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Michael Shugg
Orlando, Florida
The title of this blog may seem a bit dramatic, but I believe it to be true. I approached age 42 weighing near 350 pounds. I was on medications for high blood pressure, chronic gout, and cholesterol drugs were in my future. Things did not look good. The age 42 is significant because that's the age of a friend when he dropped dead of weight and lifestyle related issues. In spite of my bleak physical picture, I considered myself active. I loved to fish, and I would spend hours trolling the Gulf Stream off the East Coast of Florida. After a day of rigging tackle, setting baits, fighting fish like sailfish, dolphin and wahoo and cleaning the boat at the end of the day; I was tired. I fooled myself into thinking that I was getting a workout. Then I got my first kayak. It was a short fat recreational boat, a Loon made by Old Town Canoe. It was one of only a few boats that could float my massive weight. I bought it so I could fish the shallows inshore when high winds and seas kept the big boat on the trailer. I could barely lower myself into the big comfortable seat, but It was fun. I found myself paddling more and fishing less. River trips, coastal trips, it didn't matter. I could have at least as much fun, with a boat that I could throw on top of my car, as I had with a boat that required a full size truck to get it to the water and burned 50 gallons of gas in an average day. It didn't matter if I caught fish. Every day was a good day. I found the kayak to be a magical vessel that could take me anywhere I wanted to go. I began traveling to new locations. I started kayaking with groups and met new friends. I rediscovered camping as a way to spend even more time on the water and with my new physically active friends. Soon, I found myself inspired by sea kayakers and their journeys to exotic coasts and the way they challenged rough seas and rugged coasts. I wanted to join them. I started to eat better. I took small steps at first. I cut out soda and other sugared drinks. I added more fruits and vegetables to my diet. I started to limit my portions, and I reduced my fat intake. In addition to kayaking, I started cycling and walking. My efforts showed results. My weight started dropping, 300, then 280, 270 my weight slowly continued to approach healthy range. I could now fit a slimmer sexier kayak, so I bought one. This one was a British style sea kayak. The boat inspired me to continued improvement. I took lessons to improve my skills and learned to roll my kayak. Now I weigh under 200 pounds. I've continued to develop my kayak skills and I've earned coaching and paddling certifications through the British Canoe Union (BCU). I haven't quit my day job, but I'm spending a lot of time coaching others in kayak skills. I'm planning a solo expedition to circumnavigate Vancouver, BC in July and August. The seven hundred mile journey will challenge my endurance, decision making and paddling skills. I expect it to be a fantastic life changing experience. I didn't get here overnight, but I'm so much healthier and happier than I was. Not bad for a former morbidly obese 52-year-old. In this blog, I'll talk about healthy eating, kayaking and other physical activities as way to achieve a healthy and adventurous life. I'll fill in some of the details of how I achieved, and continue to strive for, my weight loss and health goals I''ll write about my kayak adventures. I hope that by sharing some of my journey, I can be a small inspiration to others in a quest for a healthy adventurous life.
