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Physical Fitness and Self Sufficiency

11606138806_3bb45f42aa_z (1)If you’ve ever watched shows such as Doomsday Preppers (we watch on Netflix for $8 a month), you may have noticed that at the end of the show they give each person, couple or family a preparedness rating. Many times where people lose it on their score is in the area of physical fitness. They’ve done all of the technical things they need to do to be prepared, such as storing up food and water, preparing an alternate heating source, etc., but they’re not physically prepared for the hard work of survival during tough times.

We in the Frugal Farmer family love to watch old shows that are set back in the 1800, such as The Rifleman ย .ย Back in those days, everyone had to do hard physical work to feed their families and care for their homes. These days, things are different. We’ve “advanced” into the world of modern convenience, where fulfilling all of our needs (and more) simply requires a trip to a local store or a saunter down the hall to the home office to browse the Internet.

Along with that, we have our “convenience” foods – or should I say “foods” – which minimize our need to grow and prepare meals. The problem with this “convenient” lifestyle – at least from a prepping standpoint – is that it has left a majority of people overweight and out of shape. I get it – I myself struggled with a 35-pound weight gain after we moved here as I gorged on processed foods, too tired from our self-sufficient lifestyle to prepare and eat the real food we’d grown and preserved.

The problem with our modern lifestyle, however, is that it takes many “points” away from our survival score, so to speak.

The summer after we moved here, after a particularly hard week of cleaning up after a summer storm and weeding our rather large garden, the work took such aย toll on me that it left me laying on the grass, bawling from exhaustion. A prepping, self-sufficient lifestyle is a he** of a lot of hard work, and if you’re truly serious about being prepared for any type of disaster, whether it be weather-related, a job loss, a terrorist attack or an economic meltdown, you’d better think long and hard about whether or not you’ve got the physical stamina to survive in less-than-convenient conditions where you have to grow/catch/preserve your own food and heat your house with wood.

If you have come to the realization after that rather blunt mini-rant that you want or need to get in better shape, you’re in luck, because I’m about to share with you what you need to do to get yourself in better physical condition so that you can truly handle a prepper’s lifestyle. Read on below for non-negotiable suggestions.

You’d Better Start with Eating Healthy

I never realized how much processed pseudo-food was affecting my health, my mood and my energy level until I stopped eating so much of it. In January of this year we started on a macrobiotic diet, which eliminates processed foods, meat, sugar, flour and dairy from one’s diet. We also added in some Mean Green Juice smoothies to our diet. I felt fantastic. I had energy like never before, was content with 5 and a half hours of sleep, and felt like a million bucks. At times, for special occasions and what-not, I’d have something sugary or processed. Within twenty minutes I’d feel achy, tired, bloated and cranky. I never noticed the lack of “feeling good” before because this is the way I felt all the time. Once I got a taste of what it’s like to walk in optimum health though, I really ย noticed the difference when I ate processed foods. And it wasn’t fun.

If you’re serious about being able to live a self-sufficient lifestyle, you’d better dump the crap food and start eating food the way God made it. Self-sufficiency is hard work, and in order to handle it for any length of time you’re going to need to be at an optimum level of energy and emotional stability.

You Need to Have Muscular and Cardio Strength

Eating well will definitely help with your energy levels and with feeling good, but if you’re seeking the ability to be self-sufficient, you need to drop the extra pounds and get into fighting shape. You’ll need:

Cardiovascular Strength: Start walking, running, biking, hiking – including some type of cardio conditioning. Anything you can do will help. Go for a walk with a friend or family member a few days a week, start parking at the back of the parking lot or taking the stairs instead of the elevator at work. You don’t need to join a gym or buy a $1,000 treadmill for home. Use the world around you – just like they did in the pioneer days – and start walking, running or hiking when you can instead of watching TV or surfing your smartphone.

Upper Body Strength: Again, no gym membership needed here. Start doing push-ups or lifting free weights. Get a heavy bag and hang it in the basement and punch the crap out of it to vent all of the day’s frustrations. This bag has great reviews on Amazon:

When I was in my twenties, I used to do Tae-Bo for cardio and strength training. That was a super fun, kick-butt powerhouse of a workout that was great for upper and lower body strength.

