Getting Thin Or Getting Fit?


The pictures above were during one of the hardests times in my life – the aftermath of a tragedy followed by a divorce, selling a farm, and losing horses. At the same time, it was the first time in my life at the ripe old age of 47 that I could look in the mirror and be proud of what I saw.

You see, my whole entire life I have had an unhealthy relationship with food. I love to eat, but food has always been a coping mechanism for me. Simply put, I am a food addict. It took me a lot of years to realize that. Although I’ve always been active and strong for my size, I have always struggled with weight. At 5’3″, I stayed in the upper 180’s for several years, but the scale kept going up as high as 208. 

As the scale went up, my health went down. Blood work, paired with a biopsy from a place of my face that wouldn’t go away for well over a year, and symptoms like joint pain, fatigue, depression, sores in my nose, all pointed to Lupus. The only option the doctors offered me back then was a rhuematoid med that had horrendous side effects and made me feel like I had the flu. That wasn’t good enough, and that’s when I slowly started on a journey to get better, which eventually led me to the first set of pictures.

I was able to stick to my regime for a long time…. basically eat clean (meat and veggies) and do kettlebells. I had finally figured out that the more simple it was, the more likely I was to maintain it. I didn’t count anything and my workouts were a max of 15 minutes. I felt great, my confidence went through the roof, and I started riding the best I’d ever ridden in my whole entire life.


Even when I was in my 20’s and thinner, I never thought I was thin enough. I also didn’t ride as confident…so what changed at 47? Mindset and strength. If you want to change your life, you change your thinking – and that’s what I did!

In the craziness of building the new place however, all of that fell by the wayside over time. The day to day living in the cramped space of a camper, and the stress of having to build a house weighed heavily. I found myself eating comfort food more than I should have, and not working out or riding. I just wanted to get on to the next phase and be in the house, and if I couldn’t do that food was the next best thing! Food made me feel better momentarily – although I always paid for it in the form of joint aches and fatigue, along with depression – which just made it worse. I didn’t have anywhere to spread out so that I could work out — most of the time there was too much mud! This went on for 3 years…and I was gradually headed back to being as heavy as I was before. But I told myself once I got in the house, I would find my way back.

We finally passed the final inspection and moved in this year at the end of July. At first, I wasn’t really consistent with eating and working out. Then in August I had extreme back pain – the worst I’d ever had! (Keep in mind I fractured my thoracic vertabrae in my early 20’s from a car wreck!) I could barely move, and the only way I could get any relief was to sit or lay down, and even then I still hurt.

Being in that much pain, and not able to do anything hit me pretty hard. I didn’t want to live like that. After about 2 weeks with no relief, I finally went to a chiropractor. On a side note, it was the same chiropractor that I used for my horses – Wells Chiro Healthcare. It took quite a few adjustments, but one thing he pointed out was how important nutrition is in how we feel. He also reminded me of what I had been a few years before, when I was strong and healthy. That was the kick I needed!

So I started back on what I had done before – eating meats and veggies, and exercising. Eventually, the pain got better. But you know what else got better? My attitude!

After about 3 weeks, I started tracking my progress through pics. Right before all this started, I had gained up to 188. It was less than I had weighed the last time I decided to make a change, but if I was going to get back to that place where I felt good, I had 35 pounds to lose. More importantly, I had a lot of strength to build back as well.

The first 8 pounds came off pretty easily, but then I plateaued. Even on the days that I was good and did kettlebells, I would either not lose or I’d gain. Two years into hot flashes at 51, soon to be 52, the weight not budging was to be expected, but I wasn’t going to give in.

The whole reason what I was doing before had worked was because it was simple. I don’t like tracking anything because the last thing I need is something else to keep up with. However, working in reporting and analytics, I knew I needed to start tracking what I was eating to see if I could tell a pattern. So I downloaded the Carb Tracker App, and chose the KETO setting. I figured if I couldn’t lose on that, then I really needed to make some big changes. It gave me my ideal Macro for the day – 22g of carbs, 135g of fat, 108g of protein, and 1731 calories. The ideal Macro for me is 5% carbs, 70% fat, and 25% protein. The app calculates all that for you, and tells you when you’re going over. So, in a sense it was still simple.



There have been some days that I’ve gone over my carb level and gained a pound, but there’s also been days I’ve went 15g over and still lost a pound and half in one day. I’m learning where my limits are, how my body handles food. One thing for certain, getting enough protein seems to be the key to keeping the scale moving in the right direction. The key is athletes don’t diet and exercise, they diet and train. As a rider, even an old one, I’m an athlete.

