Over one third of adults in the United States are obese. That is a staggering statistic, especially when you take into account the larger portion of that percentage is suffering from ailments that are a direct result of their choices.
With the exception of those who have diseases or disorders that cause them to gain weight, it’s what the rest of us eat and what we do that determines our health outcomes. Lack of exercise and a diet centered around salts, sugars and every other tasty vice man can create is the crux of the problem. What does this have to do with fishing you might ask?
Healthy fishing is something FLW Tour pro Micah Frazier is passionate about. He has committed to a lifestyle change that not only benefits his day-to-day health but allows him to control yet another variable in a sport that is littered with the uncontrollable.
“Fishermen think about every single thing they put in their boat all the way down to fuel treatment and additives,” said Frazier, who qualified for his first Forrest Wood Cup in his second season on tour. “But hardly any of them stop to think about what they are putting in their body. There are so many variables in fishing that you can’t control so it’s important to be the best you can be at all the variables you can control.”
Fishermen spend a large portion of their life in a boat, battling the elements and constantly relying on muscles and joints that they seldom do anything to maintain. As an angler ages, it is a common sight to see knee, back, shoulder and elbow injuries. Surgery is usually the only option at that point and the repair is rarely as good as the original.
Add on top of this the stop-and-go lifestyle of an angler, especially one on tour, and you have someone who is falling apart at the seams by the time he’s 40. The average angler is likely overweight from a poor diet filled with whatever he can get his hands on at the moment he’s hungry. Long truck rides and hundreds of nights in motels lead most anglers to believe that there’s just no other way.
‘I just don’t have the time or energy.’ That’s the most common complaint when anglers are asked why they don’t eat right or work out. Well it’s time to take the time or suffer the inevitable reality in the future because when your back goes out it doesn’t matter if you have the time to deal with it or not, you go out.
Frazier made the transition to a healthier lifestyle at the young age of 22. He now exercises daily and pays attention to every aspect of his diet. By his own admission, he is a little obsessive but he has the personality where he has to be all in or nothing.
“I haven’t always been this way,” said Frazier. “I was on the verge of having to take blood pressure medicine about two years ago. Then I changed my diet to the way I eat now and my blood pressure is like 120 over 75 every time I go to the doctor where it was 20 to 30 points higher every time I went before.
“It’s easier for me to go all in and be obsessive over it than it is to treat myself every now and then. When I eat something with a lot of salt or sugar, I just want more of it. Once you get used to giving your body what it needs, you’d be amazed at how much better you feel. A lot of the health problems we have in this country could be prevented with a little exercise and a better diet. God didn’t put us on this planet to eat the things we are eating nowadays. Everything is manmade and full of salt and sugar. Sugar and salts are just acquired tastes. Since I don’t eat a lot of sugary or salty stuff, things that are sweet to me are probably horrible to other people.”
The diet that Frazier adheres to is a bit extreme but it obviously works. Frazier doesn’t cook every meal and admits that he probably eats out as much as he eats in. He does however choose healthier options.
“I don’t eat a lot of fast food,” he explained. “But if you have to go to a fast food restaurant they all have some sort of salad or grilled chicken. The options are out there; it’s the self discipline that gives people the most trouble.”
A typical breakfast on the Frazier plan consists of oatmeal and egg whites. And when he says oatmeal, he does not mean oatmeal with cinnamon, brown sugar and butter. He means just oatmeal, occasionally with almonds and some sort of artificial sweetener like Sweet-N-Low or Splenda.
Frazier basically suggests anything with whole grains like oatmeal and granola bars in the morning along with something high in protein like Greek yogurt or peanut butter. You want complex carbs early in the morning that take a long time to digest so it stays with you a lot longer. That way if you eat breakfast at 6 a.m. you won’t be hungry again at 8:30.
“For on-the-water meals, I cook a big thing of brown rice, grilled chicken and raw vegetables for the week and keep it in the cooler. It’s not the best thing after three days in a cooler but it’s what your body needs and a whole lot better for you than crackers or a candy bar.
“I eat less carbs at dinner time, usually a salad with grilled chicken. My ideal dinner is a pound of steamed broccoli and a couple grilled chicken breasts,” said Frazier with a laugh. “I know it sounds a little extreme.”
Frazier also recommends eating five or six smaller meals a day. This keeps your metabolism going strong all day which uses a lot of energy and has you ready for bed when evening arrives. This, along with a good workout, is what Frazier credits for his ability to get restful, quality sleep in a shorter period of time.
“Fishermen don’t need huge biceps and triceps. We need a strong core more than anything. Any abdominal workouts and back workouts are great. Sit-ups, bridges, push-ups, dead lifts, squats, running or anything is better than nothing. I keep a jump rope, medicine ball and kettle bell in my back seat all the time. I’ve worked out in gyms all over the country but guys can do a simple 30-minute workout in their hotel room and it will help them a lot.”
Working out while you are at home actually gives you a lot more energy while you are on the road, according to Frazier. A day on the water doesn’t drain an angler who is used to working out every day as it does a guy who spends most of his time off the water in a sedentary lifestyle.
“I wake up in the morning and I’m ready to go,” added Frazier. “I don’t have to lie around for 30 minutes trying to get ready to get up. When I am at home I work out at least six days a week and when I am on the road I work out on the day off.
“Long boat rides like this year at Ticonderoga don’t bother me but I hear a lot of the other guys talk about how sore they are afterwards. The stronger your muscles are around your joints and in your back the better. If you keep those muscles strong, they take a lot of the strain off you bones and joints.”
There’s a plethora of advantages to leading a healthy lifestyle, in fishing and in everyday life. I myself have a pot-calling-the-kettle-black feeling in the pit of my stomach as I write this. As fit and disciplined as Frazier is, I’m about 180 degrees in the other direction.
But this is something as a fisherman and, more importantly, a human that I know I need to address. Hopefully if you’re a part of that 37 percent as I am, with some of these tips and a little hard work and determination you and I can both make a concerted effort to better ourselves.