A guest post from Melanie Allen sharing how she uses the Lumberjack approach to weight loss.
I work in an office sitting behind a desk all day, and that means I don’t get much exercise. I’ve struggled to stay in shape while staring at a computer screen all day.
While I do try to do some squats during meetings and tai chi while I have downtime, I needed something else I could add to my routine that would be more effective. But this something couldn’t take a lot of time or money. I started brainstorming, and came up with an idea, albeit unusual, solution, the lumberjack approach.
The Way of the Lumberjack
Have you ever seen a depiction of a fat lumberjack? I haven’t either. While I don’t think much about lumberjacks, I can imagine how difficult their jobs must be. When I used to go camping as a kid, my dad would ask me to help split firewood with an axe. I could only do two or three logs before I could barely lift the axe again, and I was so sore the next day!
So I thought, if little kid me had such a hard time cutting wood, it was probably a pretty good workout. Maybe I could give it another go, see if it would be a good thing to add to my workout routine!
I don’t know what made me think back on splitting wood when I was a kid, but I’ve recently decided that I want to start doing it again. Splitting wood is great! You can get the wood for free and all it requires is a way to haul it, a place to store it, and an axe. This is where the lumberjack approach was started!
How to Find Firewood
I did a quick search for firewood on Facebook Marketplace and found a listing for free, unsplit wood in a matter of minutes. If you pay for your firewood, you should think about splitting it yourself and getting it for free. I understand some people don’t want to invest the time to split it, but if you’re spending time working out each week, you can easily replace the workouts with splitting wood and have good results.
If you keep your eye out, it probably won’t take long at all to find some wood that is already on the ground and you can pick it up for free. I don’t have a chainsaw and haven’t ever used one, so I made sure to find some wood that was already cut into shorter pieces.
Start by checking buy and sell websites or Facebook Marketplace and you’ll eventually come across someone wanting to get rid of their wood. I don’t like the idea of cutting down a bunch of trees, but there are always going to be people who do. It’s better to use a tree that has been cut down rather than letting it sit and rot. You might even find someone willing to pay you to haul off their wood!
An Escape from Technology
Most people seem to look down on the Amish in Pennsylvania, but I think they may be on to something. There’s something about getting outdoors and working up a sweat that you just can’t get from a smartphone. While we reap obvious benefits from using technology, we have gotten addicted to it and it’s causing adverse effects. If I didn’t use my phone for my job, blog, and eBay business, I think it would be best for me to go back to using a flip phone.
Splitting firewood is one of the most primitive things you can do nowadays. I’m certainly not a scientist but I wouldn’t be surprised if my focus improves after splitting wood for a few months. I’ve constantly got 2-3 screens open for 8 hours a day as well as use my phone and I’ve noticed it’s hard for me to just focus on one thing now. I’m hoping that splitting firewood for a little while each day will help me detox my brain from the technology overload I’ve put on it.
Why Would I Want to Split Firewood for a Workout?
Let’s do some comparisons to see how splitting firewood for the lumberjack approach compares to working out at a gym.
Two people work out 5 times a week. Person A goes to the gym. Person B splits firewood.
Person A – Drives 5 minutes (2.5 miles) out of their way each way to the gym. That’s a total of 40 hours and 1,300 miles a year.
Person B – Finds someone giving away firewood 30 minutes (15 miles) from their house. With one truckload, person B gets enough wood to split for a month. Person B’s totals for the year are 12 hours and 180 miles. Person B also gets a workout loading and unloading all the wood.
Person A – pays $200 a year for a gym membership and $780 for driving (60 cents a mile average driving cost). Person A spends $980 a year to work out – not including any clothes that may be purchased just for the gym.
Person B – Pays $50 for a good axe that will last for years and $108 for gas. Person B splits 12 loads of wood over the year and sells them all for $100 a load. Person B earns an extra $1,042 in a year. That money can be put into the stock market and grow forever!
Person A – Takes 45 minutes to get a good workout because there’s a lot of people in the gym and you have to wait for certain machines.
Person B – Spends 5 minutes stretching and gets a great, heart-pounding workout in 25 minutes. All muscles in the body are worked out as person B picks up heavy logs and swings an ax.
Person A – Is exposed to all kinds of germs at the gym and is much more likely to get sick as a result.
Person B – Works outside and gets more vitamin D. As a result, person B is happier and has a stronger immune system than person A. Person B also spends more time outside around their own fire pit with friends and family as there is plenty of wood to be burned.
Can Anyone be a Lumberjack?
I realize that splitting firewood isn’t an option for everyone. If you don’t have a truck or a trailer you can haul the wood with, you won’t be able to be a lumberjack. Paying for a gym might be worth it to you if you enjoy the social aspects of being around other people or taking classes as a group. I’m sure there are lots of happy couples out there that met at the gym. Do consider if you could try the lumberjack approach though!
You can also get a more thorough workout at the gym but I would argue that splitting firewood is just about all you need to stay in shape as long as you stretch.
Splitting wood is just one of many ways that you can skip the gym and actually earn money at the same time you workout. If you live in a city, you could walk dogs for extra money and exercise. An extra few hundred dollars a year can grow into hundreds of thousands of dollars over your life if invested properly.
The Lumberjack method isn’t right for everyone. But it’s a great way to get a full-body workout for a fraction of the cost.
About the author
Melanie launched Partners in Fire in 2017 to document her quest for financial independence with a mix of finance, fun, and solving the world’s problems. She’s self-educated in personal finance and passionate about fighting systematic problems that prevent others from achieving their own financial goals. She also loves travel, anthropology, gaming, and her cats.
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