Shared post from Tin Hat Ranch

I have been reading A LOT lately about lightweight camping equipment and bug-out-bags. We preppers can learn a lot about what to put in our BOB’s from people who camp regularly. We all know that ounces add up to pounds, and pounds add up to pain, so we need to keep our bags as light as possible.

Tin Hat Ranch posted a challenge to us to strap on our packs and attempt an actual bug out. I have to say that I have not done this, other than a few walks to my local park (4 miles) and back with my backpack. I can tell you that I need to lighten the load in my bag considerably, so it’s time to get choosy about what I want to carry with me.

This is Tin Hat Ranch’s post about what they learned from their challenge:

Give it a read and check them out, you can learn a lot!


Shared post from The Prepper Journal!

I’ve been trying to come up with a post to share with you the reasons why you should prepare, even though you may not have any interest in it and can’t see a future where your life might be any different than it is now.

I read this post this morning and decided that I could not say it any better than this, so instead of reinventing the wheel I’m going to share it. You should go check out their website also, because there are more great articles like this, and they (unlike me) have a ton of links for great stuff to add to your emergency gear.

Here it is:

What Am I Prepping For? Nothing Ever Happens…

By: P. Henry, ‎3‎/‎25‎/‎2014‎ ‎9‎:‎18‎:‎25‎ ‎AM

We all get discouraged from time to time especially when events or results we expect are right around the corner, do not happen. This makes perfect sense with a diet when for example you reach a plateau and all the rice cakes and sacrificing desserts in the world won’t take off a single additional ounce. Another example could be a skill we try to master like golf. Sometimes, no matter how much effort we put into practicing, money we blow on the latest hi tech clubs, how much sweat blood and cursing we expend on that stupid ball, nothing seems to make your score any lower. At a point, you may start to worry if this just isn’t meant to be. That you were born to be a little chunkier, that golf is a lot harder than it looks and you will never be anything remotely close to the next Tiger Woods.

Losing your motivation or interest in something can be very discouraging. What used to occupy your waking hours with such intensity can vanish quietly without as much as a second thought. For some people, prepping is like that. In the beginning, there is a sense of urgency and we scoured the internet for tips on how to grow the best garden, how to store food in plastic buckets. We research the best firearms for self-defense and start making our plan on how to be better prepared for any emergencies with the end goal of living completely off the grid on 50 acres in Idaho.  With our Bug Out Bag checklists we head to the camping section at Walmart or online to get the best survival gear and then over time notice that your expensive lifesaving gear that you had, has been sitting alone and quiet in the corner of the closet for a year.

What are you prepping for?

I have said this before on the Prepper Journal but I think it bears repeating and that is Prepping is not something you can ever master. This isn’t a skill that you get a certificate of completion for. There are no expert preppers out there regardless of what any blogger tells you. Prepping is a daily process of taking steps and making decisions that will improve your chances of surviving anything that life can throw at you. Prepping is a lifestyle, not a destination and if you are doing this right, you will always have something you can learn and something else to do.

Most people start out with a single point that drives them to prepare. Either it is the news reports that we hear, or dire warnings from a thousand websites, radio and internet hosts or the ads blaring from websites (mine included) about the “big thing” you need to have or worry about. For me, it was less specific than something like mutant zombie bikers from Mars, but I had several things that prompted my own personal journey into prepping. I quickly found out that regardless of what it is you think can happen or is likely to happen to you that would turn your world upside down; the survival requirements for everyone do not change.

In most instances. It doesn’t matter what the emergency is that you are faced with. In most survival situations, you are still going to need clean water to drink or you will die. You are going to need food or you will starve and you will need shelter and security or someone could kill you. You always run the risk of being injured or becoming ill, so a way to treat injuries or illness is also important. It doesn’t matter if this disaster you are faced with is an earthquake, an economic collapse, war, disease outbreak, revolution, depression, plague or a polar shift, global warming or alien invasion.

