Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guest Post: Overeat and Lose Weight Throughout the Year - A Three Step Plan for the Whole Family

How do you keep your waistline in check when you overeat? Take A Hike!

Did you overindulge like most of us during the holidays? Did you set a New Year Resolution to lose weight and get in shape? Have you tried diet plans before only to find yourself back to your old eating habits? The “Overeat and Lose Weight Plan” is not some diet gimmick, it’s not a computer App, it’s a lifestyle; and it’s FREE. Apply the “Overeat and Lose Weight Plan” to your lifestyle and you will be more prepared than most to handle those five sugar cookies, four oversized cuts of prime rib, three turtle caramels, two pounds of shrimp cocktail, and several pieces of fudge.

The “Overeat and Lose Weight Plan” is a combination of walking, eating and exerting more calories than you consume. This method will prepare you to enjoy those moments of overindulgence; guilt free. The plan doesn’t endorse overeating unhealthy foods but I know from my own habits how hard it ease to resist eating the food you love the most. Most really good food seems to come with a price tag of high calories, fat, and sugar.

I’m an avid hiker. In addition to walking the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail, I also walked the 218-mile John Muir Trail with my wife, and trekked across a 50-mile path of Ireland with my wife, young daughter, and extended family. My wife and I emerged from the church doors on our wedding day wearing backpacks, and my son was taken on his first hike at 8 weeks.

I proved that you can overeat and lose weight by hiking. I lost over 30 pounds in five months while eating enormous portions of food. How? By strapping on a backpack and walking over 2,000-miles, completing the entire Appalachian Trail. I burned between 4-6,000 calories a day; the equivalence of running two marathons per day. My appetite tripled in size causing some hilarious food binges and still losing all that weight:
  • I would seek out all you can eat buffets in towns along the trail. Hikers refer to these as hog troughs.
  • I ate a large pizza as a snack; a dozen donuts before breakfast; a half-gallon of ice-cream at the half-way point of his journey and more.
  • I would fantasize about food while walking in the woods—the tree branch looked like New York Strip…the dirt kicked in with the snow looked like Oreo Cookie Ice cream.
 I know that walking the entire Appalachian Trail as a diet plan over a 4-6 month period is a bit extreme for most, but I’ve continued my “Over Eat and Lose Weight Plan” successfully even off the trail.

The number one most popular New Year’s resolution is to lose weight. Sadly, most diet plans fail.

Most diet plans fail because they usually require cutting out your favorite “high calorie” and “high fat” foods. Eventually, temptation is too hard to resist and the diet fails. Revamping your lifestyle to include walking and hiking and including your kids, spouse and friends will become an engrained healthy habit and will also create adventurous memories to cherish forever.

My plan has been successful because it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle and I continue to eat my favorite foods.

The method is a simple three step plan:

Step One: Develop a walking routine. At least five days a week, take a hike around the neighborhood, park, beach, or nearby trail.
  • Make this a family or social event. Routines are easy to stick to when they are established and a walk with family and friends will get everyone away from the distracters of the indoors (TV, computer, etc.) and allow some bonding time with each other. Kids need to get up and move around more than ever with more and more time spent in front of the computer or on the couch playing video games.
  • Outfit everyone in comfortable walking shoes or trail shoes (your local outfitter or running shop will help out hear).
  • Be sure to wear the right clothing (NO cotton, dress in layers, and dress for the weather).
  • Save money and stop driving everywhere. Walk to the grocery store. Walk to your local restaurant for dinner and back. Walk to the library. Make walking and hiking as routine as brushing your teeth.
  • If you’re going for more than a walk around the neighborhood, bring along food and water. An adult needs at least two quarts of water per day. Pack enough snacks for everyone.
  • Consult with experts (park rangers) and research (websites, local outfitters) before undertaking new parks and trails. Attend local slide shows or lectures (outfitters/libraries/bookstores) every chance you get.
  • Brush up on safety precautions (first aid, signs and symptoms of hypothermia, how to use a compass, etc.). Keep matches and lighters dry and in a safe place. Know how to start a fire to keep warm. If you do get lost, make yourself as visible as possible. Place a bright item (e.g. item of clothing or gear) in the open. Make distress signals and make noise. If you brought a cell phone, check periodically to see if it works. Leave a copy of your itinerary with a friend or family member.
Step Two: Keep it Fun!
  • Let the youngest child or slowest walker lead. This helps you focus on what their interested in and will prevent you from leaving them in your dust.
  • Bring the outdoors inside. Educate your kids constantly to generate interest and enthusiasm. Take lots of pictures of the kids and places you go. Make posters for the family and living room and for Christmas cards. Get magazines, videos, and artwork of those places you want to go. Rent movies about faraway places. Use the Internet together to look at maps, and photographs of the wildlife, environments, and spectacular scenery you will be visiting someday.
  • Go high tech. Bring on the gadgetry! Turn your computer game nerds on to the adventure technology. (e.g. GPS, pedometers headlamp flashlights, geocaching) and teach them all about how these incredible devices are being used for fun, like scavenger hiking in the Shenandoah and Great Smoky Mtn Ntl. Parks.
  • Take the kids to a local orienteering course and learn how to use GPS and compass together.
  • Use your local walks to train for a bigger adventure to a distant park.
  • Involve everyone in your family; especially the kids, in planning out all trips and adventures. Older children can use the computer to research your destination or sport. (all national parks and most other destinations have websites chock full of facts and info, maps, wildlife).
  • Let the kids (especially teens) bring along a friend. Get permission from parents and make it a club adventure.
Step Three: Eat!
  • Use an online calorie intake and calories burned calculator to figure out how many calories you typically consume each day, then figure out the distance you would have to hike to burn those calories off. Any search engine will pull up lots of these calculators.
  • The pedometer and trail maps will help you determine if you’ve covered enough distance to burn the necessary calories.
  • Eat a daily healthy balanced meal. Including fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Consult with a dietician for help. So, when you do go off the reservation and splurge on junk food, you have a normal eating routine to snap back to.
Guest Author Info: Jeff Alt is a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA). His adventures have been featured in media nationwide including: ESPN, Hallmark Channel, the AP, CNN-Radio, NPR, and more. Alt's award-winning books, A Walk for Sunshine and A Hike for Mike, have been reviewed in Library Journal, Chicago Sun Times and more.

For more information visit

Midwest Multisport Life on Facebook


  1. I've been getting the urge to do some sort of mountaineering trip again, maybe next year. But I suppose since I've become so hardwired to suffer, I find myself only considering long trips with tons of elevation gain in 18 feet of snow. Probably best to work on tempering that.

  2. I've actually heard that consuming enough calories when doing the App. Trail thruhike is one of the biggest challenges.

  3. I like that "walk everywhere" idea. We live more or less in the center of town, and during the summers when I'm off I try to walk or ride my errands.

  4. Great simple plan:)

    Not sure about letting the youngest lead...

  5. I love this idea, need to get back in the habit of nightly walks. When I started out to lose weight I did that all the time, now that I swim, bike and run upwards of 12 hrs a week I have gotten away from my nightly walk with the dog and kids. And I love to eat...just what I need another excuse to stuff my face, lol!

  6. Nice post and I also like to walk for long time because basically I don't do enough work so I like to walk in around my home so some fat can be out from my body.


Leave a comment, tell me what you are thinking!

Running, Skiing, and Endurance Sports -

REI: Gear for the Great Outdoors

UnderArmour - I WILL

Outdoor DIVAS - Adventure Gear for Active Women