The Dieter's Guide to Weight Loss While Gardening

Reader Contribution by Cam Mather
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I am NOT one of those weight-obsessed
people. So you might wonder why I am writing a blog about my weight.
Well, a few weeks ago I weighed myself and discovered that I’d lost
weight. Again. What’s with that?

it probably had something to do with the fact that Mike and Melissa,
our HelpXers, were here and we all worked in the garden a good chunk of
every day. My weight has been as high as 150 lbs and sort of fluctuates
between about 145 and 150 lbs. I know … it’s my metabolism. That’s what
everyone tells me. I can still wear my Adidas shorts that I wore when I
was in high school, although they should be banned for being indecent.
I’ve noticed that about fashion though. I just hang on to all my clothes
and eventually they come back in style.

And yes, I do have a good
metabolism, and I didn’t gain weight having babies, etc etc. but I give
most of the credit to the plant-based diet that I have eaten for 20
years and being pretty active. I cut all of our own firewood, for both
the house and the guesthouse. I can soak a shirt with perspiration in a
day of woodcutting on the coldest day in winter. But I think gardening
has a big effect on me keeping my weight in check.

Since I always
seem to have a number of large projects each year that involve rolling
round hay bails or moving soil from one spot to another with a
wheelbarrow, there are plenty of opportunities for me to burn calories.
But once planting season starts it’s a marathon. With no tractor, it’s
just me against a ½ acre garden that has to be rototilled, raked to
remove last year’s residues and then I make rows, plant, weed and water.
 I repeat the last two steps endlessly over the summer.

And then
there’s the endless walking. Move this flat of sweet potatoes over to
where I’ll plant it later. Move the hose from the dug well from the
upper irrigation system to the lower one. Grab that cultivator that I
left up by the gate that I now need down near the barn foundation. Back
in 90 seconds.

I’ve tried to reduce the amount of walking I do by
buying multiple tools. I have tools and cultivators everywhere, but it
doesn’t matter how many I have, the one I want is always at the opposite
end of the garden.

So when Mike and Melissa were here for the
week it was a bit of a marathon getting everything done that I had
planned for them. Well we didn’t even get close, but we accomplished an
enormous amount. And while I worked just as hard as they did, I was also
a little obsessed about making sure that I had the next job ready for
when they were finished the existing one. That inevitably meant walks
back to the house for more plants or seeds, or the woodshed for tools,
or the berry patch, or wherever.

So with all this exercise I had
every excuse to call out the dessert brigade! Michelle has basically
given up eating desserts. She has amazing will power. I am trying, but
failing miserably. Having three square meals a day was weird enough, but
I had Mike and Melissa as an excuse to indulge my sweet tooth. We
started with chocolate cake and chocolate ice cream and strawberries.
Then the next night was chocolate cream pie. Then coconut cream pie.
Then Michelle made maple tarts. Then brownies with chocolate ice cream. I
think we opened a few bags of Oreos in there as well. And I didn’t
scrimp on the size of my portions!

So if I worked in veal
fattening pen in some office and commuted an hour to that job, I’m sure I
would have gained 10 pounds that week. But when I weighed myself at the
end of the week I’d lost 8 pounds and was down to a little over 140
pounds! Holy crap. That’s like 7% of my body weight. Apparently there’s
something to this gardening thing. Now I’m regretting not having a
chapter on this in “The All You Can Eat Gardening Handbook.”

simply can’t imagine having to reduce my caloric intake to lose weight.
I refuse to do it. I believe increasing your physical activity is the
only way to lose weight. And if you really ramp it up then you can eat
whatever you want. Well, for someone like me with no willpower, this has
been working. And eating a plant-based diet has been a huge help as
well. It’s simply much harder to eat the number of calories when you’re
not eating protein and calorie dense foods with a lot of saturated fat.

I think my next book should be “The Cam Mather Off Grid Guide to Losing
Weight Through Gardening.” I’ll get a picture of myself in some cheesy
gardening coach-like attire waving my hoe at some gardening neophytes
eating Twinkies and looking apprehensive. It’ll be awesome!

my gardening program is proven successful at weight loss I’ll start a
new service, “The Sunflower Farm Weight Loss Gardening Spa”. The
HelpXers were here for free, well just the cost of their food. What was I
thinking? Now I’m going to charge for people to come and garden. I’m
going to charge a lot, because people don’t associate value with
something unless it’s expensive. So it’s going to be like $1,200/week,
and I’m going to work you. Oh am I going to work you! I’m going to be
like one of those obnoxious coaches you see on “The Biggest Loser” and
the myriad of programs about losing weight. I will work you ’til you

“Come on you big bag of dirt, hoe that row! Shovel that
manure! Oh you need a shovel? Well it’s over in the blueberry patch.
That’s 200 meters away. I want you there and back in 45 seconds or I’m
going to make you chop some firewood! So you’re tired of rolling 1,000
pound round bales around? Come over here. I’ve got some wet ones. These
should be closer to 1,200 pounds. Now put your back into it! Come on,
stop your whining! Suck it up and push it!”

This is going to be awesome! Taking reservations now!

the meantime I’m going to need to carbo-pack to get ready. Shall it be
chocolate cake or strawberry shortcake tonight? Wait, that’s too tough a
choice. Maybe I’ll have both.

Photo from Wikicommons.
For more information about Cam Mather or his books please visit or