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Can You Change Your Life in 28 Days?

Can You Change Your Life in 28 Days?

It happens to all of us - hunting season ends and there isn’t much on the radar until spring hunting and fishing.  We find ourselves wondering what to do for those few months that are filled with holidays, gatherings to watch football games, and any number of other events that involve eating copious amounts of great food. 

What am I talking about?  Winter weight.

Around February of each year, I find myself wondering where that extra hole on my belt went and why my pants are so tight.  They fit fine last week and I’m definitely not wearing skinny jeans.  My wife has probably changed some setting on the dryer again and shrunk them just a bit.

The reality is that shorter days, colder weather, and good food have added a few pounds that didn’t exist during hunting season.  Again I find myself trying to shed some extra weight before it’s time to start chasing bears or hiking several miles into the backcountry to fish.

Historically, I’ve tackled this task each year by trading the chicken wings and beer for healthier options, working out, and being miserable.  It seems to work okay and the outcomes have been adequate.  This year, however, I’m noticing that my muscles and joints don’t seem to be as quick to recover as they have in the past.  I started wondering what products might be available to help assist me in this process.  After countless hours of research, wading through TONS of marketing hype, and learning more about this crap than I wanted to, I settled on the Wilderness Athlete 28 Day Challenge

WHY WILDERNESS ATHLETE?

This time around I wasn’t just interested in shedding weight.  I wanted to achieve a healthier lifestyle that would negate this being an annual issue.  I wanted to do a bit of reading and find a brand of products that seemed responsible.  Additionally, I was dragging my wife into this mess for moral support and a bit of friendly competition so reviews on flavor of the product were of particular importance for her.

With literally hundreds of brands to choose from in the supplement industry, I quickly and discriminatorily narrowed my search to reviews from outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen.  I don’t plan to be in a gym for hours each day.  My gym is the outdoors.  Why not find like-minded people and benefit from their hard work and willingness to share results online?  If given the choice, I’ll support the brand that supports outdoorsmen, not one catered to inner-city gym rats.

Meaning no disrespect to the competition, I settled on the Wilderness Athlete line of products because the ingredients seemed to be healthier, the ratios appeared more dialed, and the hype wasn’t over the top.  I’m sure a Wilderness Athlete poster boy exists somewhere; but, I wasn’t slapped in the face with brand-wrapped pickup trucks, gigantic dudes shooting bows while carrying armored elephants uphill, or huntress models indulging in protein shakes.  My dad used to tell me that if you put a $10,000 suit on an asshole, he’s still an asshole.  This principle keeps me from falling victim to companies who pour tons of money into marketing but sell a mediocre product.  I wanted to find a quality and results-driven company who focused more on the product than the propaganda.

As you might imagine, my research led me down various rabbit holes.  One that I found particularly interesting was WA’s commitment to quality.  They go to the ends of the Earth to source the finest ingredients for their supplements from the most reputable suppliers.  They don’t stop there, however.  Once the ingredients are received and products are manufactured (entirely in the USA) in a National Sanitation Foundation certified facility, the process is only halfway complete.  They then test their finished products for potency and hygiene, among other things.  Another rabbit hole taught me that they have a “Wilderness Athlete Science, Research, and Formulations Board” boasting over 100 years of experience from various and prestigious universities and human performance labs.

After a quick chat with one of their employees, I discovered the majority of employees at the company founded in 2004 hunt, fish, and actually use their products.  I also found out that they routinely do joint-efforts with outdoors oriented non-profits.

It’s worth noting that during my chat with them, I didn’t feel like they were pushing product on me.  Rather, it felt like they were more interested in educating me on all things health and nutrition.  They weren’t salesmen first, they were just incredibly knowledgeable individuals who seemed genuinely interested in helping people lead healthier lifestyles. 

The underlying theme from that chat was no matter what product I chose, or even if I didn’t decide to use supplements, diet was key.  In fact, when I asked what the top three focus areas should be to maximize results, I was given a simple answer: “Diet, diet, and diet.”  To that end, if you add these products to a terrible diet and expect miracles, you’ll end up disappointed.  Quality whole foods, portion control, dedication, and self-control will help you more than any program ever can. 

WHAT IS THE 28 DAY CHALLENGE?