Preppers seem to easily become disenchanted with the whole idea of prepping if their big fear doesn’t materialize quickly. Preppers who are looking for either a government tyranny or an economic collapse are probably the worst at this; second only to people who believe whatever the latest disaster of the year is (y2K, Hale-bop comet, 2012 Mayan calendar). If you don’t see your envisioned future that you are prepping for materialize, or worse the day comes and goes and nothing happens, a lot of people feel foolish and think their prepping efforts were all a giant waste of time.

Prepping should be focused less on any event and more on situations. What if I have to leave my home and can never go back (for any reason)? What if I am unable to pay for my home anymore (maybe due to a job loss)? What if I am trapped in my home with no food (because of a winter storm)?

Does this mean you aren’t a real prepper?

It is more exciting I guess for the lack of a better word to crystallize your attention on one boogeyman or threat. It may even be easier to prepare when you have the face of what you are worried about so clearly in front of your mind, but it is a trap. If you focus your attention on one enemy, spend your energy and thought on one outcome, what will you do if something you didn’t expect happens? If you have worked yourself up for a complete and total economic collapse, but that never materializes; are you prepared to live life however you need to regardless of the economy?

Maybe that was a bad example, but I think the point should be that we have to prepare to survive. We shouldn’t be preparing for an economic collapse. We should be gaining skills to become more self-sufficient, not spending all of our time building a warehouse full of freeze dried foods. Now, I am not saying we shouldn’t take the bad realities of a possibility like an economic collapse into consideration. I am not saying that we shouldn’t store up food, but as much as possible we should be focused on what our family or we need to survive regardless of what happens. If we do have an economic collapse, you are going to need to eat and pay the bills aren’t you? If we have a global pandemic, you are still going to need to keep yourself healthy, just like you would if there was a hurricane or a flood, or an earthquake.

When you ask yourself why you are prepping or I guess when you start to question if anything you are doing is worth it. When you start to feel foolish staring at your stocked pantry and your hundreds of gallons of water, fuel, first aid supplies and survival gear stop and think. Think about how what you have done could help you and others in a thousand different ways. Think about how you will have options if the cold hand of fate comes knocking at your life one day way in the future. Don’t worry if it never does because that right there is the best outcome we could all hope for.


Should you be the tortoise, or the hare?

First off let me say that this is not a weight loss blog, this is about getting physically fit in case something happens in your life and you need to be physically able to act when your “fight or flight” response is activated. If you need to escape from immediate danger, then you need the ability to outrun that danger. If you need to “bug-out” from an area because it is too dangerous to remain there then you may need to travel, possibly on foot, a long distance before you arrive at a safer location. You need to be able to do that without injuring yourself, or your traveling companions. Your first instinct may be to load your pack on your shoulders and take off as quickly as possible, and that could be a real problem. Here’s why.

Your body uses two types of fuel for energy: glucose and fat. Your body makes glucose from the carbohydrates that you consume and is your body’s preferred energy source, but it does not store glucose very well and you only have about two hours worth of energy that you can access from glucose. Your body also uses fat, which it stores, and the average person has about 20 days worth of energy available from fat. There are also two types of activity – aerobic and anaerobic – meaning “with oxygen” or “without oxygen” respectively. If you are walking along and are not short of breath then you have all of the oxygen that you need, that is an aerobic activity. If you are walking briskly and you are huffing and puffing along and moving with great difficulty, that is anaerobic activity. When you are moving aerobically then you are burning more fat than glucose, and if your are moving anaerobically you are burning more glucose than fat. The better your physical conditioning the easier it is to move aerobically so you will use more of your fat stores for energy. In other words, the more fit you are the more fat you burn.

Now, I don’t want you to confuse the type of fuel you use with the volume of fuel – low level activity does not burn more fat than intense level activity. At lower levels of activity you burn proportionately less glucose, but you also burn proportionately less fat.

