Counting Calories

Counting Calories

An old friend…or foe, depending on how many snacks I’ve eaten by the end of the trail.

I have had to drastically change my mindset about a lot of things out here, one being food. In normal life, I count calories in and calories out so I can maintain a healthy weight. Out here on the trail, I count the calories to make sure I don’t lose any weight while I’m out here, and to make sure I have enough energy. On our first grocery trip in preparation for the trail, Optimist and I would pick up something like a Clif Bar to check it’s calories, and say, “Oh, only 240 calories. That’s not enough for breakfast. Now these Toaster Pastries have 440 calories! That’s a breakfast!” While in Neal’s Gap, about 30 miles into the trail, we found the giant of all energy bars, the Big Sur Bar, which has 600 calories. Now that is my kind of bar. Unfortunately they cost about $4 each, so we don’t purchase them often.

On our resupply from Nantahala Outdoor Center to Hot Springs, NC, Optimist and I counted out breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for 5 days. We thought it would be enough food. The first day out, we did a rough estimate of the actual calories we were eating per day, and it was only about 2000. I’m not sure that’s enough for a normal person, let alone someone hiking 20 plus miles a day. We were very hungry those 5 days, I’m sure we lost some weight, and we ate like crazy upon hitting town. I vowed to not repeat those days again.

I have learned that out here, calories are my best friend, and I am quite enjoying that fact. For this last resupply that will take us into Damascus, VA, I packed out a huge mixture of mixed nuts, dried cherries and blueberries, and M&Ms. I also grabbed a bag of Combos and Kettle chips, a jar of peanut butter to simply eat by the spoonful, and all the Little Debbie snacks I could fit in my food bag. I have been eating just to eat, I haven’t felt too much hunger, and I’m able to handle all the climbs the trail can throw at us. I have realized that food is just one of the many ways to guarantee a healthy, hiker-happy Stopwatch.

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