More importantly though is building strength. That part has seemed a bit slower! The good thing is I’m back to doing crunches with 20 pound weights, but presses and building strength in my legs is taking longer than what I’d like — but I will get there. I’ve done it once, I can do it again.

At 51, I’m on another journey to get back to that place where I actually felt good about myself, and doing it as naturally and as realistically as possible. I don’t want to take a bunch of pills, or buy a bunch of expensive supplements, or spend hours in the gym. I also don’t want to look like a 20 year old. I just want to ride the absolute best I can possibly ride, and be the healthiest, strongest and most confident that I can possibly be because I want to enjoy the years that I have left as much as I can — and it’s all up to me to get it done.

With Thanksgiving coming up, I’m going to enjoy it to the fullest. I’ve already ordered a couple of pies and rolls since I don’t eat those on a normal day. But the next day I plan to be right back to eating healthy for me. I also plan on getting some more riding in as well.


I plan on sharing my progress because if I can do it, anyone can! As the saying goes, sometimes you go through the darkness to show others the way. Life is worth being healthy inside and out!

What Are We Teaching Our Kids?


Earlier this week I read a post by a disgruntled parent talking about how the trainer told her daughter who was already riding a nice big Thoroughbred, that if she wanted to suceed in Eventing, she would need to buy a different horse, and that she would never make it in Eventing because they would never give her a chance because of her race.

Now, do I agree with the trainer with the trainer’s approach and what the trainer said? Absolutely not. Do I deny the fact that there is prejudice in the show world? Again, absolutely not — But that’s not what this is about. On a side note, there’s always prejudices in the show ring — just try riding an Arab in  Dressage, or bring a gaited horse to a cattle sorting and you’ll quickly see what I mean.

I have two very important – and potentially brutal – questions –

  • What ever happened to the days when you just rode what you had and you just figured out a way to make it work because that’s all you had?
  • Why are we riding? Why are your kids riding and what is the end goal?

  • When I was growing up, most folks didn’t go out and buy a made horse. Most kids got whatever their parents could afford and they had to figure out. Did they get hurt? You bet, but you know what? They learned from it and ultimately became better horsemen because of it.

    I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase, “If you want to win, you have to ride X.” Go look up the champion eventer Elisa Wallace and see what she’s riding. Go look up the history on Scamper that Charmayne James rode at the NFR, or Kristie Peterson and Bozo. Everyone knows the story of Seabiscuit, and the legendary slaughter sale horse Snowman. Those are just a few of the stories in the wonderful world of horses….so why are we telling kids, or adults that matter if they want to succeed they have to have a different horse?

    And something else…. what exactly does it mean to succeed with horses? What exactly is winning? Are we riding to win or are we riding for something else? If we focus on what that trainer said, getting upset, and making a big deal of it then we’re focusing on winning. Is that really what we want to be teaching kids, or even adults that are learning about horses?

    My thinking is that becoming a better horseman should be the focus and the goal, not the winning. If you become a better horseman, the winning will come as a result of that. When you focus on riding better and improving your horse, you automatically perform better under pressure. Titles are great, but they start to mean something when you’ve had to go through a lot of pain to get there.

    One thing I love about horses and the horse industry is that horse don’t now how much they cost, and I love how the industry is rich with “rags to riches” tales of horses and people doing things other said they would never be able to do. I hope we pass that on to the next generation of riders.

    So what is your focus as a parent or as a rider? What is the goal and what is the purpose and how do you get there?

    Junk In, Junk Out

    We’ve all heard the sayings, “You are what you eat”, and “Junk in, junk out.”

     For most of my life, I’ve taken that saying with a grain of salt, pun intended. However, over the last few years I’m beginning to think there’s a lot more truth to those sayings than we realize.

     After a bout of unanswered questions about my health – that’s another blog post in itself – I started paying very close attention to how my body reacted to certain foods. Now, I’m not talking just gaining or losing weight. I’m talking about how food effects my breathing, my sinus levels, and even my mental status for the day.

    After doing some experimentation, I learned that dairy and breads cause me to wheeze – that’s in addition to sinus and stomach issues. I also learned that cokes and sweets cause me to become depressed, and soy will send me into an emotional roller coaster during certain times of the month. In contrast, turkey and other meat cause me to focus and think more clearly.

    The same thing could be said about our thought life. When we think negative things, the impact is negative.Those negative thoughts impact our happiness, our confidence, and ultimately our performance and whether or not we pursue dreams.