Now, those if us who are not physically fit (myself included!) use glucose for energy when we have to move quickly or if we have to do strenuous work, and not so much of our fat. I can’t tell you how many times I have walked the mile and a half to my gym as fast as I could, spent forty minutes vigorously lifting weights, then walked as fast as I could home. About halfway home I ran out of glucose. Athletes refer to that as “hitting the wall”. It’s bad. Really, it is.

Remember when I said that you body prefers to use glucose as fuel? Well your brain runs primarily on glucose. When glucose flow to the brain gets low you get mental fatigue, which causes muscle fatigue, and affects your mental preparedness. When you “hit the wall” you have a serious problem. Consuming carbohydrates when you are at that point really does not help – you body still has to convert it to glucose. Your activity stops. If you’re trying to bug out to a safer location and you “hit the wall” you’re done. If you don’t practice hiking with your bug out bag, it is likely that you won’t have the fitness level required to move a long distance without your body running out of gas.

Here is a second problem: heat. Whenever you move your body it generates heat. Apparently you use about 40% of your body’s fuel for activity and 60% of it to generate heat (see links below).

You can reduce the heat in your body by both putting liquid into it and sweating. As we all know, blood carries heat to your skins surface, making you sweat. When you sweat water through your skin that water evaporates and cools your skin surface, and that cool is carried back into your body by the bloodstream. But what if you are experiencing high humidity weather? You cannot sweat into water, your sweat will not evaporate. Also, the faster you go the hotter you get and the thicker your body is the harder it is to keep it cool. If you don’t have an adequate amount of blood (blood volume) then it cannot carry the heat out to your skin surface and the cool back in. To counter these conditions you would have to put more water into your body.

If you don’t have enough salt in your cells you also won’t have enough stored water. You body has to store it’s water/salt content at a specific salinity level. If you put in too much salt, then your body adds more water to the cells to dilute the salt levels, which can increase you blood volume and cause high blood pressure (hypertension) and that can be dangerous.

I have a problem in that I do not like salt on my skin when I sweat. It drips in my eyes and stings, so I haven’t been eating salty foods or adding salt to my meals. In my case there is not enough salt in my cells, so my body does not add water to my cells – the salinity levels have to be precise, remember? So I end up not having enough blood volume to carry the heat out to my skin or enough water to sweat out of my body. Shouldn’t I just drink more water when I have higher activity levels? Nope, won’t work.

There is a condition called hyponatremia, also known as low sodium in the blood. If you don’t have enough sodium then you get the following symptoms: confusion, headache, muscle cramping, nausea and vomiting, bloating of the abdomen and fingers, fluid in the lungs, seizures, coma. Fun, huh? Sounds kind of like heat stroke, doesn’t it? People would force more water into you if they saw you suffering from those symptoms. Guess who puts salt on their food now?

How do we fix these problems if we need to bug out? First of all, if you are in shape then you can metabolize fat, and I’ve already said that the best way to get into better shape is to start walking. If you can walk a mile without getting overly winded, then add a pack so you have added weight, and build up on distance. This will also build muscle, which metabolizes fat even when you are just sitting still.

Secondly, don’t “diet” and don’t skip meals. Studies show that overweight people actually consume fewer calories than normal weight people (see links below). What happens is that the fewer calories you consume the fewer you can consume – your body adjusts your metabolism to a lower rate and then when you go back to eating normal amounts again you gain weight. When you diet you compromise your metabolic mass (metabolic adaptation), so after your diet ends you have less muscle and more fat. Eating smaller more frequent meals maintains your metabolic rate, lowers your body fat and weight even if you are eating more calories and controls your blood sugar. Unless you have high blood pressure, you need to add salt to your meals. Eat better quality meals, eat them often, and eat proper portions.

Third, drink water on a fixed schedule, whether you think you need it or not. You also get water from foods such as fruit and vegetables, so you can “eat your water”.

Fourth, if you have to bug out I highly recommend that you add some sort of sports drink to your bug out bag. It will deliver liquid, salts, and carbohydrates to your body to help prevent overheating and “hitting the wall”.