The Wilderness Athlete 28 Day Challenge is a muscle management system designed to help you safely achieve your weight loss goals without wrecking your body and digestive system in the process.  It contains a variety of their products designed to help burn fat and stay healthy while improving overall nutrition.  With probiotics, a multi-vitamin, an herbal weight loss pill, protein shakes, an energy drink, an electrolyte drink, and something called Green Infusion that apparently contains the phytonutrient equivalent of six servings of fruits and vegetables, I figured it was a more robust system than my shakes, boiled chicken, and various fruits. 

It also provides guidance on exercise, caloric intake, hydration efforts, and how to use the included supplements.  All told, it’s a toolkit for healthy and sustainable weight-loss without sacrificing overall health for quick results.

The author mixes up a "Superman" after a long hike looking for bears...

The author mixes up a "Superman" after a long hike looking for bears...

The program is designed for anyone from a diehard mountain hunter to an on-the-go parent of small children.  After speaking to my wife about it, she wanted to try the program, as well.  Her workout routines aren’t as strenuous as mine; but, she works at a Montessori school in a toddler room, so she’s on her feet chasing kids around all day long and we usually do something as a family each night after dinner.  These activities range from walking the dogs a few miles to hikes in the mountains.  With her commitment to the program, I decided to buy one for each of us.

Having a month from the time I discovered this package until bear season, I figured we’d go ahead and get started as soon as it showed up.  The following paragraphs and charts outline our results, ending with a summary of our level of satisfaction with the product.  I hope you enjoy our journey through the Wilderness Athlete 28 Day Challenge. 

OUR COMMITMENT

Have you ever heard the phrase “Shit in, shit out?”  It’s a bastardized way of pointing out that, irrespective of the project, the results will be as good as the work put into them.  We let this ideal guide our respective 28 Day Challenges.  What did that mean?  It meant no more pizza, no more trips to a fast food joint because we didn’t have time to cook a healthy meal between work and T-Ball practice, and it meant getting up at 4:00 in the morning to go for a run when it was 26 degrees outside.  Ultimately, it meant being dedicated to achieving a healthier lifestyle and using the 28 Day Challenge as a springboard to get there.

With that in mind, we made our first trip to the grocery store to procure the required inputs – whole foods.  If you shop the perimeter of a grocery store, you’ll be a much healthier person.  I’m not sure why nearly every grocery store in the country has the same layout; but, this is a simple way of staying focused while going grocery shopping.  This will usually take you through the produce section, the meat and deli section, and the dairy section.  If you stay out of the middle, you’ll stay away from processed foods, which is arguably a healthier way to shop.

Killer combinations here!

Killer combinations here!

The handbook that comes with the 28 Day Challenge provides information on exercising, as well.  I’m usually up early every morning and my wife usually wants to go for a walk or workout in the evenings.  That meant we could each work out independently while the other watched the kids.

HERE WE GO!

Week 1 proved to be fairly difficult for each of us.  When your body is accustomed to a routine spawned from months of laziness, starting this program will literally flip it on its head.  Counting calories and portioning our food accordingly left both of us looking at the abbreviated sizes of what we were used to.  This proved to be an eye-opening experience.  One suggestion I’d make to anyone wanting to start something like this would be to start counting calories before you even start your diet so you have a benchmark of where you once were.  It’ll blow your mind.

Wilderness Athlete has a drink they recommend for starting each day that they call the “Superman.”  It’s a mixture of one serving of their “Hydrate & Recover” and one serving of their “Energy & Focus.”  Even after completing the program, this has become a go-to drink for me because of the clean energy and hydration it provides.  It’s like a canned energy drink without the terrible stuff that’s mixed with the hydrating properties of an electrolyte drink.

All of the products we tried tasted great.  There was one exception, however.  The “Green Infusion.”  If you like the flavor of grass, you’ll love it.  Personally, I didn’t care for it very much.  Luckily, the serving size is very small.  When hidden in a protein shake, it’s virtually impossible to notice the flavor so you get the benefits without the grassy aftertaste.

PROGRESS?

We started noticing results within the first few days.  Several pounds later, we took our first set of measurements.  In order to remain goal-oriented and to track progress, the program asks you to take various weekly measurements including weight, chest, biceps, waist, hips, and quads.  I’d also suggest taking a separate measurement entitled simply “Holes on your belt.”  I found a few I didn’t even know I had.

I was hit and miss with logging weight in the Fitbit app.  We religiously logged it manually, though.

