Production Blog

Find a New Fitness Attitude

Pamela Smith
By  Pamela Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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A 35-pound iron weight is part of our editor's daily workout program. She talks about her efforts to get farm fit through a fitness program especially designed for those in the farming community. (DTN photo by Pamela Smith)

I've never considered myself to be "bad ass." But almost every day someone within my current exercise community tells me I am.

Last fall I saw an ad for Amanda Nigg's Farm Fit Training. I wasn't sure what I was getting into, but my body had started telling me that I was spending too much time sitting behind the computer hammering out news stories. I was mentally working harder than ever, but physically not so much.

The story then and now hasn't always been pretty. But some nine months and hundreds of workouts later, I can say that I've probably never been stronger and with more decades than is fit to print behind me, that's saying something.

I'm no stranger to jags of physical fitness. I used to buck bales with the best of them. For years, I was a hardcore road cyclist with century (100-mile-a-day) rides and many weeklong trips across entire states to my credit. I love walking and hiking.

In my mind, I was still doing all those things. Farmers, I reckon, are somewhat in the same boat or, perhaps more appropriately, tractor seat.

I've always been better at doing productive work than working out. My father's voice still echoes in my head. When he learned I had taken up long distance cycling he said: "If you have enough energy to do that, I'll find you some real work."

Honestly, I've been through job interviews that weren't as detailed as the screening to get into Nigg's fitness program. It didn't take long for me to understand why. She spends a lot of time with each client and that's an investment on the part of the coach. If you aren't committed, it's hard to make results happen.

The first six weeks involved some retraining of my mental attitude, too. Old habits are a hard taskmaster.

Baking is my jam. So is butter. I also have food allergies and sensitivities. So, it took me a bit to dial in Nigg's approach to macronutrients, which is basically finding a balance between proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Calories aren't as important as making sure they are the right ones.

And, ahem, I'm also not always the most graceful. I'd never lifted weights. I had some itty-bitty ones that I used as door stops.

I started with those 5-lb. dumbbells and a small workout spot in the spare bedroom. And, I struggled and hurt. Being stubborn has merits, though, because I was too mad at myself to quit.

I was also intrigued enough to feel energy returning and more importantly, a boost in mental clarity, to keep plowing ahead. Over time, I learned how to make the eating and the workout part of my daily routine.

I'm not starving. I'm also eating real food that I make myself, so no pre-made shakes or cardboard bars. I do occasionally struggle to down the gallon of water suggested daily. My back still pops like bubble wrap when I get into a plank position, but it feels oddly good. I also confess that I don't always like working out, but I do enjoy having worked out and marvel that as weights I use are now 15, 30 and 35 lbs.

I have also learned a ton from this program but have been left with an enduring question. Why is it that we are so reluctant to devote time and resources to caring for ourselves?

Nigg seems to have hit on a fundamental flaw in our in our agricultural work habits. We repair and fix and fuss over every animal, implement and crop, but fail to recognize that the most valuable tool on the farm is the farmer.

Ultimately, discovering a new sense of self-worth and feeling great, well ... that is bad ass.

Read more about Amanda Nigg and her Farm Fit Training program and community at:….

Pamela Smith can be reached at

Follow her on Twitter @PamSmithDTN


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