Lastly, pace yourself in your activities. Be the tortoise!


Fit, or not fit? Which are you?


Today I listened to another prepper deliver a speech on a blogcast about whether or not preppers could “walk that mile” if they had to bug out.

I’m all for preppers being in shape in case they have to bug out. That is, in fact, entirely what my blog is about.

I went and checked this person’s blog. I was shocked, and a bit insulted, to see that the blogcaster does not seem to make physical fitness a priority.

I’m looking at her photo and hearing her voice lilting through my speakers, “Could you walk that mile?”
I was annoyed.

I have to ask myself why. Why am I annoyed at this person. Could it be because she is obviously not practicing what she preaches? Oh, yeah. Then I hear her saying that weight is not an indicator of fitness. Okay, maybe I’m annoyed because she is stepping in my area. Even though I don’t think she has the stamina and fitness to “walk that mile”, she does have a good point.

I know a woman who walks five miles every day. She says that she is exercising and she is physically fit. However, her arms and legs are dangerously thin, and her upper belly protrudes. This is what her appearance tells me: she exercises, but she is not eating properly and her body has cannibalized her muscles to feed itself, causing extraordinarily thin limbs and a swollen liver (I’ve read that digesting yourself actually causes fatty liver).

The body faces catabolic and anabolic states during normal metabolic functions. Catabolic state refers to the breakdown of foods and nutrients so that they will later have the ability to build up and add to the muscle or tissue growth process, usually when you eat nutritional food. When you are resting your body is recovering and in an anabolic state. Now, if you don’t properly rest and heal your muscles, or if you do a lot of exercising without consuming proper nutrition, your own muscle tissue will break down. This really doesn’t sound that bad, until you consider that if your are nutritionally starved your body remains in a constant state of depletion and your body will eat away at itself in an attempt to find a source of stored energy.

Now, on the flipside, if you rest a lot and don’t consume proper nutrition then you never develop those muscles to begin with. The only muscles you have are the ones that you use to move yourself around. Some people exist like this, minimal muscle and lots of stored fat, and will claim that they are healthy. However, if you do research on human physiology then you know that this excess fat begins to wreak havoc on your hormones. Specifically insulin and cortisol.

I could give you all kinds of research information on obesity, and statistics that will make your head spin. Do you care? Probably not. I could preach about “real” foods that your body recognizes and turns into muscle and “processed” foods that your body doesn’t recognize so it stores them as fat. Would you care? Again, probably not. I can tell you that the woman that I mentioned before, the one that walks five miles every day, recently had a heart attack.

The aforementioned blogcaster and I can agree on this: If you do not practice how to build a fire, then you probably won’t know how to do it if you had to. By the same token, if you had to hoist your 72-hour kit on your shoulders and hike a mile, or fifteen, to get yourself and your loved ones to safety, then you probably won’t be able to do that if you had to either.

“Prepping” is all about practice. “Preppers” practice how to cook without a stove, practice being without water for a day, practice being without heat, and practice a ton of other skills. This prepper practices how to hike out of a earthquake or tornado ravaged area to somewhere safer. You can’t do that without proper nutrition and exercise.

Exercise and Disability


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Wednesday I tried something different: instead of riding our bikes to take my youngest child to school, or walking fast while she rides her scooter, I attempted to jog. Now, I didn’t just decide that I would jog the 1.25 miles there and 1.25 miles back. Instead I decided that I would jog for 60 seconds, then walk for 60 seconds, which worked out fairly well. I ended up jogging for one block, then walking for one block, then jogging again for one block, etc, while my daughter rode her scooter and the dog kept pace with me.

Thursday morning I woke to pain in my sciatic nerves where they run through the Piriformis muscles in my glutes (buttocks), so I stretched the muscles and the pain subsided. Once again, I put the dog on the leash and my daughter on the scooter and off we went. After the sixth jog-walk cycle I felt intense pain in my right Achilles tendon, so I decided to walk the rest of the way to school and back.

