by Diane Spicer
Hiking for weight loss is just one of the many motivators pulling women onto hiking trails.
Can women walk weight off?
The vigorous work of:
will help you lose weight hiking, in a gradual and safe manner.
And females burning calories hiking? It's a given on a hike.
But if you plan to hike specifically to lose pounds or kilograms, you need a systematic plan to make sure your nutrient levels and hydration status are solid.
Here are some thing to consider if you're serious about using hiking for weight loss.
Every human body is built from one repetitive unit, the cell.
Add trillions of cells together, and you've built the human body.
Each cell needs water and nutrients and oxygen, as well as efficient waste removal, to exist in its optimal form.
Every cell specializes in performing particular jobs in the body. If you're serious about using hiking for weight loss, you'll be focusing on your shrinking the size of you adipose cells (commonly called "fat") cells.
To do this, you can't starve your cells by skipping meals or limiting your calorie intake in a severe manner.
Because in retribution, your adipose cells become more and more efficient at storing excess nutrient molecules.
They "hoard" your energy supplies, meaning that you'll hit a weight plateau and stay there.
A better strategy is to work with your cells to redirect your adipose storage and encourage the use of your stored fuels (those extra pounds).
This will lead to positive outcomes when you step on the scale or zip up your pants.
Don't blame/shame yourself for feeling hungry.
Hikers are supposed to be hungry and thirsty!
But there's a danger lurking here, so let's address it head on.
Feeling hungry and thirsty are part of being a hiker.
But that's not to say that you can eat whatever and whenever you please on a hiking trail.
So listen carefully to your body's request for fuel and hydration.
Honor the request, but put some limits around it:
You'll have plenty of rest breaks and snack stops ahead of you on a long hike, right?
And there's always lunch to look forward to :)
Read up on the nutrition required for a hiker's body here.
For specific advice on how to choose foods as a hiker, go here.
For some ideas on hiking hydration, read this.
Here's a safe and sane approach to hiking for fat loss, which you can tailor to your specific hiking goals.
Choose hiking trails that will challenge, but not defeat, you. Work up to double digit mileage and throw in some elevation gain.
Reward your ambitions as a hiker by choosing great destinations. If you can get up to a high point for panoramic views, do it!
Wear high performance active wear designed for women hikers whose size range can be hard to find in athletic clothing (that links calls out the best brands).
Go into training for trail time by changing some habits as you condition your body.
Try these simple strategies in your every day life:
Wear a hiking pedometer that can also track your weight loss goals, like this one.
Or an activity tracker, like this one.
Celebrate your successes with hitting your activity goals (see above).
Re-frame the way you see food.
Don't harass yourself for hunger and thirst sensations.
Avoid using food as reward.
Slowly savor the taste of nutrient dense, delicious and healthy trail food and think of how your body is using it to bring you to beautiful places.
Keep a hiking diary/log/journal of where you've been, what you've seen, and how it feels to be striding down a hiking trail with the weight of your pack on your back.
Realize that hiking is a self-perpetuating cycle of hard work, joy and reward. Over and over again, women who start hiking improve other areas of life, not just how much the scale says or the jeans fit.
Hiking is better than lots of other weight loss options involving exercise.
Here's why hiking is better than...
So if you're in a hurry to shed the weight, combine some other physical activities with your hiking plans.
Losing weight is hard.
Hiking is hard when you first start out, too.
Put those 2 facts together, and it's easy to lose motivation and give up your ambition to try hiking for weight loss.
But not if you're part of a group which includes gentle accountability!
Start this group, or find a MeetUp near you.
Tips for group hiking:
Don't have anyone to hike with or can't find a group near you?
Or want to hike with someone else who has hiking for weight loss as a goal? Hiking For Her has you covered!
You can also join the Over Forty Hiker community here in Hiking For Her, and find other hikers who have similar goals and may even live near you. Walk the weight off together!
Hiking has worked for many women to achieve weight loss goals, and the extra benefits of cardiovascular health, improved muscle tone, and mental well being cannot be ignored.
Read this woman's story about how hiking for weight loss (124 pounds) worked for her.
Hiking = health = a pathway to your weight loss goals
If you're ready to get started hiking, begin with these hiking tips:
Hiking For Weight Loss