Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Kayak Fishing: Nature's best weight-loss plan!

Over the years I've found that I've told my story quite a few times but I don't believe I've ever fully explained how and why I got into kayak fishing in the first place.

Here is the story of how I got to where I am.

It was a dark and stormy night...

Ok, so it all started about 5 years ago when I got to talking with my wife, Sarah, about the fact that I hadn't been fishing in years. She said that *she* liked to go fishing too but hadn't been in years either. One of the things that I expressed to her was that since I had grown up in Michigan, I had primarily focused on trout and had only caught bass a few times so I never got good at bass fishing.  I knew the basics but trout fishing is so different and generally uses different types of lures, I had no idea where to start so I turned to YouTube of course!

Puffy cheeks, out of control belly, and almost no tan.
Yep, definitely an IT Geek.
About this same time Sarah and I became acutely aware that our weight was extremely prohibitive. I was hovering around 315 pounds and Sarah was... Well, you get the point. (hope she doesn't read this!).   But seriously, we knew we had to change something or else! Our diet was actually not really part of the problem in that we didn't eat *that much* food. We did reduce our diet and worked very hard to make sure it was all natural as much as possible. This did help some, but we were both still borderline Class III obese.  Yeah, I was at least 120lbs overweight and I was starting to have trouble tying my own shoes! This was actually very scary to me.

In reality, the biggest issue for me was that I was sedentary in my work. I work in IT support and I spend a lot of time sitting. At that time I was in a job where I was starting to get to walk a bit more and it felt good.  But I knew I needed more - much more.

So in our searching out fishing methods we ran across something that completely blew our minds. We ran across a video on YouTube of Robert Field kayak fishing the Devil's River (we saw the original video).  Of course this seemed like way too far out for our poor fishing skills and the very idea of getting in a kayak was a bit unnerving.  But Robert made it look so easy I realized that with some practice, we could do what he was doing.  

I had always told Sarah that I was more of a river fisherman because that's mostly what I had fished as a kid. But since I was a bank or wade angler I wasn't used to the idea of being in a boat. However, the concept of kayak fishing was so undeniably awesome that it didn't take long for me to become completely enamored with the idea.  A couple years before this we had gone camping at Colorado Bend and had rented a tandem kayak just for the sake of paddling, but the thought of fishing while kayaking never crossed my mind.

And suddenly a dream was born.

We did our research and decided that if we were going to do this it would have to be with a nice kayak.  I quickly found that most tandem kayaks were not made to fish in so I kept looking.  Finally we found the Jackson Big Tuna.  We went to TG Canoe and Kayaks in San Marcos, TX and found a reasonably price model and brought it home.  Our first trip was at Inks Lake where we caught nothing but jitters and wobbles but we did it and we were hooked!

From there the "Rest is history", but something happened after we got the kayaks. Our goal of getting outside was brought to light quickly as we kayaked.  We realized we were in horrible shape!  We could barely do many simple things like putting the kayak in the truck.  I had to have Sarah help me because I hurt myself by trying to do it alone. Eventually Sarah got her own kayak and we really started to experience kayak fishing to it's fullest.

I look back on those days and wonder how I survived.  When we started we thought Brushy Creek Park Lake in Cedar Park was huge.  Now we know it's barely a blip on the radar.  We used to think a a half a mile of water was a large area to fish but now we're not satisfied if we can't cover 2-3 miles of water or at least the equivalent in coves.  The point is, we did survive and we've turned into completely different people.

Have to wash that roof every 6 months!
Kayak Fishing was the start of a change of our mindset that had to do with sitting indoors doing as little as possible. It was the new mindset that got us thinking about camping and eventually RVing.  It was the biggest impetus that drove us to sell our house and move into an RV full time for express purpose of being able to park near water and fish as much as possible.  But also that RVing requires a more active lifestyle which we crave so much.

And for the record and for the skeptics out there - Sarah is 100% in this with me.  She is my fishing buddy.  She sometimes out-fishes me and sometimes she just likes to sit and watch me fish, take pictures of her cats, and watch the wildlife.  But she's always ready to go out on the water, where that is, and often is more ready than I am!

So did the weight-loss program work?  Most definitely YES!  I've personally lost 45 pounds while putting on a tremendous amount of muscle.  My upper body strength is better than it's been since I was in my early 20's before I started IT Support.  Sarah has also lost a significant amount of weight and has grown her own set of muscles. 

To give you an idea of how far we've come, this last year we started making trips down a local river that has plenty of water holes to fish, but it's rarely deep enough to paddle more than one or two rapids in the entire 6 mile stretch. This means there is a pretty good amount of dragging and in fact, if the water is even a bit below average there is *A LOT* of dragging.  This is extremely hard work pulling a 130 pound kayak over gravel bars and sometimes over significant rock falls. 

The first time we did this by the time we got out my body was shaking and I felt like I was going to die in the truck on the way home.  We ended up doing this trip 4 times last summer and by the last one, I was dragging BOTH kayaks by myself at each rock bar while Sarah helped a friend.  **YEAH!**  It occurred to me as I was dragging two kayaks like a he-man for a 100ft over a rock bar that if I could have seen myself 5 years ago I would have never believed that I could do this.  And for good reason.  I'm no where close to that pudgy and pasty looking IT nerd I used to see in the mirror.
And I'm not done!  Now that I've got a good start on this, I'm going further and further every year. This year Sarah and I are adding a fitness program to our list of things we aim to accomplish this year. We started it this month and we hope by the end of 2017 we'll be another 40-50 pounds lighter and in even better shape than ever!  With the momentum we have built up, I'm confident we won't fail.

So if you're an IT Geek who sits in a cubicle or an office all day and every time you look in the mirror you see more and more of yourself looking back, then you need to seriously consider finding
Remember this:
There are very few morbidly obese people in nursing homes.
an outdoor activity like I did. Not only will you most likely extend your life, you'll get to reap the benefits of being active.  There'll be no straining to reach your shoes, no gasping for air climbing up the stairs, and no more shame when you down a plate of chicken at the the restaurant because you'll know you earned it through your activity!

I can assure you, if *I* can do this, *anyone* can do it too!

Our lives have dramatically changed over the past few years simply because we've gotten more active and we can see ourselves doing things that we could never dream of before.  Because of this we aim to help as many people along the way do the same thing we have done.

If you are on the same path or have questions about how to get on this path too, let us know!  We would to help and even meet with you to get you started.  We love to kayak fish with others so we can definitely do that too.

Remember:  Changing your future is not done overnight - it has to be a way of life.

Hope to meet you on the water!

Tight Lines!

Mike Van Nattan


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