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    Recently, I read a great article on thinking like an athlete. The article stated that the main reason athletes are successful is that they see themselves as just that – an athlete.

    The article went on to say that when you see yourself as an athlete and get into that mindset, regardless of what your body is like, you start thinking differently in other areas of your life. You start taking training more seriously. What you eat and the amount of sleep you get become more important. Instead of those seeing those things as a means to lose weight, they suddenly become a way for you to train better and be a better athlete.

    How many times have you been asked what you do with your horses or what discipline you ride? Probably too many times to count. Your answer has probably been, “I just run barrels” or “I just do a little western pleasure.” That’s the wrong answer!

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    Today, you might not be running down the alley way at the NFR or doing a sliding stop at the finals at Congress. I get that you don’t want to blow yourself out of proportion, come across arrogant, or give the appearance that you’re competing at a level that you’re not – yet! However, if you keep thinking like you always have, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.

    Think about it for a moment…

    Do you spend any less money on your horse than a serious competitor? You feed the best feed, supplements and hay. You keep a routine shoeing schedule so your horse can perform well. You take your horse to the vet every time they need it. You make sure your horse is in a safe, happy environment and kept on a schedule.

    Do you spend any less time on your horse than a serious competitor? I know a lot of girls that compete locally and not nationally that ride their horses every single day. I also know girls that ride every free minute they can in the midst of working full time to pay the feed bill and mortgage, working second and third jobs, and taking care of families. Is the fact that they don’t get to ride as much any less worthy?

    There’s things that you’re probably already doing that aren’t that much different than someone rides and competes on a higher level. Don’t cut yourself short in your thinking!

    If you think you’re “junk”, then junk is exactly what you’re going to reap.

    What do you think Charmayne James or Congress champion Karen Evans Mundy thought of themselves when they were working up through the ranks? Did they think they were just a barrel racer or just a hunter rider? No! They thought of themselves as champions that just hadn’t gotten there yet. All they had to do was work a little harder and ride a little better – that’s all.

    So my question to you is this… If you knew for a fact that you would be running down the alleyway at the NFR, or riding the rail at Congress in two years how would that change your thinking TODAY? Would it make you see yourself differently? Would you have a new purpose every time you rode or worked out?

    If you’re like me, you’ve beat yourself up for far too long thinking you’re not good enough and you’re just a barrel racer, etc. That thinking hasn’t gotten either of us very far, has it?

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    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It’s time to do something different. It’s time to think different and see what results we get!

    In the end, it really doesn’t matter what everyone else thinks. It only matters what you think about yourself.

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    What Is It That Makes You Feel Better?

    This week I’d like to know…what is it that truly makes you feel better about yourself?

    When you dread looking in the mirror, or testing your ability, what is it that makes you feel better about yourself? Is it losing a ton of weight? Is it winning that barrel race or pleasure class? Is it wearing your favorite outfit?

    So often, we get into the rut of thinking, I’ll feel better about myself when I _____ – fill in the blank. For a lot of us, the blank might be losing thirty pounds or winning a class – or both.

    The cold hard truth of the matter is that none of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Heck, we’re not even guaranteed the very next breath. So why do we waste our lives not accepting who we are as we are at this very moment when we may not even get the very next moment? Why do we do that?

    I read an article earlier today about the designer Betsey Johnson. She’s 72 years old, wears what most people consider completely inappropriate hair and clothing for her age, and she does cartwheels on the catwalk. Yet, she’s a confident, happy, and very successful woman.

     

    Earlier this month, I learned about Leah Gilbert who is a plus size athlete and fitness trainer from Australia. Yes, you read that correctly – she’s a plus size athlete and fitness trainer. While she doesn’t fit the typical aesthetics mold of what most people consider an “athlete”, Leah is one incredibly confident and strong woman who is on a mission to change how we think about ourselves. By the way, I strongly advise following her blog Body Positive Athletes. You’ll be better for it, I promise!

    So here we have two women that don’t conform or fit the “perfect” mold at all and yet both of them are happy confident women. How do they do that?

    Although I don’t have all the answers, I would say one commonality they have is that they buck the trends, do what they want, and they do what works for them – not what everyone else says works for them. They live in the moment, where they’re at. Long ago, they stopped fighting who they were and stopped listening to what society told them they should be. Oh, and they don’t compare themselves to everyone else.

    What are the things that you do well right now? Focus on those for a moment and feel good about yourself for a moment. Feel better?

     

    Just out enjoying a winter ride on my pony Fireman.

    Just out enjoying a winter ride on my pony Fireman.