Lose Weight Hiking & Live Longer
Hiking with Shawn made me healthy and saved my life!
This is a question that I have been asked from time to time. I always have a short answer – yes, and then I leave it at that. However, I think going into more detail would be more appropriate for those who really want to know how to lose weight hiking.
So I decided the best way to show you how to lose weight hiking were to create an article about how to lose weight hiking. And that is what this is! I’m not trying to sell you anything here. I’m not promoting a drug. I’m telling you my honest truth about what I did to lose weight hiking and by other means of outdoor recreation. This is because, in the end, I turned weight loss activities into fun-to-do activities and that is really hard to do most of the time.
I wasn’t in very good shape! I smoked a few packs of cigarettes a day. I drank too much alcohol on the weekends. My daily meals consisted of greasy fast food chain restaurants. I would eat an amount of food until I felt like I was bloated. I ate a lot of junk food. I drank a lot of soda. Exercise wasn’t something I did because I wasn’t motivated or disciplined enough to do it. I can honestly say that I felt worse in my 20s than I do right now in my 30s. Before 2012, my form of exercise was walking to get from point A to point B while ensuring the walk was as short as possible.
My love of cycling began in 2012
Basically, I was at work and bent down to tie my boot. When I rose up, I was out of breath. It scared me. How can a 20 something year old kid be in the bad shape that I was?! It scared me enough to attempt to take action. So I got a gym membership and started using the machines. I got bored easy in the gym and just knew it was hard exercise that wasn’t fun. I noticed very little change in my weight when going to the gym. I was 300 pounds at this point and I felt hopeless. I almost accepted the fact that I was going to be in bad health for the rest of my probably short life left on earth.
But then someone told me to get a bicycle and try riding it for fitness.
I thought, why not! It couldn’t hurt anything and if I didn’t like it, bikes are fairly easy to sell. I hadn’t ridden a bike in at least 12 years. When I rode the bike for the first time as an adult, I did about 20 miles at Tunnel Hill State Trail with my mom. We rode from Vienna to the Tunnel Hill trailhead and back. I instantly fell in love with it! Riding the bike made me feel like a kid again and it gave me back all the memories of riding my bike as a kid that I had lost throughout my adulthood. The bicycle became very magical for me the first time I rode it again.
Cycling Burn Out
Burn out occurred after a while because I made cycling an extreme. I went from riding a mountain bike every other weekend at Tunnel Hill to riding the trail every weekend. Then I wanted more so I bought a road bike and started riding it every day through the week. Before too long, I rode my bike at least 10 to 60 miles a day, every day for about a year. I lost 90 pounds in 3 or 4 months. I rode so much that it became a chore to keep riding. I also didn’t include better health and dieting habits so I wasn’t seeing the results that I expected to see. Cycling was no longer fun after a few years and I found myself not riding as much as I did. Eventually I went a full year without cycling at all and I noticed my health started declining again.
Discovering Hiking was my Godsend
I’ve told the story many times but I’ll tell it again. While cycling on Tunnel Hill State Trail, I kept passing Heron Pond Lane and seeing the sign for Heron Pond. I always assumed it was some kind of fishing area and never really looked into what it actually was. Then one day while biking, I was bored with my route and so I decided to ride down to Heron Pond to see what it actually was. I made the ride up the hill and to the end of the lane to find it was a trial. So I hiked it. I hiked to the pond and even saw the big Cherrybark-Oak tree in one day. I fell in love with the area and memories of visiting this area in elementary school (before the boardwalk was put in) came back to me as well as the memories of exploring Giant City State Park as a kid. I fell in love with hiking deeper and more passionately than I did with cycling. Hiking felt like it filled a significant void in my life.
Hiking with Shawn and Fan Motivation
It is what really changed my life for the better. I initially started taking photos of my hikes and bike rides and sharing them on Facebook. I did that for a while. Then one day, I decided to hike Heron Pond to Wildcat Bluff and back after riding my bike to Heron Pond from Vienna. I do that bike/hike every year now and have done it for at least 6 years. So that is what I did. On my way back from Wildcat Bluff, I decided to make a little video with my phone. It never got uploaded (until long after it was made as a TBT video). The first video gave me the idea of make a YouTube channel called ‘Bike Hike Vlog’ which was intended to show friends and family where I hike and bike at. I never expected the videos to be seen by that many people. I never really expected to get over 10 subscribers at the most. After uploading a few videos, I noticed none of them were really bike related so I decided to change the name to what the theme really was, which was hiking. Thus – I create ‘Hiking with Shawn’ as a result because the videos were just that, hiking with me!