Ironically, gardening is great for upper body strength improvement as you pull weeds, etc., so use that to your advantage and start a garden.

Lower Body Strength: Taking the stairs instead of the elevator, hiking or biking will do wonders for lower body strength. At home you can do some squats or run up and down your own stairs. Lower body strength will help you to handle the physical demands of self-sufficiency, which can require quite a bit of walking, lifting and kneeling as you chop wood, do garden work or whatever.

Core Strength: Your core is the center of your body strength. Having a strong core will help ward off back injuries and will help improve your overall body strength. Check out these core-strengthening exercises for ideas to help strengthen your core.

Honestly, I fear for this country. If a disaster of any magnitude, such as another Great Depression, came to America’s shores, 75% of the people would be S-O-L. Between financial instability, poor physical condition and a complete lack of education about how to care for themselves, most of society would go into a panic, and that would NOT be good for anyone.

Do what you can for yourself and your family, and start making physical fitness a priority as you learn how to grow, preserve and prepare REAL foods from home, and start educating yourself on how to be self-sufficient should the time come when you need to be. You may not ever need to put into practice what you learn, but if you do need to put it into practice, I can guarantee that the time you spent learning and practicing will be of more value to you than any money you could ever hope to accumulate.


  1. Love this Laurie! After going off sugar & grain for a month and feeling much better, suddenly gorging myself on pizza and chocolate chip cookies is not as appealing as it used to be because I know how I could feel.

    • Laurie says:

      Isn’t it amazing??? I made some delightful cookies the other night, and they were SO good, but I spent the next 36 hours feeling like crap. ๐Ÿ™

  2. We have been getting in shape with exercise videos lately. Even though they don’t require a lot of equipment, they kick my butt! I can’t believe how tired I can get – and how much I can sweat – just using hand weights and the weight of my own body to exercise.

    • Laurie says:

      It really is amazing, Holly! Simple things like push-ups and squats can make for a seriously taxing workout and yield great results.

  3. @duanenicol says:

    Too true Laurie! We often think about th technical things, but forget to consider ourselves in the equation. I am certainly guilty of this! I have been so focused on my academic and career development that I’ve totally ignored my physical self. Thanks for the reminder that this definitely needs to be a priority!

  4. Aaron says:

    I know exactly what you mean when you talk about eating crap again after eating healthy – you feel like crap!

    Amazing what diet changes can do for you.

    • Laurie says:

      What amazes me the most is that we don’t even realize how rotten we feel when eating junk until we stop eating it for awhile. I always thought it was “normal” to feel crummy and moody.

  5. For about 95% of life, we eat healthy foods and minimized processed foods/carbs with a green smoothie playing a big role in our busy lives. But when I’m stressed, I want to eat junk food! I never feel better after eating junk food, so my goal is to decrease stress and stay focused on a healthy diet.

    • Laurie says:

      95% is excellent, but I hear you on wanting to do even better. It’s just not often worth it to deal with the junk food hangover, as I like to call it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. I’m not sure I do this kind of stuff for self-sufficiency (after all if there was a zombie apocalypse I’d just assume be the first to go-lol), but I do want to live a long, HEALTHY life free of as many illness, aches and pains, and generally lethargy, so it’s worth making the effort to do many of the things you suggested!

    • Laurie says:

      LOL, you are so funny, Tonya. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hear you about living a healthy life. Our families are plagued with diabetes, high blood pressure, etc., and I so want to avoid all of that horrible stuff. That’s a big part of my motivation for eating well.

  7. I’ve been thinking about my health a lot lately. Partly because I just turned the big 4-0, but also because if I’m being honest with myself, my health needs some attention. I’ve made great strides in being more active during the day, but I need to start working up a sweat! ๐Ÿ™‚ My apartment has a pool and I want to start swimming. It’s something I enjoy, which is important, because I really don’t enjoy exercising. If it’s not something I like to do, I know that I will find any excuse to avoid exercising!

    • Laurie says:

      You make such an important point about enjoying the exercise you do, Tanya. When it’s not enjoyable, it is indeed a lot easier to say “I’ll do it tomorrow”.

