The bumpy road

Any road worth traveling is bound to have a few bumps along the way. Since my initial Becoming a Fit Fisherman column a few weeks ago, I’ve driven and flown across half the country, fished a week's worth of 13-hour days at the Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Central Open on the Arkansas River and worked the Toyota Trucks All-Star week in Michigan.

In that time, I’ve experienced a few successes and run into a few roadblocks with my efforts to get healthy. First came the Central Open which I was prepared for. Before I left home for Oklahoma, I had meals planned out, groceries bought and a whole lot of determination and focus to do well.

The first tip that I would recommend to anybody that wants to reel in his or her weight/health issues is to always plan ahead. Convenience stores and fast food restaurants prey on the spontaneous. If you don’t plan ahead and have something healthy on hand when you get hungry or need to eat, you will grab the closest thing with the most sugar because that’s what your body tells you to do.

It’s natural to want fatty foods. But it’s not natural to always have them readily available. When we were wired up, it was never intended for us to have a calorie bank where we could go and eat until we passed out. We had to hunt and gather to eat. Now there’s enough food to kill a man on every street corner. Be prepared, or you’ll find yourself gnawing on a Twinkie before you realize what happened.

At the Arkansas River, I had a supplement shake for breakfast and lunch while I ate a reasonable dinner at night. The dinners consisted of grilled chicken, brown rice and vegetables. I kept Nutri-Grain bars, apples and granola bars in the boat and tried to eat some of that as a snack between meals. I never really got hungry because I was always eating and I think that would have to be Tip No. 2.

If you eat five or six small meals a day, you keep your metabolism on the move. These smaller meals also help the digestive system keep up. Another bonus, you avoid peaks and valleys in your energy level since you’re constantly throwing fuel on the fire.

The first roadblock came on Day 1 of the event. Let me preface this by saying, there are a lot of people in the world, likely several that are reading this, that have a lot more on their plate than I do. That being said, tournament fishing is a stressful profession to take on. Somehow, as an angler, I am supposed to determine when, where, how and why a bass wants to eat. Not just any bass mind you, but the biggest bass in the lake. I lay money on the line just to think that I am better at this than the next guy.

So when I went out on Day 1 with roughly 3 grand at stake and caught 3 bass for 5-12, the stress got to me. I found my travel partner, Chad Menard, and said, “Screw this, we’re going out to eat!”

I then indulged in every comfort food I could get my hands on. Two weeks of hard work down the drain as I stuffed my face with cheese sticks and boneless bar-b-que wings. Tip No. 3, don’t do that.

So when I came to from my food-induced coma, I bounced back with vigor. I went out on Day 2 and did slightly worse on the water, weighed my two measly fish and jumped in the truck headed southeast for sweet home Alabama.

I got mad at myself and decided to get started on my exercising since I finally had some time on my hands. I laced up my tennis shoes and set out on a jog for the first time in over a year. I made it 300 yards tops before I slammed on the brakes and started walking and trying to catch my breath. I walked and jogged sporadically for the next 2 1/2 miles before I finally called it quits. Tip No. 4:  Don’t do that either.

I should have worked my way into an exercise routine. Don’t go all out on your first attempt. It’s not good for your body and it de-incentivizes you to do anything at all the next day. Start small and slow and work your way up. Otherwise, you’ll end up hurting yourself like I almost did. 

After my failed attempt to re-enter the world of the workout-ers, it was time to hit the road again for Michigan. I jumped on a plane in Atlanta and hit the ground running, metaphorically speaking, once I landed. Between covering the Carhartt College Series Bassmaster Classic Bracket and taking part in some of the festivities of the week, there was little time to work out or try to prepare food since I was staying at a hotel. So I ate dry cereal for breakfast and granola bars on the water then went out to eat for dinner at night.

There are a few no-nos when you go out to eat; no bread, no pasta, no potatoes and nothing fried. I was good on most of those but I did partake in some that week. The road just isn’t the right place to try to form good habits, and that would be my next tip. Try to develop a routine.

The reason fitness is so challenging for anglers or anyone who travels a lot is the lack of predictability in our schedule. Each day is different, and there’s hardly ever any time left over to take care of ourselves. What I would suggest – and what I’m looking forward to doing during this offseason – is developing healthy habits while you’re at home.

I read somewhere a long time ago that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. Three weeks. So in just three weeks, if you can muster up the grit to do something consistently, it will hopefully become a part of your routine.

My challenge for you and for myself is to develop one healthy habit and get rid of one unhealthy habit over the next 3 weeks. My healthy habit that I am going to work on is exercising everyday, starting today October 3. The unhealthy habit that I plan to omit is eating fried food.

During this 3-week period, I have my third and final Bassmaster Open for the year. I know it’s a long shot and may sound crazy to some of you, but I really look at that tournament as my shot at the Bassmaster Classic. The way I see it, somebody has to win and it might as well be me. The only problem with that mentality is that it puts even more stress on an already stressed situation. So wish me luck … if not for my Classic aspirations, at least for my health.

Amidst my struggles over the past couple weeks, there is a silver lining. Though I haven’t lost any more weight, I haven’t gained back any of the initial 14 pounds that I’ve lost. Considering all that’s gone on, I’m going to consider that a success. But this month has to be better.

You can keep up with my progress in my habit forming and deforming on my Facebook page by clicking here. You can also let me know what habits you are working on. I have had several people reach out to me over the last few weeks with diet tips and exercise routines that they have found helpful. I look forward to trying all these and sharing some of them with you in future blog posts. If you have any stellar recipes, workouts for the road or anything else that you would like to share, feel free to do so on my Facebook page. Good luck and I look forward to hearing from you!