I was uploading a video once every couple of weeks and starting to lose motivation to keep doing it. Photos were way easier than videos. At that point, I was using a GoPro camera. But then something happened. I got an email from someone who said they were a fan of Hiking with Shawn. I never really thought I’d ever have fans. The fan told me that she was in her 70s and hasn’t really been able to walk around outside for years. She told me stories about her childhood exploring the forest. She said she had lost all those memories until watching one of my videos. You know that feeling you get when you almost tear up and the hair raises on the back of your neck? That was the feeling I had the whole time I read that email. I never intended to bring good memories back to people but I did and that changed everything. I love being able to help people – I’m a people helping person. That email and more to follow encouraged and motivated me to keep moving forward with Hiking with Shawn. I bought more gear for the camera as well as for hiking. I eventually started putting out 2 or more videos a week. I got back into cycling as hiking provided a balance for me to enjoy both activities without getting burned out by either of them. And finally, I started noticing changes in my weight and abilities to push it on the hiking trail and on the bike rides.
Adjusting my lifestyle was very important
I was hiking every weekend and biking most days through the week and mixing the two here and there! While I noticed changes happening to my weight and fitness abilities, I still noticed the fact that it was still extremely challenging. It made me think hard about my lifestyle habits. Essentially, I quit smoking and went to vaping and eventually quit that. I’ve been nicotine free for a while now and have really enjoyed it. I also significantly cut down my consumption of alcohol to 1 or 2 beers during the weekend. I don’t get drunk anymore. I also started trying to eat healthier and while I still eat fast food here and there, I just don’t eat it as much as I did and I don’t eat until I am hurting. Finally, I quit drinking soda altogether and I really feel like that improved my health significantly. As I mature as a cyclist and a hiker, I find myself continuing to make positive changes to my lifestyle, healthy habits and dieting activities. I really feel like this is an important step in the right direction to make the promotion of good health more automated.
Life is better than it ever has been before
Hiking with Shawn not only got me to a healthy weight and fitness ability but it saved my life. It gave me fans which I call friends and increase my social health. It led me to meeting my girlfriend Michelle who I want to spend the rest of my life with. It motivated me to increase my hiking activities and turn it into a habit. I made me more aware of the importance of conservation and make better impacts on how I utilize the resources of earth and view nature as a whole. It made me fall in love with cycling again and increase my riding activities each year. I’ve met so many good people, made so many new friends and became part of so many awesome organizations and causes. Hiking turned out to be my thing and it always will be.
Can this be the same for you? Try it!
One thing that I’ve really noticed in people are those who are negative all the time, usually have the most negative impacts in life. If you dwell on the past and present, expect a dwelling future as well. Life is short and you get one chance – when it comes down to the end of life, are you going to wish you enjoyed life more? You don’t need money to make life great. You don’t need fame. You need you, positive thinking and it helps to find someone who supports your efforts. I used to think I was going to spend the rest of my life alone and now I have someone to grow old with and make memories that I look forward to. We support one and other and because of that, we’ve changed each others lives for the better. If you surround yourself with negativity, expect life to be negative. Start being positive, quit getting angry and start loving life the way you should be. And then I PROMISE your health will get better.
Thanks for taking the time to read my article about how Hiking with Shawn made my life better. It truly was my total solution for weight loss and healthy living and I think hiking can also be your answer if you try it. And even better, hiking is fun and can be done by anyone of any age and ability – fun for the whole family, too! Please share this article to support my efforts. Consider following Hiking with Shawn on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Support Hiking with Shawn financially by purchasing a membership on my Patreon Page or by buying official Hiking with Shawn Merch. So until next time, I’ll see you on the trail!
Shawn J. Gossman
Shawn is the founder and host of the YouTube Channel, Hiking with Shawn as well as Hiking with Shawn LLC. Shawn hikes, backpacks and visits various forested areas in the Shawnee National Forest, local state parks and other areas promoting outdoor recreational activities to obtain video to show to locals and non-locals alike. Please support Shawn’s efforts by sharing this post and leaving a comment below.