I was hit and miss with logging weight in the Fitbit app.  We religiously logged it manually, though.

You’re not just tracking weight loss with this program, either.  You’re also tracking overall inches lost.  The result was our ability to track overall body transformation during the program.  At first it seemed like overkill; but, towards the end, we were glad we were doing it to see progress in various areas.

With a complete overhaul to our caloric intake, hydration, and exercise routines, we were on our way to completion.  Now all we had to do was stick with it and wait the 28 days to see the results.

COMPLETE!

I won’t lie, it was tough.  However, most things worth achieving usually are.  My wife and I both stuck with this program and the results speak for themselves.  I can’t tell you that we wouldn’t have had similar results with other programs; but, I can tell you that we’re very happy with our results from the 28 Day Challenge. 

This isn’t a program that makes you anxiously await its conclusion so you can run out and grab a handful of cheeseburgers and some beer.  It genuinely makes you want to become a healthier person.  I’m four days beyond my completion date and I’m still eating well and I’ve lost another two pounds.  I attribute it to the general ambiguity of the dietary restrictions set forth in the program.  With two pages in the workbook dedicated to lists of foods that are okay to consume during your 28 days, the standard limits of other programs simply aren’t there.  It leaves a lot of the decision-making to the user and the potential creativity is limitless. 

Disguised as an “Arsenal for a Mountain-Built Diet,” Wilderness Athlete secretly trains you to eat healthier foods and allows you the freedom to prepare them however you want, within reason.  When you’re finished, you’ve grown used to healthier choices that taste good.  Although it contains a few recipes, the guide book isn’t a recipe book.  It merely provides you with a list of healthy ingredients.  It’s up to you to figure out preparation methods that offer both flavor and peace of mind.

When I finished, I didn’t feel like I’d been starving myself for weeks.  Rather, I felt like I’d developed some great habits that will proliferate.  Additionally, I’ve analyzed some of the stuff we’ve been feeding our children and have changed up their diets, as well.  We’re definitely looking forward to the healthier lifestyle this program has shown us.

I’m browsing the Wilderness Athlete website trying to figure out what to do next.  I plan on having another conversation with them to figure out what would make up a good daily regimen from now on.  I think a joint supplement, multi-vitamin, the “Superman,” and some type of protein shake will work their way into my daily routine.

RESULTS

For those of you like myself who are data driven, take a look at the following graphs that I used to track progress for my wife and I.  The book provides a chart to manually enter this data weekly.  I’m an Excel nerd by trade, so I put it into the computer and added the “Percent of body weight lost” field to also track that category.

We were both very happy with the program, the results, and the quality of the products.  As we move forward with this healthier lifestyle, Wilderness Athlete products will definitely play a role.

Mine:

My wife's:

Here are the reviews my wife and I submitted to Wilderness Athlete after completing the program, verbatim.  I feel like they capture our opinions of the program fairly well so I’ve included them in this article.

My wife’s:

“This is the first time I've ever tried anything like this.  I wasn't even sure I wanted to use supplements to aid in weight loss; but, after extensive research, I settled on Wilderness Athlete's 28 Day Challenge.  I determined they use some of the highest quality and safest ingredients of any of the brands out there.  I wasn't quick to buy into the hype of some of the other brands and felt obligated, as a mother of two children, to lead by example and choose not only the highest quality, but also the seemingly safest products available to me.  The results have been amazing and I'm incredibly happy with the outcome.  This is an excellent way to jump start a healthier lifestyle!”

Mine:

“I've seen various ads for supplement companies and programs all over the internet and on various hunting TV programs.  I decided I'd put on a little too much weight over the last year and wanted to use a program to help me kick start the long process of getting back into peak mountain shape.  I did some research beyond the marketing level and into the actual ingredients and goals of some of the companies making these supplements.  It didn't surprise me to find that one of the safest and most genuine products on the market was made by outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen.  After buying the 28 Day Challenge from Wilderness Athlete, I was committed.  28 days later the results speak for themselves.  I feel better each day, I sleep better, I'm less stressed, and I've encouraged my entire family to start living a healthier lifestyle.  I couldn't be happier with this product and very strongly recommend it to anyone who's looking to change their life for the better.”

Farewell, Alaska!

Farewell, Alaska!

They Remind You You’re Alive

They Remind You You’re Alive