This morning, my tendon is still tender and is now swollen and I again have Piriformis pain, so the child rode the bus.

My problem could have been that I tried to do too much too fast, or it could be that my disabilities have decided to limit my progress. Either way, I’m going to have to slow down.

My disabilities? Well, I try not to reveal them. But I walk with a cane most days because I have “Piriformis Syndrome” which is where my sciatic nerve runs through the Piriformis muscle and gets pinched, causing pain that radiates down my legs. It’s worse on the right, so I walk with a cane. I also have two crushed disks in my neck which, in addition to just hurting, causes me to drop things (which really ticks me off every time it happens) and a crushed disk in my lower back.

I was always physically very strong, until these back injuries popped up and introduced themselves in my early forties. I don’t even know where they came from. I don’t recall any injuries other than a few when I was very young (and I mean VERY young, like under age five). I find the pain limiting, and frustrating. So I lift weights, I stretch, I walk a lot, and I ride my bicycle to the store a few times each week. Apparently running is not going to be something that I can do, so I will have to stick with the bike and the walking.

My next challenge is to add carrying a backpack, which I will try after a few weeks of just walking so that this heel pain and Piriformis pain subside.

A few small lifestyle changes can make a big difference in your fitness.

As an example of a small lifestyle change, I now ride my bike to the grocery store. Some days I wear a backpack, some days I tow a bike trailer, some days I take both if I expect to get a lot of groceries that day.

Cart of groceries

Cart of groceries

Groceries in the bike trailer

Groceries in the bike trailer

Now, your grocery store might seem to be a bit too far for you to ride your bike there, but you can ride your bike to other places, too (no, not for fast food! You’re trying to get fit, remember?). My grocery store is only 4 miles round-trip. I think if it were anything more than 8 miles round trip I might fire up the minivan. Although, if you ask me again in about four months, I may extend that distance. Also, if your activity level has not been, um, active for a while then you should probably start slow.

Daily walking is always a good place to start, and you can walk slowly when you first start out and increase your pace as the weeks progress. If you have a dog take them with you (they will love it!)

We started by walking my daughter to school, which is one and a quarter miles from our apartment (If you’re late getting to school, you really pick up your pace, believe me). Then we decided to get “lazy” and we bought bicycles and we now ride those to school. Our daughter rides there and back once during the day (two and a half miles total each day) and my husband and I end up getting at least five miles in each weekday.

There are a whole different set of muscles in play when you walk versus when you ride a bicycle. When you walk you can feel your calf muscles developing into something other than flab. When you ride a bicycle you can feel it in your “quadriceps” which are the muscles on the front and sides of your thighs. I will cover muscles, and the exercises that develop them, in a later post.

If you have a “smart phone” then you can download an app called “Runkeeper” (you can find it here which keeps track of how far and how fast you walk, run, or ride your bicycle. It also keeps track of other activities such as hiking, Nordic walking, mountain biking, snowboarding, skiing, wheelchair, and swimming. Although I do wonder how the swimming part works with a smart phone, the rest of it works really well. It also keeps track of your altitude, which might seem dumb, but when we take our daughter to school we actually have a 97 foot increase in altitude, so it is very slightly uphill. When you’re riding your bicycle with a load of groceries in a tow, it can make a difference in the route you may want to take as well.

There are other apps out there as well, but I like Runkeeper because it works on the fly, I don’t have to pre-plan my path and then follow that planned route, I can adjust it as needed. No, I don’t get anything from Runkeeper for promoting their app.

If your start walking or riding a bicycle to get around and to increase your fitness, please take some water with you. Water will hydrate you without adding extra calories. Keep in mind that sports drinks were designed to hydrate and replace lost electrolytes in people who engage in intense physical exercise for at least an hour and a half at a time. Those people are known as athletes, and they usually drink lots of water in addition to their electrolyte drink. If you aren’t working out that intensely, you do not need to worry about electrolyte replacement.

Now if you drink too much water you might have to worry about electrolytes, but I’ll discuss that with you on another day.