  8. We’ve also cleaned up our diet a lot over the course of the last year or so, and it really has made a big difference. I’ve lost a few pounds and just feel better overall. After all, my body is the most expensive thing I own! Can’t just go buy a new one if I let my health go.

    • Laurie says:

      The feeling better is the greatest part, isn’t it? And I love what you said about your body being the most expensive thing you own – that’s a valuable point, Dee!

  9. I sooooo need to go on a juice cleanse again. That totally resets my appetite, and I only wish it would stay that way forever. I believe that so many of our problems in the US today could be solved or at least helped greatly if we all would pay more attention to our health. I don’t understand the rationale behind deciding to take a pill over getting in shape and eating better.

    • Laurie says:

      I think a lot of it lies in the addiction factor of so many processed foods. When I eat sugar, I go through a good two days of fighting cravings to eat it again. Not fun!

  10. Kirsten says:

    I’m a former marathoner. Like, former as in over 5 years ago. It’s been hard with our girls to get back into running regularly (though I have high hopes now that I’m staying home). I say that to say – I used to be in good shape, but I am decidedly not anymore. But it’s easy to think “oh sure, I am fine because I USED to be really healthy”.

    After we moved and got into temporary housing (in the middle of downtown), I had to start walking our dog – who before, just went out the dog door into our fenced yard. I started easily hitting 10k steps on my FitBit every day. My muscles weren’t screaming with soreness, but I was sore. Just from walking a pretty small amount! So yes, I agree – people who have desk jobs especially need to find ways to get stronger.

    • Laurie says:

      I find that here at home too, Kirsten. It’s really easy to just sit at the desk for hours and work, because the work is there to do. I need to make a conscious effort to get up and move around.

  11. Even non-preppers can benefit from all of the above. I noticed two nights ago, after not having worked out for over a week (time away with family), I did a cardio and a strength work-out, and I slept like a rock. Sleep is so much more what it is supposed to be when you’ve exercised.

  12. I was thinking about this when I was at the State Fair last weekend. There are a lot of people who are really out of shape. It shows how little we prioritize fitness in our country. You brought up many of the reasons this happens, though – life is easy! We are pretty advanced technologically so there isn’t much motivation to actually get in shape, especially if you are comfortable in life.

    • Laurie says:

      That’s one of the reasons we shy away from the fair most years – it’s way too easy to eat like crazy and eat all of the stuff that’s really bad for you, but oh so good. ๐Ÿ™‚ We are definitely a convenience-oriented country, aren’t we?

  13. Dane Hinson says:

    I switched to a healthy lifestyle about a year ago and I’ve never looked back. Limiting sugars and processed foods has changed my mind and body tremendously. Hopefully I’ll be ready for the apocalypse ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Laurie says:

      I’ve found the same thing, Dane! Isn’t it wonderful??? LOL, funny about the apocalypse – I’ll bet we’ll be much happier through it, knowing that we have this newfound physical strength, LOL. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. Awesome post! I totally agree. Eating right and making exercise a priority keeps me feeling energetic enough to not only be self-sufficient in my home and among the general “hard living” stress of living in NYC, but it also gives me more mental stamina to do paid work and passion work.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Christina! Yes, the mental stamina is SO important. I find I can get so much more accomplished when I am mentally clear and strong. Great comment!

  15. Tre says:

    It’s true that we don’t realize how little we exercise and the bad foods we are putting in our bodies. It’s just become part of our culture. I really wish I had learned to can and make jams from my mom. Too bad we realize these things too late ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Laurie says:

      I happen to have a post on making raspberry jam, Tre, and I’m hoping to add an apple one soon as well! Homemade jams are the BEST! So right about junk food simply being a part of our culture. It’s “normal” now to eat processed foods most of the time. We base what we eat off of what we crave, healthy or not.

  16. It is kind of scary how unprepared 99% of society would be if we had to become self-sufficient. I know I couldn’t cut it (even though I am aware of the issue and not oblivious like many others). It the price we pay as society becomes continually more “advanced.” Cleaning up your diet makes a huge difference. It is also tough to stay on track considering the proliferation of junk food all around us everyday.

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