Editor’s Note: Martin Pedersen was the focus of a Geocaching.com video, “Geocaching Diet” in mid-2010. He succeeded in losing more than 30 pounds. But Martin will tell you losing 30 pounds still leaves him with a sense that he hasn’t fully succeeded. His weight loss goal was much loftier. The author of the blog FamilyNavigation.com hoped to lose 100 pounds. We still think his geocaching diet was a success. Martin leads a healthier and more active lifestyle today and he’s kept the weight off. Here is Martin’s story, in his own words.
By: Martin Pedersen
Last year my New Year’s Resolution was to get into shape and lose weight. On January 1st I had no idea how I would do it. A fad diet and a gym membership were not going to work for me and two weeks into January I still did not know how I was going to keep my resolution. There had to be a way I could add enjoyable daily exercise into my busy routine. I wanted to pick an activity that I would crave to do each day and was more enjoyable than the passive activities I had been wasting my time with. Still confused I did what I normally do when I have important things to think about; I went for a hike. The combination of nature, fresh air, and exercise always lifts my spirits and allows me to think clearly.
I quickly threw the essentials into my backpack which includes water, notebook, pen, and a GPS receiver. The first three items had been part of my hiking pack for as long as I could remember but the GPSr was a new addition. I had been introduced to geocaching a number of months prior and I was slowly getting obsessed. Even though I was going on a hike to come up with ideas, there was no reason why I couldn’t find a few geocaches along the way.
My wife was introduced to geocaching from a friend and when she told me about it she knew that it would be something I would really get into. I love to play outside, I am a true explorer at heart, I enjoy challenges, and I like activities I can quantify. Imagine if I could build an exercise routine around hiking and geocaching.
On that most enjoyable geocaching hike I did imagine it and as soon as I got back I went to work to figure out if I could possibly fit regular geocaching into my schedule. After an evening worth of research I explained the concept of a geocaching exercise challenge to my wife. The plan was to find 1000 geocaches in one year while hiking 2500kms and trying to lose as much weight as possible, hopefully up to 100lbs. She always amazes me with the enthusiasm she greets my crazy ideas. Three days later I started the Geocache Diet.
I have gone hiking almost every day for 11 months and in that time I have found nearly 900 geocaches while walking the equivalent distance to get from Canada to Mexico (taking the scenic route of course). I have hiked through beautiful forests, past waterfalls, alpine lakes and beaches. I have walked back-country roads, urban streets, bicycle paths, plus a fair bit of bushwhacking.
Many of the caches I have found had parking right next to them but instead of simply driving from location to location I would always link a few together on a circle walk through town. My family likes caching and they joined me on as many outings as we could manage but a lot of the time I was alone. I have found caches in all types of weather including pouring rain, wind storms, and in the snow. I have not lost as much weight as I would have liked but I have been rewarded with the benefits of regular exercise. This challenge has succeeded in getting me outside to work up a sweat daily where other attempts have failed. The main reason that this challenge worked was that it was just too much fun. Geocaching is such an enjoyable, inexpensive, accessible, and inclusive activity which everyone can do and that makes it a perfect complement to regular exercise.
The hardest part of doing any exercise challenge is making the time commitment. Before starting this challenge I looked at my schedule and wrote down everything I needed to do each week (like work, family time, and sleep).
I found that, even though I am a busy person, by cutting out activities like watching TV I had enough time to complete this challenge. I did not cut out anything that I enjoyed doing more than hiking and geocaching and I definitely have not cut into family time. My year is almost up but I still have so many trails to hike, so many caches to find, and so many places to discover. I will just have to continue to include geocaching into a healthy lifestyle and to reach my ideal weight and fitness level.