Some of the best meals I’ve had have taken place at hunting camp. I’m usually the only girl in camp, and I don’t like to make special requests when the guys are deciding what we’ll have for dinner. This means that I have to plan ahead and make healthy decisions regularly so that I don’t resent the camp cook by the end of the hunt.
Because my work schedule with our television show requires that I’m on the road filming and hunting for around 200+ days out of the year, I’ve found some ways to stay fit and healthy in a world where exercise and diet can be the last things on our minds.
Social media has been great for my meal planning and fitness on the road. I follow healthy accounts on Instagram and I take their advice on how to plan my meals and stay fit. Just a little bit of daily inspiration can go a long way. One of my favorite fitness accounts is Sarah Bowmar on Instagram. (@sarah_bowmar) She is an accomplished bow hunter, and she inspires me and thousands of others with fitness advice and stories of her personal accomplishments. Accounts like hers will give you advice on diet, exercise, and some also offer personal training services.
If I know that I have a 2 day road trip coming up and I’ll be in a hunting camp for 4 solid days, then I plan ahead and decide how many days I’d like to stick to my diet. Road trip days are easy for me; I pack my food in Tupperware containers and when we stop along the route I resist the urge to have fast food. I take a cooler with containers of hard boiled eggs, grilled chicken, and sometimes pre-baked sweet potatoes. I also carry small bags of almonds and healthy snacks, and I slice a cucumber to add to my water. All of these things work for me because they are things I enjoy eating.. Planning ahead like this makes my road trip days healthier and a lot less expensive.
When in camp, don’t make the cook mad!
I eat camp food. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m so uptight that I bring my own food and don’t enjoy the foods that are prepared for me. My general rule is “Everything in Moderation”. If the cook makes fried chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner, you can bet that I’ll have some. Not a lot, but I’ll try a little bit of everything. Nobody ever gets their feelings hurt if I have extra salad, a piece of fruit, or even if I bring a little side dish of something healthy to the table. I know that if I overindulge my body will begin to have a difficult time digesting and I’ll feel sluggish for days. With my job description, I can’t feel sluggish and get away with it.
Eat often and move around.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “Six small meals a day”. This doesn’t always work with my schedule, but I do try to snack throughout the day. If I’m in the field filming I’ve always got food in my backpack. I love Laura Bars and Cliff Bars, and small bags of raw almonds are my go-to protein choice. Sometimes I’ll pack a can of chicken and some hot sauce to mix in with it. (Just don’t forget the can opener!) While everyone is glassing, resting, or chatting I’m usually noshing on some protein to keep my energy level up. I’ve also learned to pack a little extra so I can share. There’s nothing worse than grumpy hunters because they all forgot to pack food!
We move around so much during a typical day in the field that we end up burning most of our calories off quickly. For hunts where we hike a lot, or when we are in high altitude, I pack extra calories in my bag. When we will be sitting still all day, like whitetail hunts, I pack light snacks that will keep me from getting so hungry that I’ll settle for anything later. My goal is to feed my body what it needs to function at it’s highest level, and the things that my body requires may be different from someone else. Do what makes you feel good, and the rest will fall into place.
To drink or not to drink?..
Anyone who has spent time with me in hunting camp will know that I enjoy having a drink now and then. If I were trying to lose weight, the alcohol would be the first thing to go from my diet. The added calories are completely unnecessary for your body, and it basically turns to sugar in your system as soon as you absorb it. However, in moderation it’s possible to enjoy a libation now and then and keep your health in check.
My personal strategy is to trade something for my drink. If I want a drink with dinner, then I’ll forgo the carbohydrates (potatoes, bread, rice…) and I’ll have wine instead. This strategy works for me, but I do have my days where I’ll enjoy every option on the table, along with my wine. As I’ve said before, life is just too short to deprive ourselves of what we enjoy.
Write it down and do what works for you.
With technology today it’s easy to research options and creative ideas for staying healthy. If you want to develop a meal plan based around foods that you enjoy, do some research and find out what you need in your diet. Or hire an online coach (again, Sarah Bowmar offers that). Write down your goals, write down what you eat and drink, and then take a step back and be honest with yourself about how you feel. Are you feeling tired? Do you have energy? How are you sleeping? Your body will generally tell you when you’re doing something right or wrong, you just have to learn to listen to it. I like to write everything down so that I don’t get a selective memory when I consider what I’ve eaten or consumed. One of my other time saving strategies is to take a photo of everything I eat during the day (even the small stuff!) and then look through it each night to see what changes I need to make. You’ll begin to see a pattern, and by looking at your patterns you can make small changes that will add up to big improvements.
These strategies work for me, but I’m constantly changing my own rules. Following a healthy lifestyle is crucial to longevity in life and success in the field. If you have comments or advice of your own please feel free to share it with us in the comments, and follow me on Instagram for daily updates and to see if I’m following my own advice!