With all of the buzz centered around incorporating fitness into bowhunting and target archery, its not hard to get motivated and want to take part in what seems to be a revolution in the industry.
Undoubtedly, this increase in fitness awareness is playing a pivotal role in the lives of many bowhunters. The testimonies of how ‘being in shape’ enabled a backcountry bowhunter to arrow his trophy are increasing on a regular basis.
For those whose occupation may demand physical activity, the discipline of staying in shape may be simply part of their day-to-day activities, but for others, it doesn’t come as easy. Furthermore, understanding the process of exercise and nutrition can seem daunting—even overwhelming.
Growing up as an athlete, I quickly noticed the benefits of being in shape during my hunts. Hunting from the ground, unlike most folks in Indiana who hunt from a treestand, meant spending a lot of time walking and covering the ‘hills and hollers’ looking for ‘The One,’ and being in good condition made the effort all that much easier.
After high school I went on to earn a degree in Exercise Science, which provided me the opportunity to help others by designing specific training programs and nutrition advice in order to help them achieve their fitness goals.
While I have several theories on why so many people become (and stay) out of shape, I’m going to break it down into three main points. In each of these I’ll discuss the issue and the steps to take to correct it.
If you can begin to change your behavior, you can change your LIFESTYLE.
Food Is Fuel
From a very young age American’s as a whole tend to use food as a reward system to reinforce positive behavior. This is partly where our sugar dependency, addiction and cravings come from. After years and years of giving into sweets, it becomes harder and harder to do without them, or so we think.
So how can we overcome this?
First: we develop a schedule for when we eat our meals and avoid eating out of boredom or giving into our cravings. We use alternative foods like fruits, and peanut butter to kill those cravings for something sweet.
Over the last 50-years our ‘normal’ portions of food, at home and in restaurants, has increased drastically—and we’ve always been taught to, “clean our plates,” right? Large portions lead to overeating, which can leave us feeling sluggish and sometimes miserable after a meal.
How do we combat this?
When planning our meals for the day, we need to adhere to a plan that consists of smaller and more frequent meals throughout the day. We eat when we’re hungry and only until we’re no longer hungry. This keeps us feeling lighter and more energetic, which in turn allows us to be more active throughout the day.
Discipline—a word some may not be too fond of—but necessary to keep us on track, help us chase our goals and force us to ignore all the excuses we come up with (to skip out on a day here and there) or give in to our cravings for sugar. Even the top athletes in the world have days where they are tired, sore, not feeling up to the task of getting in a solid workout. But these athletes get in there and grind anyway because they know they’ll be better for it tomorrow.
The best are the best because they work while others sleep (don’t take that to mean that sleep isn’t important—we’ll discuss that at a later date). The bottom line is, if you stick to your plan, you will achieve your goals. After all, cheating never accomplished anything.
In It For the Long Haul
The fact of the matter is the majority of folks who are on-again, off-again dieters gain back more weight than they lost when they fall off of a diet. Why? In part it’s due to them reaching their short-term goal, after which they become complacent, and fall back on their old habits. When you begin to embrace fitness, you have to commit fully to the lifestyle.
Realizing everything is long-term and you’re improving not only your hunting and archery, but also your overall quality of life will keep you motivated. And depending on the bad habits you’ve kicked, you could be adding years to your life!
The best way to avoid complacency and the risk of ‘falling off of the wagon’ is to ALWAYS have a new goal after reaching an old one. Goal setting keeps you honest and always striving for something, helps to avoid boredom in the gym, and rids you of the feeling that you’re, “Just going through the motions.”
Continually seek motivation through social media fitness pages, the pages of other bow hunters who are also fitness junkies (there are plenty of us out there), or try finding a partner to train with. A training partner will keep you accountable and allow you to push each other throughout your workouts.
This simple breakdown should give you a few important tools to combat bad behavioral habits that have developed over the years and show you how to take your first steps toward becoming the Huntlete that you dream of becoming. After all, there’s only one way to get the edge on the competition in this game and that is to train harder, go farther, and hunt longer.
For more information on how you can become a ‘Huntlete’ feel free to check out Huntlete Fitness, where I offer online training programs, articles and nutritional advice specific to what each individual is looking for.