Since creating my gingermantra blog in April of this year, I have been on a mission to get out and write to give comments on fitness, food and other things of interest and to reach out to all readers that may be following me.  Recently, I approached my avid outdoors-man husband Harley Means ~ Geologist, writer, scuba diver, fossil hunter, mountain climber and all around you name it he probably attempts to accomplish it, on contributing a guest blog at least once per month on his version of what fitness means to him.

So finally, last week while I was at my day job, I received an email with what he aptly named, “Maintaining Your Base Fitness Level.”

Here’s his inaugural guest blog ~

Being a geologist requires a certain amount of “field work”.  And what I mean by this is that to study the earth one must get out and see it.  Some of the most impressive geological features on our planet are in remote areas that require planning, logistical support, technical outdoor skills, and a base fitness level to reach them.  You can’t simply walk out your door and expect to be able to get to these places.  Therefore good field geologists must maintain a certain fitness level if they expect to accomplish their field goals and reach some of the remote places where we do our work.

A bit of history . . . I am an avid outdoors enthusiast who would much rather be outside in the worst conditions than inside under the best conditions!  My motto is: “a bad day in the field is much better than a good day in the office”!  I grew up in north Florida on a 2,000 acre research facility and spent most of my time outside.  I was also very fortunate to have a scientist father who took me all over the world and exposed me to some of the remotest places on the planet.  From the depths of the Amazonian rainforest to the heart of the Chihuahuan Desert – I have seen lots of fantastic places.  I stood on the summit of Mt. Rainier and have traversed the Wrangell-St. Elias range in Alaska. I trekked across the northern portion of Australia and have ascended an active volcano in the Galápagos Islands. All of these places I have been enriched my life substantially and have provided me with a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence.  Without being physically (and mentally) fit I would not have been able to do these things.  These are the things that shaped my life and career!

So, what constitutes physical fitness for me?  What level of fitness do I maintain that gives me the ability to climb mountains, hike in rugged terrain with a 65 pound backpack for weeks, paddle a pack canoe for 160 miles, SCUBA dive in rivers up-current for hours?  It really boils down to consistency and mental toughness.  My work-out routine is not the most strenuous nor is it particularly long.  My secret is that every week I make myself do something to maintain my fitness level.  Typically I am in the gym four times a week.  However, with a hectic lifestyle it is sometimes difficult to get to the gym consistently.  That is where you must maintain your resolve and make yourself do something – even if it is a jog around your neighborhood. You must do something to get your heart rate up at least several times per week.

I get terribly bored with the same old routine as I am sure most people do.  So, I like to mix my workout routine up and try to not get in a rut.  For instance, I do about 35 minutes on a stair climber then hit the weights.  But some days I will opt to play racquetball or will go for a run instead – I also like to ride my mountain bike.  It really does not matter what you do – just do something to elevate your heart rate for at least 30 minutes at a time several times per week.  I have long since abandoned lifting weights to build bulk.  I am 45 years old and no longer need to be Mr. Muscle.  I lift weights to maintain my strength and to build endurance.  I usually do three different routines per week which includes: legs, back and biceps and chest and triceps.  I regularly mix the order in which I do these exercises and try to do three sets of high reps at a comfortable weight.  I don’t increase the weights as I used to when I was trying to build bulk.

These exercises have worked for me for the past 20 years.  They may not be right for you, but the point to all of this is to make sure you are doing something regularly to maintain a base level of fitness.  When I head out for my next wilderness excursion I will not be in the best possible shape to do whatever it is that I am attempting.  However, I will be in a much better position to accomplish my outdoor goals because I have my base level of fitness.  You will still be sore after hiking ten miles with a heavy pack or paddling for eight straight hours no matter how hard you train.  But the pain will not be debilitating if you have a good base level of fitness.  I sit behind a desk for 40 hours a week, but I am constantly thinking about my next wilderness experience!  It is what drives me to maintain my fitness level –

I was born to be an explorer and to be in remote places.  You need to find what drives you!

*Note ~ Harley Means received no compensation for contributing this guest blog

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