Interests: Sea Kayaking, Road Cycling, Adventure and Fitness
Recent Activity
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There is something mystical about touching a place. Located at the Northeast corner of North America, Newfoundland is a place that I have dreamt of touching almost from the moment I first dipped a kayak paddle into the ocean. Newfoundland’s remoteness and unique location near the confluence of the Gulfstream... Continue reading
Posted Apr 14, 2013 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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The interplay of water, energy, rock and land after Brooks was remarkable. The coast before pretty darned amazing too, but after I was awe struck by the number of premier paddling destinations that I was experiencing. Starting with the Bunsby Islands, the islands, sounds, inlets and points of the West... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2011 at Kayaking Saved My Life
Cool A part of a sweep and a flick of the hip and you’re looking the other way. Seal Launches, almost any time, almost anywhere. Nough said. Look where you want to go. The boat goes there. You learn selective application of power when you paddle one. Pool Roll Practice... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2011 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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“A friend of mine circumnavigated about two years ago. It took him 14 days to get around The Brooks Peninsula” This was a few days earlier. I was talking to a guide in Johnstone Strait, but I had been hearing Brooks horror stories almost since my trip began. I’d been... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2011 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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One of the things that surprised me about this trip is how much it became about covering distance. I deliberately made a choice not to try for a record. I wanted to enjoy my trip and experience Vancouver – not paddle past it. Even so, in the back of my... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2011 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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Orca From 2003 Johnstone Strait Trip. One of the reasons for doing a trip like this is to experience the rich variety of wildlife that a place like Vancouver offers. From marine mammals like whales, sea lions and seals to less glamorous species like starfish and slugs, I was not... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2011 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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The usual weather forecast for Vancouver can be summarized like this: It’s windy somewhere and really windy somewhere else. If it’s not windy now it will be later, and if it’s windy now, it will be much windier later. In the summer, there is often a high parked somewhere off... Continue reading
Posted Aug 4, 2011 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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Miriam Webster defines a crux as “an essential point requiring resolution or resolving an outcome.” For a sea paddler a crux is tricky place on the route. If you can’t safely navigate it, then you can’t make the trip. I identified 3 major cruxes for my Vancouver expedition. Two well... Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2011 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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I loved paddling around Vancouver. I loved the challenge. I loved the new discoveries waiting across every sound and around every headland. I loved the sense of adventure and the feeling of self-sufficiency. I loved each and every day of paddling, but there was something special about the rest days.... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2011 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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I get a lot of questions about the gear that I used on my trip, so I thought I’d post a list of the stuff I used. I’m sure I’ll forget some items, but this is the most comprehensive list I can come up with. Consumer Reports Disclaimer: This is... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2011 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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I’ve talked with a number of expedition paddlers, and they all seem to agree. No matter what kind of shape you’re in, early in a trip you feel like crap. Then you paddle into your fitness. That matches my experience on my previous trips. Around day two or three you... Continue reading
Posted Jul 27, 2011 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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After one false start in loading gear into my kayak, I shoved off North Beach on Orcas Island and pointed my bow toward Canada. The seas were less than 3’ with a 10 knot breeze out of the Northwest. The clear blue sky added to my sense of anticipation. It... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2011 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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I can’t believe it. One year ago, I was camping at Calvin Falls, two thirds of the way into my Vancouver Circumnavigation. Even more unbelievable is the fact that I have not updated this damn blog about the trip. I’ve done a number of presentations on my trip at clubs... Continue reading
Posted Jul 26, 2011 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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My trip is over, and it’s kind of hard to know how to feel. On one hand, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. I made it around, 662 nautical miles in 35 total days (29 paddling days). That’s 762 miles the way they’re measured on land. A paddled against... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2010 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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My trip is over, and it’s kind of hard to know how to feel. On one hand, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment. I made it around, 662 nautical miles in 35 total days (29 paddling days). That’s 762 miles the way they’re measured on land. A paddled against... Continue reading
Posted Aug 20, 2010 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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After three days sightseeing in Seattle, and an early morning trip to escort Julie to her flight home, my journey is about to start. I’ll be hopping the Ferry to Orcas Island this afternoon, and the paddling starts tomorrow. The plan is to launch at North Beach and paddle across... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2010 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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When I started dreaming about this trip, I thought that most of my preparations would involve gear and charts and tide tables. Well the gear part was easy, and the charts were spread on the dinning room table for weeks, but that work was nothing compared to just getting prepared... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2010 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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The title of this blog may seem a bit dramatic, but I believe it to be true. I approached age 42 weighing near 350 pounds. I was on medications for high blood pressure, chronic gout, and cholesterol drugs were in my future. Things did not look good. The age 42... Continue reading
Posted Jun 9, 2010 at Kayaking Saved My Life
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Jun 9, 2010