experience it regardless.”

Is there really a fit fat? I don’t know. I guess if there is, I am it.

However, what I do know is that I love being outside, and am outside often. This is what I like about both of my jobs. Fishing and Humanitarian work sees me working outside all day long. You can have your office or cubical.

I am a big guy! I mean besides fat. (Here comes the justification)

When I was 18 years old, i was as fit as a fiddle, running seven miles a day. I weighted 185 lbs with no fat. And my waist was 38 inches and a 38 inch Jacket. I then took my manly growth spurt, the one that arrives around our early twenties. I went to a 44 inch chest, and to 200 LBS. I can no no longer be smaller than 200 lbs. I am skinny as a rake at 200 lbs. My leg muscles are as big as barrels from fishing. My waist physically can not be smaller than size 38 inches. I take XL everything when I am skinny. Now its 2XL. 

I will be honest, I don’t know how heavy I am right now, as I have refused to step on a scale for two years. But, my current weight is probably close to 280 lbs, I am hoping not more.I really don’t want to know.

The interesting thing is I had a battery of blood tests last summer 2017 and in all areas I am fine, but one. My Triglycerides were very healthy, way below the goal, which surprised my doctor (not usual for a fat person) . The good cholesterol level (LDL) is fine, which is unusual, as it is usually very low when the bad LDL is high. Which my bad LDL was very high, three times too high (I had just come off of lobster season where I ate lobster sandwiches every day for 2 months- I am hoping that did it).

Anyway, my readings were stumping everyone as with High bad LDL you always have low good LDL and often high Triglyceride readings.

I am thankful to say they did not just go the drug option, and I am now on six months of changed diet, and will re-test soon. But that High LDL number supposedly puts me at high risk for stroke or heart attack.

Anyway, while home in Canada this winter, I have been taking time to get outside often, though I have been super busy with the fishing business. I had a lot of things to get caught up on here in Canada after six winters in Mali, West Africa doing humanitarian work.

Anyway, I will be honest, the new N7 trail, on the East Coast Trail (ECT) kicked my fat ass (No southerly section is like it).  So many vertical climbs and descents of over 300 meters, Many places you have to use rope to ascend and descend. I’m not fond of heights either. No Joking, a misstep in some sections of N7 and N6 would have been fatal. And I don’t care who you are, a heavy body, and a pack of 50lbs will kill you on those kind of climbs. I was literal carrying 160 lbs more up the hill than my Adult son was.  It was a delight, and joy to be there. Some of the most majestic wilderness and coast I have ever seen. I was actually fine hiking. Had to take a lot of breaks up the hills, But I got sick about 5 one evening and could not swallow water easily or eat., and I started to vomit. It was alarming. I was exhausted during the day hiking, but not sick.

But I will not return to the ECT until I loose weight, and with a pack no greater than 35lbs.  But I will return to it, I am counting on it.

Anyway, I have been snowshoeing and hiking as often as I can to help further that goal. I’m still at the “fit fat” stage unfortunately.

Mini Appalachian Trail

I have been working on my mini Appalachin Trail in my five acre woods. This idea came to me last Winter in Mali.

I wanted to develop a little trail in my own woods, for those days when it is too cold, or the rain is iffy to go far. Just for those days when I do not want to drive to a trail, I wanted a place to walk near by so it is easy to go on a whim. 

I hate road walking, refuse to do it. Everyone is looking at you. Road or sidewalk walking in no way enriches my soul, nor do the sights and sounds contribute to lifting my spirit. Sorry urbanites, you can keep your shitty sidewalks. I like to visit you from time to time, but walking your streets does little to enrich my life.  I walk in the woods or on a beach, and nowhere else very often.

I turned on my Phone GPS one day discovered that the outer perimeter of my 5 acres, if circled is a distance of  1/2 a km. So a few weeks ago I began cutting a trail just inside the rim of the tree line, and developed an outer loop. Now I am working on inner loops through the woods. Seems I am up to about 1.3 km of trail (Not all cleared yet for hiking but snowshoeing).

The excellent thing is I feel like I am in the wilderness, but I am literally in the trees in my back yard. I hope to get a “hike ready” 1.5km total.  Then I can hike it in reverse to make things look different. This gives me fifty minutes of hiking over three kilometers within easy access, and in the tress, no less.

The photo above is a track of the trail I have been snowshoeing in this five acres since the snow first arrived on Christmas Day.

I had cut back branches and cleared brush over the last week for the snowshoeing.  However, we had a freak thaw, with record breaking temperatures rising to 10 C  for two days, melting all the snow and exposing the forest floor. So I was able to clear the outer loop to the ground, and do more of the Hiking trail kind of grooming, and marking the path with trail tape (markers kept on the right). This summer I will paint the traditional white blazes of the Appalachian Trail.

I created a whole new little section a few days ago. A little section in one corner of my woods I have not been able to walk or snowshoe though because it is twisted jungle of small spruce, young hardwoods and fallen dead trees. I worked many hours with the bucksaw, carving  a path through the tangled mess, and I think it added another 200 meters to the possible over all distance. It will be a nice loop in the summer when the leaves come out.

Anyway, I am very excited about my Mini Appalachian Trail. It makes me smile. And I will continue to improve it into the spring.

I busted my backpack last summer on the ECT.  So had to invest in a new one. So I went looking and found a super deal on for $73. A good pack often cost upwards 200-300 dollars. I just can’t justify three hundred dollars.  Two hundred hurts no less in my view but I’ve done it. But I am happy with the quality of the pack at a real discount. It has great adjustments. 

I will load it up with 35lbs and hike my Mini Appalachian Trail.  I am going to condition myself to return to Newfoundland and hike that ECT some day.

When the Backpack arrived, I looked it over, and was very pleased. But that joy soon faded when  I threw it over my shoulders and buckled the waist belt see how the pack felt. I needed to adjust the torso length.

 I happened to get a side view in the full length mirror in my room, with my fat belly building over the wait belt. That was a discouraging day.  I took the pack off and tossed it into the closet and haven’t  taken it out sense. Here is a confession for you. I can’t stand the looking at myself in a mirror.

I am resolved to just keep hiking, to keep enjoying nature, and maybe I’ll be thin again some day. I am humble enough to learn. 

I am in a battle!  I seldom win! I Keep trying!

All the conflicting advice on dieting out there is sickening, and discouraging.  My plan has been to try and eat healthy, put my head down, and take my fit fat out hiking or snowshoeing as much as possible.  Although it does make me sad at times, I am trying not to obsess over my weight, and thereby robbing me of the joy this wilderness gives me.

Being in the woods has many goals. Weight is only one of them.

  • Silence
  • Soul recharging
  • Sensing Nature, by sight, smells, feels, and natural sounds
  • Being healthy
  • Give the wife a break (How did that get on the list?)

Come walk the Mini Appalachian Trail with me anytime.  We could also go out back into the big woods where I have a 10km hike path there.

It will encourage me to no end.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. mandy says:

    Great story! Thanks for the inspiration!


    1. Keep going! Keep Growing. Thanks for reading.


    2. Keep going! Keep Growing!
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.


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