Getting in shape for hunting leads to exercise addiction

Something has shifted. I never thought I’d be one of those people who get addicted to exercise, but I’m afraid that’s the only explanation for my latest stupid idea.

Several years ago, after a hunting season spent huffing and puffing, I came home and stepped on the scale. The number that came up was alarming. I vowed at that moment to get fit. I knew if I didn’t, I’d just keep getting more and more out of shape. I didn’t care what I looked like or anything like that – I just wanted to be in good enough condition to get through a hunting season without feeling like I was going to die with every step up the mountain.

So I spent the rest of the winter, spring and summer in the gym. I worked with a trainer, and I took some of the advice of a dietician. Instead of eating lunch, I went to the gym. I kept track of the calories I ate, and I made sure I expended more calories each day than I took in. And it worked. I went from 290 pounds down to 190. I felt great, I had energy, and I was excited for the hunting season to come around again.

When the time finally came to go to elk camp, I couldn’t wait. I had my gear packed three days ahead of schedule, and I double-checked and repacked it each day until it was time to leave. On the hike in to camp, it was clear that all that hard work had paid off. I made it to camp faster than I’d ever done before, and I still had enough energy for an evening hunt.

Since then, I let myself slip out of shape, but I started working out again last fall. I’m back down to my hunting weight, and I feel like I could survive another elk hunt. But somewhere along the line, the focus of my fitness changed. My primary goal isn’t to be able to hunt without wheezing anymore. Now I’m thinking about running a half marathon. I justify it to myself by saying if I can run a half marathon, I can hunt an elk. As long as a 14-mile run doesn’t kill me.

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